When an opportunity to ride the 30th anniversary Fat Boy presented itself, we were all over it. Who cares if we only got it for one night, a ride’s a ride, right? Just so happens we were able to get our hands on a 2020 Harley Fat Boy 114 during Bike Week for an overnighter. The key fob for the blacked-out beauty awaited at Harley-Davidson’s immense spread at Daytona International Speedway. The motorcycle had been busily making the Bike Week rounds, from guest appearances at special events to demo rides, before we whisked it away from the day-to-day.

Sitting beneath the awning of the Harley rig, it was as wickedly tantalizing as anticipated. Hard not to get pumped about the prospect of rippin’ a Softail with a 114. It’s a beefy bike, stout fork legs flexing a 160mm chunk of Michelin rubber, the widest front tire Harley says its ever offered from the factory. The 240mm rear is equally burly, the affect exacerbated by the nasty flat black Lakester discs. Wide-bars, forward floorboards, and a low-slung seat establish a no-nonsense, grip-and-rip triangle. Bronze on the logo, rocker covers and exhaust cut-outs add just enough color to balance the otherwise black bike and attracts attention to some of the anniversary Fat Boy’s finest attributes like the M8 engine.

Hopping in the saddle, the limited-edition Fat Boy feels low and wide. The seat is a scant 25.9-inches off the ground and the traditional tank a healthy five gallons. Luckily the punched-out riding position is open and comfy for me at six-feet-tall. The rigid-mounted engine is well-balanced but still feeds riders with the requisite amount of V-Twin vibrations in the saddle. At the base of the tank-mounted console is a serialized badge and this Fat Boy happens to be the 49th to come off the production line in a run of 2,500 anniversary models. Exclusivity is a savvy selling strategy.

There’re still a couple hours of sunlight left so I chart a course through the city toward the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Weaving in and out of side streets, steering’s a little lazy at slow speeds as its big wheels like wide, smooth arcs. The throttle responds quickly and the bike pulls strong as there’s a bounty of torque pretty much off idle. The Fat Boy begs for its throttle to be cracked wide but there’s no shortage of speed traps and strategically placed patrol cars on this stretch of the inlet and I seldom see third gear. In between the million dollar homes and condos to my left I get a peek at the sandy shores and emerald waves of the Atlantic every now and again which reminds me to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. The Fat Boy struts down South Atlantic Avenue with the brashness of Schwarzenegger in his prime down muscle beach.

We give the 2020 Fat Boy 114 a thumbs up. 

After a quick run to New Smyrna Beach to freshen up it was time to boogie to Bill Dodge’s annual Bike Week BBQ Bash. The sun hung low on the horizon as I did the stoplight-to-stoplight dash to Daytona Beach. There is one stretch along the route that opens up for a couple miles as it passes through wetlands so I bang through some gears for the first time, and the punch of the initial hit carries into the powerband as it quickly climbs toward 5,500 rpm. Warm Florida wind beat me in the chest as the staggered pipes sang louder and a rush of adrenaline kicked in. Riding that wave of V-Twin torque can be addicting. The homemade choppers and handbuilt Harleys surrounding the building let me know I’d found Bling’s Cycles. The black-as-night Fat Boy rolled in unassumingly under the onset of night before blending into the crowd.

The time to take the Fat Boy back came way too quick. A moon just on the backside of full followed me home from Bling’s the night before on a blissful ride home to New Smyrna Beach. Seems like I’d barely shut my eyes when the alarm on my phone was screaming at me to get up. At least I’d get one more 30-mile romp on the 2020 Fat Boy 114 and a chance for some field testing. I’d spied an abandoned supermarket parking lot not far from where I was staying, the perfect place to dodge, weave, and mash some brakes. Transition-wise, the 30th anniversary Fat Boy is definitely more of a roller than a carver. It carries its 700 pounds low and the weight slows transitions. The brakes are plenty strong, the initial bite aggressive and power progressive and the point of engagement of the ABS is spot-on. The suspension is firm and keeps the bike solid and stable in sweepers. It’ll hustle to freeway speeds in two gears, redlining at 44 mph in first and banging off 70 in second where power wavers like the weight of the world is on its shoulders, begging to be kicked into third. Fifth gear roll-ons at 85 mph on Interstate 95 revealed there’s still plenty of power to tap into. The reach to the bars cants me slightly forward and at these speeds I’m taking a good thumping to the chest. Harley’s big-boned bruiser barrels toward Daytona International Speedway like it’s a homing beacon, the racetrack historically greeting muscle car good looks and big power with open arms. No wonder the 30th Anniversary Fat Boy fits right in here.