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Monday, May 26, 2014

Harley-Davidson Fat Boy FLSTF - Ride Review

ThrottleQuest has a very peculiar history of reviewing Harleys. We have always tried to carve a different line, slightly away from our own norms when writing about Harleys. So, this time, we asked an owner of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to do the review of another Harley-Davidson motorcycle and the result that we got... well, read for yourself, as Sheldon D'Cruz presents his views!! Over to Sheldon now :)

I have always said it and I will say it again; you will have more fun ripping a smaller capacity engine than a real power block except that’s not why this article was created today. If your into those long haul trips and want to take in the scenic view without feeling an iota of pain in any joint on your body, If you want to get noticed and to the extent that the vehicle running parallel to you is stunned by sheer size and as a result veers into you, prompting you to downshift and ride away to avoid a catastrophe, if you grew up watching an all chrome motorcycle jump off a bridge with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the rider then read on cause this my dear friend, from the Softail line-up is the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy FLSTF. In case you’re wondering what FLSTF means (and no I just didn’t hit random keys), FL stands for the frame type used for big engines, ST for the suspension which in this case is SoftTail and F depending on the model you ride, in this case the Fat Boy.


It was a warm May morning and as I stood waiting for what I thought would turn out to be a boring, joint busting, muster up all your strength to navigate “RIDE”, I saw in the distance a tiny spec approaching with a white light. This has got to be it given that a number of high end bikes come or are fitted with aftermarket options these days and yes it was the Fat Boy. As it approached, my ears strained to hear an engine sound from the big V-Twin and I was surprised that even though it stood right beside me, it wasn’t ear busting loud at all but rather a smooth electronic controlled fuel tuned hum from a V-twin. This sounded very, very refined and you will know what I am talking about if you ran on idle anything from Harley-Davidsons Sportster series Vs the Softail Series, side by side for comparison.

Initial thoughts
Wow! Weighing in at ~330 Kgs (all tanked up), this has got to be one of the better looking big bikes that any manufacturer has on offer. It’s huge and how does one get used to all that chrome. (FAT) Boy your wife would be real happy because every time you took her out, you’d be fooled to think she’s checking the bike out but in reality she’s using it as a mirror. You know what! That’s probably a great sell point for all those aspiring to buy into the Softail Series and your better half is playing spoil sport. 



Engine

This is not the usual single, parallel or inline 3 or 4 but the signature H-D 45 degree V-twin from the Milwaukee plant. Powering the Fat Boy is a Twin Cam 103 cubic inch Evolution Engine mated to a smooth 6 speed transmission. This is an air cooled 1690cc, I believe 98 Bhp Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injected motorcycle produces 132 Nm of torque @3250 rpm. For some reason H-D does not print the horsepower produced by any of its motorcycles, I wonder why? Turn the knob on the fuel tank to ignition and you hear the fuel pump kick in, thumb the starter and the engine kicks into life. If the bike has been sitting for a while and the engine is cold, like all Harleys this too will start with a higher than normal rev and a couple of second’s later will settle down to a softer audible idle. I personally wanted this one to be loud but I guess that’s where you buy into Harley’s culture, the aftermarket parts and accessories to customize your Harley to sound and feel unique.

Ride and Handling

As I knock it into first, I am still thinking about getting used to the footboards. Coming from the days where one used the ball of the foot to kick shift through the gears without letting go off the throttle on an RX-100, this was like owning a piece of land on the bike itself. With the famous clunk, the bike surged forward and immediately you notice the huge amount of torque on tap. 2nd, 3rd, 4th and its still pulling away, wait I have 2 more to go. This is no slouch but at the same time you will not want to race this one through traffic but rather slip it into a comfortable gear and just sit back. At 5’10” I felt a bit tall while I had my feet planted on the ground but once you’re on the move, you slide back into a very comfortable position that will allow you to eat up miles without the ride taking a toll on your back.


Riding a straight line is one thing and then you hit a curve and boy does this v-twin egg you to corner and lean as far as your natural nuts permit you. At the back of my mind, I am thinking of scraping the side stand, hitting the side board and loosing it all. Not happening! There is no way I was going to risk it all but it’s funny how much of confidence this huge motorcycle instills and removes any fear of managing a big bike so to say. Before I know it, I am touching triple digit figures, lets just say the kind that will bring a tear to your eye if you’re riding and then coupled with violent leg shakes if you were to ride pillion with me. Wait how the hell do I stop this thing in an emergency? Fear not this biggie comes with ABS and you can really feel the 4-piston front and 2-piston rear kick in. Take it from me, I think ABS should come as standard fitment on any motorcycle, it’s a LIFE SAVER! Suspension is hidden away under the frame for that all clean rigid look and when I mean hidden away, look under the bike! Plenty of ground clearance to clear most of the speed breakers that India has to offer but don’t get too adventurous. Standard fitment are Bullet Hole Disc Cast Aluminum rims in the front and rear riding on 140mm and 200mm rubbers that grip pretty well.

Electronics & Equipment

A 32” LED TV, world radio, a coffee machine, a beverage cooler, No No No none of that crap while your on the move. On this, you’re riding in high definition and everyone watches you! It comes with a KNOB with two basic functions, turn right for Ignition and left to turn only the accessories on.


You will also see a tank-mounted electronic speedometer with odometer, clock on odometer, dual tripmeter, gear display with a 6-speed indicator light, (very helpful), fuel gauge with low fuel warning light, low oil pressure indicator light, engine diagnostics readout, LED indicator lights.

Verdict
At Rs. ~15 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, this is not a motorcycle that someone will save enough over a period of time to own. Either you can afford it or you can’t. In its own right, it’s a piece of history that you’re buying into.


I think this one’s going to be a classic that one day folks will pay a premium to get their hands on and so if you already have that inline crotch rocket sitting in your garage, or want to travel the length of breadth of India using some of the best highways or simply use it as a weekend ride to attract attention saddi Dilli style then look no further because it does not get any more affordable than this.

Text by: Sheldon D'Cruz


Photographs by: Sajal
Motorcycle Courtesy: Ratanjeet Singh

Imp Note: We at Throttle Quest have carried out these tests in actual regular street conditions by professionals who are trained to conduct such tests. We at TQ do not support irregular, high speed, high risk and unsafe riding by anybody.


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Item Reviewed: Harley-Davidson Fat Boy FLSTF - Ride Review Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sajal Chakraborty
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