Is the Fat Boy a Bad Boy?

The V-Road was out of the race, time to check my next obvious Harley-Davidson choice, the Softail Fat Boy Special:

Harley Davidson Fat Boy SpecialFat Boy Special

What fantastic classic looks, following the credo: less is more. 2 wheels, between them the 1584 cc engine, a very low seat, a handlebar, surrounded by few other bits and pieces all in black. A pleasure to look at…

But I was quickly getting the suspicion that this may be a bit too much of “LESS”. Please understand: I am coming from a Goldwing world of weather protection, as well as soft and adjustable suspension, with heated sofa seats. The drive with the V-Rod some days ago also showed me the core problems of my UK location: the weather. Although I live by the strong belief that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing, I have to point out that clothing is not just something I wear, but also what my bike wears. With the right windshield or fairing any sub-freezing wind, mixed with rain, snow or hail, can be overcome. But completely unprotected, like you are on a Fat Boy Special or V-Rod, the elements will win after few hundred miles. This is not California, and I have one question: did it ever rain in a Terminator movie?

All my thoughts revolved over the question of long distance cruising. We may disagree on what long distance actually means, for me 300 miles with one stop to refuel is where it starts to get “long”. And without wanting to offend anybody in the first days of my Harley ownership, I have to admit I never got used to the design of Harley fairings, what seems to be called: the batwings.

Harley batwing

A friend of my Harley salesperson in Guidlford called the fairings of the Touring models “elephant ears” , and they are the main reasons I always stayed shy of a Harley Tourer. And yes, they are the reason why I drove a Goldwing for 9 years.

Now my heart cried for a mean looking nacked bike like the Fat Boy, but my brain cried STOP… THINK! The solution came when I read a short post reply in a Harley forum, where a commentator said something along the lines:

… if you look for a Fat Boy for longer distances, consider the Road King. This is the better option then to add a windshield and luggage bags to a Fat Boy. You loose the softail, but with luggage you do not see this suspension structure anyway. As a bonus, your back will be thankful for the more comfortable air suspension shocks.

As I was not looking into the Touring section of Harley-Davidson, worried to be scrunched by wild batwings or elephant ears, I actually missed a obvious choice. Look at these 2 pictures from the original Harley-Davidson website:

Harley Davidson Fat BoyFat Boy

Harley Davidson Road King ClassicRoad King Classic

Ok, they are not the same, but very close family, specially as you do not see the back suspension of the Road King, hidden behind the luggage bags. Change few details, like the front fender, add more black around the headlights and pipes, and you start to have to look twice. I must admit, I like the triple light arrangement of the Road King, my son doesn’t, but I hold the cash in my hand, so triple headlights it is.

Actually, what really won the day for the Road King Classic was the following comparison, resulting in 4 important NO‘s for the Fat Boy:

Add to it the knowledge that the windshield is removable within seconds without any tools, and the search for my first Harley-Davidson is over.

to be continued…

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2 Responses to “Is the Fat Boy a Bad Boy?”

  1. The Road-King. A good choice for many of the reasons you have stated. Most of all for me is that it looks like a proper H-D. It has the right balance between being too naked and too much like a two wheeled car. You will know what I mean from your big touring Honda days. For me, the Road King gets the balance exactly right.

    Being able to remove the screen easilly is a real benefit – it gives you the best of both worlds in about 10 seconds!

  2. MacDuff Says:

    Down with the batwing, I always say!

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