2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob Review

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fatbob-top

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob

The Good
It’s so easy to knock Harley-Davidson and accuse it of building motorcycles with archaic engineering and technology. But what it does really well is make traditional cruiser motorcycles like the Fat Bob. We can argue all you like about this, but H-D is one motorcycle manufacturer that at the moment is bucking the declining worldwide motorcycle sales trend and still selling bikes. It has to be doing something right.

Sure, the Fat Bob is not everyone’s cup of tea and that’s absolutely fine. The Dyna range, as we said at the outset, is often overlooked but the bikes are great performers for people that get the cruiser thing and like the fact you can make a motorcycle such as the Fat Bob yours with the huge array of accessories and parts that are available. The 2014 Fat Bob will have no trouble finding a home with those that like this type of motorcycle. It rides well, is comfortable and is undemanding.

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob

The Bad
This is subjective, but we’re not fans of the re-design on the Fat Bob’s rear end. It looks like an afterthought and has been done for the sake of model year change.

The ‘bug eye’ twin front headlights may be part of the Fat Bob signature look too, but they need to be replaced with a simple round, classic headlamp like the bobbers of the 1950s that it’s trying to emulate.

You don’t get a lot of equipment for your money and this bike, overall, is anything but cheap for what it is coming in over 17K optioned out.

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob

The Price
A whopping $15,699 will get you onto a 2014 Fat Bob in vivid black. If you want another color that creeps up to $16,099. Then you need to have the ABS brakes option at $795 and probably the security package at $395. Finally, the Harley-Davidson dealer will slap a $390 delivery charge on top. You’re now hitting the rev limiter at $17,679 before tax, which to our mind is a heck of a lot of money an engine, two wheels and a seat.

If you’re not ready to part with that much cash there’s a ton of other options out there. The Japanese have some great bikes, particularly Suzuki’s Boulevard C90 B.O.S.S. that starts at $12,999. Alternatively you can look around for a used Fat Bob and let someone else take the new purchase hit, or you can go and negotiate with your local H-D dealer for a zero-mile 2013 Fat Bob and try get a more realistic deal.

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob

2014 Harley-Davidson FXDF Fat Bob

The Verdict
The Harley-Davidson Fat Bob goes well, handles well and stops far better than a bike of this size and weight really should. It’s a Harley-Davidson, which means that, for some, it’s well worth the extra money for the prestige of just owning it. But, that eye-watering retail price alone knock its overall RideApart rating down a point.

All that aside, the Fat Bob is a good motorcycle. Not a great motorcycle. But it does precisely what it’s supposed to — being an effortless, engaging cruiser with a distinctive style. It’s just a shame it comes with a fat price tag too.

RideApart Rating: 7/10

Gear
Helmet: HJC RPHA Max ($414, recommended)
Jacket: Dainese G-Air Textile ($239, highly recommended)
Gloves: Racer USA Guide Glove ($109, highly recommended)

Related Links:
Project Rushmore: 2014 Harley-Davidson Touring Line Review

A Harley Made In India: Leaked Online 2014 Harley 500 Photos

Circle Your Wagons: 2014 Indian Chief

  • Hummbug

    Ricockulous bike.

  • Rowan

    So much Nope

  • KevinB

    #don’tCare

  • Pablo Perez

    Honest review, queue the chorus of haters. Sorry guys, not everyone wants to ride a hacked 40 year old entry-level UJM. Now give your girlfriend her pants back and STFU.

    • Davidabl2

      I think I’d pass on either of those two choices…

    • Justin McClintock

      Problem is, that hacked 40 year old entry-level UJM probably performs better than the Harley mentioned at the top. Lord knows the UJM will have a crap-ton more lean angle.

  • runnermatt

    I generally look for something more sport or utility oriented when looking for bikes/car/trucks. That said I appreciate the fact that everyone has their own tastes. I do like the twin headlights on this bike, which is odd because usually I hate twin headlights on a bike without regard for bike, brand, or vintage.

    • Josh

      Maybe it’s just because I’ve always been obsessed with Speed Triples (and Streets, since they’ve been around), but the twin headlights will always scream ‘Triumph Sport’ to me, and have always looked out of place on Harleys. I’ve been told Harley had ‘em on a model way back in the day, but in my head, they’ll always be a Triumph styling cue…

  • Ryan

    Harley’s are the same as big lifted trucks to me. I will never own one, but I full get why people would want one.

  • Reid

    I’m as whitebread American as it gets. Country boy from the south. I would like to own an American motorcycle. That does not mean I want to ride a big old cruiser that costs too much and can’t do anything really well besides be a big old cruiser (I’m sorry, a Harley, because if it ain’t a Harley then your bike don’t count, boy). I’m not saying Harley and Indian should stop making cruisers, because even a cursory glance at cycletrader or craigslist or even a ride down the street will tell you that most everyone in America who owns or wants to own a motorcycle has a cruiser (I mean a Harley) in mind. What I am saying is that I would buy an American motorcycle if that motorcycle had attributes I appreciate – low-ish weight, good components (or at least brakes that can stop the bike well and suspension that doesn’t bottom out all the time), a modern (powerful-ish, fuel-efficient-ish) engine, and a standard or a little sportier than standard riding position. Basically, if Harley Davidson or Indian built something like the old, naked version of a Suzuki SV650 I would be all over it. Or I would at least consider it. ‘Is kine of tawlk ken git yew stabb’t ’round where Ah come from, fellers.

    • eric

      Ah, a secondhand Buell?

      • Justin McClintock

        I’d second that. I remember a few years back the XB9R was considered to be pretty much the best handling motorcycle available in the US. And the XB12R and XB12S are both downright fast. And the XB12Ss was actually comfortable for real sized people. And the XB12X (aka the Ulysses) was an all around awesome bike.

    • Josh

      I think the closest HD ever came to what you’re talking about was (is?) the XR1200, and despite a lot of initial excitement, I don’t remember hearing about them flying out dealership doors.

      I think that’s partly because they kept enough of their HD ‘roots’ that is was only okay at the whole stop/turn/go thing, but mostly because that’s not what their care demographic called for.

      Also consider that if they made a bike like that, they’d be entering a crowded marketplace with a bunch of manufacturers fighting tooth and nail for every purchase, and selling to a low price-point (compared to, say, a Fat Bob). That’s never been something HD has been interested in…

      It makes me sad that there isn’t an American made bike to buy, that I would want to buy (except maybe the aforementioned XR1200), but I don’t see HD as a company with any desire to change that…

    • Davidabl2

      Sporty 1200 Sport from a few years back might just cut it as a starting point for what you want?
      Though where you live it sounds like you’d need a mural of a pinup girl on the tank.With a scroll
      saying”Girl’s Bike” :-)

    • Reid

      Thanks for all the responses, guys. Sorry it took so long to write back. Let me address some of the points you all made: First, while some of the Rotax-powered Buells were interesting to me, I’m not nearly experienced enough as a rider to be able to get the most from (or even safely enjoy) anything so powerful as a bike that powerful. I’d be keen to see an American manufacturer build a smaller-displacement sporty standard-type bike (even something like a Moto Guzzi V7) though. I do understand what Josh means when he says HD is probably not interested in changing much from the way they’ve been doing things, but it’s just a real shame that the industry is such that nobody is willing to take the chance, which basically gives whole segments of the market over to the European and Japanese manufacturers. I bought a KTM for just this reason. Consequently, I’m not really interested in the Sportster XR1200. Too big. Too heavy. Too cruiserish for my taste. In fact, the only cruiser I can say I do legitimately have an interest in owning one day is a Yamaha V-Max, because, let’s face it, those things are just so cool.

  • Richard Gozinya

    I never really got that either. If they’re going into it knowing they’ll be spending a ton of money, not just on the bike, but on all the mods, it seems like they’d be better off getting an S&S X-Wedge engine (Around $10k) and put together a custom bike. They’re pretty much doing the custom thing anyways, with all the aftermarket stuff, might as well build one from the ground up. In the end, they’ll probably spend roughly the same amount of money, less if they have some skills, and they’ll very likely get a bike they’re far happier with.

    • Robert Horn

      Can’t get a low money down/low interest loan on any of that.

      Otherwise, yes.

  • Richard Gozinya

    It looks good, as most Harleys do. But those solid disk wheels, no. It’s like the designers of this bike looked at a Buell Lightning and decided to do the exact opposite.

  • Stephen Mears

    I’m of the mind that the bikes that don’t benefit from a little bit of individual augmentation are few and far between, and there is always low hanging fruit regarding weight reduction and throttle response.

  • http://protomech.wordpress.com/ protomech

    Why are Harleys so heavy? : |

    • Richard Gozinya

      Supply and demand. Nobody who buys Harleys is demanding they be lighter, so they don’t supply them.

  • Jason 1199

    You can count on rideapart for calling a spade a spade. The motorcycle.com review was a total farce – fortunately they have disqus there too and I left my 2 cents. The coolaid drinking fanboy “journalist” vomited the press notes, included some sad over hyped expressions and have it almost 100% scores for engine braking and suspension – try getting away with that here.

    • Shawn Jent

      Jason, your the reason i traded in my sportbike for a 2014 Fatbob just today. Wear your Motogp gear and think you look fast puss boy…sportbikes are for boys, Harleys are for real men.

  • luxlamf

    Do all the Anti HD idiots realize they sound just as pathetic as the Pro HD Pirate wearing idiots? PArt of your “Feel the Wind in your face” etc… in the Motorcycle community? Stop being 12 year old girls and complaining about other peoples choices how about that? With that said I liked this bike when it 1st came out a few years ago, it’s one of the few I do like that HD makes that don’t fall under the Sportie or Vrod category (I own a Vrod, Ex had a Sporty and was great fun) and I do agree that HD tends to add a bit too much to the price on many of its bikes and the rear end looks like a ghost from the PacMan video game, terrible, I do like the new Emblem though. If I was to buy another HD I would easily over look this one and buy the 48 which also has the big front tire and all blacked out and simple and would pretty much do everything this one does even with the bigger motor etc. for several $$$ less and not as heavy. HD also priced themselves out with the XR1200 a few years ago making it several $1000 more than a 796 and $1000 more than a 1100 and many other models in the same category but not as good in the spec category and too damned heavy etc.. This was a problem last year when I compared the 48 to the Triumph Scrambler, I went with the Scrambler as it was $4000 less and more versatile with its off road abilities than buying another bike that would do pretty much everything my VROD already does except slower and not as well.

  • motoguru.

    This has been my least favorite motorcycle made since it debuted. The “upgrades” for 2014 made it even worse.

  • Jordan

    For a company that prides itself on its aesthetic, that tail light looks like they ripped off the design cues from a 1999 Yamaha R1. Maybe it looks better in person, but it looks terrible from the photograph.

    If I had to have a cruiser bike, I think I would go with the comparable Moto Guzzi or Star Roadliner.

  • Rosenfeld8

    It´s incredible how Harleys aren´t particularly good at anything. They´re not good around town because they burn your legs anda make you sweat like a pig, nor on the Higway, because of vibes and the wind blast that tends to blow your feet off the controls. Then you claim they work well on side roads, but they´re not good at cornering and can scrape the pegs before you expected. Harleys are good for one thing though: showing off

    • luxlamf

      Thats weird none of those things happen on my HD and I just turned 107k on the odo. What HD’s have you owned that performed this way?

  • Mark D

    Want a naked bike with an air-cooled V-twin, relaxed cruising ergos, great style, and a century long history? How about the Guzzi Griso. For $13k. And it’ll actually handle. I get, and enjoy, the simplistic, “just ride” design goal of Harleys; they just fail to actually meet that goal.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Vlnp3ZqPz64/TWHBbMnxD_I/AAAAAAAAATU/_yUV7F7zWiQ/s1600/big_guzzi_griso_8v_se_my_09_04.jpg

    • http://RideApart.com/ Wes Siler

      Great bike.

    • Piglet2010

      I read that the new California 1400 Goose cruiser actually goes, turns, and stops like a real motorcycle.

    • Davidabl2

      There ought to be a Victory that looks as good as this Guzzi.

      • Richard Gozinya

        Victory doesn’t make anything that looks anywhere near as good as any Guzzi.

        • Davidabl2

          My point exactly. And it’s one of the reasons I don’t own a Victory bike

    • # azumaguy

      Hideous but I’m sure some folks like it.

    • NilesAkbar

      Sorry – and I lived in italy, mind you – that bike is as ugly as a brick.

  • Jonathan

    I normally ride sport bikes, but last year I had the chance to ride a Fat Bob from San Diego to Portland and jumped at it to see what a Harley was like.
    Without that windscreen anything above 65mph was a test of endurance between my arms and the wind – it was a fun game to see how tucked in I could get and how fast I could go. The trip took two and a half days with 8.5 hours in the saddle those first two days. This was my second long ride, the first one was a sport bike on the way south three months before.

    Favorite parts:
    Traffic jam in the desert (went from two lanes to one – couldn’t lane split anymore!)
    Cruising through the redwoods next to a winding river, no one else around
    Scraping the pegs through some technical bits just off the northern CA coast (way too easy to do…)
    A very confused and angry hornet flew in my helmet on the highway (Thank goodness for modular helmets!)

  • Davidabl2

    Paragraph two is why Victory has stayed in business..to bad the bikes are so fugly

    “I love me some HD but I just can’t get with the idea that I’m expected to pay premium prices for an apparently incomplete product.’

    I feel the same obviously..and too bad it’s true of Triumph as well(at least for the Bonneville/Thruxton/Scrambler part of the lineup)

    • Piglet2010

      Except the Triumphs are reasonably priced, with a Bonnie costing the same as a Sportster 883 – if a Bonnie or the other bikes using the same engine cost $12-18K you would have a point.

      • Davidabl2

        No less unreasonably priced, I think. But, still a lot of money when you’re gonna have to invest a bunch more money and time after the initial purchase.

        I am leaving anything out of the equation that is priced into the stratosphere to begin with.. for $12-18K I’d want more than just ONE bike ;-) At least if we’re talking modern bikes.

        • Piglet2010

          The thing about H-D pricing is that the bikes do not have complex engines (e.g. think of the time and cost differences in fabricating the heads on a H-D big twin and a Honda V-4), exotic materials, high-end suspension and braking components, forged instead of cast parts for things such as wheels, swing-arms, etc to justify the higher cost. Really nice paint and chrome are simply not worth that much.

  • Tim Watson

    I think you’ve nailed it. Steel cradle frame and a really heavy v-twin engine and transmission, plus steel fenders and very little aluminum parts.

    • Pablo Perez

      Yup. I ride Harley’s, and used to work at a dealer. Weight (like horsepower) simply isn’t a consideration.

      • Piglet2010

        I have heard people say you need a heavy motorcycle to ride long distances!?!??

        • Pablo Perez

          Hahaha, something like that.

        • 200 Fathoms

          And a very loud exhaust to stay safe.

  • http://kineticcuriosities.com/ Jonathan

    I think it’s the fact that there isn’t a minimum weight target – and so all of the little parts are built out of heavy (cheap) materials and the weight adds up fast. Here’s a little example for the Fat Bob: I was adding a battery tender to my dad’s bike, so I found the battery cover and started backing the restraining bolts out…and they were free spinning. I tugged on the cover and it came off the grommets. It was heavy gauge steel and if memory serves it weighed around 4lbs. Oh, and there was another cover on the other side just for the fuses.

  • Dan Kearney

    Never been a cruiser fan. Maybe that’s ’cause I learned to ride in Germany when I was in the Amy. Regardless, all the negative comments I ever hear about HD about handling, weight, etc. never take into account that HD bikes are built by HD to the specs desired by their intended audience.

    For God’s sake stop asking why they don’t make them lighter, or sportier. Stop asking why they don’t produce a “standard” model that you would enjoy riding. If you don’t like HD for what they are, there are literally hundreds of other options out there for you.

    Buy the bike that fits your style and desires and stop questioning (or worse, trashing) the bikes you don’t own or like.

    Of course, what do I know, my two main bikes are a Ural hack and a Royal Enfield. . .

    Cheers

    • Piglet2010

      “Buy the bike that fits your style and desires and stop questioning (or worse, trashing) the bikes you don’t own or like.”

      So why do people come up to me when I am riding a Honda Deauville and tell me I should have bought a H-D instead?

      • Dan Kearney

        I don’t know. That’s kind of the point I was trying to make.

        Cheers

    • 200 Fathoms

      When you were in the Amy? Please—tell us more! :)

  • Piglet2010

    I think Wes should have reviewed this bike – would have made a fun read.

    • Tim Watson

      Thank you. Good luck with getting Wes to ride this.

      • Piglet2010

        Even if you have offered to ride the Ninja 300 in return? ;)

        • Tim Watson

          Nah… I can’t ride like Wes and as someone else pointed out I don’t wear the right jeans!

  • Justin McClintock

    Harley seems committed to the idea of putting ridiculous rear fenders on the Fat Bob. The upswept tail before looked ridiculous. This looks even weirder. That said, I rented one once and it did ride quite nicely, if lacking somewhat in the lean angle department (I typically ride sportbikes and dualsports for reference).

    All that said, if I were to buy a Harley, it’d certainly be from the Dyna line. But it would more likely be the Switchback than the Fat Bob.

  • Speedo007

    I wish I was a Harley fan, cause I could buy a 15 year old bike and nobody could tell it was a 1999 model or a new one :)

  • Bc

    Half the people hating on hd are just A) pissed off cuz they can’t afford there over priced Tag or B) they are one sided bikers probley dedicated to just sport or enduro. I agree Harley’s are expensive and you need to buy new exhaust cuz the gov makes harley put gay rice rocket exhaust on them for stock however. They look sound and drive awsome and coming from an enduro fan this guy ;) that’s saying somthing minus turns they suck at those. But if your not going above 120 trying to kill yourself I think harley will be a wise choice not to say they can’t get up there.

  • NilesAkbar

    Hideous!. So glad I ordered a 2014 Street Bob today!

  • Mike Morrill

    First off, I wish RideApart all the best, this is a great site and I hope you can keep it going. I just discovered the site a week or so ago and have enjoyed reading many of your articles. I actually own a 2012 Fat Bob (I agree the naming convention is on the ridiculous side). I think Mr. Watson did an excellent job on the review. Here is my 2 cents. I’ve owned over 20 different bikes over the past 15 years from a variety of brands (Honda, BMW, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Triumph, Ducati). I’ve had good and bad experiences with Sales/Service people across all brands. In my younger days I was definitely anti-HD, and if I only had one bike in my garage it wouldn’t be a Harley (I like sport touring too much). But if you like cruisers, HD’s are awesome…they just “feel” better to me than metric cruisers. Yes, I understand you pay a premium for that feel. When I decided to get rid of my 06 Road King (after 40,000 trouble-free miles) for a “smaller” bike, after considering (and test riding) nearly every HD model, I fell in love with the fat front end of the Fat Bob. I’ve put over 6000 miles on mine riding through the mountains and deserts of CA. On a solo ride, nothing put a smile on my face as consisitently as the Fat Bob (two-up…my gf was not a fan). BTW I think the 2012 version looks much better with brushed aluminum wheels (especially with the flat black paint scheme) and large red taillight. The engine is buttery smooth and from 0-80 is really damn quick. I actually enjoy riding it in the canyons as well. No sportbike, but you can get some lean and ride above the posted speed limit. I’ve heard from a couple dealers that Fat Bobs are one of HD’s least popular models…I think it’s the dual headlights, and I’m a little surprised they are continuing production. I think you can get a good deal on a ’13 or a used ’12. Choosing a bike is such a personal decision, no right or wrong….as long as you are riding! I’m living in Italy right now and having a blast on a 250cc scooter! Be safe and thanks again RideApart!

  • Fernando

    Great article, but do not be sad about the price of the Fat Bob. Here in Brazil the price of the 2014 Fat Bob is R$ 46k, close to $ 20k U.S. dollars.