Harley-Davidson FLFB/S Fat Boy is an Iconically Smooth Ride
The Dynas might be gone, but the new Fat Boy celebrates almost thirty years of production.
When Harley-Davidson rolled out the 2018 models, there were some notable absences in the lineup. Fortunately, the popular Softail Fat Boy was not on the chopping block. The iconic model has been a bestseller since it was first released in 1990. The Fat Boy did however, receive a completely modern makeover that pushed design boundaries for the Motor Company.
The 2018 Fat Boy shares the new Softail chassis with other models. Credit should be given to the Harley-Davidson engineers who developed such a versatile frame with performance in mind. The mild-steel tubular frame is now much stiffer than the previous Softail frame, has far less component parts and less welds. The better frame translates the best where it counts the most — in the handling.
While the frame is a common element, the Fat Boy's look is unique. Essential elements that made the old Fat Boy so popular were retained. Among those distinct features are the 'Lakester' solid aluminum wheels and the headlight nacelle. Once a separate unit, the nacelle is now integrated in a chunky, round-meets-square vintage television-look that holds an updated LED headlight.
The solid-mount Milwaukee-Eight adds to the overall rigidity of the motorcycle. Available in 107 cubic-inch, or the potent 114 cubic-inch version, the four-valve-per-cylinder motor features dual counter balancers that make for one smooth ride. While the motor is a heavy hitter in stock form, it can be upgraded to 117 cubic inches of neck-snapping power with a Screamin’ Eagle Stage III kit.
The stiffer frame does not translate to a harsh ride. The newly-designed Softail chassis has a single under-seat coil-over unit that compresses under load, unlike the old dual shock design that extended when hitting bumps. Out front is the much-praised Showa Dual Bending Valve fork. Standard on the 2018 Fat Boy, the fork was first introduced on touring models in 2017.
Along with the Willie G. Davidson-designed winged logo, the Fat Boy keeps its analogue speedometer and dash cluster. The frontend is still clad in a generous sheath of aluminum, and the 'beer can' fork shrouds were retained. A nod to past design features, the dimpled dash insert pulls its styling cues from the outgoing generation of Fat Boy wheels, which featured similar holes along their perimeter.
Internally, the new Softail platform was known as 'Serengeti,' and Harley-Davidson is rightfully proud of their creation. Brad Richards, Vice President of Styling and Design at Harley-Davidson, spoke about the new design. “The new Softail frame is like a piece of art, and the more you take off the bike, the more beautiful it becomes. Its design speaks to the teamwork that our styling and engineering processes demand.”
The Fat Boy is a perfect blend of past and present. It is steeped in tradition, but imbued with contemporary features. It is also a timeless ride that delivers both performance and handling. Its an eye-catching design that is more muscular and less chunky than its predecessor. Most importantly, it seems to be just as popular as before. Check it out for yourself in this HD Forums thread Everything 2018 FatBoy.
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