Introduced in the early '90s with a stylish chrome-accented metallic armour, the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy has always been a hit among fans of large, stripped-down cruisers. While it gained even more chrome over the years, this bike remains one of the best-loved custom classics.
In 2007, similar to the rest of the Softail family, the Fat Boy received key upgrades to the engine and chassis including a 134cc increase in displacement, a sixth gear, and a wider frame accommodating larger wheels and tires.
As far as Harleys go, the Fat Boy is a living legend - and it's no wonder Arnold Schwarzenegger was riding one in ''Terminator 2.'' The big tank, 200mm rear tire, shotgun-style tailpipes, beefy front fork, and gorgeous bullet-hole wheels are just some of the styling elements that highlight this much aptly named two-wheeler.
The 2012 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is powered by a 1,584cc pushrod V-twin and 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission (a little ''6'' digit lights up on the instrument panel when the sixth gear is engaged). The double-lever heel and toe-style gear shifter makes shifting easy, while the massive torque shoots you forward with a bang.
Devoid of heavy fairings and saddlebags, the Fat Boy proves more nimble and responsive than its siblings. Engine output is satisfying for riders who are used to the characteristic accelerations of a cruiser. With 94 lb-ft at just 3,000 rpm, you can easily get away from most tough spots while enjoying a sweet exhaust note.
Harley-Davidson engineers did a good job of eliminating virtually all vibrations beyond idle, leaving only that unmistakable syncopated rhythm at ultra-low revs - and we wouldn't want it any other way.
|The 2012 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy is powered by a 1,584cc pushrod V-twin and 6-speed Cruise Drive transmission. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
The upgrades to the latest evolution of the Softail chassis can still be felt at all times. The 2012 Fat Boy is much more rigid and sharper, not to mention extremely rider-friendly. You can soak in the beautiful panorama and the unique feeling of this big cruiser at the same time.
Riding the Fat Boy on winding roads seems like child's play, provided that your mind stays in cruising mode. Should you up the tempo, you'll quickly become aware of its limited ground clearance and lack of bite from the front brake. With a machine that weighs close to 300 kilos, you'd better rely on both brakes to at least ensure class-average braking distances.
You just can't go unnoticed on such a bulky and rugged steel horse that makes you look like a road warrior. The striking yellow paint and blinding chrome certainly won't help you.
|Riding on a straight, badly maintained stretch of pavement along the river didn't hurt my back at all, even after intentionally hitting various bumps and cracks. (Photo: Sébastien D'Amour)
Riding on a straight, badly maintained stretch of pavement along the river didn't hurt my back at all, even after intentionally hitting various bumps and cracks. Amazingly, the Fat Boy's slammed look doesn't come at the expense of ride quality.
Over long distances, however, its considerable heft and slightly tight riding position end up taxing the body. But if you're in no rush and don't care how far you go, this iconic Harley will reward you with a delightful soundtrack and put a smile on your face every minute.
A living legend on two wheels
Limited ground clearance
Front brake lacks bite