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Since 1999, the #1 Motorcycling Magazine for Women and the Men Who Ride with Them

Review: 2018 Harley-Davidson Softails

Comprehensive detailed review of each of the eight new models

By Tricia Szulewski, Editor

Softail Sportbike Wannabe – The Fat Bob

I love the Fat Bob. In fact, the only Harley-Davidson I ever owned was a 2009 Dyna Fat Bob. I loved its mean stance and I could ride it aggressively like a sportbike when I wanted to have fun in twisty corners. I loved the feeling so much that I sold the Dyna cruiser earlier this year and bought a real sportbike, a BMW R 1200 RS.

But the 2018 Fat Bob is pulling at my Harley-Davidson heartstrings again. I couldn’t wait to get seat time on the 2018, and I wasn’t alone. The Fat Bob was a clear favorite among many moto-journalists at the press launch, and I noticed Harley proudly features this bike front and center in a lot of its marketing materials.

2018 Harley-Davidson Softails Review. Mid-placed pegs on the new Fat 2018 harley-davidson softails fat bob pegs
I’m thankful Harley engineered mid-placed pegs back into Fat Bob, even though they aren’t back as far as the ones on my 2009. But they are easy to reach for my 5-foot 7-inch height, and offer a comfortable position for this Softail “sportbike.” I’m wearing a Schuberth M1 helmet in Madrid Metal ($499), Black Brand Eternity Jacket ($300), and Harley-Davidson Newhall performance boots in brown ($170).

review 2018 harley-davidson softails fat bob new look
The 2018 Fat Bob’s fat 16-inch tires, chopped (bobbed) fenders, dark chiseled details, satin finishes, and performance-inspired 2-into-1-into-2 upswept exhaust give it a tough-guy hooligan look. The Fat Bob is offered with the 114 inch engine for an additional $1,700.

review 2018 harley-davidson softails fat bob led
The horizontal LED headlight replaces the former model’s dual round headlights and is unmistakable when you see it coming toward you.

review 2018 harley-davidson softails fat bob new seat
The Fat Bob’s seat height is 27.7 inches, which is 1.6 inches higher than its predecessor, but still super easy for my 5-foot-7-inch height. The lower center of gravity will make this “higher” height accessible to those shorter confident riders. The wide, flat bars look cool and are positioned perfectly for my reach.

Harley engineers tell me the decision to fit the smaller, 3.6 gallon tank on the Fat Bob was to offer a full view of the Milwaukee-Eight powerplant. This was the one disappointment to me and other die-hard Fat Bob fanatics. This bike is supposed to be fat and the slim tank just doesn’t work for me.

Fitting saddlebags to this bike is going to take a lot of innovation since there’s no Genuine Harley Accessory way to do so yet. But this bike isn’t set up for touring. The only Softail with an inverted front fork assembly, the Fat Bob was built for riders who want to ride hard and look cool doing it.

Specs at a Glance: Fat Bob FXFB/FXFBS
Engine size: 107 ci (1746cc); 114 ci (1868cc)
Seat height: 27.7 inches
Weight: 675 pounds
Fuel capacity: 3.6 gallons
Colors: 107 – Vivid Black, Black, Red Iron Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim; 114 – Vivid
Black, Black, Red Iron Denim, Industrial Gray Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim
Price: 107 – starts at $16,999 (ABS $795); 114 – starts at $18,699

Click here for the next Softail.
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