While there's no doubting the abilities of Harley's full-dresser motorcycles when it comes to transporting two people comfortably over long distances, for some folks, the Ultra-Glide is just t-o-o much bike. Enter the Harley Road King which has gone on to be one of Harley-Davidson's flagship motorcycle models over the years.
First seen in the 1980s, the Harley Road King's combination of old-school style and grand-tourer fittings has made it a real hit with anybody who actually wants to ride their Harley motorcycle (as opposed to park it in the lounge-room and look at it). The Road King has become a permanent fixture in Harley-Davidson catalogues and is seen by many as the pick of the whole bunch. Ride one and it's a hard statement to disagree with.
Harley Road King On The Road
What makes the Harley Road King so great is the way it can devour kilometres. There's something about the relationship between the seat, bars and those big foot-boards that is just `right' and long sessions in the Road King’s saddle won't leave you looking for a chiropractor.
The long-legged V-twin is also a good match for the rest of the package and it makes a pretty good noise through aftermarket pipes which have proven to be a very popular modification in Harley-World.
The Harley Road King’s standard panniers swallow a huge load of gear although they don't come off the bike, so you need to carry your gear into the motel separately. Harley also offered a variety of screens with the Road King motorcycle and for long trips, any of these are worth their weight in perspex.
There's no point trying to hurry a Harley Road King along, but let it set its own pace and there are few more relaxing ways to travel on two wheels.
Buying a used Harley Road King
Because they're so darn good at eating miles, many used Harley Road Kings have covered bigger distances than other models of the same age. But that shouldn't matter because the engines are tough and we've heard of many a Road King covering up to 300,000km without major mechanical hassles. Make sure there's a service record in the offing, though, and check that the proper grade and type of oil has been used throughout the bike's life.
Tyres for the Harley Road King are relatively inexpensive and the toothed belt final drive is virtually maintenance-free. Harley-Davidson paint quality has always been among the best in the business, but check for fading and peeling of the clear top coat anyway.
Harley Road King motorcycle - the Final Verdict
+ Easy mile-eater
+ Looks the part
+ Comfortable for all-day stints
- A bit pricey even second-hand
- Nothing to tempt a sporty rider
Harley-Davidson Road King Standard Specifications
Model: Road King
Engine Size: 1340cc-1584cc
Fuel System: Carburettors/Efi
Drive: Toothed rubber belt
Standard Transmission: 5/6-speed