2021 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy - Performance, Price, and Photos
The 2021 restyling brightens H-D’s iconic Softailby TJ Hinton, on LISTEN 08:20
Harley-Davidson pared down its Softail lineup ahead of MY2021, but its venerable Fat Boy makes the cut to continue into the current lineup. It rolls with the relatively new, 114 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight engine in a similarly newish Softail frame, but the overall look still displays the classic genetic markers of the Fat Boy family. Better handling and improved performance join with stock ABS protection to complete the 2021 package.
2021 - 2022 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy - Performance, Price, and Photos
Top Speed:105 mph
2021 – 2022 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Performance and Capability
The Fat Boy runs the Milwaukee-Eight 114 mill that appeals to cruiser riders who like a little get-up-and-go. Bore and stroke mic out at 102 mm and 114.3 mm respectively for a total displacement of 1,868 cc (114 cubic-inches) with a relatively-mild 10.5-to-1 compression ratio that will accept mid-grade pusholine.
The Mil-8 114 falls in the middle of the current Big Twin range between the base Mil-8 107 and the top-shelf 117 engine from the CVO lineup. Induction management falls to an electronically-controlled throttle body while the exhaust exits via a 2-into-2 pipe setup with a catalytic converter in the exhaust to help clean up emissions by burning off free hydrocarbons in the exhaust stream.
A single camshaft in the nosecone area actuates the four-valve heads through a quartet of external pushrods that ride in their own tubes. This arrangement marks a return to the designs of old that used a single cam, before the days of the Twin Cam engine. One new thing that isn’t as readily apparent is the pair of counterbalancers in the engine that helps tame some of the V-Twin shake. Some purists maintain that it takes too much of the vibration out, but I’ll leave it to you to decide for yourself.
Engine output is 119 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm. Power flows over a chain-type primary drive, through a six-speed transmission, and to the rear wheel via a carbon-reinforced belt for a Fat Boy top speed of around 105 mph.
|Engine:||Milwaukee-Eight® 114, Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; four valves per cylinder|
|Displacement:||114 cu in (1,868 cc)|
|Bore x Stroke:||4.016 in. (102 mm) x 4.5 in. (114 mm)|
|Engine Torque (J1349):||119 lb-ft (161 Nm) @ 3,000 rpm|
|Fuel System:||Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)|
|Air Cleaner:||Ventilator intake with fiberglass media, washable exposed element with rain sock|
|Exhaust:||2-into-2 staggered; catalyst in muffler|
|Lubrication System:||Pressurized, dry-sump with oil cooler|
|Primary Drive:||Chain, 34/46 ratio|
|Final Drive:||Belt, 32/66 ratio|
|Clutch:||Mechanical, 10 plate wet, assist & conventional|
|Transmission:||6-Speed Cruise Drive®|
|Gear Ratios (overall):||1st: 9.311, 2nd: 6.454, 3rd: 4.793, 4th: 3.882, 5th: 3.307, 6th: 2.79|
The Fat Boy started as a teaser model in ’88 and ’89 before going into production for the 1990 model year, but it wasn’t until Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped one into history in the 1991 science-fiction action hit Terminator 2: Judgment Day that the Fat Boy became a household name. Ever a Softail model, the faux rigid Fat Boy hits all of the pertinent high points with fat, chrome-skirted front forks, a low 25.9-inch seat height, and solid-disc wheels front and rear.
Forward foot controls and full footboards join a short-rise/slight-pullback handlebar to put the rider in the windsock position with an upright posture fairly comfortable for most body types. Shorter riders may find the forward foot supports to be something less than confidence-inspiring, and riders of all sorts will have trouble using any sort of body English with such a rider’s triangle.
The fenders at both ends carry the suggestion of a traditional layout but bobbed slightly in a nod to the custom culture of old. The move to LED lighting led to a change in the actual headlight housing though the factory took steps to preserve the old chrome-nacelle look up front in spite of the modern lighting.
Out back, a set of strut-mount, bullet-shaped turn-signal housings joins a slim LED lightbar taillight and side-mount license-plate holder complete the gear in the rear. Due to the beefy front end and hallmark solid rims, the Fat Boy carries lots of actual weight – like its visual weight – down low to make this a solid-feeling and solid-looking machine.
|Length:||93.3 in. (2,370 mm)|
|Overall Width:||38.8 in. (985 mm)|
|Overall Height:||43.1 in. (1,095 mm)|
|Seat Height, Laden:||25.9 in. (658 mm)|
|Seat Height, Unladen:||26.6 in. (675 mm)|
|Ground Clearance:||4.5 in. (115 mm)|
|Wheelbase:||65.6 in. (1,665 mm)|
|Tires:||Michelin® Scorcher® "11"|
|Fuel Capacity:||5 gal. (18.9 l) with 1 gal. (3.8 l) reserve|
|Fuel Economy:||47 mpg (5 l/100 km)|
|Weight, As Shipped:||671 lb. (304 kg)|
|Curb Weight:||699 lb. (317 kg)|
|Gross Vehicle Weight Rating:||1,175 lb. (533 kg)|
|Gross Axle Weight Rating:||Front: 450 lb. (204 kg), Rear: 760 lb. (345 kg)|
Fat, skirted forks float the front end of the Fat Boy with cartridge technology on damping duty, but the only adjustment in the suspension is on the under-seat shock that supports the rear end. Rake and trail are 30-degrees and 4.1-inches respectively, the former for stability and the latter for eager cornering. The Fat Boy benefits from both of these characteristics.
When the MoCo moved to discard its Dyna line and focus on the Softail as its sole heavy-cruiser platform, it started with a rebuild of the special frame to deal with handling and comfort issues associated with the original Softail skeleton. However, like the original, a triangular swingarm sells the old-school look and sets the tone for the rest of the design.
Solid cast-aluminum disc rims come machined in the Lakester pattern in an all-around 18-inch diameter. The tires are uncommonly fat with a 160/60 up front ahead of a 240/40, and not only does this reinforce the fat-and-low look, but it provides a relatively large contact patch at both ends for improved traction and safety.
Wet weight measures in at 699 pounds, so it’s a surprise that the MoCo decided to send its newest Fat Boy out with only one front brake. The only good news here is that you can safely get the most out of the available brakes through the stock ABS feature.
|Frame:||Mild steel, tubular frame; rectangular section backbone; stamped, cast, and forged junctions; MIG welded; aluminum forged fender supports|
|Swingarm:||Mild steel, tubular sections, stamped x-member, forged axle junctions; MIG welded; removable belt spacer|
|Front Fork/ Travel:||Dual-bending valve 49 mm telescopic with aluminum fork triple clamps; dual-rate spring; "beer can" covers/ 5.1 in. (130 mm)|
|Rear Shocks/ Travel:||Hidden, free piston, coil-over mono-shock; 43mm stroke; toolless hydraulic preload adjustment/ 3.4 in. (86 mm)|
|Rake (steering head):||30°|
|Trail:||4.1 in. (104 mm)|
|Lean Angle:||Right: 25.6°, Left: 25.6°|
|Wheels:||Machined, Lakester cast aluminum|
|Wheel, Front:||4.5 in. x 18 in.|
|Wheel, Rear:||8 in. x 18 in.|
|Brakes, Front:||300 mm 4-piston fixed caliper, Split 7-spoke floating rotors|
|Brakes, Rear:||292 mm 2-piston floating rear, Split 7-spoke floating rotors|
|Brakes, Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS):||Standard|
Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Pricing
As usual with H-D, the price varies according to color. At the bottom of the list is the Vivid Black model with its $19,530 sticker. Reef Blue rolls for $19,980, and if you want that two-tone Midnight Crimson/Vivid Black package, you’ll have to shell out a total of $20,305.
|└ 2021:||Vivid Black, Black Jack Metallic, Deadwood Green, Gauntlet Gray Metallic/Vivid Black|
|└ 2022:||Vivid Black, Reef Blue, Midnight Crimson/Vivid Black|
|└ 2021:||Vivid Black: $19,999, Color: $20,399, Two-Tone: $20,749|
|└ 2022:||$19,530, Color: $19,980, Two-Tone: $20,305|
H-D has no shortage of competition from abroad, but for someone looking for a bona fide American machine, nothing else will do but an Indian bike. With that in mind, I grabbed the Indian Vintage for this head-to-head.
Right off the bat, I’ll admit that the stock Indian Vintage is more of a bagger/old-school tour bike, but if you remove the quick-disconnect windshield and strike the bags, you’re left with a dandy competitor for the new Fat Boy 114. There’s no shortage of chrome to be had on the Vintage, but even more, striking are the tan leather appointments that brighten up areas that are normally dominated by black leather.
ABS is a standard feature across the board, but Indian trounces H-D in engine electronics with a trio of Ride Mode profiles and a Rear-Cylinder Deactivation feature. Indian takes the extra step of building the engine to more-or-less match the same era as the rest of the machine. Faux cooling fins on the rocker boxes and parallel pushrod tubes call to mind the look of the old flathead/side-valve engines, but it’s a thoroughly modern engine with 119 pound-feet of torque on tap.
Price is a wash as the Indian Vintage rolls for $20,499. This puts it right on target with the Harley Fat Boy.
“It’s good to see the Fat Boy keep on keeping on, though I’ll wager that H-D more-or-less has to keep it in the lineup at this point as it’s been one of the most popular Softails through the years. I can tell you from experience, that the Mil-8 114 is a very grunty engine with something to give in almost any gear, almost any speed. Personally, I’m not really put off at all by the lack of vibration from this engine family.”
My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “Complain when there’s vibration and then complain when there isn’t enough. I dunno. Seems like there’s always complainers. In 2021, the Fay Boy came to us with refreshed styling. Bright chrome replaced the satin chrome from the 2020 Fat Boy and I like it. I can never fault the performance of the Mil-8 engine. It’s grunty with ample roll-on anywhere in the rev range.”