Harley Davidson gave two motorcycle models the “Fat” designation, the Fat Boy and the Fat Bob, hearkening back to motorcycle’s earlier days. The Fat Bob is the older of the two models. It was first introduced for the 1979 model year, while the Fat Boy made its debut in 1990. There are similarities in their beefy styling cues, but there are also differences between the two that don't immediately meet the eye.
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Known for its iconic cruiser styling, the Fat Boy is a Hollywood favourite; Arnold Schwarzenegger rode a Fat Boy in “Terminator II” and it was featured in the movie “Wild Hogs.” The Fat Bob, on the other hand, has a long Harley-Davidson heritage inspiring its retro looks, including its dual headlights reminiscent of 1929 and 1930 models.
Classified as a Harley-Davidson Softail, the Fat Boy has a “hardtail” appearance, thanks to its concealed rear shocks. Recognise any Harley motorcycle in the Softail family by its long, low profile. The Fat Bob is a member of the Dyna family with its twin shock absorbers. Aaron Frank of “Motorcyclist” magazine calls it “the best-handling chassis in the Motor Company's diverse line-up.” Frank goes on to say “the Softail line was for posers who preferred polishing chrome to putting on miles; the Dynas were built for real riders.”
The Fat Boy originally came equipped with the Twin Cam 88 cubic inch or 1450cc engine. For the 2007 model year, Harley-Davidson went to the Twin Cam 96, 1584cc engine for all models in the Softail, Dyna and Touring families. The Fat Boy sports the 96B engine model, denoting that it is rigid mounted and counterbalanced. The engine on the Fat Bob is rubber mounted.
Total Motorcycle says the Fat Boy “defined the fat custom category,” and “is the very definition of a heavyweight motorcycle, delivering a bold styling statement and wide comfortable riding stance.” The Fat Boy features full front and rear fenders, chrome over and under shotgun exhaust with dual mufflers, rider floorboards and a heel-toe shifter. The Fat Bob comes with the dual chrome headlights, forward-mounted foot controls, drag-style handlebar and bobbed front and rear fenders. The Fat Bob's exhaust is a “Tommy Gun” two-into-one-into-two with dual mufflers.
Of the two “Fat” models, the Fat Boy wins the beefy competition, with a dry weight of 315 Kilogram to the 304 Kilogram of the Fat Bob. The stock tires on Fat Boy are also a little fatter with a 140/75R17 in front and 200/55R17 in the rear compared to the front 130/90B16 and rear 180/70B16 of the Fat Bob. The Fat Boy edges out the Fat Bob in maximum torque with 93.7 foot-pounds at 3,000rpm, to the Fat Bob’s 92 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000rpm. Despite its bulk, the Fat Boy gets slightly better gas mileage, 35mpg in the city and 54mpg highway compared to the Fat Bob's 34mpg city and 53mpg highway. The Fat Bob is a little less expensive. The 2011 base model suggested retail price on the Fat Bob is £9,749, while the Fat Boy has a suggested retail price of £10,399 and a price of £10,643 with a colour option.
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- Motorcycle.com; 2007 Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy Review; Tor Sagen; July 2007
- Eagle Rider; Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
- “Los Angeles Times”; The Skinny on the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob; Susan Carpenter; July 2007
- “American Rider” magazine; 2008 FXDF Fat Bob; A baloon-tire treatment fattens the Dyna line-up; Ken Freund
- “Motorcyclist” magazine; 2008 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob – First Ride; Aaron Frank; October 2007
- Harley-Davidson; Twin Cam 96B Engine Heritage