For the last few years, since Harley-Davidson has made a concerted effort to market specifically to women, there has been at least one new model every year that has features most women riders deem desirable — that being a very low seat height, reduced reach to the bars, and great styling. While The Motor Company wont come right out and say “this is a motorcycle for the ladies” because pigeonholing one motorcycle over another for a particular demographic segment is not good marketing, there are now bikes designed with women in mind, thats for sure. Its my job at Women Riders Now to tell you what models they are and extol their virtues.
For 2010, the hot new model designed partly with women in mind, (but also young men; more on that later), is the Fat Boy Lo. While many riders may be quick to judge the bike as a low version of the popular (and now 19-year-old) Fat Boy — a younger brother or sister if you will — the Fat Boy Lo has enough differences to be more of a step sibling, almost a cousin, as Harley is marketing it as part of its new Fat Custom segment, with a “fat custom” defined by a beefy, heavy-looking front end, a fat front tire, valanced-type fenders, and non traditional finishes. I wont be surprised if a custom Fat Bob is in the works for next year as that bike already has two of the four fat custom criteria.
One of the reasons women will be attracted in the Fat Boy Lo is the simple fact that it now has bragging rights as the Harley-Davidson model with the lowest seat height — 24.25 inches. That is low! Up until then, the lowest Harley was the Softail Deluxe at 24.5 inches and its no coincidence that the Deluxe is hugely popular among women. (Just take a look at my review of that bike and all the reader comments.) For the record, the 2009 Rocker also has a seat height of 24.5 inches, but that model was discontinued for 2010.
The Fat Boy Lo utilizes the same chassis as the Fat Boy (with its 25.4-inch seat height) but the rear suspension is lower by 1.15 inches and the seat is narrower. Any rider who couldnt flat foot the Fat Boy because of losing inches in the leg spread of the wide bucket saddle will mostly likely be able to flat foot the Lo.
The biggest issue from women of average height about the original Fat Boy is its wide “fat” profile and lumbering ride. The Lo does feel “narrower” because of that new seat, but mostly because of the narrow profile of the handlebars. They are very different than the Fat Boys.
The position of the handlebars was the most noticeable ergonomic aspect of the Lo for me (even more than the low seat height) and over many miles, reaching forward like that gave me a crick in my neck. If theres going to be forward handlebars like that, theres a natural need for forward foot controls to balance out the body stance, and the Lo doesnt have that. While you wouldnt classify the foot controls on the Lo as being mid-mount (just below the knee) my legs were bent just over 90 degrees feet resting on footboards just north of the knees.
Im pretty picky when it comes to a motorcycles ergonomics and I realize its a very subjective topic but Ive ridden enough motorcycles to know when the ergonomic triangle is dialed in just right to appeal to a variety of riders with minimal modifications. It will be interesting to see how customers react to the Fat Boy Lo, particularly when the largest segment of riders Harley-Davidson is trying to reach with this new Fat Custom is the “the young adult.” Read young men ages 18+.
If these young males are not going to be attracted to the Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron (retro and cool), then theyll fall into the another category of what Gen Y riders are into when it comes to their toys –- low and bad-ass. Just look at how popular the whole low-rider truck and automobile scene is. Its all about appearing to be laid back and cool, but with a generous dose of attitude and speed when you need it. The Los aggressive handlebar stance mixed in with laid-back cruiser styling and a flat black attitudinal paint job is meant to appeal to what male Gen Y riders are seeking right now.
But whats in the Lo for women other than the low seat height? Well, I enjoyed the energetic quality of the ride. Even though the Los 731-pound weight is nearly the same as the regular Fat Boy, the forward riding stance made me feel like I could lean into the corners more –- like on a sportbike. In that respect, the bike had a more tenacious feel to it over the laid back Fat Boy. Dont let the 700-plus-pounds scare you. Being so low to the ground with a center of gravity to match, the Fat Boy Lo is a breeze to lift off the kickstand; in fact you dont have to lift very far before the bike is upright.
Speaking of the kickstand, a quirky little issue exists with the kickstand because the bike is so low. The kickstand when engaged lands on the pavement smack dab underneath the left floorboard. When reaching for the kickstand tab with your toe, your shin hits the floorboard first preventing your foot from reaching any further to the tab. (See photo below). This requires some reaching and maneuvering of your foot to grab the tab enough to pull it towards you. This issue doesnt exist on the Fat Boy; Im guessing the lower ground clearance of the Lo leaves you with less room to reach for the kickstand underneath the floorboard.
Shifting through the six gears is effortless, and neutral is easy to kick into place. New for 2010, is a helical cut 5th gear, which means the gear edge is cut at an angle so transition to and from 5th gear sounds smoother.
Clutch effort is moderate; hands with average strength wont get tired pulling it in to engage it. I find the standard finger reach from the handgrip to the clutch and brake levers on Harley Softails is a bit of a reach for women with smaller than average hands. Ergonomically shaped levers where the edges are smoothed and angled towards the grip, or an “easy clutch” type of product that reduces clutch effort and allows the lever to be adjusted closer to the grip usually solves this issue.
With the Lo being so low to the ground, there is a greater chance youre going to scrape the footboards in a turn. Since I knew it was possible, I hesitated leaning into the corners as much as I could because I knew Id do it and I dont like the feel of that sudden jolt when footboard edge scrapes the pavement.
Hope you like black because for now, the Lo is available in just two paint finishes, black (which is a gloss black), and black denim (flat black). Complimenting the black tank and fenders are black painted components that are normally chrome or billet aluminum on standard models. Items like the air cleaner cover, oil tank, coil cover, horn cover, derby cover, front shock covers, swing arm, trip clamp covers and nacelle, headlight bucket, air cleaner cover trim ring, rear fender supports and footboards are either painted gloss black or denim black depending on the black finish you pick.
Just because it’s very low to the ground, I wouldn’t recommend the Lo for beginners because of its large size and powerful engine. But it’s certainly a motorcycle to aspire to as one becomes a more confident rider. Harley did a good job of defining this fat custom segment with the Fat Boy Lo. It’s definitely a custom with attitude. I would highly recommend a test ride on the Lo before buying to make sure the ergonomic set up is right for you.
Specs At A Glance: 2010 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo (FLSTFB)
Seat Height: 24.25 inches
Fuel Capacity: 5 gallons
Weight: 731 pounds
Price: Starts at $16,299
The Fat Boy Lo is a different sort of motorcycle ‚ just as the Rocker and Rocker C are “different.” If you’re a fan of the Fat Boy, you might like this bike. If you like your cruiser to err on the side of sporty, you might like this bike. The Fat Boy Lo is really in a class by itself.
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42 thoughts on MOTORCYCLE REVIEW: 2010 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo
I am 5 feet 3 inches and a new rider. I just bought the 2016 Softail Slim. I was wondering what suggestions may be out there to bring the bars in a bit.
Well what you need are risers and there are a myriad of manufacturers making risers for Harley-Davidson. Because you’ve bought a new motorcycle, I suggest you start with your local Harley dealer. Ask the folks at the parts counter what risers they suggest for your motorcycle. Then, it’s not uncommon for a customer like yourself to ask the parts person to see if there is a spare set of handlebars just like yours in the back and to sit you down on your bike with those handlebars detached from the motorcycle and position where the bars would be placed if they were attached to the risers. Most dealerships are more than willing to go the extra mile to hold the motorcycle upright for you (by putting the front wheel between their legs and holding it by the forks) while another person positions a similar set of handlebars in front of you assuming they were attached to the risers. This way you can get the exact measurements of the risers you need and ensure the handlebars are where you want them when all is said and done.Good luck. And if the dealership doesn’t want to do this… have them call me 🙂
I ride a 2014 Fat Boy Lo. First thing I did was change the foot boards to forward controls. It made all the difference in the world. And no troubles reaching the kickstand. I also tilted the stock handle bars towards me just a bit. That changed the reach just enough that I have no troubles riding a full day!
I purchased a 2012 Fat Boy Lo a few months ago. It is my first bike and I love it! The first thing I did was put a Reduced Reach Seat on. It brings me 2 1/2 inches closer to bars. I am 5 feet 1 inch, and I have a 29-inch inseam. I have a little bit of trouble with the handlebars. I am trying to figure out which bars to get. I feel like they are very wide for me. The kickstand is a little struggle to pull back with my short legs. I just kind of have to reach out to side and bring it in. Other then all of that, it’s an awesome bike, great stability and awesome power.
I recommend you get a kickstand extension. It is basically a metal piece that attaches to your kickstand and extends out towards you making it easier to reach with your foot. Many aftermarket companies make them, but buy from a reputable company that stands behind its products.As far as the bars, that is a very personal thing. I can’t tell you how many handlebars I’ve gone through over the years to get the best fit. My best advice is have someone hold the bike up steady while you sit on it with the bars you think you like positioned where they would go so you can get somewhat of a feel for them. Most dealers will do this for you.
I’ve dreamed of owning a Fat Boy Lo ever since my first time in a Harley store which was only about one year ago. I’m a new rider and I’ve been riding a Suzuki Boulevard C50 for about seven weeks. =All my “guy” riding friends said I should be happy with it, that it was a perfect bike for me. Well, I’ve had my Lo for three days now and I don’t ever want to ride the C50 again. It is so easy to handle; when you go over 60 it still feels as easy as 40. It turns and stops easy, doesn’t feel any heavier than the C50 either. The handlebars could use pullbacks but I love it! All my dreams have come true!
I purchased the Lo in 2011. I love the bike and how it handles. I will add a pullback riser to the handlebars to get rid of the ache I feel between my shoulders on a long ride. The kickstand also takes some getting use to by reaching under the floorboard to extend it. But overall, love my Lo.
I’m looking at buying a Fat Boy Low. Does the fact that it is lower to the ground and has fat tires make it more balanced then say a Heritage?
Because the Fat Boy Lo is lower it definitely has a lower center of gravity. Both bikes balance very well though.
I got mine last year! Love it so much! Rides like a dream and it is on training wheels. So glad I traded! Thanks Laconia HD!
I took the Rider’s Edge Course last year. Looking forward to getting my first bike. I am 4 feet 9 inches tall, not short, and everyone laughs when I say I’m getting a Fat Boy Lo 2008. Too much bike! Well, I do not feel that way. After reading everyone’s experiences, I feel better about my choice. Lots of good things to check and fix. Thanks.
Great comments, thank you! I just bought my Fat Boy Lo and she will arrive in a few more days. We already have a Softail Deluxe and know the difference that would make having a longer handlebar. That’s why the new Lo is coming with a similar one. I hope it will spare my neck. Now, the foot brake, let’s try the bike and see what follows. Thank you.
I have had mine now for a about a month. I’m loving it. I’m not finding the trouble with the kickstand as in hitting my shin. The ride is so smooth. I did have to have risers added to the bars because my arms got achy after a ride of any length. I’m loving my Fat Boy Lo. I got the denim black. That paint finish is a pain to keep clean. It is very picky what you wash it in.
Bought the Fat Boy Lo in April of 2010, the denim finish. Love the bike; the ride is great, but leaning forward to much even though I’m 5-feet-7.While at the dealership for the 1,000 mile check, checked into looking at a set of 4 inch pullback risers for it just to give me the few inches I need. I ended up ordering them, along with Vance and Hines Shorty pipes.So in a few weeks I should be all set.
I bought my Fat Boy Lo last September and one of the first things I did was to change out the handlebars. I went with 12 inch apes and the bike looks great and rides great. The second best change I made was to the Sundowner seat. Great riding seat. Only displeasure I have is not being able to get that good old Harley thump-thump-thump while idling. Small price to pay for a great riding bike. Keep up the great work.
Last weekend, I went up to Chicago looking for a new Softail Custom and rode out on a Fat Boy. The test ride was amazing, and for my short inseam and legs, I’m 5-feet-5, it fit me so well, but on the 200 -mile ride back to Indianapolis I did notice the lean forward for the handlebars is just a little too long. But the Reach seat will fix that and yes the kickstand is a little awkward, but I can deal with that too.But in reading this article, I was surprised that no shorter women like myself mentioned the awkward foot position on the rear brake. I can easily reach the pedal itself but it sits too close to the side of the bike to catch it solidly with my foot. I’m only getting about the outermost 2 inches of the pedal unless I curve in my toes. I can’t believe I am the only one who has this problem, but it couldn’t be too common since I can’t find an extender to move that pedal away from the bike. You can move it forward and away from you if you are tall, but not out if you are short. I found over the long trip home that my knee was a little sore from the awkward angle. Not good.Does anyone know a way to extend that pedal? I have been looking at the lever itself and it could probably be custom reshaped from straight to curved, but I haven’t found anything yet.Thanks for the great articles and site, Genevieve!!!
Nice article. I just bought a Fat Boy Lo. It is really awesome. I had been wanting to buy a Fat Boy for a long long time, but then I saw the Fat Boy Lo. That was it. I just wanted it. I am 6 feet tall, but I find the same problem with the handlebar. I passed my Rider's Edge last year and got my bike this year. Just rode my first 100-odd miles on my bike and had a back ache due to the handlebar position. I think for short distances it is great in the sense it looks and feels great, but hit the road and yep the handlebars make you feel the pain.
I shall be adding the extension bars which are there in the Harley spares bin. Can't ride long with the current handlebar; rather ride long in comfort. But this is one awesome bike. Rides great; feels great, and I just low the low stance.
Loved your article. Enjoyed the comments as well. Learning much in the way of parts options along with the opinions.
Grateful to have this new site to share with my wife. We both love to travel and have been dreaming of long road trips. Would feel blessed to see her on a big road bike leading us to Sturgis.
Local Lexington Harley offered a good trade-in deal on our bike. This article gives us real food for thought.
I took the Riders Course in October and that was the last time I had ridden until I bought my Fat Boy Lo two weeks ago. My husband has a Fat Boy, and I ride with him but wanted my own bike so I would have better views.
My Harley dealer called to tell me a very short gentleman had purchased a Fat Boy Lo, had it lowered even further and a Reach Seat added, then brought it back in and sold it back as he was moving. I bought the bike (it had 619 miles on it) and love it! Many may feel it is too powerful for a newbie, but it fits me well, holds the road in high winds and looks great.
I do have problems reaching the kickstand. right now my husband kicks it up for me before I ride. Still searching for a solution. I am 5 feet 2 inches and weigh 120 pounds. Love the Footboards and the heel/toe shifter. Much easier to ride than the Kawasaki Eliminator I learned on.
I just picked my Fat Boy Lo up from the dealership where it's been in storage since I bought it last October. The ride home was about 75 miles, the Fat Boy Lo handles like a dream, so comfortable, it's way easier to ride then the Sportster I had before this. I am only a little over 5 feet 1 inch tall and I do have issues with the kickstand a bit but with a little reaching, I manage.
I love the forward controls; had mid controls on the Sporty. Being able to stretch my legs out is so nice; not sure about the heel/toe shifter. Have only rode it a little over 200 miles. Anybody short thinking about this bike should try it. I have mini apes on mine, mustache engine guards, so my reach is perfect!
I demo-rode the Fat Boy Lo at Daytona Bike Week last weekend after drooling over the one at my dealership for the past several months. At 5-feet-2 and a 29-inch inseam, the stock demo model was a bit of a challenge – handlebars and foot controls had me stretched way out and finding the kickstand was tricky. But the ride was awesome; I loved the “beefy” feel to it and how it responded. Am working with my dealership to get the right fit – exploring different handlebars/risers and will put a reach seat on it and lower the front suspension a little bit.
The Fitment guy at the Bike Week tent was really helpful in setting up a demo model to fit me perfectly. I'm looking forward to bringing my Fat Boy Lo home soon! I bought my '07 XL1200 Low brand new in Oct '06 and have ridden it more than 34,000 miles, including a round trip from GA to MN, and have loved every mile. Will not be giving it up when I buy the Fat Boy Lo!
I just bought this bike yesterday. I am so, sooooo impressed with it's handling and stability! I'm a 5 feet 4 inch female rider and the seat allows my feet to completely touch the ground flat footed which gives me a lot more control. I don't even notice how much more of a bike it is than the Sportster I traded for it. It's actually much easier to ride and control. My Sportster was always so top-heavy. This bike a perfectly balanced.
I, too, have a slight issue with reaching the kickstand. But everything else is so incredible about the bike it doesn't even matter!
I would like to know where you can get pullback handlebars for the Fat Boy Lo as Harley did not have any to replace the ones already on the bike. I wish this bike came with the regular Fat Boy bars. I hate leaning forward with these. We searched the catalog and there were none available.
Anyone who can give me advice where they purchased their pullback handlebars for this bike would be very appreciated. The other problem was that they are 1-1/4 inch in diameter and all the other ones are 1 inch.
Try Helibars.com. They make a variety of handlebars that can be ergonomically fit for a rider. Not sure if they make them yet for the Lo, but it's worth asking. Contact Jennifer Pettengill and tell her WRN sent you there.
I just traded my 2004 Fat Boy for a 2010 Fat Boy Lo. I just got to say I love it. Yeah, it weighs more than my last Fat Boy. But I think it's more balanced. The lower and narrower seat are perfect. As far as the handbars go, I think they are great. I am 5 feet 8 inches and have a inseam about 34 inches and I have no problem with reach, and to me the ride is very comfortable.
Everybody has different riding postures. And tha'ts why Harley has a custom part book.
I traded my 2009 XL 1200 Low for the Fat Boy Lo. Liked it from the get go. I too had a problem with the handlebars. My fix was putting pullback risers on. New item in parts catalog. Living in Seattle riding is limited this time of year so looking forward to spring.
I also really liked the bike but had a problem with the handlebars (I am about 5-feet-1). I think a set of risers would fix that or perhaps different handlebars altogether.
This is a top review. I just bought the new Lo and think the bars are crap, but will be swapping them out for standard Fat Boy bars. Good job. Keep it up
I like the big twin, non-touring Harleys. I traded off a Sportster 883 for a Dyna Super Glide because I like the aggressive, yet not sportbike aggressive ergos and the TC96 motor. And the speedometer that you don't have to go head-down to see, on the Super Glide it is just a flick of the eye down to the bars where it sits. You can take a 35 degree lean without scraping anything and the 49mm forks make for great handling on a 630 pound bike. I'll keep the Super Glide for a very long time.
Bikes like the low Softails and the Super Glide are proof that we don't have to settle for less than a real Big Twin if we don't want to; they're not just for the guys.
Well I had my heart set on the new Fat Boy Lo. It is sexy and streamlined. I love the way other H-D Softails handle so put a deposit on one in flat black. I was so disapointed that the placement of the bars made riding really uncomfortable! I was hunched over the tank. I'm 5 feet 5 inches so it's not like I'm super challenged height-wise. And because the bars are internally wired, adjustments (very little room for) and replacements were simply out of my budget based on the bike's price.
I still think the Fat Boy Lo is hot but I wish H-D would have kept the original Fat Boy bars on them in order for more women to be able to really ride this bike. The seat height felt perfect but in the end I bought a Softail Deluxe.
I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought the handlebars were an issue.
I got to ride the Fat Boy Lo at the Demo Days at Ft. Worth Harley. I am 5 feet 4 inches tall and found the Fat Boy to be easily uprighted and maneuvered around at my height. Our demo ride was approximately 8 miles but it was a fun ride. I thought the Fat Boy handled great and leaning into the curves was fun because of the ease of handling and low center of gravity. I think I could have fun getting into trouble on this one!
I test rode the Fat Boy Lo recently. I have to agree that the handlebars are not in the right placement for me. However, the rest of the bike fits me so well, it's certainly worth investing a little bit of money to replace the bars. I certainly would not rule out any bike just because of a seat or bars, as those things are easily customized.
Having come from a background of Japanese street and sports bikes (currently ride a Honda CBR600RR) I was very pleasantly surprised by the Fat Boy Lo when I took it out for a test ride. It was the first Harley I ever rode, and I was was admittedly concerned about the 700+ pound weight – at least an extra 300 pounds on my current ride. Given my 5 feet 4 inch 120 pound frame, it was more than a little daunting at first, but then, so was the CBR when I first started riding again a year or so ago. But the Lo really handled very nicely through the curves and had quite a bit of punch in it when I opened up the throttle.
I'd want to take it for another ride before I buy, but it's definitely on my wish list. I'm looking for something I can really take long rides and tour on, and the crotch rocket just doesn't make the cut for that type of riding. I'm hoping the Lo will make those long rides much more comfortable.
Nice write up! I rode this bike at Sturgis and loved it. Although I am 5 feet 11 inches and don't really need the lowered seat, but I enjoyed the unique position.
I have to take exception to the statement that one of the problems with the Fat Boy was it's “wide, fat profile and lumbering ride.” Trust me there is nothing lumbering about the original Fat Boy. I have a 2006 Fat Boy which has been a joy to ride.
It flows through the curves beautifully. In fact, I find it to be a very well-balanced bike. Even though, at a little over 5 feet 8 inches, I am not height challenged – on every motorcycle I have owned, I have always changed out the seat for a narrower seat. Simply don't like the wide leg spread. I have also always had the handlebars pulled back to make the bike more comfortable for me, but neither of those items makes the Fat Boy “lumbering” – it is just personal preference for me on every motorcycle I have (currently three including said Fat Boy and a 2009 Road Glide).
I hope no woman is discouraged from buying a Fat Boy because of your description. I think it is a great bike for women with it's awesome balance and ease of handling!
I got the Fat Boy Lo in August and am loving it. I think you hit the nail on the head about many issues. My biggest beef is the kickstand. I have adjusted to it and have no trouble working it now.
I am pretty average in height (5-feet-7) and the reach issue never crossed my mind. I have good reach with most motorcycles. But the forward control floorboards would really balance things out.
I was attracted to the Fat Boy Lo, because of the low profile and the sporty look to it. I like leaning into the ride and have scraped the floorboards a few times. I am adjusting. I came from a Sportster and Dyna Low Rider. This is by far an easier bike to handle.
Thanks for pointing out some of the issues it has. I now understand better what I have been trying to figure out.
I just bought the 2010 Fat Boy Lo last month. I am only a little under 5 feet 2 inches tall. I had the handlebars changed to mini-apes and also had mustache engine guards put on, it's perfect now. I can sit in the seat perfect now, no reaching problems. I haven't rode it much yet, except around the dealership's lot to check the handle bars, etc.
The weather here in Wisconsin has been getting crappy; the dealership gave me free storage, so that's where it's at now. Sure wish it was spring. I traded a 2009 XL883 Sportster for the Fat Boy Lo. I fell in love with the Fat Boy. nHad to have it. It's awesome!
Being short (5-feet-2 with a 26-inch inseam) any time there is a bike out there with a lower saddle height, I'm looking at it, so when the Fat Boy Lo came out, I was up at the dealers as soon as it came out.
I love the lower seat height and it did seem narrower up front, but try as I might, I couldn't reach the forward controls, and this bike doesn't come with mids. I didn't care for the reach to the handlebars and couldn't get my smaller hands/shorter fingers to grab the levers either.
The kickstand would be mission impossible for someone short like me. I want a bike that I can ride and get off of easily, not fight. Unfortunately, this bike isn't for me. I'll stick with my Dyna Low Rider which I'm glad I bought before Harley (in their infinite wisdom) discontinued it!
I had the opportunity to put nearly 1,000 miles on this bike in the Black Hills this summer and I loved it. At 6 feet I don't need a lower bike but found it handled like a dream. (I don't mind a little floor board scrape now and then). Also, being so low it made it so easy to bac kup and park because of the leverage. I do agree that the handlebars aren't in the idea position for a woman. If it was my bike I'd get mini-apes and pull them back a bit for a perfect fit as I have on all other bikes I've owned. I would definitely recommend this bike!