July 13th, 2012
Motorcycle USA placed two heavyweight cruisers in a head to head to see which one comes out on top.
The Harley Davidson Fat Bob and the Victory Judge were both given the once-over in this test.
The Fat Bob
The 2012 Fat Bob was given an upgrade in the form of a 103 cubic inch (1690 cc) engine up from the 96-inch engine in the 2011 model.
The Fat Bob's low-end torque was impressive and virtually indistinguishable from the Judge's slightly larger 106 cubic inch engine off the line. The Judge requires a higher engine rev to put it's power to use.
The dual-disk front brakes on the Fat Bob provided decent stopping power, but there was lack of “feel” compared to the more-touchy Judge's brakes. The Fat Bob has optional ABS, which isn't available on the Judge.
The Fat Bob's rear tire is wider than the one on the Judge and hugged the road well in the twisties. It has a tight rake and short wheelbase for a cruiser, which makes it steer without too much effort. Straight line riding also felt more stable than the Judge.
The seat on the Fat Bob was not as comfortable as the one on the Judge for distance riding.
The attention to detail that the Fat Bob has in it's design was also a highlight. The stock drag bars are internally wired and the Tommy Gun pipes set off the “dark and chrome” look of the motorcycle. The hand-finished fuel tank was also listed as a plus.
The Victory Judge
The 2013 Judge has a flat handlebar stance like the Fat Bob, but instead of foot-forward controls, the rider uses mid-pegs. The 106 cubic inch (1731 cc) engine dominates the Fat Bob's on the dyno, but the Judge's power is deceptive. It doesn't have the same arm-wrenching torque as the Fat Bob, but it's still quick off the line.
The Judge turns in and transitions easier than the Fat Bob in the twisties and feels lighter than the Fat Bob, although it only weighs about 10 pounds less.
The brakes on the Judge were described as “touchy”. Very little pressure is needed to lock up the rear wheel. The brakes were preferred over the Fat Bob's “squishy” rear brake. The Brake levers on the Judge are 5-way adjustable, a feature not available on the Fat Bob.
The transmission on the Judge was a lot more noisy when shifting. A audible thunk was heard. Both motorcycles shifted reliably, but the Judge wasn't as smooth.
The Judge has a more blacked out look than the Fat Bob, with a sculpted fuel tank and black pipes. The plastic side plates were a minus in the fit and finish category.
Since the Judge wins the horsepower battle, handles sharper, and has stronger brakes, it won by a slim margin in the comparison. I think either motorcycle would be a joy to own.
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