Share this Article Print Email a Friend Photos by: Sean Matic 2014 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob Editor Score: 92.0% Engine 19/20 Suspension/Handling 14/15 Transmission/Clutch 9/10 Brakes 9/10 Instruments/Controls 5/5 Ergonomics/Comfort 8/10 Appearance/Quality 10/10 Desirability 10/10 Value 8/10 Overall Score 92/100 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.
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.) 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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)See Also: Motorcycle Hill Climb
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Share this Article Print Email a Friend Bruiser cruisers: the name pretty much says it all. These bikes combine the best performance that cruisers offer and wrap it in a package dripping with attitude to spare. For this comparison, we decided to stick with the V-Twin engine configuration. Why? Because the V-Twin is the just about the official engine configuration of cruiserdom – that and the fact that no Yamaha V-Max was available for testing.
So, for this test we have the 2018 Ducati XDiavel facing off against the new for 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob. Both of these bikes have eye-catching good looks that exude function as well as style. 2016 Ducati XDiavel S First Ride Review 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 Review – First Ride V-Twin Power – Two Different Ways The essential difference between these two power-cruisers is defined by how their two engines produce power.
The Ducati looks to the mid-range and top-end for its power, while the Harley puts out tons of torque in the bottom end of its comparatively low-revving engine. Both manufacturers remain true to their roots when it comes to power production. This dyno graph tells you everything you need to know about how to ride the Harley quickly. You can also see that we weren’t lying when we said the Ducati doesn’t wake up until after 3,500 rpm.
The XDiavel uses the Testastretta DVT 1262cc engine based on the Multistrada 1200 engine and has been massaged for the characteristics that Ducati feels it needs for cruiser duty. The 1262cc displacement is the result of 106.0mm x 71.5mm bore and stroke dimensions (bumped from the Multistrada’s 106.0mm x 67.9mm). The DVT in the name stands for Desmodromic Variable Timing that varies the timing of both the intake and exhaust camshafts independently, allowing the engine to deliver the broadest possible power curve.
The goal is to give as much bottom end as possible and then transition into the top-end horsepower that Ducati sporty bikes are known for. The result is a measured torque peak of 83.9 lb-ft at 8,000 rpm, while the horsies max out at 142.6 hp at 9,600 rpm. Cruiser fans will note that the torque peak is a bit high for how cruisers are typically ridden – in fact, this is borne out by the 5,500 rev ceiling of the Fat Bob’s Milwaukee-Eight engine.
So, despite the DVT, XDiavel riders who don’t come from the sporting side of motorcycling will need to learn to spin up the engine to get the most out of it. FNG Associate Editor Brent Jaswinski sums up our opinions by noting, “The engine feels like it’s lugging even at 3500 rpm, but this is a Ducati we’re talking about here – it loves the higher revs.” And he’s right. Although we can’t expect the XDiavel to compete with the Fat Bob’s 600cc displacement advantage and the oodles of torque that comes with it, the Duc more than makes up for it if you spin the engine out, and you quickly learn to appreciate the scooped-back of the saddle for its ability to hold you in place while you snick your way through the closely spaced gears that keep the engine on boil for as long as you’re willing to hold the throttle open.
The XDiavel’s horsepower curve tells the second part of the power delivery story. The Fat Bob dominates until it runs out of revs, then the XDiavel takes over and runs away – literally. Power delivery isn’t the only way in which the XDiavel differs from the Fat Bob. The Duc’s ride-by-wire throttle means that it also has traction control and ride modes. However, even in the concrete jungle, we never selected the Urban mode, preferring to keep all of the Testastretta’s ponies at our command with the twist of the smoothly transitioning throttle.
However, while the TC is a nice feature, it came on in a heavy-handed manner at lower speeds, like encountering sand when pulling away from a stop and briefly cycling into an on/off-throttle hobby-horse response on a couple of occasions. The Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight 114 uses the fun and effective “bigger hammer” technique for propelling the Fat Bob through the torque curve provided by 1868cc of hydrocarbon-devouring displacement.
We’ve loved the M-8 in all its variants since its introduction in the Motor Company’s touring line last year, and the updates for use in the Softail line have only made us more fond of the mill. The 102mm x 114.3mm bore and stroke breathe through four-valve heads while dual counterbalancers quell vibration of the solid-mounted engine. The exhaust note has a hearty depth to it that makes low-speed riding an aural pleasure.
Around town, the Fat Bob’s bottom-end-heavy torque made it the most fun to ride. Although the clutch pull is fairly stout despite the torque-assist clutch, getting the Fat Bob’s 676 claimed pounds moving is super easy, thanks to the early torque availability. Said Jaswinski, “You can lug the bike at 1500 rpm, and it doesn’t feel like it’s lugging whatsoever, making slow-speed maneuvers easy.
” In fact, that heaping helping of torque makes the Harley much more fun to ride around town. At every urban speed we encountered, the Harley chuffed along while at certain speeds the Ducati required the rider to balance the throttle and clutch on occasion. Still, we’d be remiss if we didn’t note the Milwaukee-Eight’s 60-hp deficit, which became obvious once the roads got twisty and the speeds got higher.
”With such a big motor and a 600cc advantage over the Duc,” said Brent with the understatement of the year, “the horsepower numbers leave a lot to be desired.” Both bikes exhibited exemplary throttle response in a wide variety of riding situations – well, once the Ducati’s tach climbed above 3,500 rpm. Whether roaring down the freeway or negotiating a series of corners or just moving along in traffic, both bikes took throttle input with the aplomb of well-set-up CV carburetors.
No hint of EFI abruptness ruffed their demeanors. The Testastretta DVT 1262 engine looks massive in the XDiavel’s chassis. Its top-end power matches the looks. Tilting At Apexes At the Fat Bob’s introduction a few weeks ago and at the XDiavel’s first ride in 2016, a lot was made of their ability to go around corners. No, these muscle-cruisers aren’t sportbikes, but they can go around corners quickly – and as we noted above, the engines aren’t afraid of acceleration, making point-and-shoot riding of the twisties a hoot.
Still, we’re here to compare these two bikes, and when you look at the spec sheets, the Ducati has a clear advantage with its claimed 40° of lean on both sides while the Harley checks in with a claim of 31° to the right and 32° to the left. How much does that really affect real-world performance? Well, the difference is noticeable, but we dragged pegs on both of these bikes. The good news is that they both drag cleanly with the pegs giving plenty of warning before hard parts touch down.
However, the lean angle differences don’t feel as great as the spec sheets imply, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t like to see more clearance from both of them. In fact, the most noticeable feature differentiating the two bikes when cornering was the way they steered. The XDiavel’s 240mm rear tire required more effort to crank the bike over in a turn, and in some instances it also required a slight countersteering pressure mid-corner to maintain its line.
While this isn’t a big deal, it was apparent and required a change in riding style as we switched from bike to bike. “The wide rear tire made the bike feel like it wanted to stand up in slow speed turns and corners around town, however, this feeling disappeared at speed through the canyon twisties,” noted Jaswinski. The Ducati’s 240mm rear tire stands out visually and, at low speeds, in handling.
Once the speeds ramp up and the road gets twisty, the XDiavel handles quite nicely. We’re suckers for single-sided swingarms. The Harley, despite its narrower handlebar and fat 150mm front tire, steers much lighter than the Ducati. The Fat Bob is easier to turn at all speeds, but it is particularly apparent when changing lines in a high-speed sweeper. The Fat Bob just went where it was told, while the XDiavel required a little more direction.
This likely has something to do with the riding positions of the two bikes. The Ducati’s pegs are higher and further forward than those of the Harley – as are its grips – leading to a slightly clamshell riding position. The Fat Bob with its more relaxed rider triangle puts the pilot in a better position for negotiating big maneuvers like corners and little exercises like the minute adjustments involved in splitting lanes.
When it came to ergonomics, the Fat Bob got the nod from both our testers. “The Harley’s rider ergos are great,” enthused Jaswinski. “The footpegs are somewhere between mid and forward controls, and the handlebars are narrower than the Ducati’s and right where you want them without having to reach. Additionally, despite its name, the Fat Bob feels surprisingly skinny and nimble when dancing through tight traffic.
The Ducati’s ergo’s felt a little too far stretched (even by cruiser standards) – both the handlebar and footpegs could have been slightly closer (and I’m 6’1).” The XDiavel’s pegs and grips require a long reach – even for our six-foot, one-inch associate editor. When it comes to suspension, the Fat Bob had the plusher of the two rides, though both Brent and I wished it had more suspension adjustability, particularly in the front.
Said the FNG, “Suspension was firm, yet supple; however, some adjustability (especially in the front) would be nice as the bike nose-dived a little more than desired under heavy braking and during spirited riding.” Around town, the Harley’s more compliant ride was greatly appreciated when the road got bumpy since the firmer Ducati was downright harsh over square-edged bumps. However, get the XDiavel on a winding road, and the suspension’s sportbike roots move to the fore.
In every sporting situation, except over the harshest of bumps, the Ducati maintained better chassis composure, and the fully adjustable suspension means that riders have the ability to tune the suspenders to their preferences. One area where we expected the Ducati to dominate was the brakes. Instead, we got a surprising parity – even with the Harley’s additional 130 lbs. of curb weight. Although the XDiavel’s Brembos offered better initial bite and the Fat Bob needed a firmer squeeze at the lever, these big boys could be hauled down from speed with surprisingly similar braking intensity.
While both have ABS, the XDiavel ups the ante with Cornering ABS provided by a Bosch Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), which adjusts the ABS unit’s response to chassis orientation and state of change. It’s nice to see cutting-edge safety technology working its way into cruisers. Even at a standstill, the Fat Bob looks ready to rumble, and it does, finishing much closer to the XDiavel on the scorecard than we initially expected.
Wrapping It Up When we went into this comparison, we thought that the Ducati, with the higher performance roots of the XDiavel, would handily clean up on the MO Scorecard. This was not the case. The results ended up being more closely matched than we anticipated. While we expected the Testastretta engine to dominate the scorecard the way it did the dyno sheet, an interesting thing happened. In the subjective categories surrounding the engine, the pleasing character of the Milwaukee-Eight garnered it comparable scores.
The two also tied in the Handling category – though this was caused by a difference of opinion between the riders over the Ducati. If you don’t mind giving constant steering input in some situations, you won’t mind the feel of the 240mm tire on the Ducati. What sealed the Harley’s fate was the Suspension and Technology categories where the lack of features cost the Fat Bob points. With those numbers, combined with the objective scoring, the Ducati built an insurmountable lead that couldn’t be topped – even when the Fat Bob cleaned up in the Quality, Cool Factor, and Grin Factor categories.
2018 Ducati XDiavel + Highs 142 hp! Fully-adjustable suspension Cornering ABS – Sighs Engine doesn’t wake up until 3,500 rpm Semi-clamshell riding position Handling takes some getting used to 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 + Highs Intoxicating bottom-end power Relaxed riding position TORQUE! – Sighs A pipe and an EFI flash from decent horsepower Non-adjustable front suspension Wish it had the same cornering clearance as the XDiavel In the end, the Harley started out at such a deficit in the objective scores that its amiable nature couldn’t drag it out of the scoring hole, and the Ducati XDiavel won by a total score of 88.
2% to the Fat Bob’s 86.7%. Really, though, the true winner is the one that speaks to the rider and how they plan on riding the bike. If you prefer a more compact riding position and like surfing a torque curve, the Fat Bob will probably appeal to you. On the other hand, riders looking for maximum performance in a feet-forward riding position will likely gravitate towards the XDiavel with its top-end rush and flashier technology.
With these two choices, now is the time to be in the market for a V-Twin Bruiser Cruiser. Bruiser Cruisers Scorecard 2018 Ducati XDiavel 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 Price 93.2% 100% Weight 100% 80.6% lb/hp 100% 46.3% lb/lb-ft 100% 100% Total Objective Scores 97.7% 84.6% Engine 87.5% 87.5% Transmission/Clutch 85.0% 85.0% Handling 85.0% 85.0% Brakes 91.3% 87.5% Suspension 90.0% 85.0% Technologies 90.
0% 80.0% Instruments 87.5% 85.0% Ergonomics/Comfort 75.0% 87.5% Quality, Fit & Finish 87.5% 90.0% Cool Factor 88.8% 93.8% Grin Factor 88.8% 90.0% Brent’s Subjective Scores 85.6% 88.5% Evans’ Subjective Scores 88.3% 85.4% Overall Score 88.2% 86.7% 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Bob 114 2018 Ducati XDiavel MSRP $18,699, $19,099 (color option) $20,495 Engine Type Milwaukee-Eight 114 45° V-Twin (1868cc) 1262cc Ducati Testastretta DVT (Desmodromic Variable Timing), L-Twin, Dual spark, Liquid cooled Bore and Stroke 102mm x 114.
3mm 106.0mm x 71.5mm Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI) Bosch fuel injection system, Full ride-by-wire system, 56mm oval throttle bodies Compression Ratio 10.5:1 13.0:1 Valve Train 4 valves per cylinder, pushrods 4 Desmodromically actuated valves per cylinder Transmission 6-Speed Cruise Drive 6-speed Final Drive Belt Belt Front Suspension Inverted cartridge fork 50mm inverted fork, adjustable for preload, compression, and rebound Rear Suspension Mono-shock, hydraulic preload adjuster, 4.
4 in. travel Single shock absorber, Adjustable preload and rebound, Remote reservoir, Single sided swingarm, 4.7 in. travel Front Brake Dual 4-piston calpers, floating discs, ABS Dual 320mm semifloating discs, Radial Brembo monobloc 4-piston M4-32 callipers and radial master cylinder, Bosch cornering ABS Rear Brake 2-piston caliper, floating disc, ABS 265mm disc, 2-piston floating calliper, Bosch cornering ABS Front Tire 150/80-16,71H,BW Pirelli Diablo Rosso II, 120/70 ZR17 Rear Tire 180/70B16,77H,BW Pirelli Diablo Rosso II 240/45 ZR17 Rake/Trail 28° / 5.
2 in. 30.0°/5.1 in. Wheelbase 63.6 in. 63.6 in. Seat Height 28.0 in. 29.7 in. Curb Weight 676 lb. (claimed) 545 lb. (claimed) Fuel Capacity 3.6 gal. 4.75 gal. Available Colors Vivid Black, Industrial Gray Denim, Black Denim, Bonneville Salt Denim, Red Iron Denim Black