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Published: 06 January 2018

Updated: 19 November 2019

After 27 years the new Fat Boy is back to its biggest – and best

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy review on MCN

After 27 years the new Fat Boy is back to its biggest – and best

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The original Harley-Davidson Fat Boy made a huge impact, enough to inspire a legion of lookalikes. This 2020 monster-truck reinvention re-establishes it. No Harley generates a bigger grin.

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.

In Fat Boy trim this comes with a 30º head angle and, most vividly of all, new ‘monster truck’ solid wheels that are the biggest news and the reason the 27-year-old Fat Boy has at last rediscovered its mojo. Dubbed ‘Lakester’, these wheels are not just bigger, they’re massive – larger in diameter as well as now comic-book broad. Both grow an inch in diameter while the front broadens from 140 to 150 while the rear goes from an already vast 200 to a simply gargantuan 240. So big, in fact, that you can’t help but smile. The ride is entertaining, too. In a straight line, though hefty, the steering is tolerable. But through the twisties it needs a significant, unsettling effort to tiller around and plenty of forethought. On balance, this isn’t a complaint: you attune over time after which the new Fat Boy is a massive grin and a unique pose.

Engine 4 out of 5

As with three other members of Harley’s new Softail family, the new Fat Boy 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 Boy, and indeed all the 2018 Softail family, has been noticeably improved. 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 £17K that’s certainly not changed with the updated and improved Fat Boy. On the positive side, the new Fat Boy is a massive grin and a unique pose and after years of its presence being diluted it’s good to see the Fat Boy back to its best once again.

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

Equipment 3 out of 5

Those monster wheels, new frame and uprated engine 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 £17,545
Used price £7,200 to £20,300
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 18.9 mpg
Tank range -
Engine size 1746cc
Engine type 45º pushrod V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 18.9 litres
Seat height 675mm
Bike weight 304kg
Front suspension Showa telescopic forks, no adjust
Rear suspension Monoshock, adjustable spring preload
Front brake 1 x 292mm discs, four-piston calipers. ABS
Rear brake 292mm two piston caliper. ABS
Front tyre size 160/60 x 18
Rear tyre size 240/40 x 18

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