Turn it into a short-range tourer? Strip it down and make it into the ultimate bar bomber? Jason knows what he wants to do with FleetBob, what about you?
Our long-term FatBob 114 is pretty nice, but Jason has a plan to make it even better
It's August, and the FleetBob—RideApart's flat white 2018 Harley-Davidson FatBob114 long-term demo bike—has lived in my garage for a good month and a half now. I've put a couple thousand miles on it already, ridden it in all kinds of weather, and have done everything with it from quick jaunts to the store down the street to six hour-long slogs across the breadth of Michigan. I took it to Vintage Motorcycle Days down in Ohio—a deeply boring, disappointing event unfortunately—to show it off, and I've fielded a million questions from curious passers by down on Belle Isle and in Mexicantown. What I'm saying here is that I've been trying to put the bike in as many common motorcycle situations as I can in the short time I have it.
This picture is America
In our 45-ish-day-long whirlwind romance, FleetBob and I have come to understand one another pretty well. There are still things to learn, sure, but I mostly know what to expect from the bike now, and the bike mostly knows what to expect from me. I'll be honest with you guys, I've been pleasantly surprised living with FleetBob. For as big and powerful as it is it's pretty easy to use in the city, and that big 114 Milwaukee 8 just eats up the miles like a fat kid eats cake. All in all, I've been pretty happy.
I don't care what anyone says, I'm proud of Ohio's spacefaring tradition.
You know what though? It could be better. There's always room for improvement, right? I tend to have a more practical, utilitarian attitude when it comes to bikes and riding, more so than a lot of American riders I'd bet. I like my bikes to be able to carry things and go places (which is why the Ural is my dream bike, so much storage!), and FleetBob has neither a large enough storage capacity nor long enough legs for me. Now, there's not much I can do about the bike's range—that 3.6 gallon tank really hobbles it—but I might be able to outfit it to be a little more practical. To better fit my needs as an on-the-go house dad and moto journalist, you know?
My plan here is to make FleetBob a little more practical and easy to live with while maintaining its clean lines by not loading it down with stuff and turing it into, say, a Heritage Classic or something. To start, I spent a couple of hours drinking beer and perusing Harley's online parts and accessories catalog. Whew, man. There's a lot of stuff in there. Eventually I came up with a pretty good list of things I'd need to make FleetBob perfect. Now, I'm not going to bore you with a item by item break down of my list, we don't have time for that. What I am going to do is give you a rough idea of what I plan to do and how I plan to do it. So, here goes.
The linchpin to my whole "make the FleetBob more practical" plan.
First, I'm going to need to fit FleetBob with Harley's quick-release HoldFast docking hardware. This is the key to using the majority of the accessories I picked out. Next is the HoldFast two-up luggage rack because it's practical and low-profile enough not to screw too much with FleetBob's lines. One of the rad-looking single-sided swingarm bags is on the list, good for carrying small things, impulse purchases, and bottles of rye whiskey home from market. Oh, and a set of round dome mirrors so that I can see more than my shoulders as I ride.
This'll be great for light day-to-day carry duties.
That oughta set me for day-to-day use, but what about longer-distance trips? I have a couple in mind—a day trip and a longer weekend getaway that I'll tell you guys about later—so I'll need a little more gear. I'll start with the handlebar-mounted power point that plugs into the bike's wiring harness. That should be better than the onboard USB which, I've noticed, is quickly overwhelmed by my phone when running more than one or two apps. Speaking of, I'm gonna need Harley's universal handlebar phone mount to hold said phone. To top it all off, I'll get the premium touring day bag which clips right onto the luggage rack and is small enough to look good but has enough carrying capacity to hold my essentials. Combined with my Velomacci Giro bag and the swingarm bag, that should allow me to travel a bit more comfortably.
For when I need to go farther than just around town.
There you have it. As soon as I get all these parts together I'll slap them on the bike, shoot some pictures, and show you all what I made. What about you, though? How would you tart up your own Fat Bob?