2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob Review

A beast lurks in the shadows of Project Rushmore

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2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

Editor Score: 92.0%
Engine 19/20
Suspension/Handling 14/15
Transmission/Clutch 9/10
Brakes 9/10
Instruments/Controls5/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 8/10
Appearance/Quality 10/10
Desirability 10/10
Value 8/10
Overall Score92/100

A wise man once said, “Speak softly and carry a big, fat stick.” Or something like that.

Lost in the hullabaloo of Project Rushmore was the remastering of one of Harley-Davidson’s more successful recent models, the plucky Fat Bob. The FXDF was present and accounted for at the recent 2014 H-D model launch/dealer show in Denver, Colorado but received little fanfare; in typical strong-but-silent fashion the Fat Bob was content to lurk in the shadows and bide its time, letting the big touring boys hog the glamour and waiting for the prime opportunity to make its tough-guy presence felt.

First launched in 2008 and then hopped up with the Twin Cam 103 in 2012, the Fat Bob receives entree into the Dark Custom line for 2014. Purists needn’t worry; the FXDF retains what made it distinctively robust, including the drag bar, forward controls, wide  front fork, thick knobby tires and double-barreled headlamps.

With a swarthy makeover comes blacked-out everything, including most of the engine as well as the triple clamps, headlamp trim ring, rear shock covers, and the battery box cover.

With a swarthy makeover comes blacked-out everything, including most of the engine as well as the triple clamps, headlamp trim ring, rear shock covers, and the battery box cover.

Not black but badass nonetheless is the new “tommy gun” style 2-1-2 exhaust with blunt-cut, staggered dual mufflers and an industrial slotted heat shield. Harley claims “Mad Max meets NASCAR” was an inspirational touchstone on the new FXDF’s styling, and this steampunk flourish adds a layer of depth to the bit of chrome still on display. A slotted shield is also deployed front-and-center down the spine of the wide, 5-gallon fuel tank. (It’s blacked out.)

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The new mufflers growl distinctively, displaying the trademark Harley virility the recently reviewed touring models seemed to lack in the Denver elevation.

Offsetting the wide fuel tank is another new feature, a slimmer bucket seat. With its perforated cover, silver contrast stitching and sharply cut backside, it’s not only sporty but comfortable. Thanks to its drag bars and forward controls the 2013 Fat Bob scored exceptionally high on our recent Top 10 Cruisers for Tall Riders list, and there’s no reason to believe this 2014 edition won’t be just as ergonomically accommodating.

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Also new and blacked-out are the machined aluminum, slotted-disc wheels with “Harley-Davidson” laser-engraved around their perimeter.

It all adds up to a tougher, meaner, leaner bobber from Harley-Davidson. But two significant stylistic upgrades lift the ’14 FXDR beyond its predecessor. The stunning new slash-cut rear fender is a beautifully crafted, drop-dead gorgeous piece of steel that does its namesake proud – but what makes it better than beautiful are the two red-ringed LED taillights that peer from behind a slanted smoked lens. They mirror the dual headlights perfectly, providing a tip-to-tail synchronicity that’s particularly eye-pleasing.

The new slash-cut rear fender is sexy – but what really sets it off are the dual-ring LED taillights.

The new slash-cut rear fender is sexy – but what really sets it off are the dual-ring LED taillights.

Another great innovation for 2014 is the adoption of matte paint. There’s no mistaking the new Sand Cammo for laid-back khaki; rather, the rough-and-ready Fat Bob wears its fatigues like a Ranger on a mission. Paired with the sporty slashing tank graphics and wheel ring logo, this color scheme is hotter than Kandahar – so hot, in fact, we couldn’t even get our hands on a Sand Cammo demo and had to settle for one in Amber Whiskey, a charming moniker that sounds not unlike a stage name on Amateur Night.

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If the Sand Cammo paint scheme isn’t a smash hit, especially with military personnel, I’ll eat MREs till I puke.

Riding the new Fat Bob is a lesson in attitude. It’s hard not to feel badass piloting the steadfast and sure-footed prowler, thanks to the eager drivetrain and aggressive riding position. The rider reaches outward for the drag bar, putting his “fists in the wind,” and the feet are kicked far out in front, soles forward.

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With its rider in an aggressive position, the Fat Bob strikes a menacing pose on city streets.

Admittedly, this might sound verging on tortuous, but it’s surprisingly relaxed on the highway and eminently cool in traffic. My only concern was the feet-forward position, combined with the large brake pedal and the air cleaner on the right side of the engine, meant I had to strain to hold my right foot against the peg at cruising speed; I had trouble planting the crook of my heel on the peg, and my boot constantly felt like it was about to slide off.

The rubber-mounted V-Twin rumbles authoritatively and displays power to burn, from the dead-stop line all the way up through shift cycle. With this kind of get-up-and-go, freeway on-ramps and highway passes pose no problem for the Fat Bob.

Once rolling, the new Fat Bob handles fluidly and turns aggressively, its sharp rake, ample torque and relatively short wheelbase combining to make for a nimbler-than-expected ride from such a burly bobber. It responds better to handlebar inputs than leans; countersteering the Fat Bob requires less a push on the upper grip than a decrease in pressure on the lower, and is nothing short of a revelation. Just let up a bit on the grip in the direction you want the Fat Bob to track and bike countersteers eagerly, jumping in with poise and aplomb and standing up straight when bar pressure is equaled out.

At first glance, the Fat Bob might appear to be a boulevard show-off, but its exceptional handling characteristics make it a veritable canyon diver, despite its 700-pound curb weight. This bike was a blast to roar up Angeles Crest Highway, pouring into and pulling out of turns nearly as well as any cruiser I’ve ridden. The 49mm forks and dual coil-over shocks smoothed things out nicely, and the dual front 300mm discs provided plenty of stopping power. (Note: ABS is an optional upgrade.)

+ Highs

  • Attitude for miles
  • Sexy tail section
  • Surprisingly nimble
- Sighs

  • High on price, low on amenities
  • Precarious right foot stability
  • Occasionally elusive neutral

It should be noted that despite its dressed-down appearance the FXDF ain’t cheap. Not that we’d expect any Dyna would be, but despite a purposeful lack of any rider amenities it’s the second-most expensive model in the line. Still, in either color for $16,099 or in the available matte (“Denim”) or gloss (“Vivid”) black for $15,699, the Fat Bob is an unmistakably striking motorcycle, and besides, American-made distinction comes at a premium.

The introduction of the TC103 helped reestablish its rowdy reputation – and its new Dark Custom makeover should cement the Fat Bob’s status as the baddest bobber on the block.

The introduction of the TC103 helped reestablish its rowdy reputation – and its new Dark Custom makeover should cement the Fat Bob’s status as the baddest bobber on the block.

Early versions of the Fat Bob were stylish and eager enough, but lacked a certain gut-level ferocity, particularly once Victory unleashed its own muscle car-inspired competition, the Judge.

With its black components, sleek new rear fender and that killer Sand Cammo paint the 2014 FXDF Fat Bob backs down from no bike or challenge. Somebody better call the Judge – it’s time for a retrial.

2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob Specs

MSRP 15,699 (black); $16,099 (color)
Engine Air-cooled 103ci V-Twin
Horsepower 66.6hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque 88.3 ft/lbs @ 3000 rpm
Transmission 6-speed
Rake/Trail 29 degrees/4.92 inches
Wheelbase 63.8 inches
Seat Height 26.1 inches
Curb Weight 706 pounds
Fuel Capacity 5 gallons
Fuel Economy 42 mpg (claimed)

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40 Comments

  1. Jason 1199
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    What an over hyped load of bs. The scores for engine, brakes and suspension must be a joke. What are you comparing it to the Flinstones car? Give me a break. This is more of an ad than a review.

    • Don
      Posted September 28, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Jason, your a fag! Ride your pu**y assed rice burner and get a life. Obviously, you have never ridden a bob nor would they even LET you.

      • Archie Dux
        Posted September 28, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        I had a friend who let me ride his. The quality was good, and the handling was actually not bad, but the engine was a crude, underpowered paint shaker, like a huge Briggs & Stratton lawnmower. It really is time to put the old air-cooled pushrod twin out to pasture.

        • LogicDude
          Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:33 am | Permalink

          Yes and no. You admit the quality and handling were decent. With Harleys a lot of it is hitting the “sweet spots,” which are in part sweet because they are a bit elusive. Find them and it is riding nirvana, unless by that you mean taking corners at 2-3 times the posted limit. I’ve had eight Asian bikes and one Sportster, which is my bike of choice for anything other than “adventure touring.” It’s even fun in the twisties, but a different kind of fun.

          • Humberto Hepp
            Posted May 12, 2014 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

            I think some people just will never understand that and keep trying to justify they’re asian racer preferences trying to dismiss the HD technology as if it were resumed to the type of engine cooling. NO ASIAN MOTORCYCLE BRAND HAS AS COOL SOUND AS A HD. NO ASIAN MOTORCYCLE HAS AS MUCH AS HUGE ACCESSORIES CATALOG AND AFTERMARKET POTENTIAL FOR CUSTOMIZATION AS AN HD. And that alone is what make the brand valuable and liked by so many people enough to make them agree living with “air cooled” engines and pay the premium cost to maintain they’re HD bikes. I think sometimes they are must envy/ jealous about the sond in the air and grin in the face off the hog members they need to trash they’ bikes to feel better inside becouse they are feeling a litle empty. And no, i don’t have (yet) a HD.

      • Jason 1199
        Posted September 28, 2013 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

        Hopefully the staff here leave this post up as a monument to proper grammar, American public schools and ancient motorcycle technology.

    • Shawn Jent
      Posted October 12, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Yes i came here to troll your ass and call you out. Those tiny hairless nuts sweat much in your power ranger suit…lol The thing is pussies like you are scared to death of people who ride Harleys….avoid them at all costs i’m sure. You remind me of all the little boys i use to ride with, and thats why after riding several 1000cc jap bikes…i bought a new fatbob, cause i make money bitch!

  2. Joseph Christy
    Posted September 19, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with Jason – this wasn’t so much a review as regurgitating press materials from Harley.

    • Jonny Langston
      Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I hear where you guys’re coming from – but I loved this bike. Jason, I’m comparing it to, well, other V-Twin cruisers. This one performs as well, if not better than, any of ‘em. Hence the high scores.

      Dunno if you saw, but I recently reviewed the ’14 H-D touring models (here: http://www.motorcycle.com/manufacturer/harley-davidson/2014-harley-davidson-touring-motorcycles-review.html), and that review was FAR less than glowing. So it’s not like I’m “drinking the kool-aid” or whatever. I try to be as open-minded as possible going in, always.

      The way see it, it’s my job to point out the pluses and minuses of the bikes I review – I just couldn’t find very many minuses w/ the new Fat Bob.
      Except that stupid right footpeg … ;) Maybe that’s why you noticed so many pluses.

      • selarsson
        Posted September 21, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

        “I’m comparing it to, well, other V-Twin cruisers”. Poor baseline. If you compared it to lawnmowers it would get second prize.

        • LogicDude
          Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:40 am | Permalink

          Just because you don’t get cruising doesn’t make it invalid. You’re asking him to compare it to other bikes according to their strengths. They would not compare favorably to it either, but you’d probably find the Harley’s strengths to be invalid. Still, there’s a reason the Japanese cruisers almost to a bike look a whole lot like Harleys. If someone liked cruiser ergonomics but UJM motors, they made those, but they didn’t sell particularly well. Victory makes pretty nice, well-balanced, technologically perhaps more advanced designed motorcycles, which are more powerful too, but pretty boring to ride, even if there’s not a thing wrong with their handling. Harley–perhaps as a matter of art and not science or technology–hit some pretty impressive marks. I was a hater to some extent, until I got my Sportster. Different world. You don’t compare Buicks to Camaros, or Miatas. Except for people who just want a car and have a set amount of money to spend, most people looking for one aren’t looking for the other. So what?

    • SixtiesGuy
      Posted September 20, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      Do you want the reviewer to make up negative stuff even if he doesn’t find anything to complain about? He said he liked the bike but didn’t like the front peg placement. If you’re that skeptical then why don’t you take a test ride and post your review here?

      • Jason 1199
        Posted September 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

        The reason I posted that in the first place is I test rode a fat bob this summer (in addition to other dynas and softails) and it was laughably bad. Sub standard brakes, (nobody will argue this) the suspension was uncomfortable without being performance oriented and it was about as fast as my old klr 650 dual sport. All for the ridiculous price of, what, $18,000? I can’t imagine spending so much and getting so little. Harley is a brand name for image conscious sheep, wannabes and people who just plain don’t know any better

        • Bill Hutchison
          Posted September 27, 2013 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

          And that makes you so much better than me? Almost 10 years and 40k miles on this bike with no regrets. Just did a 3k mile road trip last month with no problem. Looking forward to riding this bike another 10 years.

  3. Pat James
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I agree with Jason also. The ratings are eye opening
    Engine 19/20 – has tractor engine characteristics that overheats, I like torque but…
    Suspension/Handling 14/15 – Really ? , 1 point behind a Bmw1000R , Aprilia RSV
    Transmission/Clutch 9/10 – ignore the No neutral when hot thing
    Brakes 9/10 – seem pretty puny for a 800lb bike
    Instruments/Controls 5/5 – subjective rating
    Ergonomics/Comfort 8/10 – as long as your right leg is safe from pipes and don’t ride over 50 mph.
    Appearance/Quality 10/10 – subjective rating love or hate
    Desirability 10/10 – subjective rating love or hate
    Value 8/10 – A Ducati Diavel or Moto Guzzi 1400 would like to challenge
    Overall Score 92/100 – Way too high in my opinion

    • Jonny Langston
      Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Again, those ratings are as compared to other v-twin cruisers – not all bikes. I agree w/ you on the Subjective stuff, but again – I dig this style of bike. I’m sure the sportbike guys on staff would’ve scored it far lower.

      • Pat James
        Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        Okay, I assumed the wrong rating structure. As I don’t “get” cruisers in general it is hard for me to unbiased in my opinion.

        • Jonny Langston
          Posted September 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

          Tom, Duke and Troy are always giving me a hard time b/c I always seem to short-change the sportbikes in these Scorecards ;)

          • wolfrider
            Posted September 21, 2013 at 5:10 am | Permalink

            Don’t really like the new tail….

        • Humberto Hepp
          Posted May 12, 2014 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

          No i saw a better comment from you and that you are a bit more mature than the other crotch rocket racers here. Think just about the guys that are saying they had sport bikes and now own a fat bob HD and started to just love em! Why? Is it becouse motorcycling is not resumed in a 0-100 time and leaning angle capability? Perhaps there are other things in motorcycles that part off the audience do enjoy that the other part doesn’t?

    • SixtiesGuy
      Posted September 20, 2013 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      I’m both new here and curious: has Harley Davidson ever made anything that you DO like? What do you ride?

  4. Pat James
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Okay , another question , Fat Bob as a name ? Is this a inside joke at HD?
    1. A bobbed Fatboy
    2. General description of Harley Davidson riders
    3. say “I ride a Fat Bob” to a table of non motorcyclists.

    • CrashFroelich
      Posted September 21, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      I found it snort-worthy as well.

      • LogicDude
        Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:30 am | Permalink

        If you’re serious, my understanding is that Fat refers to the front end, with the fork tubes fat and far between, and bob refers to the style of the rear end.

        • CrashFroelich
          Posted October 9, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

          Serious? I’m assuming you’re mildly immune to irony?

  5. Rico
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I owned a 2010 Fat Bob for almost two years, I liked the styling great for short day trips, but forget going long distance unless you spend some money on screen and bags and another seat.It is what it is, it is not a sport bike or a cruiser if that is what you want go buy that kind of bike. I would get another one but it would be a second bike, and it does give you the Harley bike experience and I would do some work on the engine to give it some more grunt. All in all I liked the bike for what it was designed for.

    • selarsson
      Posted September 21, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

      “The Harley bike experience?”… Is this something you put on your resume? What’s next, the lawnmower experience or the “John Deere experience”?

      • LogicDude
        Posted October 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

        It’s designed for riding with a Harley experience. I get it: lawn mower, ha ha. You’ve not provided any evidence you know what you’re talking about, except you apparently hate Harleys. Doesn’t that get old? Though I’ve only ridden one supersport, I’ve ridden enough bikes to know that there are some you admire but don’t want to ride for hours at a time, and some that are quite entertaining. I did three long trips on my DL650 V-Strom adventure-touring type of bike, and appreciated its prowess, but I was about falling asleep on many occasions. This last summer I instead took my XL883 Sportster on a 1740-mile trip to see my folks. This ride I enjoyed much more. It was always entertaining, even when the scenery was dull. If I wanted to go faster or ride “The Dragon” as quickly as possible I would have taken the V-Strom. I didn’t. Different strokes. Don’t be a hater. It does get old.

  6. Dave Hammond
    Posted September 21, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve
    ridden a LOT of motorcycles, and was a BMW aficionado for decades. At some point, it just became rather boring
    traveling down the highway for the sole purpose of admiring myself for admiring
    fine technology. My 2013 Fat Bob is pure
    fun. Yes… they run lean from the
    factory. Set it up right with a K&N,
    fuel controller (My TTF works great) and a 2 into 1 exhaust (V&H Pro Pipe
    in my case) from the get-go. My dyno
    chart is amazingly smooth, with no dips or spikes. Only 78 bhp and 91 lbs-ft; but the way those
    big pistons produce it has to be experienced to be understood. It’s got the longest legs I have ever
    felt. Pulling clean in top gear from below
    1800 RPM just can’t be performed on any of our modern Asian marvels. Do it a few times, and you’re hooked. Harley really should have continued to offer
    this model with a mid-control option. it’s
    going to run around a grand to convert.
    However, perfecting something this cool is a worthy investment in one’s
    soul. I traded-in a very nice 2011
    R1200RT for this comparatively overweight and underpowered antique reproduction,
    and accepted somewhat of a monetary thrashing during the conversion. Two months later… Was it worth it? Absolutely.

    • selarsson
      Posted September 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I once had a perfectly nice Porsche, but I got tired of the teutonic perfection. I then decided to trade it in for a Chevy Malibu. In the process I got 1/10th of the BB value for the Porsche and forked another 15K for Malibu. I then spent every other weekend at the dealership trying to get things fixed. I am at the dealership as I am writing this. My mechanic is now my best friend. He christened my last two children and, with the money he made on my Malibu, he’s sent his kids to college. He’s now part of my family as my wife left me and married him. My life has taken a totally different course since I got the Chevy. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

      • LogicDude
        Posted October 9, 2013 at 12:41 am | Permalink

        A Harley would have kept its value better than your Porsche or Malibu, or marriage for that matter. (Just running with your narrative.)

  7. Dave Hammond
    Posted September 21, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    And I really like the new fender; but all the additional black stuff just looks like the cost saver it is.

  8. Avraham Avi Hecht
    Posted September 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    <3

  9. wfo75080
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Whats with all the trash talking the Harley?
    I own this bike but with the 110 engine and the bike is fun. Compare it to my R1 or my GS and there is no comparison. Apples and oranges. I never bought the bike as a knee dragger, but rather another bike to enjoy riding. All my bike are different.
    Maybe the Harley rubs folks the wrong way because some Harley riders are snobs.
    I ride because I enjoy it. Seems we’re all out doing the same thing we all enjoy.

  10. colt6940
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    It makes me laugh how often metric guys come on to a Harley review and complain about how bad Harleys are. If they’re such pieces of garbage and you don’t like them, why do you come to look at the reviews. Obviously you must want one. Otherwise why would you do it? Why don’t you just put on your Power Ranger outfit get on your race bike and sit in traffic and look like a fool!

  11. Nathan Winget
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Selarsson: You’re not sounding witty or funny, you sound like an angry and bitter person. If you don’t like cruisers then why read about them or respond to their stories? Pathetic. As far as cruisers go Harleys are very good for that purpose. Every bike doesn’t need 170hp and knife edge handling to be enjoyable and Harleys ( cruisers in general ) prove that fact. Also, I’d bet anything you can’t use a modern sportbike to within a small fraction of it’s true capability or design intent. I sold my 05′ ZX10 to get my 09′ Street Bob and have never looked back. For pure ( legal ) street riding enjoyment a cruiser is all you need.

  12. colt6940
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    It makes me laugh how often metric guys come on to a Harley review and complain about how bad Harleys are. If they’re such pieces of garbage and you don’t like them, why do you come to look at the reviews? Obviously you must want one. Otherwise why would you do it? Why don’t you just put on your Power Ranger outfit get on your race bike and sit in traffic and look like a fool!

    • 7th_son
      Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      You meet the nicest sheeple on the side of the road next to their broken down Harleys…..No…metric riders know what they have…we stop by once in a while to read Harley articles for a good laugh is all.

  13. Archie Dux
    Posted September 24, 2013 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Reading other articles on this website, I can only conclude that the Fat Bob is indeed an overhyped, overpriced, underpowered parade float, and that the Triumph Thunderbird Storm is a superior bike.

  14. Steven Bell
    Posted April 18, 2014 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    This looks like a nice bike. In my younger days, I rode the Japanese sport bikes and I loved them. But, this time I wanted something different. So, I bought a V-Rod. The funny thing about the so-called loyalty of H-D riders, the V-Rod is looked upon as a Japanese trojan horse. Near as I can tell, the Fat Bob and V-Rod are very closely related. The shape and riding position look to me to be the same. Yes, there are several details that are different and, in my opinion, give the V-Rod an advantage. Learn to respect the opinions of other riders. Being different is what makes us the same. If you don’t like my V-Rod, it’s ok. I promise I won’t make you ride it.

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