HARLEY-DAVIDSON FAT BOB FXFB (2018 - on) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£13,530|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Faster, lighter, stiffer and more aggressive new Fat Bob exemplifies both Harley’s all-new Softail family and the US firm’s renewed ambition. Watch out Indian, Harley is fighting back!
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The focus of the new Softail family is the all-new Softail frame (so-called as it hides the rear suspension giving a classic hardtail ‘look’) which now uses an inclined single shock, Yamaha LC style, in place of dual shorter units previously mounted beneath the transmission. The new tubular steel double cradle is also claimed to be substantially lighter, stiffer and comprise far fewer components. Three different head angles, two shock lengths and two widths of swing arm are also employed in a modular approach to create the eight different models. The Fat Bob, with a 28º head angle, has the sportiest attitude of the lot along with inverted forks and twin discs. The result is Harley’s purest, best performing hot rod ever with handling that is noticeably stiffer and with a ride that’s far more compliant, controlled and cultured than the old Softail which were often hampered by limited suspension travel and crude damping.
EngineNext up: Reliability
As with three other members of Harley’s new Softail family, the new Fat Bob now uses the four-valve, partially oil-cooled ‘Milwaukee Eight’ 107ci V-twin, as introduced in its 2017 touring range, with the option also of the 114ci version. Both are modified for Softail use via a new oil cooler subtly positioned between the downtubes and, as they’re rigidly mounted in the new Softail frames (in the tourers they’re rubber mounted) come with two, not one, balancer shafts.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Along with the new frame, uprated engine and cycle parts and new equipment such as lights and clocks, the build quality of the new Fat Bob, and indeed all the 2018 Softail family, has been noticeably improved, too. The jury necessarily has to remain out on reliability as it’s simply too early to say as we write. However, with the powertrain being based on that of the proven ‘Project Rushmore’ touring family and quality seemingly raised throughout, we’ve little cause for concern.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Harley ownership never comes cheap and with prices starting at over £14K that’s certainly not changed with the updated and improved Fat Bob. On the positive side, however, you’re also getting more performance, quality and style for your buck than ever and Harley residuals continue to be the envy of the entire industry so what goes around comes around…
Those inverted forks and twin discs are joined by dramatic new LED headlights, stylish new clocks and more. OK, there’s still no electronics and little by way of luxury but it is a classy machine and Harley have noticeably raised their game.
|Engine type||45º pushrod V-twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||13.6 litres|
|Front suspension||Showa inverted telescopic forks, no adjust|
|Rear suspension||Monoshock, adjustable spring preload|
|Front brake||2 x 275mm discs, four-piston calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||275mm two piston caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||150/80 x 16|
|Rear tyre size||180/70 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Annual service cost||£13,530|
|Used price||£9,400 - £14,000|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||86 bhp|
|Max torque||107 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON FAT BOB (2018 - on)
4 owners have reviewed their HARLEY-DAVIDSON FAT BOB (2018 - 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£13,530|
Annual servicing cost: £40,000
old version is fantastic
takes a while to embed in but strong performance
lazy and lumpy :)
no issues after 2 years
awesome servicing at reading
Clearer dispalys would be good
Buying experience: amazing
Best Harley I’ve owned. No more peg scraping and although no sports bike rolls into corners and bends with ease. Had to throw the rattling gas cap and buy another immediately. 16k and a two bob cap ? Can’t see out of mirrors.
Early days no issues as yet. Rides nice and smooth with no vibration. Front a little soft.
Great performance and torque. Takes a while to get the hang of which gear when slow cornering. I found first a little harsh and better to keep it in second and slip the clutch slightly otherwise your hands are removed from the bars.
Great no keys and better view of cluster
Buying experience: Brought from Riders Bristol and didn’t leave the arm chair. Great service.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Out of the box it's a lovely bike to ride. A massive step in the right direction for Harley Davidson. Unfortunately after nearly 1 years ownership and 3000 dry miles the poor build quality is starting to show. Based on my ownership experience over the last 12 months I wouldn't recommend any Harley-Davidson to anyone.
Surprisingly usable motorcycle. Not for two up touring but pillion seat OK for my daughter on short trips. All day comfy ride below motorway speeds so best suited for A/B road cruising. The bike handles surprisingly well for it's size and the suspension is pretty good. Only adjustable for preload at the rear and at 80kg I need the shock wound right out or it's too harsh. The brakes are excellent.
It's a Harley and a unique experience. Cruising along a favourite road on a sunny day and it makes a lot of sense. Try and push on and you'll soon find it's limitations.
How long have you got? Battery drain overnight. Faulty fuel cap. Faulty preload adjuster. Condensation in clock. Wonky handlebar and clock. Thin paint easily scratched on both matt and lacquered finishes. Paint rubbing off. Corrosion issues and paint flaking off all over the bike i.e. Forks, regulator, indicators, bolts and fixings, etc. I'm too scared to look underneath now. Some issues fixed but most blamed on "poor maintenance and environmental issues."
Considering the bike cost over £16k I expect better so it's overpriced. Most H-D dealerships are around £100ph now. £300 for the annual oil change. Parts are ludicrously expensive. However, the engines are basic so If you can service it yourself or know a decent independent mechanic then they are relatively cheap to run. High insurance cost though.
ABS is your lot in terms of rider aids. It has keyless ignition and a factory fitted alarm which I can't help thinking will cause me issues in the future. OE tyres look the part and are fine in the warm but hopeless in the cold and/or wet. S&S slip ons improve the sound without being obnoxious.
Buying experience: Bought from Southampton H-D for list with some extras thrown in. Buying experience just OK but aftersales and customer support have been a joke. The worst motorcycle company I have dealt with in 30 years.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Ridden in isolation the Fat Bob is a nice cruiser. Try to keep up with other road traffic or crack on and you soon feel it's limitations. This is a motorcycle that you need to be in the 'cruiser' mindset to enjoy fully. For a Harley this is a step forward and the handling and ride is much improved but when compared to other bikes it has flaws. If you must have a H-D then this is the one to try.
First off the brakes are excellent, some of the best I've used recently. The bike is comfortable and the stock suspension is pretty good for UK B roads, just make sure that you adjust the shock with the remote pre-load adjuster. Handling is good as long as you remember what you are riding, it takes a good old push of counter steer to turn in the front wheel but it holds a very stable line. I personally don't find it particularly comfortable on the motorway above 70 but that may be the fact that I don't exclusively ride in the cruiser position, I would rather travel distances on my XSR, but cruising on the back roads at 60 it's all day comfy. The pillion seat is fine for my 7 yo daughter, but not a grown up size.
I have to love the engine. Yes it's under powered for it's size but it is a nice place to be with it thrumming away. The sheer weight of the motorcycle means that you're never going to win many races but it's nice riding the torque out of corners. Very smooth for the capacity too. I was specifically looking for a bike to cruise on as I own other sports bikes so in this market with the likes of the V7, Speedmaster, CB1100 etc, the Harley engine just has a lot more of the 'C' word than all of those other bikes so it's the one I'm happier to potter along on and not be frustrated by the traffic or get impatient.
After less than a year with 2500 dry miles the cracks are showing. Excessively vibrating (non locking) fuel cap replaced, pre-load adjuster stiff and a software patch after an overnight battery drain. However, the condensation in the clock and all the paint peeling off the regulator has been blamed on 'cosmetic and environmental issues'. Harley have not been empathic about these issues despite my assurances that I haven't taken it green laning... I'll admit that I don't have high expectations for the long term reliability of the bike and with hindsight I probably wouldn't have bought it. I expect better on a £16k+ bike.
Considering the apparent lack of build quality then the purchase price seems more than excessive. Palatable if you want the 'lifestyle' though which appeals to some. Harley dealers by me tend to be around £100-110 per hour but thankfully there are some very good independents locally. Parts and accessories are as expensive as you would expect.
Some slip-on's make it sound just right, not too obnoxious. The stock tyres look the part but they are terrible in the winter and only slightly better in the wet, I may swap them for some Cruisetecs. Non-locking fuel cap and a ridiculously placed speedo are impractical and the keyless ignition/alarm comes standard but I would rather not have them. I would recommend putting on an oil cooler guard ASAP.
Buying experience: Bought from Southampton Harley. Sales experience just OK. After sales has been appalling. I wouldn't recommend.