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2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob and Deluxe | Bike Tests | Latest Tests

Harley-Davidson’s nine-model Softail range includes a style of bike to suit just about every taste – if you’re into that sort of thing. Here, we have a crack at preaching to a non-believer

Aidan Hayes is an Australian Supersport racer. He’s also a member of AMCN’s rent-a-rider test team. But one thing Aidan’s not is a Harley-Davidson rider. In fact, with a background in enduro, and a relatively late introduction to road racing, I soon discovered that he’d never once thrown a leg over a V-twin-powered cruiser of any kind, let alone one from arguably the most recognised cruiser brand in the world.

With a plan to change that, I chose two models from opposite ends of Harley’s 2018 Softail range; choice one was the Fat Bob. It looks like no Harley before it, it’s the marque’s take on a sports model, but it’s not a sportsbike by any stretch of the imagination.

As a contrast, the second choice was the Deluxe. Outside the big-ass beasts from Harley’s touring range, no model screams H-D heritage louder than the Deluxe – it’s all chrome, white-wall tyres and attitude.

My grin widened when I discovered Aidan had never worn an open-face helmet. Link International fixed him up with a new AGV  X70 Pasolini replica so, even though he might not have ever heard of Renzo Pasolini, he could add bugs-in-the-teeth to his growing list of firsts.

With sunglasses in hand, the mercury already pushing 30 degrees at 8am and a full day of riding ahead of us, we climbed aboard our steel ponies. First job was to mess with Aidan’s head, so I played him the opening riff of Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf so he would have the song stuck in his head for the rest of the day – and it worked.

So as not to give the young bull too much of a culture shock, I allowed him to pop his Harley cherry on the less-intrusive Fat Bob. The futuristic styling has polarised the H-D faithful since its release last year. It’s a mash of cruiser, sportsbike and scrambler with Mad Max overtones.

Both of our test bikes were fitted with the Milwaukee-Eight 107ci (1753cc) twin-cooled eight-valve V-twin, but there’s also the optional 114ci (1868cc) mill available for the Fat Bob.

Pulling out of the carpark, I giggled as Aidan’s feet flapped around in search for non-existent mid-mounted pegs. I did exactly the same thing the first time I rode a Harley and people laughed at me too – it never gets old.

Read the full story in the current issue (Vol 67 No 18) of AMCN on sale now