HARLEY-DAVIDSON FAT BOY (1989-on) Review

Published: 23 November 2006

"If retro-style cruising is your thing, the Fat Boy has all the right bits in a ll the right places"

Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding

"If retro-style cruising is your thing, the Fat Boy has all the right bits in a ll the right places"

  • At a glance
  • 1584cc  -  65 bhp
  • 44 mpg  -  124 miles range
  • Insurance group: 15 of 17
    Compare insurance quotes now
  • Low seat height (645mm)
  • £15,995

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Definitive Harley. If retro-style cruising is your thing, the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy has all the right bits in the right places, from the big Milwaukee V-twin motor to the characteristic disc wheels and even the badge on the tank. Not the most versatile or comfortable of Hogs, but the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is almost certainly the best looking.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

For most Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy owners, it's surprisingly good. The rear ‘softail’ suspension (with the twin shocks hidden under the engine to give the hardtail look) may give a slightly harsh ride, but otherwise the antiquated but quaint Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is well balanced, predictable and easy to steer and manouvere.

Engine 3 out of 5

The Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy's long-lived (it dates from the 1950s) pushrod V-twin was boosted again in 2006 from 1450 to 1584cc (the original 1989-99 motorcycles were 1340s) and is now respectably meaty, especially when liberated with some fruity Screamin’ Eagle of other aftermarket exhausts. Still a vibey dinosaur, though, but that’s part of the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy's  appeal.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

Build quality is fair and the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is about as rugged as new motorcycles come. Steel proliferates over alloy, finishes are decent quality and mechanicals are generally proven and understressed, so you should have no worries with your Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy. Full service history is recommended, though.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

Swings and roundabouts. At £13K, the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is hellishly expensive for what it is. There’s no clever technology, no impressive spec, no incomparable performance. But then, as the most desireable of Harleys, there’s no alternative, either and the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy's value holds up well. You pays your money. Find a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy for sale.

Insurance group: 15 of 17 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 2 out of 5

With Harleys, most of the goodies come extra and the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy is more basic a Harley than most. But what you get built-in is incomparable style, gloriously deep paint and chrome and high residuals. Most used Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boys will come with pipes and other Harley goodies already fitted and, if genuine Harley accessories, are worth extra.

Owners' Reviews

2 owners have reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON FAT BOY (1989-on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

We’re currently improving the way this section works, which means we’ve had to suspend the submission of new owners’ reviews for a short period. Please check back soon.

Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3.5 out of 5
Engine 4.5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4.5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 3.5 out of 5
Equipment 3.5 out of 5
3 out of 5

A chance to ride a Fatboy

14 July 2008 by mender

As a "dyed in the wool" sportsbike rider for the last 40 years, I was somewhat underwhelmed when my mate said he had a new fatboy on loan if I would like to borrow it for the weekend to "see what Harleys are about". It was a new '08 with the... Read more addition of very - very loud Vance & Hines slash cut pipes. My first impression was it was heavy (I ride a ZX9R E1 and TDM850)but was suprisingly easy to manoeuvre at low speed. I soon got the hang of slowing down (considerably) for bends, not because of stability, which was fine, but there is no ground clearance and I could only imagine how much the footplates would cost me to replace if I ground them away! I rode on motorway, A and B roads, The engine torque combined with the loud pipes was addictive, the ride is vibrating and rather harsh compared to a modern sportsbike, and anything above 80mph is just too uncomfortable, about 60 - 70mph was the optimum speed, to ride in relative comfort. I found the bike turned heads(probably due to the incredible noise from the pipes) and drew admirers whenever I parked up. It had a "presence" on the road which I have not experienced on a bike before. All in all I rather enjoyed it, However I must say that when I got back on my ZX9 to ride home my first thought was how comfortable and easy to ride it felt after the Harley. All in all, I can see some of what the Harley is about, but it's far too uncomfortable and too much like hard work for me! As for paying £13,000 for one ......!

Overall Rating 3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 2 out of 5
Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5

2007 Fat Boy

27 April 2007 by wildy

The Fat Boy brings a smile to your face, every time you ride it. The ride is fine, as long as you treat it with respect. I have been over the Cat and Fiddle many times and the torque from the engine makes it a breeze. The attention the bike gets is... Read more unbelievable, with many asking to photograph it. Its a real coversation starter. That never happened with my BMW GS or Triumph Speedtriple. The weight of the bike is so low down, slow speed manouvers are a doddle. Fit and finish are excellant. The paint is very thick with lots of clear coat. Makes cleaning a treat and not a chore. Overall, I am over the moon with mine. Its stopped me from losing my licence, as high speed riding is a none starter.I`ve had more fun riding this at 60 then when ringing the neck out of my old Yamaha Thunderace. Recommended.

Overall Rating 5 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
Read all 2 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1989
Year discontinued -
New price £15,995
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 15 of 17
Annual road tax £80
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 65 bhp
Max torque 89 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 12.2 secs
Average fuel consumption 44 mpg
Tank range 124 miles
Specification
Engine size 1584cc
Engine type 4v V-twin, 6 gears
Frame type Steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Seat height 645mm
Bike weight 313kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake 292mm disc
Rear brake 292mm disc
Front tyre size 140/75 x 17
Rear tyre size 200/55 x 17

History & Versions

Model history

1999: 1340cc Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy launched as derivation of  FLST Softail
1994: Exhausts changed to seamless type
1996: More modern switchgear and master cylinder adopted.
1997: Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy now with sealed battery
1999: New Twin Cam 1450cc engine adopted.
2002: Alarm and immobiliser now fitted on Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy as standard along with new bullet style indicators
2006: New Twin Cam 1584cc engine adopted on Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy.

Other versions

Screaming Eagle versions of the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy boast a huge range of factory fitted extras and performance goodies and retail well over £20,000 when new. A rare but desireable take on the Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy.

Photo Gallery

  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Engine
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Brakes
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Engine
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Riding
  • Harley-Davidson FLSTF Fat Boy motorcycle review - Side view