NOTHING about the 2021 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 is subtle and that’s just the way we like it. From its unapologetic, in-your-face appearance – to its ride demeanour that highlights its own unique do-it-my-way style – this bike has its own soul.
You’ll either love or hate the styling cues, it’s as simple as that. From the LED headlight that sort of looks like a light bar that you would find on a bull bar of a 4WD, to its fat front tyre and drag bars, the Fat Bob has an imposing stance, but in our opinion, the look works.
Minimalistic, yet tough, the Fat Bob has an almost hot rod style that sets the scene for how this bike performs on the road. Covered in Deadwood Denim paint with black highlights matching the blacked-out motor, the Harley-Davidson cruiser looks mint.
Flick the ignition on and bring the 114 Milwaukee Eight to life and you immediately notice that it feels more nimble than other Softails in Harley’s model range. We were also surprised that the seating position felt a little more upright than we’d expected.
The forward controls are within easy reach, the stretch to the drag bars is just right and puts you in the perfect position to hit the corner, or just cruise and take in the sights. As the marketing folk would say, the ergonomic triangle is very good on the Fat Bob.
All the necessary buttons and switches easy to use, feel good to the touch, and are nice and big so don’t distract from rider focus. There is a large analogue speedo too, which sports LED warning lights and a display screen, both of which do the job nicely.
Get the Fat Bob out into a twisty backroad and this is where the real fun can be had. It’s an absolute delight ride and the way the bike can be thrown into corners is almost un-cruiser like. It certainly brought an ear-to-ear grin under this rider’s helmet.
There may have even been a few school girl giggles as well, just quietly. Such is the nature of the riding experience on this bike. The Fat Bob features 31 and 32 degree lean angles to the left and right, as well as 120mm ground clearance.
The figures don’t do the Harley-Davidson’s stout characteristics justice to be honest. Power from the engine is smooth and crisp, with the upswept 2-1-2 exhaust system grumbling nicely – well as nicely as any standard set of pipes can.
The 114 motor shines in the Fat Bob as it moves its 306kg frame, which sits at the lighter end of the scales for the Softail family. It has a nice low seat height of 710mm as well, which makes it easy to plant your feet on the ground when stopping.
Why you’d want to stop when there is an open road ahead and corners to be tamed is beyond us. The Fat Bob exemplified how much fun a Harley-Davidson could be in an unconventional way.
It can be best summed up by checking out Fat Bob’s shoes (tyres). You would expect the same tyres that feature on the rest of Harley-Davidson’s Softail range to be here too, but they’re not. Instead, it wears a 150mm hoop up front and 180mm at the rear.
It helps give the Fat Bob that muscular, stout stance, and the rubber features a much more aggressive tread pattern that looks almost like a partial off-road tread pattern. It’s a unique setup, and yet the handling works very well.
This is partially due to the inverted-race style front fork design, utilising single cartridge technology that Harley-Davidson claim improves steering input, and braking and handling performance.
However the bike maker describes it, the plain and simple fact is that this is one of the best handling and more dynamic Softails, hands down. We can certainly see why Fat Bob riders the world over love their bike.
Braking is also very efficient, and the 2021 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 makes use of a 4-piston fixed front and 2-piston floating rear setup that offers great feel and bite for the rider.
The Fat Bob’s fuel tank carries 13.6-litres of go go juice and that had us averaging around 280km per fill during our test period. That’s more than reasonable and will have you travelling a decent distance between pit stops.
If the Deadwood Denim of our tester is not your style, the Fat Bob is also available in Billiard Red and Vivid Black. Pricing starts from $29,995 ride away for Vivid Black, with a premium of $345 for the two other colour variants.
Harley-Davidson’s 2021 Fat Bob is a great bit of gear and is really going to appeal to those who want a sportier HD variant. It handles well and offers a great ride experience. We reckon it would even make a great base for a custom bike.