Harley Davidson Road King Review

Harley Davidson Road King test ride and review.

Harley Davidson Road King Review

The days of one motorcycle being the best at everything are long gone. Electronic controls, 200 horsepower engines, and suspension the equal of race bikes from only a few years ago are available at most dealers. Touring bikes have gotten complicated, with Satellite Navigation, heated controls and bum warmers, even an airbag making the list on some models.

Harley Davidson’s Road King has none of those things. Sure, the recent revamping of the model in 2009 saw a host of things brought up to current day spec, including electronic fuel injection opened via fly by wire throttle, a keyless immobiliser system and 4 piston Brembo brakes to name but a few.

Click on images for a larger version

But these things are all hidden, on the outside not much separates the newest Road King in looks from a bike made in your childhood. And therein lies it’s charm, and the claim made by its name – Road King. With a rumbling 103 cube V twin -1690cc – that delivers 134nm of torque at just 3,500 rpm, the best seat in the business, and nothing in front of you but that huge chrome headlight, it’s hard not to feel like you do rule at least a part of the road.

The Road King offers a simple analogue speedo on the fuel tank, there’s no Sat Nav here to let the path to your destination ruin your simple enjoyment of the ride. The King does come with some comforts, the most noticeable being the fabulously comfortable seat. A pair of locking panniers are fitted, along with the large adjustable screen and chrome crash bars.

Being summer, I preferred the clean air with the screen removed, while Bec found it invaluable on a sometimes cold and wet ride from Sydney to the Gold Coast. The screen is adjustable for height, but should you wish to remove it, it basically just unclips, literally a two minute job.


It is a big bike, and a heavy bike at around 370 kilograms. That is over 800 pounds of USA steel and chrome. It is also a surprisingly good handling beast, a contrast to what I was expecting. Like all cruisers with forward controls, ground clearance becomes the limiting factor as you gain enthusiasm in corners.

The excellent brakes and fantastic grunt out of slow corners made for an unexpected pleasure on several spirited runs up and down the local mountain roads. Not at all what was expected.

Back on the flats, the big King was happy to lope along at what seemed like a few thousand revs in sixth gear, at near legal limits. Serious long distance would be no problem. Some flat black paint, a shotgun, and you could head straight for the wastelands.

Like several other marques we have a soft spot for here at Motoaus, the Harley also has that special something that grows on you. The new engine isolation system has almost totally removed vibration on the move, but has left alone the pleasing idle shake. The catalytic equiped exhaust is quieter than some previous models, but still has a nice roar under power.

Under way slowly, the Road King has another surprise, we found it very manoeuvrable at low speed, much more nimble than it’s size and 1625mm (64″) wheelbase should be. The bike felt like it had a very low centre of gravity, aided no doubt by the low seat height of 730mm.

We didn’t find the lack of tachometer an issue, a rev limiter suggests when enough is enough. There was a handy top gear light, a trip meter, a clock and a fuel gauge with countdown to empty.

Adding powered bling wouldn’t be hard with the accessory 12 volt power outlet. Extra lights aren’t needed, that huge locomotive size headlight is ably backed up by the twin spotlights that flank it.

The passenger foot rests are height adjustable in case your passenger has exceptionally short -or better still, exceptionally long – legs. The rear suspension is air assisted, meaning you can pump up pressure depending on what kind of load you are hauling

We found the Road King to be a great bike – unless you are focused on specifications that may not matter in the real world. It’s more than capable of touring, with a decent 22 plus litre tank and a great seat, backed up with the panniers and screen.

The King of the Road is also at home in the suburbs, I’d be more than happy to use this to run to the shops and back, apart from the rubber neck factor that means most passers by will want to comment or ask about the big Harley.

In summary the Road King is Harley cool, touring ready, and a great town pose machine. We really enjoyed it, and found it hard to give it back to H-D.

Motoaus.com’s Bec rode the big Harley from Sydney to the Gold Coast for this review, and in case you missed it, the pictorial version of that ride is here.



Harley Davidson Road King Specifications

Length 2,400 mm (94.5 in.)
Width 955 mm (37.6 in.)
Height 1,435 mm (56.5 in.)
Seat Height 735 mm (29.0 in.)
Ground Clearance 146 mm (5.7 in.)
Rake  26°
Trail  170 mm (6.7 in.)
Wheelbase 1,625 mm (64.0 in.)
Fuel Capacity 22.7 L (6.0 gal.) (warning light at approximately 3.8 L)
Oil Capacity (w/filter) 3.8 L (4.0 qts.)

• Dry 355kg
• Wet 368kg


Air-cooled, Twin Cam 103
Valves Pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters; two valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke 98.4 mm x 111.1 mm (3.88 in. x 4.38 in.)
Displacement 1,690 cc (103 cu. in.)
Compression Ratio 9.6:1
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Pressurized, dry-sump with oil cooler


Primary Drive Chain, 34/46 ratio
Final Drive Belt, 32/68 ratio
Clutch Multi-plate, wet
Transmission 6-Speed Cruise Drive®
Gear Ratios (overall):
• 1st, 9.594 • 2nd, 6.65 • 3rd, 4.939
• 4th, 3.999 • 5th, 3.407 • 6th, 2.875


All images copyright Motoaus.com

Thanks again to Mitchell at Haystac, H-D and Morgan and Wacker.


You may also like...