Each and every one of the Harley-Davidson families has an iconic model that simply can’t be missed in the crowd. The Fat Boy is that specific model for the Softail family due to the multitude of distinctive features completing the already unique American style. Can’t get enough of it? It’s all about the pure pleasure of admiring your ride long after you’ve stopped the engine so we’re talking about a rolling work of art right here.
It’s a well known fact that you first hear a motorcycle coming and only afterwards see it (especially if equipped with the right pipes) so we simply cannot miss the source of all fun and excitement, the 1,584 cc, Twin Cam 96B engine. On the Fat Boy, this works with a claimed 89.80 ft. lbs. of torque from 2,750 rpm in order to move around the 714 lbs wet weight (also claimed) of the 2009 model year.
The seat is low (just 25.4 inches from the ground) and the bike features pullback handlebars as well as floorboards in order to provide a very comfortable ride (even to short persons). Despite the compact, muscular looks, this Softail model features a 31-degree rake and 5.80 inches trail which might be nothing compared to the Rocker models, but for this bike right here is the adequate choice in order to meet the balance between handling, comfort and looks.
Setting the Fat Boy apart from all of Harley’s other models are definitely the Silver Bullet Hole Disc Cast Aluminum 17-inch wheels which in time ended up being called simply Fat Boy wheels so it’s clear how big of an impact these have on the bike’s public image. For 2009, the rims are optionally offered either polished or chromed and if we think at the colors available for this thing, it’s clear that factory customization is a possibility that they offer on all models nowadays. But the Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy is far from being a recent addition to the American company’s lineup so let’s go on this model’s tire marks and notice the evolution.
The first Harley-Davidson Fat Boy was introduced in 1990 and it was an immediate hit in the heavyweight category mostly due to the unique design. The word is out that the first silver painted motorcycle was actually inspired by the B-29 bomber which carried the atom bombs above Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the World War II and the Fat Man and Little Boy names of the bombs have everything to do with the bike’s name, but nothing is official in this concern.
Harley’s top notch motor of the time was the air-cooled 1,337 cc (81.58 cubic inches) V-twin, OHV with two valves per cylinder developing 49 hp at 5,000 rpm. The unit was also powering the new born model that came with a five-speed gearbox, belt final drive and a pair of 16 inches wheels that looked totally out of the ordinary. It was precisely what the motorcycle market needed and, still, no bike remained in stock condition for long.
The 1993 model year featured the tweaked and tuned 1,338 cc (81.64 cubic inches) engine which managed to develop 86.30 Nm at 2,400 rpm while loosing a single horsepower - 48 hp at 4,900 rpm. Design didn’t change.
By 1995, after engineers took another serious look at the motor, horsepower number was increased to 57 hp at 5,000 rpm and 97 Nm at 2,350 rpm. Displacement wasn’t increased and no sixth gear was added as the new Fat Boy needed that less than ever.
1998 saw the 95th Anniversary Fat Boy featuring two-tone paintjob and being fitted with a special anniversary badge.
The new millennium brought the 63 hp at 5,200 rpm and 106 Nm at 3,500 rpm 1,449 cc, V-twin engine still mated to a five-speed gearbox. Stylistically, the bike was more refined, but still faithful to the original look.
In 2001, the Fat Boy gets fuel injection, but the upgrade doesn’t significantly modify performance figures. Later on (in 2005), this was to develop into the Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) system.
2007 marks another displacement increase (this time to 1,573.25 cc) as well as a higher torque level (121.76 Nm at 2,750 rpm). A six-speed tranny was finally added and the top speed was much more decent (around 115 mph). Still, Harley wasn’t completely satisfied and a year later the 1,584 cc motor entered the scene. This was carried on the 2009 model year and is expected to power the bike long time from now on.
Indian Motorcycle has the alternative for the Fat Boy although it doesn’t come with the same wheels style. The 2009 Chief Standard is even more imposing and features an even bigger V-twin engine (105 cubic inches) that is as well fuel injected. This translates into 100 ft. lbs. of torque which is valued through a six-speed gearbox. Yet, considering the 773 lbs. wet weight, it should top at the same speed, but only riders who are highly dedicated to this brand will find that out as the Standard model starts at $30,999.
Ever since it was first introduced, the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy was all about being long, low and characterized by smooth flowing lines and the 2009 model year is all about the original design. The beefy fork and large headlight dominate the front end while this is also where the 17-inch Silver Bullet Hole Disc Cast Aluminum wheel looks the best of it and there is a single brake disc for that reason. Optional mirror polished chrome-plated wheels are also available on the 2009 model year so that your ride would shine brightly down the boulevards and highways. The custom handlebars are mounted on Bare Knuckle risers and are internally wired for a nice, clean look and functionality.
Everything on this bike is “chubby” starting with the tires (140 mm front and 200 mm rear), 5-gallon Fat Bob tank on which the instruments are mounted and finishing with what’s between the wheels, a 1,584 cc powder coated engine with chrome covers. We appreciate the horseshoe oil tank, low and spacious seat as well as the Shotgun exhaust. Also, considering the big engine and highly comfortable riding position, customization is second nature for the Fat Boy.
There are plenty of custom colors to choose from so at least in this concern, the Fat Boy drifts away from the bomber inspirations: Vivid Black; Black Pearl; Pewter Pearl; Flame Blue Pearl (New); Black Denim; Red Hot Sunglo (New);Two-Tone Black Ice/Blue Ice (Custom Color Available October through December 2008); Two-Tone Light Candy Root Beer/Dark Candy Root Beer (Custom Color Available January through March 2009); Two-Tone Big Purple Flake/Brilliant Silver (Custom Color Available April through May 2009).
Based on the chosen color, the MSRP starts at $15,999 (Black), $ 16,344 (Color), or $16,824 (Custom Color), almost half the starting price of the Indian and just over the pricing range of the Japanese alternatives.
The Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is a year away from being twenty years old on the scene and we must say that it brings a distinctive look both on the market and in Harley’s Softail lineup without being dramatically different compared to the original model. It gradually evolved into a better performing motorcycle and even today it is being recognized as “Harley’s biggest success from the early 1990s!”