Harley-Davidson’s Fat Boy has become one of The Motor Company’s most popular models since its 1990 debut. For 2018 the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 endows this celebrated platform with an even higher power payload and a pile of technical updates.

Like the Fat Boy 107, the defining characteristic of this 114ci model is its “Lakester” solid disc wheels. The stout 18-inch rims are shod with wider 160mm front and 240mm rear rubber. Styling takes a step to the wild side with the new LED headlight in a large “modern interpretation” of the classic nacelle with a design reminiscent of an Atomic Age TV, says Harley-Davidson. It’s still unmistakably Fat Boy but definitely pushes into new styling territory.

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114
2018 Harley-Davidson Softail Fat Boy 114Harley-Davidson

It also forges into new performance territory, thanks to the larger-displacement Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. Like in the 107, dual counterbalancers cancel primary vibrationand allow the engine to be solidly mounted in the frame. Harley-Davidson claims the Milwaukee-Eight 114 propels the Fat Boy from 0-60 mph 9 percent faster, and improves roll-on acceleration from 60-80 in fifth gear by 13 percent, over the 107ci version.

The mild-steel tubular frame has also been redesigned and is 65 percent stiffer than the outgoing Softail frame. This new frame has 50 percent fewer component parts, 22 percent fewer welds and, with the solid-mount engine, makes for an overall 34 percent more rigid chassis. These and other changes help reduce the weight of the Fat Boy by 31 pounds for 2018. Increased lean angle and more precise steering are also benefits of the new chassis.

The Showa Dual Bending Valve (SDBV) fork Harley-Davidson introduced to much praise on the FL touring line last year is now applied to 2018 Softail motorcycles. The Showa fork reduces weight and provides linear damping characteristics to provide a more comfortable, better controlled ride and improved handling.

At the rear, a single under-seat coil-over shock replaces the dual under-engine shocks used on previous Softails. In this new design, shock action is conventional--that is the rear wheel hits a bump and compresses the shock--whereas the old Softail design extended the shocks when the wheel hit a bump. Performance is improved by offering increased wheel travel, more controlled damping and a larger range of spring preload adjustment, while still maintaining the hardtail look brought about by the “shockless” rear frame triangle.

The 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 starts at $20,299 in vivid black, $20,699 for color option and $21,049 for the two-tone paint schemes. Keyless ignition, H-D Factory Security System and ABS are standard.

2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114
Engine: New Milwaukee-Eight 114
Displacement: 114 cu. in./1868cc
Transmission: 6-Speed Cruise Drive
Torque: 119 lb.-ft. @ 3000 RPM
Fuel Economy: 47 mpg
Overall Length: 93.3 in.
Overall Width: 38.8 in.
Seat Height: 25.9 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.5 in.
Lean Angle (left/right): 26/26 deg.
Wheelbase: 65.6 in.
Wheel Size Front: 18 in.
Wheel Size Rear: 18 in.
Fuel Capacity: 5.0 gal.
Running Weight: 699 lb.
GVWR: 1175 lb.