The 2012 Harley Fat Bob is a Dyna with attitude. Drag bars sit on high risers leaving riders arms up and out while forward-mounted controls allow plenty of room to stretch the legs. A chunky 130mm front tire wrapped in Michelin Scorchers with aggressive treads leads the way while a 180mm wide patch of rubber anchors the rear. Dual headlamps peer out just below the triple trees while a five-gallon tank widens the bike’s stance and is fitting for a motorcycle called Fat Bob.
Crack the throttle on the Bob and you’re treated to the biggest upgrade for 2012, the power increase provided by the Twin Cam 103 engine which replaces last year’s TC96. Down low it feels livelier than the Judge at the throttle because almost all of its torque is immediately available. It also impresses with how it can pick back up from extremely low rpm, once again because most of its get-up-and-go is low in the powerband. Drop it down a gear and there’s a load of engine braking, too.
Which is a good thing because the performance of the brakes is average. The dual front discs on the front have decent power, but the single disc on the rear lacks bite and feel. ABS is an available option though, something its competitor doesn’t offer.
Riding up the mountain to Big Bear Lake, the Fat Bob is very stable in the curvy stuff. Granted, its chunky tires and almost 700 pound curb weight keep it from transitioning as easily as the Judge, but the Fat Bob is stable when leaned over and has more ground clearance than the Victory. It also feels more stable at high speeds on rough surfaces like the 405 and doesn’t communicate as much of the lines and grooves in the road to the rider.
The suspension package provides a fairly smooth ride. We found the front fork particularly useful in smoothing out the ride while the twin rear coil-over shocks only yielded its stroke to direct hits on big potholes. Engine vibrations can be a bit buzzy in the bars and foot pegs, though.
The 2012 Harley Fat Bob won the miles per gallon war, providing an average just over 40 mpg. It also has a high level of fit-and-finish, from its Tommy Gun pipes to its slotted disc wheels. With arm-stretching torque that’s immediately available, a well-sorted chassis and grippy tires that are stable when contact patches get thin, and hot rod styling, the 2012 Fat Bob is one of our favorite bikes in Harley’s Dyna stable.