Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo Long Term Update #3: Customizing Fatty

of 02

Exploring Harley-Davidson's Custom Possibilities

Harley Catalogue
This metal grind paint job caught my eye, but I ordered mine with silver accents. Photo © Basem Wasef

My Fat Boy Lo long-term test bike didn't feel naked until I considered ways to customize it; after viewing Harley's online resources and flipping through the 856-page Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories catalogue (for those of you too young to remember the golden era of print, this one's actually made from dead trees), a Pandora's box of possibilities opened up— and I mean that in both the best and worst possible ways.

Why the mixed bag? At first, those copious options gave me a serious case of analysis paralysis. After looking through the laundry list of parts and digesting the possibilities, I wondered: Was chrome switchgear too garish? Would it clash with the black fluid reservoirs— and if it did, were matching chrome master cylinders too much? Not only was I concerned about altering some quintessential Softail traits, I didn't want to go overboard and make Fatty the rolling equivalent of a bad two-wheeled fashion statement due to a domino effect of mismatched parts.

When it comes to tricking out Fatty, paint finishes, seats, windshields, and saddlebags are fair game, as are hand and foot controls, electronics/gauges, brakes/suspension, lighting, and more. To see what I ordered, click "Next"!

of 02

Making Fatty Mine

Harley Davidson Long Term Test Report
One example of Harley-Davidson's extensive set of modifications available for the Fat Boy Lo. Photo © Harley-Davidson

Color Shop
Custom Grind paint schemes (seen above) takes your stock fenders and fuel tank, grinding them down to metal, and accenting them with a choice of three colors. I fell in love with this look, and ordered mine in denim-finished "Shiny Side Up Silver." The damage? A hefty (but irresistible) $1,899.

This one's a no-brainer: as much as the Fat Boy Lo's exhaust note doesn't lack character, a bit more bite would be nice. Harley's Screamin' Eagle slip-ons are street legal, and replace Fatty's satin chrome pipes with a matte black finish. The price for auditory glory (and an EPA stamp)? $449, quite a bit cheaper than the 110 cubic inch bore kit, which runs $1,549.

I've been finding Fatty's cupped saddle a bit taxing on the tailbone during longer rides, so I considered this option carefully since I didn't want to pick something that wasn't friendly enough for all-day trips… but I'm also a sucker for brown leather, so the bobber-style Solo Spring Saddle seemed reasonable at $269, though it requires a $279 spring seat installation kit. At least the color won't clash too much with the silver grind paint scheme…

Misc Bits
I didn't want to go overboard with my mods, but I also wanted to switch up a few incidental details and give Fatty a more personalized look. That said, the knurled, chrome-plated Narrow Band footpegs ($84) and hand grips ($69) offer relatively affordable ways to spruce up the details. Matching footboards ($199), footpegs ($84), shifter pegs ($19), and brake pedal pad ($49) round out the look; sadly, ditching the floorboards for footpegs wouldn't significantly increase ground clearance, so I stuck with the 'boards. Billet style Aluminator mirrors ($199) replace the stock black units, and a Chrome Switch Cap Kit ($21) puts a shiny twist on switchgear buttons, while the Chrome Switch Housing Kit ($99) prevents a silly chrome-on-black look. In the interest of keeping things simple (and not too pricey), I decided against the Chrome Clutch Bracket and Master Cylinder Reservoir Kit ($329)… but I did opt for the Slotted Hand Control Lever Kit ($139), to complement those chrome switchgear pieces. Finally, I added a chrome air cleaner cover ($69) to match that silver paint job.

Mixing it All Together…
As cool as it was to pick custom parts for Fatty, the process also required some light mental gymnastics since the H-D1 online configurator only works with 2012 model bikes, and can't display the available custom paint options. So, rather than have a literal image to work from, I had to use my imagination and envision how the brown leather solo saddle would look against the turned metal and silver tank, the chrome air cleaner cover, and those various chrome parts.

Do I trust that my choices will I achieve the look I'm hoping for? Perhaps. But the true test will come when Fatty goes under the knife and comes back an altered bike.

Until that day— which I'm very much looking forward to— I'll be using Fatty for its intended purpose: piling on the miles.

Mileage Log

  • Total Miles Ridden: 424
  • Total Odometer Miles: 1,976
  • Average Fuel Economy: 36.2 mpg