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.
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.
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.
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…
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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.