Is three decades long enough to earn special anniversary status? If you’re a product as visually imposing and culturally significant as the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, then yes. (Especially when you consider The Motor Company’s penchant for cranking out special-edition models). But with the Fat Boy, we get it: Even if you’ve already forgotten the chunky cruiser made a splashy debut in Terminator 2: Judgment Day back in 1991 (geez, has it been that long?), there’s no questioning its iconic status among 20th century motorcycles. Hence the mid-year addition of the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary model, which celebrates the impact of the original with a bold “reinterpretation” that piles on dark finishes and comes in a single color option, Vivid Black.
The original 1990 Fat Boy, designed by Willie G. Davidson and Louie Netz, boasted a contemporary look with a monochromatic silver finish, wide handlebar with massive chrome headlight housing, and rolled on beefy aluminum disc wheels with a fat front tire—defining marks of the Fat Boy throughout its run. Davidson designed the winged tank logo, which also stuck around over the years. The Fat Boy got regular updates until 2018, until it took new form on the reinvented Softail chassis featuring the Milwaukee-Eight engine. The current standard model keeps those defining badass cues, from the disc wheels to the huge headlamp and nacelle, but the newest, 30th Anniversary Fat Boy goes for a more stealthy vibe, wearing mostly dark paint with bronze highlights, as well as a (and, yes, blacked-out) Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. The 30th Anniversary Fat Boy will be limited to just 2,500 units, with each one getting a serial number plate on the fuel tank console.
In other words, save for the paint, you’ll know right away this is a Fat Boy: Even though the front end gets an LED headlamp in a newly shaped nacelle, the overall beefiness remains, with the Lakester disc aluminum wheels—dabbed in a Satin Black finish—carrying a 160mm front and 240mm rear tire to keep that signature factory custom look. The blacked-out Milwaukee-Eight 114 powertrain also douses the engine covers in gloss black, with subtle bronze-tone lower rocker covers and timer cover script. A welcome addition here is the rigid-mounted Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-twin, the most powerful Softail engine option available. The exhaust is finished in a Black Onyx, which Harley calls, “a durable physical vapor deposition paint finish,” which happens to also reveal the underlying chrome when it’s in bright light.
The foundation of the new Fat Boy is the now tried-and-true Softail frame and suspension, which we know gives the latest Boys more agility and performance. The monoshock rear suspension preserves that ever-important hardtail look of the Softail chassis, with the single coilover shock below the seat allowing preload adjustment simply by turning a nearby knob, making it easy to dial in the ride. Should you want to boost your Boy’s performance even more, Screamin’ Eagle Performance Parts Stage upgrades are available.
As far as the design process and inspiration goes, Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson’s vice president of Styling and Design, gives the official breakdown: “The Fat Boy took the look, proportions, and silhouette of a 1949 Hydra-Glide motorcycle and completely modernized it for a new generation of riders.… Each of these elements was captured in the new 2018 version of the Fat Boy model. For this 30th Anniversary model we wanted to create something very special, so we leaned into the popularity of darker finishes and a limited run/serialized strategy to make the bike truly unique and exclusive.”
Base price for the Fat Boy 30th Anniversary model is $21,949.