At a glance

Power: 88 bhp
Seat height: Low (27.8 in / 705 mm)
Weight: High (836 lbs / 379 kg)


New £18,695
Used £13,000 - £18,500

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

Harley-Davidson Road King Special

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 & brakes

Next up: Engine
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.


Next up: Reliability
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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…


3 out of 5 (3/5)

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 size 1745cc
Engine type 45º pushrod V-twin
Frame type Tubular steel double cradle
Fuel capacity 22.7 litres
Seat height 705mm
Bike weight 379kg
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 £111
Annual service cost -
New price £18,695
Used price £13,000 - £18,500
Insurance group 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

Model history

2017: New Milwaukee-Eight’ powered touring range introduced

Owners' reviews for the HARLEY-DAVIDSON ROAD KING (2016 - on)

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