2008–2013 Harley-Davidson FXDF | SMART MONEY

MC Garage buying tips for a pre-owned, late-model Harley-Davidson Fat Bob.

Let’s say your taste in motorcycles usually runs to Japanese or European bikes, but lately you’re craving something from the American side of the menu—and not just a snack but the Milwaukee full-meal deal. Might we suggest a well-done Harley-Davidson Fat Bob? Despite a name that conjures up visions of greasy not-so-fast food packed with empty chrome calories, the FXDF, introduced in 2008, dishes up as much practicality and style as anything you’ll find floating in Harley’s alphabet soup. (Harley historians will comment that the Fat Bob name was used before, but this was its first use on the Dyna Glide chassis.)

The Fat Bob follows the archetypal Harley menu. The main ingredient, a large-displacement V-twin engine—a Twin Cam 96 originally, replaced by a TC103 in 2012—churns out tons of grunt down low and decent, if not arm-stretching, power in the upper reaches of the rev range. At idle the engine shakes like a wet dog in a rainstorm. At any rpm above that, rubber mounts hold the vibration to a familiar and traditional rumble.

The Bob’s slotted disc wheels are its signature feature. The front one looks almost as big as the rear, and both come shod with wide, fat tires. The twin-shock rear end, like all such from H-D, offers limited suspension travel, and the fork won’t give anyone at Öhlins sleepless nights. Handling, braking, and cornering clearance are above average. Some longtime H-D riders say the Fat Bob is one of the best everyday rides on The Motor Company’s bill of fare.

Mechanically, the Twin Cam engine is pretty bulletproof, but beware of performance mods chosen more for how they look and sound than for how they work. Generally, the two biggest chassis concerns are the engine mounts and the drive belt. The paint-shaker impersonation should cease not far above idle, but it’s hard to convey how much vibration at cruising speeds is too much; if you’re not familiar with Harleys it’d pay to have an expert ride the bike to see if the rubber mounts are shot. Check for excessive wear on the sides of the drive belt and the inside shoulder of the rear pulley; either could indicate belt misalignment. The belt itself will last a very long time if cleaned and adjusted regularly.

Finding a totally stock used Harley is harder than finding a totally honest politician (though of the two the bike tends to sell for less and once bought stays that way). But that’s the one you want—or at least one with minimal modifications. Finally, make sure the paperwork is in order before you hand over the check. More so with Harleys than with any other make, that used one you’re checking out might not only look hot but be hot too.

Cheers

Stout engine, beefy chassis, robust good looks. Possibly the easiest way into the H-D world from the outside.

Jeers

Handling and performance in a class by itself…because everyone else graduated. Peer pressure to get apehangers.

Watch For

Misaligned drive belt, worn-out engine mounts, poorly chosen engine and exhaust mods, sloppy care and maintenance.

Verdict

A big, solid, amiable motorcycle. If Norm from Cheers were a bike he’d be a Fat Bob.

Value

2008 | $11,315

2009 | $11,500

2010 | $11,815

2011 | $12,125

2012 | $12,995

2013 | $13,605