Harley-Davidson is the brand that defined the cruisers. Irrespective of age, cruiser bikes are almost always the choice for anyone who prefers long-distance riding, and their motorcycles have always been designed for that very purpose. Harley-Davidson's motorcycles are synonymous with the same.

Being a part of the motorcycling fraternity for years, the king of cruisers has diversified into multiple genres. Although the brand is struggling with sales, there’s no denying the fact that they’re one of the true American thoroughbreds still in the market.

Harley’s lineup has a variety of motorcycles ranging from the smaller Sportster to the bigger Softails and the Dyna series in between. With the new Pan America, Harley has finally evolved its offering to include adventure tourers. Those not familiar with the Harley-Davidson lifestyle, they tend to believe that all of their motorcycles are the same. However, that notion couldn't be farther from the truth. We attempt to prove that by dissecting two popular Harley cruisers – the Fat Boy and the Fat Bob.

Updated March 2022: This article was updated with more information about Harley-Davidson and the Fat Boy and Fat Bob models for 2022.

A Brief About Harley’s lineup


Before we take a look at the two bikes, in particular, let's glance through the Harley-Davidson line-up first. Modern Harley-branded motorcycles fall into 8 categories namely; Touring, Softail, Dyna, Sportster, V-Rod, Street, LiveWire, and now Adventure Tourers as well. The models are classified based on the differences in their chassis, engine, and suspension.

Harley’s Touring lineup consists of Road King, Road Glide, Street Glide, and Electra Glide. Generally termed as ‘dressers’ or ‘baggers’, Touring models use high-displacement twin-cylinder motors with large-diameter telescopic forks. The Softail Harleys get a rear suspension hidden under the seat to resemble hardtail choppers of the 1960s. The lineup consists of Fat Boy, Softail Deluxe, Heritage Softail, Classic, Softail Slim, and Breakout. These big-twin motorcycles capitalize on Harley's strong value on tradition and can be characterized by their “Heritage” styling.

Via: Bennetts

Dyna series include the Super Glide, Super Glide Custom, Street Bob, Low Rider, and Fat Bob. Traditionally, the Dyna series used lower capacity twins and a rubber-mounted engine to isolate vibration. However, Harley discontinued the lineup in 2017 and the Dyna line of motorcycles has since been under the Softail family. The Sportster family consists of the Superlow, Iron 883, Superlow Custom, Forty-eight, Seventy-two, and Roadster. The Sportsters were conceived as racing motorcycles that were smaller and lighter than the other Harley models, contemporary Sportsters make use of 883cc or 1,200cc engines and largely remain similar in appearance.

The V-Rod was Harley’s muscle bike and was discontinued in 2017, the lineup had the V-Rod, Night Rod, V-Rod Muscle, and Street Rod. The Street family of motorcycles consisted of the Street 750 and Street 500. The platform was designed to appeal to younger riders looking for a lighter bike at a cheaper price. The LiveWire is part of Harley’s efforts to contribute to a greener tomorrow. Being an exclusively electric motorcycle, it deviated from Harley’s history of using V-twins and targets a different customer base altogether.

More recently, Harley-Davidson expanded its range to include a new Adventure Tourer called the Pan America. The motorcycle uses a new 1250cc V-Twin engine called the Revolution Max that makes 150hp. The engine is a structural part of the bike. The new Pan America is very different from any Harley in the past as it is Harley's first off-road-oriented model. The design and engineering of the bike is extremely modern, and it features a lot of new modern technologies. The Pan Am is expected to help improve sales for the brand while catering to a new audience and meeting their demands.

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Overview: Harley-Davidson Fat Bob Vs Fat Boy

VIa: Quick Throttle

The Fat Bob, currently sitting under the Softail badge was launched as part of the Dyna series. When it was introduced, it showed impressive levels of athleticism previously unheard of in a Harley. The Fat Bob uses the Milwaukee-Eight 114 but has a more dynamic chassis geometry. The Fat Bob is designed to appeal more to younger buyers and feels a lot more modern with non-conventional Harley bits all around. In 2022, Harley-Davidson updated the Fat Bob with a new waterslide graphic on the gas tank, with a retro-inspired two-tone color scheme.

Via: Topspeed

The Fat Boy is also a part of Harley’s Softail family and has been a favorite amongst the purists. The big bike is powered by the same Milwaukee-Eight V-twin that displaces 1,868cc and produces 118 lb-ft of torque. While the chassis did receive a much-needed upgrade in 2018, the core ethos of the Softail family still remains intact. You get massive 240 section rear tires and the beefier front forks common to the bigger Harleys. The Fat Boy gets LED headlamps and upgraded brakes but still keeps the signature solid cast wheels and the footboards. The 2022 update to the bike includes a refresh to its signature disc wheels with an 11-spoke turbine design.

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Key Differences Between Harley’s Fat Boy And Fat Bob

Harley Davidson Fat Boy vs fat Bob Front Comparison

Let’s go over what differentiates the Softail siblings. There is a significant difference in styling when you compare both of them and the Fat Bob gets twin discs and inverted forks up front, making it one of the more attractive Harleys. Of course, that’s something subjective. Instead of chrome, the Fat Bob prefers a darker approach, much like the recently revealed Ducati Streetfighter V4.

Further differences in the Fat Bob includes an aggressive riding position, adjustable shocks, and a firmer ride. Even though both use the same powertrain, the updated chassis, the riding stance, and the overall geometry make the Fat Bob more dynamic. Canyon carving is easier in the Fat Bob as clearance levels are much greater, allowing for better lean angles.

Harley Davidson Fat Boy vs fat Bob Rear Comparison

Technical differences between the two include the Fat Bob’s engine being rubber mounted, while the Fat Boy having a solidly mounted engine. Both of these bikes use completely different sets of mountings, with one focussed on performance while the other preferring relaxed cruising. Finally, there is a near-$2000 price difference between the two with the Fat Bob retailing at $19,149 and the Fat Boy going for $20,349. The Fat Bob and the Fat Boy are similar motorcycles, but worlds apart. The Fat Boy is designed for those who love their classics, while the Fat Bob is a modern interpretation of what a cruiser should and can be. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to rider preference

Sources: Visordown, MCN, Wikipedia, Harley-Davidson

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