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Published: 06 January 2018

Aggressive, sporty Fat Bob leads all-new family of faster, lighter Softails’


Aggressive, sporty Fat Bob leads all-new family of faster, lighter Softails’

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

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 & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 4 out of 5

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

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.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

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…

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

Equipment 3 out of 5

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2018
Year discontinued -
New price £14,295
Used price £13,000 to £15,000
Warranty term two years
Running costs
Insurance group 17 of 17
Annual road tax £91
Annual service cost -
Max power 86 bhp
Max torque 107 ft-lb
Top speed 110 mph
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Engine size 1746cc
Engine type 45º pushrod V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 13.6 litres
Seat height 710mm
Bike weight 296kg
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

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