2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy (bike review)

This year marks the 120th Anniversary of American motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. To commemorate the occasion, they’ve launched six special models, including the Fat Boy we’re testing here.

Individually numbered, and limited to just 3,000 examples worldwide, the 120th Anniversary edition of the Fat Boy features Heirloom Red Fade paintwork; a magnificent deep rich texture that has to be seen in the flesh to be fully appreciated.

There’s also a smattering of unique anniversary details on the air cleaner, primary cover, tank console and of course, the custom seat. They’re touches that aren’t available any other way than by buying this bike, adding to its collectability.

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This isn’t this writer’s first dance with a limited edition Fat Boy either, having previously owned a 105th Anniversary model (it’s the one bike I should never have parted with, so getting the chance to jump on this new one, was in its own way, special).

That particular bike had a whole host of custom gear added to it, including a Stage IV Tyre Shredder Kit, Vance and Hines pipes, heavy breather air cleaner, mini ape hangers and anything chrome we could install on it. The point is, these things are rare and unique.

2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy
2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy

Fast forward to the new model, and setting nostalgia and memories aside, what you have here is a unique take on what is one of Harley-Davidson’s most recognisable, bad-ass, low slung cruisers.

Powered by the 114 cubic inch Milwaukee Eight powerplant, the Fat Boy produces 70kW of power and 155Nm of torque. There is plenty of grunt on offer from this street brawler and it has no issue getting it down onto the tarmac, especially in a straight line.

A bevy of genuine and third party options exist, should you want to extract more horsepower (like yours truly did 15 years ago). Google is your friend if you’re keen to see what can be done.

With a beefy 160mm front wheel matched to a mightily impressive 240mm rear, the Fat Boy strikes an intimidating stance. All that attitude has a trade off though, and it’s handling, with a lean angle, both left and right, of just 25.6 degrees.

It doesn’t paint the prettiest of pictures for the big cruiser, but if you can look past the limitations, the Fat Boy is the ultimate in cool, and still a heap of fun to ride – just don’t expect it to ride like a sports bike.

2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy
2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy

A car person might describe it as hoping a 1969 Mustang Fastback would handle like a Ferrari Enzo. You get the point. That said, the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

It’s a solid base for customisation, is globally recognised, and really, is the bike every other cruiser wants to be. The fact that shiny, proper chrome makes a return to the 2023 version is just an added bonus.

We know matte black is popular, and trendy, and easier to clean, but a Fat Boy should have chrome, just like an aeroplane should have wings. Suspension on the Fat Boy comes in the form of a dual-bending valve 49mm telescopic setup with aluminium fork triple clamps.

The rear features standard adjustable Softail issue suspension. Pulling up the significant 317kg of American bike is no small task and the brake setup works well for a cruiser package. The 18.9-litre fuel tank should be good for around 300km per tank.

With a low seat height of just 675mm, it’s also very manageable for a big bike – one that comes with a no nonsense attitude, unique look, and a striking stance. It’s cooler than cool, and turns heads wherever it goes.

2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy
2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy

Picture it. The wind flowing over your knuckles as you peer into a corner on your way down some long highway. It’s the kind of bike that would have featured in the Hotel California film clip alongside the Eagles band members, had it been around at the time.

We do need to tell you though that the entire 2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy allocation in Australia has been sold out, except this particular example. The standard version is available though, and can be had in Bright Billiard Blue.

You could also choose Gray Haze/Silver Fortune and of course, Vivid Black. Pricing for the standard version starts from $37,995 ride away, with the 120th Anniversary limited edition commanding a $2,000 premium. It comes with a 2-year unlimited kilometre warranty.

Would we own one, or more to the point, would this writer buy one – the short answer is yes. It may not be the sportiest or best handling bike in the Softail family, but it’s undeniably the coolest, most bad-ass bike Harley-Davidson makes.

Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy, or the standard model, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer.

2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy
2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Riding experience
9.5
Style and comfort
9
Braking and handling
7.75
Overall bike performance
8
Value for money
8

SUMMARY

Pros - limited edition; super cool looks, iconic model.
Cons - lean angle; limited handling ability; aftermarket modifications can be pricey.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.

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<strong>Pros -</strong> limited edition; super cool looks, iconic model.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> lean angle; limited handling ability; aftermarket modifications can be pricey.2023 Harley-Davidson 120th Anniversary Fat Boy (bike review)