Last year, the Fat Bob inconspicuously elbowed its way into the Harley-Davidson Dyna lineup, adding some menace to the family with its imposing heft and Tommy Gun exhaust. A tight-lipped knuckle cracker, the surprisingly agile Fat Bob proved it could deliver a serious beatdown and make a fleet-footed getaway. It was George Raft with drag bars. Unlike the Softail Rocker, its flashy fraternal twin, the Fat Bob went about its business with discreet brutality in denim and powdercoat. This year, courtesy of Harley’s Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) group, The Bob’s coin-flipping belligerence has been groomed, spit shined and heavily armed.
The decade-old CVO group produces low-yield, high-gloss interpretations of standard Harley machines. Each of the four models in the 2009 CVO line boasts the 110" Screamin’ Eagle motor and has been customized from the debaucherous H-D Parts and Accessories Catalog. Additionally, CVO machines feature lustrous paint schemes not available on their baseline brethren.
The Fat Bob’s styling enhancements are familiar CVO handiwork. Surfaces, once blacked out, are extensively color matched. What had been powdercoated, now shimmers in rivers of chrome. Standing out amid the finery are the Fat Bob’s 16-inch cast aluminum Fang wheels. Developed specifically for the CVO version of the bike, the rims are a two-piece construction, consisting of a black slotted center and a chrome flange accented by "fang" inserts that appear to have clawed their way through the rims. Unfortunately, this natty and intricate detail is largely concealed behind the three sizeable brake rotors.
The Fat Bob’s respiratory system is not so bashful. Inhaling through the conical Heavy Breather intake with its chrome end cap and Screamin’ Eagle badge, the unit boosts torque while adding some visual muscle to the bike’s forward profile. The engine discharges through the treacherous looking Tommy Gun 2-1-2 exhaust. The header pipes coil around the engine, exposed through the slotted heat shield like a serpentine version of the Prohibition era gat. Staggered, blunt-cut chrome mufflers replace the slash-cuts found on the base model. There is inevitably a price to be paid for beauty; in this case it is the ability to keep your right leg on the peg at stoplights without burning a coin slot into your inner calf.
The dual chrome headlights and cocky bobtail rear fender are carried over from the standard Fat Bob. Beneath the rear awning, the orthodox taillight has been replaced by a louvered chrome LED unit that resembles a malevolent space heater. Smoked bullet turn signals are mounted front and rear. Chunky chrome controls, as well as a rugged looking granite and chrome chin spoiler, from Harley’s Ironside Collection (along with chrome covers, bracketry and sundry filigree) will serve to cultivate the Fat Bob owner’s polishing technique.
Climb aboard and the first thing you will notice is the rider’s contact patch. The scooped leather seat features side accents made from Alcantara, a tenacious Ultrasuede-like material that is plush while exceeding H-D’s durability standards. A deeply recessed Harley-Davidson badge finishes the posh saddle. The seat is firm and comfortable, providing great lumbar support and ample room to shift around during a daylong ride.
The console on the Fat Bob’s eponymous, color-matched fuel tank features a spun aluminum speedo and separate tach mounted atop the internally wired low-rise bars. While the forward controls are far from a stretch, the mid-mount option available on the base model would better complement the Fat Bob’s estimable handling chops.
Thumb the starter and the rubber-mounted Screamin’ Eagle motor shoots first-date shivers up through the seat and grips. The mill’s throaty burble is a salacious come-on that will have you dumping the clutch and racing for a cheap motel. The SE 110 claims a shoulder-dislocating maximum of 114 ft/lbs of torque, much of which is located on the extreme left side of the tach.
The SE 110’s enhanced muscle yanks the 728-pounder around by the nose ring, spotlighting its pudgy finesse. Get on the gas and the engine vibrations obediently vanish in your exhaust wake. The transmission is the familiar six-speed Cruise Drive, a smooth shifting box that delivers a downsized version of the Harley clunk. The hydraulic clutch feels stiffer than most Harleys, but most Harleys do not have a 110" motor.
In sixth gear, the Fat Bob skims along at a tick below 80 mph at 3000 rpm, as though the road were paved with memory foam. The full-metal jacket chrome rear shocks have been retuned for plushness at the expense of just under an inch of travel, resulting in occasional rude awakenings on rough roads. Up front, the 49mm chrome forks have been lowered three-quarters of an inch to level the bike’s profile.
In the esses, the Fat Bob suffers from a kind of reverse body dysmorphia, imagining itself to be a svelte, athletic sportbike, rather than a paunchy two-up cruiser. It is not entirely delusional. The 130mm front Dunlop bulging provocatively from under the bobbed fender turns in easily and, along with the 180mm rear, provides grippy reassurance as the bends tighten and boot heels begin to scrape.
The Fat Bob’s laudably engineered ride quality and handling make it a natural candidate for CVO promotion. The extra punch delivered by the SE 110 makes this bike an even more giddy, adrenal pleasure to ride than the original. Stylistically, it surrenders some of its roughneck charm in translation; if ever there were a bike that wears matte black like a 30-year-old Perfecto, it is the Fat Bob. But, if you are looking for some custom-tailored muscle to do business uptown, the Harley-Davidson CVO Fat Bob is your enforcer. <<
Helmet: Harley-Davidson Carbon Kevlar Half Helmet
Eyewear: Harley-Davidson Performance Goggles
Jacket: Harley-Davidson Complete Leather Jacket
Gloves: Shift Primer
Pants: Icon Strongarm
Boots: Harley-Davidson Condor