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2018 FatBob 114ci Unbiased review - I really wanted to hate this bike..... but it's good!

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2018 FatBob 114ci Unbiased review - I really wanted to hate this bike..... but it's good!

 
  #1  
Old 09-20-2017, 01:49 AM
brasher
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Default 2018 FatBob 114ci Unbiased review - I really wanted to hate this bike..... but it's good!

Today I got to take the 114ci Fatbob for an extended test ride. I was only planning to have a look at them in the flesh and maybe have a sit on one for something to do today. Instead I was thrown the keys and told take as long as you like.... and that's exactly what I did.

A bit of preface, I ride a 2017 Low Rider S with Bassani RR3 2-1, intake and a good tune, bike makes 95hp/114 ft lb. I've been riding various HD's for approx 7 years now. I'm one "of those guys" who does wheelies/stupid **** on Dyna's, so I really wanted to dislike this bike as it meant the death of my beloved Dyna's. But alas, everything deserves a fair trial.



First things first, the big one... the looks. You either love the look of this bike or hate it. I on the "hate" side of the fence until I saw it in the flesh. The 2 big detractors are the hiddeous ADR compliant licence plate brackets (think Diavel style wrap around off the swingarm) and the gaudy gold pipes. I think HD are trying to replicate heat soaked Stainless here for a bit of contrast but it just looks naff in the flesh. All black would have been a much better option. But then again who keeps the stock exhaust.

The tank is noticeably smaller, thinner and suits the bike quite well. Mileage on one of these things once tuned properly will be pretty dismal I imagine, but I digress. Switchgear is nothing really new. The dash is a mixture of analogue tach and digital speedo. It's in a better position than the FXDLS that's for sure, but I did have some issues seeing the speed in direct sunlight.



Hopping on the bike in the carpark, first thing that comes to mind is this thing is a) short and b) light! It really surprised me how compact the bike felt. You cant see the front fender/wheel from the seated position so you get a bit of a sports bike position to it. Hitting the starter you are met with what is honestly a joke for an exhaust note. I've farted louder than this thing at 1500rpm. What I can tell you though is this M8 engine is so smooth I checked numerous times at the lights to make sure it was still idling via the tacho. The bike is robbed of it's heritage and soul a bit this idle.



First impressions after leaving the dealership are quick to come to fruition, these "forward" controls are completely wrong for this bike and holy **** is this thing nimble. I also noticed the stock seat is an absolute masterpiece. You wouldn't change it even if you had sultan of Brunei type money it's that good! So far so good!



Getting out of inner Sydney traffic and onto the first bit of open space I give the right hand a twist, compared to the 110ci twin cam this engine is so refined and smooth it's amazing. Torque builds super early but dithers out just as quick, it feels strangled and begs for an exhaust and tune. After 3500rpm the torque is diminishing but snicking up another gear you get another surge of grunt. The gearbag is real nice to use. A different Clunk from my Dyna but a re-assuring "snick" every upshift I made. The clutch is also super light. I was able to "1 finger" it for a while but 2 fingers is enough. I will note I had a lot of issues getting this bike into neutral particularly at the end of the ride, I was the first person to put any serious Km's onto it so it's still probably bedding in and could do with an adjustment at the ramp.

The big question you are probably asking "is this as fast as a stage 1 low Rider S?"..... Honestly I would have to say no, but it would be VERY close in a drag race. Remember this is a 100% stock standard bike with literally 40km's on it. Give this bike a good 2-1 and Dyno tune (by someone who knows what they are doing) and it's left right goodnight for the FXDLS. Put it this way, it's still enough to make 1st gear a smokeshow if you feel the need

Handling wise this bike sets a new benchmark for big twin HD's in my opinion. I've been lucky enough to ride more or less everything from the MoCo over the last 5 years and all I could think of was sportster handling combined with Big Twin power to sum it up. I never got close to scraping pegs no matter how hard I tried. The brakes were excellent and had fantastic initial bite. Another level up from my FXDLS. Suspension was a real good effort but I found the limits of the fork a few times and it still dives under brakes with my 100kg ballast. The rear shock is very good and had a plush initial feel and excellent bottoming resistance, coming from a motocross background I could definitely appreciate the work gone into this rear shocker. My favourite adjustment was to be at full stiffness via the hand adjustable **** to the right of the rear cylinder. It was firm enough for aggressive riding but combined with the excellent seat was fine for navigating Sydney's **** house roads.



I really had to nitpick for things I found problematic with this bike. The fork is too soft for aggressive riding, or maybe I'm just too fat. The rear cylinder head hits your inner thigh when stationary at the lights. Fortunately this engine runs so cool it wont result in 3rd degree burns like a twin cam. The stock exhaust is a joke as far as giving any aural enjoyment. I'm really trying to find faults but these are all so minor.

So the big questions:

1) Is this better than your FXDLS? - Yes, without a doubt this is a better motorcycle. I do however feel like this bike has foregone a bit of it's soul and character with this engine. It's smooth..... but too damn smooth. It needs a bit of mongrel about it. For your die hard Harley guy who probably still rides his Evo powered Softail and has a beard down to his Belly button he is going to hate this bike. This bike is targeted at the next gen of HD owners without a doubt.

2) Would you trade your bike in for one? - I thought long and hard about this as I handed back the keys and debreifed with the salesmen, at that point in time I probably would have. I hopped back on my bike, hit the starter and heard that 110ci engine shake and clatter beneath me, the exhaust echoing off the surrounding building. Turning out of the dealership giving it a handful of throttle, the rear steps out in one smooth fluent motion, bang 2nd gear and the big black bitch hits jail speed before you blink an eye. Nope... the FXDLS is here to stay!
 

Last edited by brasher; 09-20-2017 at 03:25 AM.
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Old 09-20-2017, 01:56 AM
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Thanks for the great review. You paint a positive view for this bike.

I still like my slow, noisy, poor performing Heritage Classic.
 
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Old 09-20-2017, 03:09 AM
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Good review - many thanks!

I am just pissed that the bikes have arrived in Australia before they reach the UK! Fat Bob 114" on order here...

As you say - the stock pipes will need to go (although I might just have the heat shields ceramic coated black, remove the cat and add the Street Cannon mufflers in black)

Then a cam and a tune and I think the bike should be set! Looks like the cam will have to be HD's Stage 2 "Torque" option to keep warranty.

The "International" licence plate holder is also horrible, but I will fix that with the HD side mount US version.
 
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Old 09-20-2017, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by adm View Post
Good review - many thanks!

I am just pissed that the bikes have arrived in Australia before they reach the UK! Fat Bob 114" on order here...

As you say - the stock pipes will need to go (although I might just have the heat shields ceramic coated black, remove the cat and add the Street Cannon mufflers in black)

Then a cam and a tune and I think the bike should be set! Looks like the cam will have to be HD's Stage 2 "Torque" option to keep warranty.

The "International" licence plate holder is also horrible, but I will fix that with the HD side mount US version.
Yeah kind of crazy how we got them before the UK. It's a gazillion miles from the USA

With a Cam and good tune this is going to be one epic bike, Heavier springs/cartridge into the fork is about all it needs IMO.

I was really impressed, I'm doing number crunching to try and own both
 
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Old 09-20-2017, 09:09 AM
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Really enjoyed the review, OP! Thanks!
 
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Old 09-20-2017, 12:39 PM
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Great review...thanks for taking the time to share this here.
 
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Old 09-20-2017, 02:34 PM
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Really enjoyed your review. A few things I'd mention from 1,000 miles are that the 114 significantly improves with break in. The first 500 miles it's very tight with all the gear driven everything now. My Heritage feels vastly different and better at 1,000 miles in the power and speed department. I haven't ridden the 110 with a Stage 1 so I can't compare, but I do know how much stronger the 114 has ridden in than when I started.

As a grey bearded Evo guy I'll say this...I would never get rid of my Evo for any other bike. Period. But I do vastly prefer the M8 to my Twin Cams. I don't agree with comments that it has given up its character or soul. I dreaded that possibility when I test rode it. I feel I went in expecting the worst, and at first the worst seemed true. It is completely gone from idle, which I'll forever miss, and low speed is not as fun as on a Dyna, but by 2600 rpm it has much more feeling than any Twin Cam that I've ridden. So while it's very smooth below that, it actually has tons of character where I spend most of my time, which is actually riding. If it didn't, it wouldn't be in my garage. I'm covered for bikes and really wasn't planning to buy one...it convinced me. It actually has more vibes at speed than my '09 Dyna, but none of the hateful buzz of the Twin Cam B motor. Overall it's closer to my Evo in feel, if not sound...and again nothing to do with idle..

The gear whine I think also throws people off since we're used to clatter instead, but I after 30mph I don't really hear it, even with stock pipes.

I'd be interested in your views after you try a more run in example of the motor for comparison sake.
 

Last edited by Thingfish; 09-20-2017 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:02 AM
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How is comfort on the new Fat Bob? I haven't seen any comments about comfort on any of the new softails...
 
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:36 AM
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I might have missed it in the review but what horsepower is the Fat Bob 114 putting out???
 
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Old 09-22-2017, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by musclehd View Post
How is comfort on the new Fat Bob? I haven't seen any comments about comfort on any of the new softails...
Comfort on the Heritage is great. Sitting on the others I'd give a thumbs up as well. Going down the road the suspension is a game changer. Soaks up the bumps easily, but tracks very well. No wallowing, bottoming, or pogo. Really adds to the comfort and control.
 

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