As a mid-capacity Chinese roadster leaves the AMCN long-term shed it has been replaced by Harley's Fat Bob 114
We’ve had a gaggle of small to mid-capacity bikes through AMCN HQ of late: the Super Soco TC Max, Royal Enfield’s Classic 350, and CFMoto’s 700 CL-X Sport. And while all perfectly capable machinery in their own right, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t missing a little bit of grunt in the long-term corner of the shed. But now, because Harley-Davidson has flicked us a 2022 Fat Bob 114 for a spell, grunt we have received.
The Fat Bob is one of my favourite Harleys, and I reckon it’s one of the best-handling, best-stopping and most unique machines in the Motor Company’s range. The Softail version of Fat Bob was unleashed on the world back in 2018 when Harley unveiled its all-new Softail platform.
The new Softail frame is a massive leap forward compared to the pre-2018 unit and, despite the Fat Bob’s fat 150/80-16 front tyre and thick 180/70-16 rear tyre, it handles pretty well – and there’s even a relatively good amount of ground clearance for a Harley.
The front-end is adorned with a 43mm non-adjustable USD fork that is just fine for my weight and the speed I ride. The hidden rear monoshock features a remote preload adjuster just below the rider’s right butt cheek, which makes it easy to wind on a bit more preload if you’re carrying luggage or you want to take an enemy for a ride on the wallet-sized pillion seat.
One of my favourite features of the Fat Bob is that it has a twin-disc brake setup on the front. Twin 300mm discs are gripped by a couple of four-piston calipers, and they’re up to the task of pulling up the Fat Bob’s claimed 306kg wet weight. I know some Harley folk are happy to forgo braking performance for looks, but a single disc setup is simply inadequate – it’s double or nothing for me!
When the Fat Bob was released back in 2018 it was available with either the Milwaukee-Eight 107ci or 114ci donk, but these days it’s only available with the Milwaukee-Eight 114ci (1868cc). Unfortunately, Bob missed out on the 117ci upgrade the Breakout and Low Rider S received for 2022. With 71kW (95hp) at 4750rpm and 155Nm at 3500rpm, the 114 is no slouch, but remember grunt is the name of the game here. We want to show you how you can extract more performance without replacing the engine or doing major surgery on it (scroll down for the plan).
The suspension and brakes at both ends are perfectly adequate, so we won’t be mucking about with that side of things unless the extra performance overwhelms them. If so, then we may rip the catalogue out.
So far I’ve put about 600km on the bike, which included some heavy use over the Christmas and New Year period. So far it seems surprisingly frugal on fuel when I’m in highway mode, and I’ll continue to provide accurate consumption figures so we can ascertain how the performance gains have made an impact.
Bob already has a habit of lighting up the rear tyre whenever I launch off the lights, so with the Screamin’ Eagle upgrades and a few runs down the quarter we may need a new rear tyre soon.
The Fat Bob is an excellent city cruiser, although it’s more comfortable than it looks so long runs are on the cards. But don’t worry, we’ll play to its strengths and make it an even better hoon machine with some performance upgrades – no sissy bars here.
Stay tuned for the next installment of adventures with our long term Fat Bob 114.
Anyone who read my test review of the Fat Bob (AMCN Vol 71 No 04) will already know I’m a big fan. But since H-D has also kindly thrown us the key to the parts storeroom, we’ll be adding on some performance parts to make what’s an already great package into an even better one. We can pick what we like from the genuine parts and accessories catalogue, but we’ll focus on maintaining the Fat Bob’s bruiser cruiser image while simultaneously chasing more performance – but not to the point of making it a pig to ride on a daily basis.
We’ll get the Screamin’ Eagle Stage I kit fitted up, which includes a high-flow exhaust system, Heavy Breather Air Cleaner and the Pro Street Tuner before heading out to Western Sydney Dragway’s monthly bike night for a run up the quarter mile. Apart from the performance gains made by the addition of the exhaust system, Bob should sound a whole lot better without deafening those in earshot, too.
Then we’ll fit up the Stage II Torque kit, which includes a Screamin’ Eagle cam, adjustable pushrods and pushrod covers, as well as the associated o-rings and gaskets, and then return to the dragstrip again in to compare times.