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Harley is juiced

Great Ocean Road Tour

Full Stock Bike Test Peformance Enhanced Specifications Stylised Upgrades

Special Edition eMag Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo



Originally reviewed in Feburary 2010 issue


Originally published in May 2010 issue.

14 Performance upgrades

Originally published October 2010


Specifications CYCLE TORQUE: 02 4956 9820 FULL DETAILS PAGE 6

Click here to view Cycle Torque’s preview of the Fat Boy Lo.

Cycle Torque’s Fat Boy Lo Project The Harley-Davidson Fat Boy has been one of the longest-running, most successful models in the company’s history. Launched in 1989, the Fat Boy become one of the best-selling bikes in Australia for many years. In those early years of high inflation and with the Aussie dollar losing value, the new price of a Fat Boy skyrocketed from just over $15,000 to over $20,000 in just a few years. This, combined with Harley’s policy of slowly evolving the Fat Boy rather than making wholesale changes, meant second-hand values stayed strong, with many owners selling their bikes for more than they’d paid for them brand-new a few years earlier. Times change though, and the Fat Boy - and especially the Fat Boy Lo we feature in this Cycle Torque Special Edition – are no longer priced in the stratosphere, which is where $20K felt in the early 1990s. It’s a lot easier to afford $30,000 for a Fat Boy Lo today than it was to find $20,000 around 20 years ago. The other good news is the secondhand values still remain strong: you’re unlikely to get more than you paid in a few years’ time, but there’s no doubt a well-kept Fat Boy will be worth good coin down the track. It is somewhat surprising Harley-Davidson has taken so long to come up with a variant to the Fat Boy – the model has been so successful it’s surprising it hasn’t spawned a plethora of models carrying the name. Then again, Harley has been careful not to dilute the success of the Fat Boy, keeping it close to its roots as a beautiful big-bore cruiser, distinctive with its small diameter disc wheels, unfaired clean styling and hard-tail styling. The casual observer may not think there has been many changes to the Fat Boy over the years, but there have been many. The best known are wider wheels, bigger engines and fuel injection, but improved suspension and chassis changes which have improved handling have been very important, too. For 2011 the entire Softail range comes standard with an anti lock braking system, the major change between the 2010 and 2011 model Fat Boy Lo, while the price has remained unchanged. Cycle Torque really enjoyed its year with the Fat Boy Lo. The bike was fun to have around the office, nice to ride and a pleasure to listen to, and will be missed…

From touring trim to Bagger in 3 minutes. Click here to watch.


It’s not about how low you can go but how you go while you’re down there.

SWING LO SWEET CHARIOT THE Fat Boy has been with us since 1990: 20 years after the first model Harley has now released a variant, the Fat Boy Lo. And low it is – it has the lowest seat height of any current model Harley – as well as long, but certainly not lean. The other big news is the price: at $27,990 (plus on road costs) the Fat Boy Lo is more than $1500 cheaper than the still available standard Fat Boy. And it has a stealth look; satin chrome, gloss or satin black for the main colour and minimalist styling – the perfect representation of a factory custom. It looks heaps better than the first Fat Boys, although the lineage can be easily recognised. More importantly though is that Harley-Davidson has been able to keep the styling while massively improving the machine as a motorcycle – sure, like any cruiser cornering clearance is very limited, but the Fat Boy Lo handles and goes better than any Softail before it. Cycle Torque’s Nigel Paterson was so impressed with the bike from the launch of Harley’s 2010 range (see the November 2010 issue, available online at that he organised this bike to be Cycle Torque’s first cruiser project machine.

Running gear

Harley’s venerable Twin Cam 1584cc V-twin engine is the focal mechanical piece of this puzzle. This is a very modern powerplant, but unlike so many others it’s not been designed for peak power, extreme revs or smooth operation: it’s designed and built to make the riding experience unique, enjoyable and timeless. Pretty much an all new design only a few years ago, the modern technology includes sequential port fuel injection,

a counterbalancer so only the vibes Harley wants you to feel make it through ensuring it’s a modern power unit. It has a dry sump lubrication set up, and a relatively low compression ratio of 9.2:1. It’s reliable, has loads of torque and just loves to lope along all day. In terms of fulfilling its design brief, it’s spot on. A six speed gearbox hooks up the belt final drive which will keep on keeping on for years. In many ways you could almost compare it to a shaft drive. It needs minimal maintenance and is designed to last much longer than a chain. The chassis is a highly agricultural affair, at least it is from an aesthetic point of view. It consists of a mild steel tubular frame, joined with a rectangular section backbone, with both tying up with stamped cast and forged sections to make up the entire chassis. Even though the swingarm makes the bike look like a hardtail, it actually comes from the Softail family, with the rear shocks mounted horizontally under the bike. 41mm conventional telescopic forks sit out front, partially hidden by the massive shroud which sits behind the headlight. Twin four-piston calipers and 292mm discs do stopping duties at the bow, while a similarly sized single disc sits aft with a twin-piston caliper. The Fat Boy’s distinctive alloy wheels are used, 17-inch both ends, 3.5 inches up front and a six inch rear. An interesting couple of measurements is the seat height of only 669mm and the weight which is 331 kilograms ready to roll. So it’s low to the ground (mainly with the help of the lowered suspension), it’s heavy, and with very conservative rake and trail



figures, it’s also a slow steerer. Compared to the Fat Boy, the Lo is 9mm shorter, has a 10mm lower seat (which is also narrower), has 5mm less ground clearance, has 5mm shorter wheelbase. It weighs the same: 313kg dry.

Cruise time

Even though the centre of gravity is low on the Lo, it still feels like the heavy bike it is. At very low speeds the feeling remains, disappearing mostly as you reach around 30km/h. From a pure ergonomics point of view, the seat pushed me slightly forward than I really wanted to be, but overall the seat/’bar/running board combination feels good. Shorter riders (I’m six foot) will feel more comfortable. While the suspension is around 25mm lower than the standard Fat Boy set up, and the seat is lower and narrower, I never felt as though I was dragging my behind on the road. Lowering the Fat Boy is a master stroke from Harley-Davidson. It will allow much shorter riders to enjoy a bike they may have previously steered clear of because of reach issues. At low revs (don’t exactly know what they were, there’s no tacho) the FLSTFB feels strong enough to hold a bull out to wee, and when you crack open the throttle it gives a mighty surge forward, despite having less than 2000 kilometres on the clock. Shifting through the gears is easy enough, with so few kilometres on this baby you need to be positive with your shifts but this is expected. It might feel a little agricultural but gearboxes tend to be like this when they need to cope with big cylinders. One thing to keep

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in mind is that sixth gear is very much an overdrive. It’s only when you are doing over 100 km/h that it should be engaged, under that and you feel the engine struggling to cope. Labouring an engine in this way is not good for it, but many riders think you can slot it in to top nice and early because the engine has got the torque to pull it. It does, but it won’t like you for it. Up to 100km/h the windblast from the open cockpit doesn’t intrude, it’s only when you go north of that you might feel like a windsock. It’s OK for short blasts but tiresome when done constantly. Harley-Davidson make terrific screens which mount simply and quickly. I reckon you might see one on the Cycle Torque long termer in the not too distant future. Because the bike is lower than the standard Fat Boy you’ll tend to run out of ground clearance earlier. I touched the footboards down first (I prefer the


footboards to forward controls, both in look and comfort) and even though I didn’t hammer further into the tarmac I know from experience you can start to grind away the stand and other sections of the metalwork. We knew this would be the case when we looked at getting a ‘Lo’, and this is fine, you just ride to suit the bike you are on. But there’s no doubting the fact the Fat Boy will tip much further over than the ground clearance allows. If you like hearing grinding noises you can push the boards into the ground, they pivot up, but it will only go so far. Just going through intersections will easily have the footboards touching so expect it to happen regularly. Harley quotes the lean angle available as 25.6/25.2 degrees, a little under two degrees less than the Fat Boy, which is significant when carving through corners, but… this bike isn’t designed for carving through corners. Big cruisers like the Fat Boy usually brake much better than you would expect. I think the weight distribution helps here. The brakes as they sit

It says 96 cubic inches on the air filter cover: a reflection of American pride, no fancy metric system here. 8

individually, are OK. Up front the fourpiston caliper on a single disc gives less feel and bite than I expected, and the rear brake is better than expected. Combined they make an impressive team, pushing the bike’s tyres into the road to pull up quick smart. Generally I used the rear brake for tootling around, only really chiming in the front when I needed to wash off some serious speed. Cruising along is this bike’s forte, and on most roads, even bad ones, the suspension copes well enough. It’s when you start exploring the outer regions of engine performance that you’ll push the suspension beyond its limits. Once again you expect this to a large degree because the shortened forks and shocks have less travel. If you get a rush of blood on a bumpy road the bike will start to graunch its undercarriage with gay abandon. Cruising along, taking in the sights and not breaking any speed records, the Fat Boy Lo is a delight to ride. It’s fun, comfy enough and has plenty of poke to do the job.

The machining on the filns is beautiful.

I really liked the Fat Boy Lo: I reckon I’ll love it by the time Cycle Torque has fitted some parts from the H-D accessory cattledog and modified a few other things. The awful pillion pegs have to go and for touring we’re looking at better seats, a screen, heated grips, luggage, accessory electrical power and an intercom. In stock trim it’s a fun machine for relaxed riding and boulevard cruising. You can see why machines like this have attained a huge following in recent years. n

The twin pipes look great, shame the pillion pegs are crap and allows heels to touch them. The Fat Boy has always had disc wheels – the current version has neat-looking holes.


Fat Boy turns tourer

IT SEEMED like such a good idea at the time. Before we left. A ride from Newcastle, along the back roads to Melbourne then on to the Great Ocean Road and back through Victoria’s Gippsland, over the Snowy Mountains, a bit of freeway to Goulburn, the back roads to Sydney and home to the Hunter Valley, in the company of a variety of other bikes. That’s nine days and 3775km on a Fat Boy Lo with my better half (Poppi) hanging off the back. I must have been mad.

Fit for touring

For those that don’t know we have a 2010 Fat Boy Lo in Cycle Torque’s stable. Although you could never really call it a tourer it’s always a bit of fun to bolt on some bits and see what the bike can do. The first thing we did was fit the quick release screen to keep the wind pressure off the rider. The riding position is upright and this seemed the ticket to make it less tiring at freeway speeds. Next was the touring seat with a little more padding, including a backrest for the rider and a thicker wide-arse rear pillion seat pad to keep our tails in reasonable condition. A quick release backrest was fitted for the pillion with a carry rack mounted on the back. There were already foot boards for the rider so we replaced the pillion footpegs with boards as well. We found these are a little lower than the standard pegs so for the more vertically challenged you might want to make sure their legs reach comfortably over the panniers before travelling too far.

For the luggage we attached lockable hard case panniers with leather finish and used a large Harley-Davidson soft bag for the back rack. The panniers don’t hold much more than a change of clothes and a pair of size 10 thongs so we were thankful for the large bag on the back. All of these parts were genuine accessories and come with every part you need, including every spacer and bolt. Once you read the instructions and followed the diagrams they were easy enough to fit. Try and work it out ad lib and you will probably struggle. We had only just got the bike serviced and asked the guys at Fraser Motorcycles in Newcastle to crank up the pre-load on the rear suspension to cope with the extra load and the dodgy roads we were likely to encounter on the trip.

The trip

The plan was for the guys to set off for the best part of three days riding before meeting up with the girls at Melbourne Airport. Six bikes turned up for the trip. ‘Showbag’ and ‘Silver’ only came along for day one on a Blackbird and BMW R 1200 GS. Trevor was on his way back to Tassie and stuck with us to Melbourne also on a R 1200 GS. Brett and Bobby were both in for the long haul on their BMW GS steeds. Friday was day one and we headed west for a local motorcycling hotspot, the Putty Road, followed by the Bells Line of Road through the Blue Mountains. I was surprised how well I kept up to the others. I was hanging off the bike like a sailor in a dinghy to keep the foot boards off the tighter sections of winding road. Heading west out of the mountains from Lithgow through the back roads of Tarana to Bathurst I found several bumps that had me bouncing right out of the seat. Cowra through Barry and Neville (towns not people) were where a railway crossing launched me for a second of fun to an hour of pain. Boorowa Pub was home for the first night where I spent the night soothing my sore landing pad with some amber fluid and laughter. I really did push our Fat Boy Lo way out of its element and I was pleasantly

surprised at how well it coped. On day two we continued west through Lockhart to cross the border at Echuca for a welcome rest before heading 75km south into Victoria to spend the evening at Elmore telling more tales, drinking beer and fending off a bunch of wild girls creating a half hour of Doe Show havoc at the hotel before someone blew a whistle and they all jumped on a bus and disappeared to destroy the next town. This left an easy half-day ride to pick up our girls at Melbourne Airport the next day. Of course heading down the highway would have been too easy so Sunday we headed west to take in a stretch of road from Bridgwater, through Maldon to Castlemaine which the motorcycle atlas recommended as a good ride. By 2.30pm we picked up the girls at the airport and settled in for the night at Little River, just north of Geelong. We were supposed to stay at the pub till one of us wandered in the room to find someone else on the bed and we had been double booked for the night. As luck had it we had to upgrade to the B&B next door with a king size four-post bed and all the fancy stuff to impress the girls. It was a good way to soften them up. If they only knew what was coming! Day four was a dawdle through Geelong and late

breakfast in Torquay which is the start of the Great Ocean Road. This was a good road for the Harley considering some of the roads we had been on. There were a lot of smooth tight corners that were easy at cruising speed taking in the views. Bobby and Brett started to push things along a bit on their GSs. We rode past Bells Beach and only stopped at Apollo Bay for fuel and a photo on the wharf. I wanted to go to Cape Otway lighthouse but after 6km along that road realised I was going to struggle to make our next stop for the night at Port Campbell, so I turned back and kept on the road. After giving the tight corners coming into Princetown a

CYCLE TORQUE FEATURE – HARLEY TOURING Continued from previous page 11

boards just ease up when they touch down so no problems getting some decent lean angles through the smooth corners up in the mountains. The last day began from our night stop at Wommargama Pub on the Hume Highway just north of Albury. It started off with a comfortable ride up the highway to Goulburn where we took a turn to head up through Taralga, Oberon and back down the winding Bells Line Road for a quick stretch down the F3

home to Newcastle. We had been very lucky with the weather but the timetable took its toll on the girls. fair fright, we hit Port Campbell for the night. It had been a long day and after getting off the bike Poppi transferred all her saddle sores to my eardrum as punishment for all the stop-offs we didn’t make.

More cruising around

The plan was to spend two nights here so we could look around and do as we liked. Day five was a flight in a helicopter over the Twelve Apostles and a walk down the Gorge then on the bike to Warrnambool and Port Fairy for a look. This is a fantastic bit of Australia and deserving of it’s reputation as a ‘must see’ tourist destination. Day six the boys decided we needed to get back to Queenscliff and across Port Phillip Bay on the Ferry to Sorrento so we had enough time to find accommodation for the night and keep on time. Eventually we found a bed at the Baxter Hotel just out of Frankston. Day Seven was a fairly uneventful ride through Leongatha, Foster to Sale and on to Bairnsdale to stay the night at Bruthen on the doorstep of the snowy mountains. I was looking forward to the next day’s ride through the winding roads to Swifts Creek and Omeo and over the hill at Hotham to catch up with friends at Mt Beauty. We had another dose of scraping the footpegs as we played boy and girl racer and the big Harley. Even though they make a bit of noise the



If you like a steady cruise at legal speeds the Fatty is very enjoyable, especially if you stick to smooth flowing roads and you don’t have to carry too much luggage. Even though the limited suspension travel can be an issue on crappy roads, there’s something about that distinct slow revving, throbbing V-twin sound which makes that Harley statement and turns heads that draws you back for more. It lives on a fearsome reputation with a mix of 1940s styling and well-hidden 2010 technology to soften the blow. There seems to be more accessories available for it than a Barbie doll. Every bike can be made a personalised work of art. For ours the

medium height screen tended to buffet my head as speeds picked up over 100kph. The panniers were small and would have been much better had they been removable to take in the motel room but they never got in the way negotiating traffic. It is what it is. Sure, at times we took the ‘Lo’ out of its element but there were plenty of times on the trip where we enjoyed a relaxed pace in comfort; you just need to be careful how adventurous you get. – Ray Macarthur

We fitted our Fat Boy Lo with quite a number of accessories and were surprised to see them come in at only a shade over four grand. Below is a rundown on individual prices, rounded down to the nearest dollar. Sideplates for panniers – $213. Touring backrest – $168. Sport luggage rack – $198. Multifit touring luggage system with extra day bag – $351. Detachable windscreen – $542. Touring seat with rider backrest – $764. Leather covered rigid saddlebags – $1,146. Half moon passenger footboards – $275. Passenger footboard support kit – $213. *Docking hardware kit – $53. *Turn signal relocation kit – $61 *Medium low upright – $152 Total – $4,141.15 These aren’t the exact terminology used by HarleyDavidson but the better describe what each component is. *Parts required to fit some accessories to the Fat Boy Lo. 13



We’ve kitted our Lo Boy to tour. Now we’ve treated it to some extra herbs. I MUST say right here I’ve never been a big fan of HarleyDavidson’s Fat Boy. When we linked up with HD late last year to grab one of the 2010 press bikes it wasn’t a unanimous decision at Cycle Torque head office. I would have preferred an XR1200X – I have this desire burning deep down inside me to build a trick flat tracker style machine – or maybe a Road King. I know these bikes are world’s apart, and even though I like stripped down muscle machines, something about a retro HD tourer does it for me too. And before those non-believers of you out there poo-poo the big Road King as a wobbly overweight and undernourished tourer, try riding one. You will be amazed. And besides that, they look awesome. So far In previous instalments you may have noticed our FBL did a two-up tour down the Great Ocean Road, the very day after we fitted the genuine accessory panniers, screen, pillion footboards, touring seat and rack. Why would we try and turn a Fat Boy into a tourer when HD already produces better suited models I hear you ask? It was an all-new model and we could. Seriously though, we wanted to show that you could have, maybe not the best of both worlds, but at least a good chunk of them. I rather liked the FBL as a bagger, stripped of its touring extras, except for the panniers and passenger foot boards. In this guise it looked very nice, low and while not lean, at least mean. I’ve long maintained if you want extra horsepower then buy a bigger or faster bike. I haven’t always abided by my own mantra, and often it has turned pear shaped. I was happy enough with the FBL’s power, even though it was hardly arm wrenching, because when riding it I’m happy to

cruise along enjoying the ride and scenery, not blur it. There’s a very good reason why HD’s machines bring so much happiness to so many people. I think this is the main one. That said, I wasn’t all that taken with the look of the standard pipes, and some extra go couldn’t be all that bad, could it? Horsepower Heaven The two easiest places to gain horsepower with a HD is pipes and air intake. This is a simple statement but in reality it’s far from simple to do just that. I armed myself with a high performance K&N 63 Series AirCharger air filter and a set of Rush slip on exhaust pipes and hot footed it over to Dyno Bike Solutions at Raymond Terrace (02 4987 2344), just north of Newcastle. Gavin Schofield is the man at the controls of the Dynojet dyno and we had a plan to run the bike on the dyno in standard trim (with 8000 kilometres on the clock. Yes we ride our Harley here at CT), with the K&N filter fitted, and then lastly with the Rush mufflers fitted. A three-pronged attack, all in the name of clueing up our readers. Aren’t we good people? Like a giddy schoolboy with a present I ripped open the boxes of goodies and saw the pipes in flat black glory. They looked the same length as the standard mufflers but looked, better. Then the air filter. Inside the box was a dyno graph showing a 10 horsepower gain over a standard air filter. When I mentioned this claimed gain to the three owners of Dyno Bike Solutions, Gavin, Tim and Scott, there was much laughter and sledging. All of it seemingly at my expense for believing such propaganda. Now I never said I believed it, but I had seen the dyno sheet and had not informed them of that. I myself have heard manufacturer’s gains and seen


result which don’t always back those claims up but I was happy to sit back and play the dumb one – some say this comes easy but I dispute this – and see how it was going to play out. The first dyno session had the bike smack on the standard figures supplied by K&N. When I say smack on I mean within half a pony. We fitted the filter, which was an easy job for anyone without two left hands, and the second session produced exactly what K&N claimed – a gain of 10 horsepower. To say the boys at DBS were gobsmacked is a bit of an understatement. When I questioned them on this, with a cheeky grin, I was informed there was rarely any gains of that magnitude with filters they had used. Next step was fitting the Rush pipes. But before this I needed to fit a new set of tyres to the FBL. The original rear had worn out and I had a new set of Pirelli Nightdragons waiting to churn tar. Now I’ve pulled out and put back in countless sets of wheels on race and road bikes over the years but I was unprepared for what lay ahead. Getting the rear wheel out took two of us. To put it bluntly it was a cow of a job. I’m sure mechanics who did it day in and day out would be proficient at it but it’s not a job I’d like to revisit in a hurry. It seems the Softail design causes this because other HarleyDavidsons I saw at the shop certainly looked like it would be easier ripping out their back wheels. The front wasn’t an issue. I think the trick is knowing the right sequence for these types of jobs. It was the same fitting the new mufflers. There’s 15


little room to get the screws holding them on out, but seemingly even less room trying to get your hands in to put the screws back in. In hindsight, removing the whole exhaust, header pipes and all, would be the go in the future, I think. Dyno session number three: The new Rush pipes sounded great – throaty without being too loud. There’s too many Harleys out there which sound downright obscene. These are right on. More good news, another three extra horsepower from the pipes. Then it was wipe the bike down, don some riding gear and take it for a strop up the road. The extra power was noticeable straight away. The mods not only gave us extra power up top but they gave over 30 percent more torque at 50km/h. Not only that but the K&N filter and the Rush pipes add to the sinister look of the bike, setting it off just nicely. All at Dyno Bike Solutions agreed the bike looked nice, sounded nice and went better than it did before. Job done. Well not quite. You see there’s a sting in the tail when you modify your bike. The sting in this tail was the fact bike was running leaner than ideal. The solution is to fit a fuel injection tuning device to sort

this out. Harley-Davidson supplied a Screaming Eagle Pro Super Tuner which was fitted and tuned by Dyno Bike Solutions. It’s easy to fit, you simply plug it in to wiring loom connection but it takes a dyno expert to get the best out of the tuner. After a number of hours playing around Gavin from DBS triumphantly exclaimed he had liberated close to another three horsepower from the FBL’s engine, and perhaps more importantly got the fuelling spot on. BREAKOUT BOX Prices: K & N filter – $470. Rush exhaust – $599.95. Screaming Eagle tuner – $703.

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Harley - Davidson Fat Boy Lo - Long Term Test  

We have produced a special eMag for Cycle Toruqe's long term test of the 2010 Harley Davidson Fat Boy Lo. Cycle Torque have given the Harley...

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