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The Harley-Davidson Fat Boy motorcycle first appeared on the market in 1990. For more than a quarter of a century, this iconic motorcycle has been one of the most popular and best-selling models from one of the most desirable motorcycle brands in the world. As the owner of a Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, Stefan Masuhr enjoys letting the engine loose on country roads and travelling across Europe.

The popularity of the Fat Boy is not limited to the customer base of Harley-Davidson: the bike has also appeared in some blockbuster movies. The attached PDF document explores some of the best movies to feature a Harley-Davidson. Here you can find out more about the distinctive design of the Fat Boy and how it has evolved over the years.

The Prototype

One of the main keys to the success of the Fat Boy motorcycle range was the rigorousness of the testing. Two full years before the bike went into production, designer Willie G. Davidson took the prototype to the Daytona Bike Week rally in Daytona Beach. This allowed for testing under adverse conditions and plenty of customer feedback, facilitating improvements that would later add to the popularity of the motorcycle. The attached short video shares a little bit more about the design of the Fat Boy.

Features and Specifications

One of the most distinctive features of the Fat Boy range is its use of solid-cast disc wheels to both the front and rear of the bike. The original design was the first of the Harley-Davidson motorcycles to features slightly flared fenders and shotgun exhausts. The original model was finished in monochrome, with yellow detailing on a silver painted and silver powder-coated frame. The Fat Boy evokes a hand-made feeling, with stitching design on the fuel tank and on the seat. The instantly-recognisable logo has a nostalgic, patriotic aura to it and is still featured on Fat Boy motorcycles being produced today.

Fat Boy Lo

In 2010, a variation on the model was released called the Fat Boy Lo. The Fat Boy Lo featured the lowest height of seat found on any Harley-Davidson bike produced before or since and was marketed as a meaner, darker, lower version of the original 1990 model. The overall model of the Fat Boy, however, has undergone few alterations since launch, with the exception of customised limited editions.


Each year since 1999, Harley-Davidson has released limited editions of a select few motorcycles that have been specially customised. These are known as Custom Vehicle Operations and are available for just twelve months at a time. Wheels, accessories and paint options are all customised within these limited-edition models. The ranks of the CVO programme were joined by the Fat Boy in 2005, at a time when the model was celebrating its 15th year of production. This variation of the Fat Boy featured a ‘steel pan’ solo seat and lower suspension than previous models.

Military Inspiration

The inspiration for the Fat Boy design comes from the military, or more specifically the B-29 bombers used during the Second World War by the American armed forces. Harley-Davidson has historically supplied motorcycles to the armed forces as far back as the First World War. The Harley-Davidson JD model was prevalent during the First World War, with several of the vehicles loaded with either gun platforms or crew side-cars. During the Second World War, the Harley-Davidson 45” flathead was more commonly used within the military.

Read the attached infographic to find out what features and improvements you can expect when the 2018 Fat Boy range is launched.