Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo

10 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo

Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo

Harley-Davidson slams one of its perennial favourites on its belly with a three-inch reduction of the suspension at both ends. The rest, essentially, is cosmetic

In its 110th anniversary year, it felt fitting to sample a slightly different take on Harley-Davidson’s best-selling model, the FLSTF Fat Boy.

Some 770 Fat Boys were sold in 2012, that figure representing massive growth of 42.3 per cent over the previous year, and it’s tough, beefy lines are just about as close as you can get to the general public’s interpretation of what a motorcycle should look like.

Nice bike, Dad, said my five-year-old son, Luke, when I brought home this Candy Orange FLSTFB, or Fat Boy Lo. As a kid used to seeing me get through around two different test bikes a week, he normally won’t even pass comment on the latest or greatest Yamakawasuzki, yet here he was, demanding a ride down the drive to the garage.

The Fat Boy Lo’s recipe is pretty basic — it’s a regular Fat Boy that’s been slammed on its arse thanks to a three-inch (76mm) reduction of its suspension at each end. The rest, essentially, is cosmetic — heaps of black-out components contrasting with satin-chrome highlights, the latter replacing what would usually be mirror-chrome finishes. A member of the Softail family, at first glance it appears to be a rigid ride, but its twin shocks are hidden, being fixed low and just ahead of the rear wheel.

ON THE ROAD

No matter what your attitude is regarding the Motor Co’s products, and whether you largely associate them with true outlaws or Wild Hogs wannabees, these bikes have presence, and perhaps none more so than the Fat Boy.

It looks substantial from a distance, especially with its ‘bullet-home’ solid disc black rims, and that sense is only underlined when you throw a leg over it and pull its hefty 330kg (wet) weight up off the sidestand.

While the mass and dimensions will make the sportsbike boys giggle — that considerable weight is complemented by a monster 1630mm wheelbase — the Fat Boy Lo is, in fact, all about making Harley’s most popular seller more accessible to smaller (or more accurately shorter) riders. With its cut suspension the Lo boasts a, well, low 670mm seat height — a height that will of course sink even lower when a rider is in place, and one that’s 20mm lower than the standard Fat Boy.

Of course, as with any Harley, it’s also about the style. That slammed, how-low-can-you-go look will strike a chord with some buyers, even if it does come at a cost of ride comfort and cornering clearance (more on that later).

At 188cm (6ft 2in) I’m not exactly vertically challenged but as I settle back into the well-sculpted saddle I note the close proximity of the ground. There’s still decent legroom, my feet resting comfortably on those tasteful highway boards, and it’s an easy stretch to the lowish, gently pulled-back ’bars. If ever there was a ride position that epitomises Harley, this is it.

HEAVY METAL

I hit the button and the starter motor whirrs into life, churning those two 98.4mm-diameter pistons through heavy oil on a frosty mid-winter Melbourne morning. My test bike is fitted with stock-standard pipes but they still emit a pleasing rumble — not that they won’t be swapped out for something a little more raucous by new owners as a matter of course.

Everything feels solid on a Harley, from the heavy-ish cable clutch to the mechanical ‘clunk’ of the six-speed Cruise Drive transmission as I slam first gear home on the heel/toe shifter. It takes only a small flurry of revs to get the bike’s considerable bulk rolling, as I rumble off down the road, a thousand Harley clichés flitting through my mind.

To be honest, my first outing was not a happy one, but through no fault of the bike. As that Twin Cam 103 thundered beneath me, the bike at a standstill on a gridlocked city arterial as the rain hammering down on a 10-degree day, the Fat Boy Lo must have been wondering what it had done so wrong to be punished in such a way.

The city in peak hour is about as far from the Fat Boy Lo’s native habitat as you can get. Heavy and wide, a tall first gear requires plenty of clutching in stop-start traffic, while it pumps out a significant amount of heat from its engine. In the cold of that morning and in a thick textile suit, the heat was appreciated, but I’ll wager it wouldn’t be so welcome in jeans on a hot summer’s day.

The next day, however, my experience couldn’t have been more different. A Saturday, the sun was shining and I pointed the Fat Boy Lo to the open roads of the country, and now everything made sense.

MAJOR POKE

On the open road, that Twin Cam 103 is pure bliss. Displacing a massive 1690cc, Harley doesn’t quote a power figure for it and nor does it have to. The torque tells the story and with a maximum of 134Nm (98.7ft-lb) on tap at a low 3250rpm there’s ample to see the bike’s mass melt away under the throttle.

The fuelling is superb — no complaints there — and there’s decent acceleration available through most of its rev range. At 100km/h in sixth the tacho registers just 2275rpm — it’s barely ticking over. In fact, I rarely had occasion to use sixth gear, which is essentially an overdrive.

At legal highway speeds the Lo feels more comfortable in fifth or even fourth; at the sort of speeds where sixth does feel appropriate (120km/h plus) there’s too much wind pressure on your upper body for the experience to be truly enjoyable, or at least for any length of time.

There’s no annoying vibration — the mirrors remain blur free — just a beautiful wave of torque and an easy, sweet delivery. For the most part, I spent my time aboard the Lo in the 2750-3250rpm band, where it felt relaxed but always ready to go if a quick overtake was called for.

The Fat Boy Lo is all about cruising, after all, and that’s also underlined by its modest cornering clearance. I approached bends with a fair degree of restraint because it doesn’t take much speed at all before the undercarriage is dragging on the deck. Negotiating the roundabout after exiting the freeway on my way home, the Fat Boy Lo showering sparks in the dark of night, I’m sure the motorists behind me think I’m crashing (in slow motion) but no, it’s all par for the course for this low-slung sled.

The low stance also has a bearing on the quality of the ride, too, as the reduced suspension travel affects the springs’ ability to soak up bumps and potholes. On a smooth surface the Lo is fine but any decent road irregularity is met with a solid ‘whack’ from the rear end. It’s a case of form over function and it’s the price you pay for ‘the look’.

Still, there’s a big aftermarket for air-ride suspension units for Big Twin Harleys and I’d be surprised if a Fournales set-up or similar couldn’t improve this aspect while maintaining the bike’s low lines.

IN YER FACE

The gearbox is heavy in operation but nonetheless effective. The shifter has a long throw and in the lower gears it locks in the new cog with a decent clunk, but it all somehow fits the bike’s ‘in-yer-face’ attitude.

The brakes, while powerful, don’t have an abundance of feel. The bulk of the power comes from the rear, as you’d expect of a bike of this steering geometry, and ABS is standard — a welcome safety net.

I had no issues with the Harley-specific Dunlop rubber. The Lo responds well to deliberate steering input but it’s a slow steerer, which is no surprises given its wheelbase, 31.6-degree rake, and fat rubber (a 140 hoop at the front, with a 200 at the rear). However, it’s also supremely stable, and at highway speeds on a rain-lashed freeway it did nothing but inspire confidence.

The seat is superb, its deeply scalloped shape giving plenty of lower back support, but pillions get something of a bum deal, pardon the pun. In the interests of research I took a spin on the back behind Bikesales Network’s Editor, Mark ‘Mav’ Fattore (that’s dedication for you) and while I could handle having nothing to hang onto bar Mav’s portly paunch, more disconcerting was the sensation that my arse was going to slide backwards off the seat at the slightest hint of acceleration. If a regular pillion features in your future — and you like them — factor in a pillion backrest.

ODDS ’N’ ENDS

Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo

The quality of finish is excellent but at $28,495 (rideaway) I’d expect it to be. The Candy Orange paint looks sensational in the sunlight and the satin chrome looks classy too, and I have to say I prefer it to the regular, mirror-finish chrome that is typically applied to cruisers by the acre. There was only one blemish here on the Lo’s report card. After that particularly wet day, the strip of idiot lights beneath the ignition switch became fogged with moisture.

No deal breaker, but annoying nonetheless.

Other glitches? I’m not a fan of Harley’s self-cancelling indicators. While they work well enough, they take ages to cancel sometimes and occasionally they don’t cancel at all. This means you’ve got to look down to see if the tiny indicator warning light is flashing or not.


I by far prefer a single manual push-to-cancel switch. Also, the sidestand doesn’t fill me with confidence. Occasionally the bike will still rock forward a little as you hop off — it’s disconcerting.

However, the headlight is a cracker, delivering a super-broad low beam and a searching tower worthy of a lighthouse on high beam, and the horn emits a blast befitting a Fat Boy. The trip computer is a good thing too, especially the range-to-empty feature. Other LCD readouts dialled up via the switch on the left-hand ’bar including gear selection and revs, a clock, two trip meters and an odometer.

The large central speedo is easy to read and looks classy, and I really like the keyless ignition. Simply keep the fob in your pocket and the immobiliser disarms when you get within a few feet. It arms again when you walk away after parking it.

There’s no lock on the right-hand fuel cap (the left is a faux item with inbuilt fuel gauge — something I never really looked at because I used the range-to-empty readout instead). I know it’s a ‘traditional’ feature, but I could see scumbags making off with the fuel cap in the dead of night, just for laughs, and it’ll scratch up when it inevitably gets knocked off the bike’s seat when filling up at a servo.

Speaking of fuel, the Fat Boy Lo returned an average of 5.8L/100km (17.1km/lt) over the course of the 600 or so kays it was in my care. With an 18.9lt tank, that’s a safe working range of approaching 300km — not too bad at all.

THE BOTTOM LINE

While I don’t naturally gravitate towards cruisers I have to say I enjoyed my time aboard this one, especially once I’d escaped the city and could revel in the freedom of the open road. The quality is there, the looks are spot on and for many it has the right name on the tank — for any devotees of the brand, and especially those who are a little shorter of leg, the Fat Boy Lo has a more manageable seat height with the regular Fat Boy’s container-load street cred.

SPECS: HARLEY-DAVIDSON FLSTFB FAT BOY LO

ENGINE

Type: Air-cooled, four-stroke, eight-valve, 45-degree V-twin

Capacity: 1690cc

Compression ratio: 9.6:1

Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection

CHASSIS AND RUNNING GEAR

Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo
Harley-Davidson FLSTFB Fat Boy Lo

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