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The skinny on the Harley-Davidson Fat Bob

BALTIMORE -- If Fat Bob posted a profile on Match.com, it might look something like this: Heavyset man seeks friendship, possible romance with fun-loving rider. Must like short canyon day trips and long, envious looks.

Chances are, Harley-Davidson's 2008 Fat Bob won't be so desperate. Big, well-groomed and friendly, the newest addition to the Dyna family is a real catch. One of three new bikes introduced at the 2008 Harley-Davidson model launch in Baltimore this week, it could very well be the bestseller of the bunch because it's so well designed, easy to ride and reasonably priced ($14,795).

I was able to ride the new Fat Bob only 70 miles or so because there weren't enough to go around at the launch, and everyone was clamoring for saddle time. But in the short time I had with the bike, I was living large.

The Fat Bob uses the same fuel-injected, 96-cubic-inch, twin-cam engine Harley-Davidson wheeled out for the 2007 model year, which is rubber mounted in the same Dyna chassis that was overhauled for 2006. So it has the same meaty torque rating as the rest of the Dynas -- 92 foot-pounds at 3,000 rpm.

Regardless of where I was in the power band, I just twisted the grip and blasted off. What's different about the Fat Boy is really the chubbiness, which has been accentuated in little ways all over the bike -- from the slightly thicker hand grips and wide Bobtail fender to the Thermos-like chrome canisters sheathing the rear shocks and the fat front end.

Harley has its share of 240 millimeter rear tires on other models, but with the Dyna Fat Bob, it's taken a different tack. Instead of plumping up the rubber on the rear, it's fattened the front, putting a wide 130 millimeter tire on a relatively small 16-inch wheel. Chubby rubber isn't known to improve handling, but the Fat Bob, which has a 180 millimeter tire in the rear, a reasonable 28-degree fork angle and a slightly shorter wheelbase than the rest of the Dynas, handled admirably in the gently curving country roads of Maryland.

Fat is cool, but you can only chub things up so much before a bike gets to be a cartoon. So Harley has added a bunch of other features that are sure to get approving nods and chin strokes. The double, 4-inch headlamps are framed by 49 millimeter forks. The 2-1-2 "Tommy Gun" exhaust shield is perforated so riders can play peekaboo with the pipe that's tucked inside. Then there's the paint. The Fat Bob I was riding was a new color for Harley: a matte finish called Candy Red Sunglo, and it looks like smoothly sanded rust.

susan.carpenter@latimes.com

Base price: $14,795

Powertrain: Air-cooled, fuel-injected, twin cam 96, V-twin, two overhead valves per cylinder, 6-speed transmission

Displacement: 96 cubic inches, or 1,584 cubic centimeters

Bore and stroke: 3.75 inches by 4.38 inches

Torque: 92 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm

Seat height: 27 inches

Dry weight: 670 pounds
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