HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING (2016 - on) Review
At a glance
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
The Bagger Road King remains the definitive Harley and the new ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ engines and suspension are both an improvement. It’s not a radical improvement, admittedly, but Harley would argue their customers didn’t want that. But whether it’s enough to satisfy those wavering between H-D and ever-improving Indian, we’ll have to wait and see.
In February 2017 Harley-Davidson unveiled the Road King Special (below), which replaced the chrome from the standard Road King with moody black.
The windscreen from the standard Road King was ditched, and nine inch tall ape hanger bars added for more attitude. In black, of course.
The Road King Special’s engine guard, handlebar and hand controls, mirrors, turn signals, engine covers, air cleaner cover, exhausts and exhaust shields also feature black surfaces.
Chrome only remained on key engine components – the lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks.
The Road King and the Road King Special both used the new 1750cc Milwaukee Eight engine, which offers 10% more torque over the previous engine and a much more refined ride and smoother throttle response.
"The FL series has always reflected the purity of the Harley-Davidson riding experience,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice-President of Styling & Design.
"By exchanging chrome surfaces for black and lowering the bike’s profile, we’ve moved the traditional Road King into a new space that’s very current in the custom bagger scene. Built to ride, and ride hard, the Road King Special also broods with menace. Just as we designed it to."
The Road King Special was available in four colour options; Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom and Olive Gold. Prices started at £19,995.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
Also new for 2017 are new ‘big piston’ Showa forks which are claimed to deliver improved damping with both rear shocks now adjustable via a single knob on the left-hand unit. The result, again, is not radically different, but definitely more refined, assuredly plush, seemingly in control (as far as we could tell along the untaxing American byways) and pleasingly more easily adjustable than ever.
EngineNext up: Reliability
Now badged the ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ Harley’s traditional 45º V-twin is bigger (1745cc from 1690cc) and gets new heads featuring four-valves and either oil (as in the Road King) or liquid (full dressers) cooling. Torque is up a claimed 11%, power is boosted and it’s also smoother and more economical. It is punchier, smoother and better sounding, but not by as much as you might expect.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Rugged and chunky Harleys may sometimes be but paint, chrome and reliability is usually good and there’s no reason to suspect anything much has changed with the updated 2017 ‘Milwaukee-Eight’ version, except reserving a final decision reliability on the new valve-train until they have proven themselves. What’s more, they tend to be understressed and pampered by owners.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Harley ownership never comes cheap and with prices starting at over £18K that’s certainly not changed with the updated Road King. On the positive side, however, running costs are far more affordable, economy is claimed to be improved and residual values are the envy of the whole motorcycle industry so what goes around comes around…
Equipment-wise, the 2017 Road King is unchanged from the Twin Cam powered 2014 one, which benefitted from a host of improvements under Harley’s ‘Project Rushmore’ programme. ‘Bagger’-defining hard panniers and Plexiglas screen deliver touring comfort and practicality but there are otherwise few of the frills (stereo, cruise control etc) that you get on the American firm’s full dressers.
|Engine type||45º pushrod V-twin|
|Frame type||Tubular steel double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||22.7 litres|
|Front suspension||Showa big piston forks, no adjust|
|Rear suspension||Twin rear shocks adjustable for preload|
|Front brake||Twin discs with four-piston Brembo calipers. ABS|
|Rear brake||Single disc with twin-piston Brembo caliper. ABS|
|Front tyre size||130/70 x 17|
|Rear tyre size||180/65 x 16|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||55 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||-|
|Used price||£8,000 - £18,000|
17 of 17
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||88 bhp|
|Max torque||111 ft-lb|
|Top speed||110 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||273 miles|
Model history & versions
2017: New Milwaukee-Eight’ powered touring range introduced
Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING (2016 - on)
No owners have yet reviewed the HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING (2016 - on).