The Harley-Davidson Fat Boy grows up in 2020. The petite 107 is dropped, and you have only one motor choice for The Plump One—the mighty Milwaukee-Eight 114. This is the largest-displacement Fat Boy ever, which started life with a 1340cc Evolution motor in 1990, and that leads us to the 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary edition.If only the Terminator had had a Fat Boy 114 back in 1991—he would have had an easier time protecting John Connor on his Honda XR100R dirt bike. We didn’t jump the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary into any flood control channels, but we did ride it through the same neighborhoods.1. The 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary model has two jobs—go fast in a straight line, and look menacing doing it. Those goals aren’t as easily accomplished as it might seem, but the latest Fat Boy does it without dropping a donut. The 30th Anniversary model gets plenty of black, led by Vivid Black paint on the bodywork, Satin Black on the solid cast-aluminum Lakester wheels, Black Onyx for the exhaust, and gloss black engine covers. Black, indeed. Add in bronze details for a bit of contrast, a distinctive headlight nacelle, and a numbered plaque on the tank (only 2500 will be produced), and you have a striking motorcycle. With the Milwaukee-Eight 114 wedged into the Softail chassis, you don’t have to worry about the fast part. The straight lines are handled by a pair of chubby Michelin Scorcher 11s and abundant rake.
2. With a 160mm front tire and 240mm rear, the Fat Boy’s intention to move forward with authority is made clear. With 700 pounds underneath you, carlike slabs of rubber on the 18-inch wheels, and a fork angle of 32 degrees, the Fat Boy demands that you go where you point him. You are definitely rewarded with a stable ride, as the annoyances of poorly maintained urban streets are rendered moot. Seams, bumps, and potholes are swallowed up by the Fat Boy without hesitation. You are going straight ahead, and nothing is going to change that mission. The Softail’s suspension has already proved itself—that’s a Showa Dual Bending Valve fork under those covers—and the extra rubber on the pavement gives you a bit of protection from harsh road realities.3. Even in the city, you do have to make left- and right-hand turns at some point, and the Fat Boy will begrudgingly oblige. It’s usually enough to have a 240 in the back to make a rider reluctant to engage in cornering. However, the Fat Boy ups the ante with a 160 in the front. If you haven’t figured it out by now, he wants to go straight—exclusively. Fortunately, the Fat Boy is not quite as hard-headed as he would like you to believe. Apply enough body English and pressure to the thankfully wide handlebar, and you can change direction. Pick your trajectory carefully, as the Fat Boy is not a fan of changing his line once the turn is instigated. Get it right, and you’ll love the stable, absolutely planted feel.4. When you do want to make a cornering adjustment, do not touch the front brake. Any invocation of the 300mm front disc makes the Fat Boy stand up and the front-end wobbles. Instead, feather along with the 292mm rear disc and exploit the rubber patch the 240 lays down. The Fat Boy will work with you, as long as the job is done on his terms.5. Freeways are interesting on the 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary. The famous freeways of Los Angeles are a disaster, as they are built by well-connected contractors with seemingly no oversight—and then they are ignored as they fall into disrepair. The pavement is a maze of cracks, bumps, Botts’ Dots, wavy rain grooves, and winding seams between unlike materials—in other words, perfect for motorcycle testing. Without any doubt, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 will hurl you along at whatever pace you desire. However, the upright, wide-arm ergonomics do turn you into a bit of a sail, so holding on becomes part of the process. In a straight line, the Fat Boy barrels through any road blemishes without a care. However, sweeping turns at freeway speeds can be tricky, as the Fat Boy wants to stand up when additional power is applied. It is definitely an entertaining mode of transportation.6. Ergonomics on the Fat Boy reward riders of size. It’s not a ride for the petite, though everyone is welcome. It’s a rangy motorcycle, with floorboards up front, wide bars, and a thick girth. The seat height of 26.6 inches doesn’t discriminate, but if you don’t have a strong upper body, steering the Fat Boy will be overwhelming. The 160 that proffers stability also demands respect for its footprint. Hit the gym, if necessary.7. You won’t be at a loss for positive attention on the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary. While riding around, people will roll down their windows to express approval of its appearance. Sometimes, people will stop driving to tell you how cool the Fat Boy 30th looks. The solid-disc machined aluminum wheels always garner their share of attention, and the 30th’s blacked-out scheme and bronze touches add to its role as an attention-grabbing device. Of course, the rumble of the 114 from the dual exhausts plays a part in directing glances (and stares) in your direction.8. Riding the 2020 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 30th Anniversary demands commitment. You are trading on the Terminator persona, so make sure you’re up to the challenge. Heavy steering and stability are the Fat Boy’s claims to fame—look elsewhere for agility. The power is there to get you in all kinds of trouble on the city street, so confirm your checking account balance before aggressively twisting the throttle. Be generous when people express appreciation for your motorcycle. If you can do all that and have $21,949 on hand, or the ability to borrow it, then you’re qualified for the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary experience.Photography by Kelly CallanRIDING STYLE
Hello everyone and welcome once again to Ultimate Motorcycling’s weekly Podcast—Motos and Friends.
My name is Arthur Coldwells.
This week’s Podcast is brought to you by Yamaha motorcycles. Discover how the YZF-R7 provides the perfect balance of rider comfort and true supersport performance by checking it out at YamahaMotorsports.com, or see it for yourself at your local dealer.
This week’s episode features Senior Editor Nic de Sena’s impressions of the beautiful new Harley-Davidson Low Rider ST that is loosely based around the original FXRT Sport Glide from the 1980s. Hailing from The Golden State, these cult-status performance machines became known as West Coast style, with sportier suspension, increased horsepower, and niceties including creature comforts such as a tidy fairing and sporty luggage.
In past episodes you might have heard us mention my best friend, Daniel Schoenewald, and in the second segment I chat with him about some of the really special machines in his 170 or so—and growing—motorcycle collection. He’s always said to me that he doesn’t consider himself the owner, merely the curator of the motorcycles for the next generation.
Yet Daniel is not just a collector, but I can attest a really skilled rider. His bikes are not trailer queens, they’re ridden, and they’re ridden pretty hard. Actually, we have had many, many memorable rides on pretty much all of the machines in the collection at one time or another.
From all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!