Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 Complaints and Problems – Is Your New Bike A Lemon?

Suspension, clutch and engine issues among the top complaints from motorcycle owners

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

The Fat Boy has been in production since 1990, in various forms. That’s what makes the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114 so popular. It is a V-twin Softail cruiser that demands attention on the road. Even the manufacturer claims that this model is “ready for its close-up.” Yet, enthusiasts might not want to look too closely or they will see glaring issues with the engine, structure, suspension and clutch

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Engine Problems

This bike comes complete with the Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine that is hailed by many, but that doesn’t make it immune to trouble. That torque and intense sound is only useful if the bike moves.

One post on the HD Forums states the trouble that comes from this bike. “I put a big radius exhaust with Vance and Hines fuelpak fp3 on at 500 miles and I now have 589 miles on the bike. Left work today and got a few miles from the shop when switching into 3rd I lost all power. There was a spinning sound coming from the primary but wasn’t engaging. I could switch through all gears but just wasn’t catching. I pulled over and shut her off to look over everything and now she won’t even crank over. Needless to say my new Harley had to be trailered home. I’m not happy.”

Of course, this rider is going to have trouble having anything repaired under warranty because of the modifications. Harley-Davidson will use any excuse to get out of covering the repair, which is another reason consumers get so frustrated with the company. Unless he pays for it, it is likely that this fellow’s bike will remain on the trailer. It sure did stop this owner in his tracks.

Structural Problems

For the price paid on a new Harley-Davidson Fat Boy 114, one would expect that the construction would be durable and sturdy, but there are many complaints about this as well.

Just look at this review left on HD Forums. “The seat sucks. The plate mount – to quote the guys at Design Works, it looks like cheap dirt bike crap.”

It doesn’t seem fair that a bike of this caliber would be related to a dirt bike, but that’s exactly what happened. While there’s nothing wrong with taking a dirt bike out on the trail, most Harley owners aren’t looking for that experience. Instead, they are hoping for a smooth, controlled ride while enjoying the premium materials this bike is supposed to be constructed from. It looks like it wasn’t ready for its close-up after all.

Problems with the Suspension

Along with the structure, discerning owners expect a well-performing suspension. It should handle the bumps with ease and absorb the shock.

This HD Forum writer said, “I have a 2018 Fatboy 114 stock with only 215 miles on it. I experience a slight bounce no matter how smooth the road is at any speed. I have had it back to the dealer and had them take a look. They have test road it and said ‘that’s just the way it rides with the bigger tires’.”

How typical of Harley to brush it off as the way it is supposed to be. This is a common tactic to divert attention away from the problem and make the owner feel like an imbecile. Thankfully, most Harley owners have been around the bikes long enough to know what is right and what is not. One close-up is all that it takes to find the fault in this model.

Clutch Issues

Among the many things Harley-Davidson has been known for are the clutch issues. In 2018, they issued another clutch recall for 178,000 bikes. It turns out these models, and many others can get stuck in gear, which can lead to an accident. The root cause is an internal leak that prevents the clutch from receiving enough lift. For repair, the dealer must install a secondary clutch actuator piston, but many of them are only receiving a few at a time. This has left many owners waiting for their repairs, hoping they don’t get into an accident. Overall, it’s evident that Harley doesn’t really want this bike to undergo close-ups. It’s simply dressed up pretty in hopes of impressing unsuspecting buyers.

Your Lemon Law Legal Rights

Think you have a lemon? Sit back and let the experts work out your lemon case at no cost to you. The law makes Harley pay legal fees. You may be able to get your lemon out of your life. Every year, auto manufacturers buy back, replace or pay cash settlements to thousands of ‘lemon’ owners like you.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Dadeo

    Check the manual for front tire spacer placement. I believe the front tire is offset from the rear. Will affect handling and tire wear if not correct.

  • Rob

    I feel that my 2018 fatboy doesnt handle right hand bends very well is this an issue with the bike and is anyone else experiencing the same problems

  • Bruno D

    Please check out also @ the HD foruns about the front tire excessive wear, always on the right side.
    There are several complains about it, and also my Fat Boy has this issue.

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