Harley-Davidson’s push to reinvent itself is embodied in the pure American muscle of the 2018 Fat Bob 114.

Harley-Davidson's Fat Bob 114 is Cycle World's Best Cruiser for 2018.Julia LaPalme

The Fat Bob was completely redesigned along with Harley-Davidson's entire Softail lineup. So a model that was once a twin-shock, rubber-engine-mount Dyna platform became a monoshock, solid-mount, Milwaukee-Eight-powered performance cruiser. The Dyna faithful were a little shocked, but for the rest of us, everything was gained.

The Fat Bob was completely redesigned for 2018, along with the entire Harley-Davidson softail lineup.Julia LaPalme

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A 114 cubic-inch Milwaukee-Eight engine gives the Fat Bob 108 pound-feet of torque.Julia LaPalme

How so? A rock-solid chassis works with excellent fork and shock damping, increased cornering clearance, more responsive steering, and reduced weight to result in surprisingly capable handling. You'd never expect a motorcycle with this brawler's 16-inch-wheel stance and beefy rubber (150/80 front, 180/70 rear) to be so nimble, especially considering the 670-pound no-fuel weight recorded on the CW scale. And while the entire 2018 Softail lineup got new suspension, the Fat Bob was the only one to come equipped with an inverted 43mm Showa fork set at a sporty (for a cruiser) 28-degree rake.

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Despite a beefy front tire and 670-pound weight, the Fat Bob 114 is nimble.Julia LaPalme

Yes, the Fat Bob is available in two engine displacements—114 and 107ci—but we’d opt for the 114 every time. Especially for Ten Best Bikes. For a measly $1,800 more (on the base vivid black model), you get much stronger performance. The 79 hp and 108 pound-feet of torque (at 2,000 rpm!) just suits the bike’s burly nature better.

A new and far-out headlight makes the Fat Bob 114 unmistakable.Julia LaPalme
The Fat Bob 114 clearly reflects Harley-Davidson’s new push in the cruiser category.Julia LaPalme

There is also its unmistakable Fat Bob-ness with its far-out headlight and how its gas tank and trimmed-down fenders barely adorn the chassis, engine, and exhaust. It echoes the feeling of the previous model but clearly defines this bike as part of Harley-Davidson’s new push in the cruiser segment and its overall shift as a company.