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Old 8th October 2013, 15:52   #1
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Default Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

Of the five different platforms in the Harley Line-up, touring bikes sit right at the top. These motorcycles are the ultimate showcase of what Harley can do with a motorcycle.

Look no further to feel the soul of a Harley.

Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing-img_00000202001.jpg

The touring line-up has 3 variations, the Road King has no frills, Street Glide has audio and fairings & Electra Glide has the works; fairings, heating, extra luggage, arm rests etc...

The quintessential touring Harley is a RoadKing; it is built for touring minus all extras, there is nothing superflous on a Roadking.

Appearing to be carved out from a billet the size of a bus, the roadking oozes street cred. The design is a classic that harks back to Harley's big bikes from the sixties; nothing modern in the looks department whatsoever. If the freight train headlamp doesnt give you the shivers, the massive V-twin will. Valanced fenders, the classic gastank with instruments atop, the cool panniers - all add to the no-nonsense look the road king exudes.

Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing-img_00000205_edit.jpg

Early in my Harley days, i didn't care too much about Harleys that weren't Sportsters. But one ride on a street glide got me thinking. The Harley touring chassis is special. This platform has managed to achieve the impossible; Massive proportions but easy handling, fantastic smooth power yet a barking throaty motor, heavy weight but light on controls.

I haven't ridden any of Roadking's competitors who are mainly jap; but heck - I can't expect any of them to have such a soulful mix of function and character.

Looks are something, but function is something else. The Roadking can eat miles like there is no tomorrow. At 140 kph the motor is merely ticking over, the bike is wafting and you can actually catch the scenery around you. On my sporty in 140 you have to concentrate - hard. The way she turns into corners is amazing, you really wouldn't expect this ocean liner to lean so easily.

The motor displaces 1584 cc and vibrates with the characteristic Harley loping idle that disappears into a muted roar when revved, the vibes disappearing totally. Drive is through a 6 speed gearbox and belt final drive. Torque is available on demand in all gears, top gear good only after 80 kmph. She can do quite insane speeds but cruises best around the 140 kph mark. Doing 80 in top gear is also very serene. The way she accelerates is also unexpected for such a huge twin, you can literally dart into spaces with a quick twist and slot yourself in clean. All the mass seems to disappear with the sheer grunt - She has to be ridden to believe how nimble she really is. The RoadKing uses ride-by-wire throttle that is very responsive and light on the throttle hand, the clutch controls are also quite easy on the wrist.

Not that the Roadking isn't without shortcomings.. The Roadking's 96 cu motor exposes one of it's chinks when ridden hard at the limit. Enroute to Chennai for the Southern HOG ride last month, I was taking turns between the roadking and my sporty bobber. There are some truly great swatches of tarmac on the Hyderabad Bangalore route. I was chasing the sporty on some fast sweeps and could feel the lack of power; nailing the throttle while fully leaned over didn't catapult me out of the apex like I expected. You feel then that another 10-20 horses would help. I believe, that kind of grunt is possible with a remap or a bigger bore kit.

Since 2012, Roadkings come with a 103 cu motor, I have ridden them but not at the limit and not sure of top-end horsepower in the newer models.

Cornering hard on a Roadking is sheer joy; you would be forgiven for thinking that she's good only in a straight line. Come corners and you are in for a surprise! Get the line right into a corner and lean hard, you can almost scrape her footpegs and be rewarded with a seriously wide grin on your face. This experience should go straight into your bucket list!

The Roadking's highway manners are impeccable. At 140 kph the motor is butter smooth but still has that lusty exhaust note. Braking is reassuring, the bite from the ABS equipped front brakes is controlled yet firm. The suspension is fantastic, she actually glides over potholes and ruts and steering is pretty sharp for such a big and heavy bike.

The seats are supremely comfortable for both rider and pillion; for serious touring a pillion backrest is required. The Roadking can also be equipped with a tour pack ( 1.5 L option) that brings in pillion arm rests and a large pannier behind the pillion seat. This takes the seats to Electra Glide Levels of comfort and also gives a very cool look from the rear complete with two rather tall aerials.

Riding the king in traffic is again - shocking. As long as the wheels are turning she glides. For a shorty like me for whom both feet on the ground can only be a dream, some skill is required in traffic. Proficient Motorcycling guide helps here - part throttle and part rear brakes, you can literally balance the bike while in standstill...and avoid rapid movements please. The bars on the Roadking are low and wide and you occasionally find yourself battling the front end with your arm trying to maintain grab on the away grips. I believe its just a case of getting used to the mass. Ive been using the roadking regularly for short runs in the city, office et al. and feel that I can get away with the Roadking as the only bike I can have.

The only trouble is to find decent parking, and when you find one it's an opportunity to put her on the side stand and witness clever engineering that will give you the jitters. Once on her side stand she doesn't give you that planted unshakeable feel. But muster the courage and pull the handles back and forth to discover that there is a clever locking system hidden away that will keep her planted. Its impossible to push the bike off the side stand when the bike is leaning its weight over.

Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing-img_00000204.jpg

The Panniers bring a lot of presence to the Roadking's rear-end, the view from the rear being dominated by them, with generous help from the twin exhausts. The whole bike uses a single key for all functions and also has a security system that beeps if the bike is fooled around with when the owner isn't around.

Not every biker is fortunate enough to have been with a Roadking and many do not have the courage to trying out this beast, but after having lived with one, It feels like having the cake and eating it too...She is a dream! All my apprehensions on account of her bulk has vanished.

At approx 28 L on-road the RoadKing isn't cheap by any stretch of imagination, but as they say - Dreams are priceless. I wouldn't want to hang up my riding gear without owning one.

Last edited by josepeter : 9th October 2013 at 10:58. Reason: typos
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Old 9th October 2013, 16:33   #2
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Default Re: Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Motorbikes. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 11th October 2013, 08:03   #3
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Default Re: Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

Wow josepeter, another gem. Saw it in detail while getting my Sportster serviced recently at the service station in Delhi. There were at least 5-6 bikes standing there of the Touring family. Looked neat but impossible for me to imagine living with them on daily basis in Indian road conditions. These are meant for the highway only. BTW which year model is the bike in your pictures?
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Old 11th October 2013, 11:23   #4
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Default Re: Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

I didn't imagine that these beasts could be used on a daily basis...till i did! They are surprisingly maneuverable, the only trouble is fellow motorists not paying heed to the immense girth of this motorcycle and coming too close for comfort. This bike is a 2010 model.
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Old 16th October 2013, 09:15   #5
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Default Re: Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

Boy oh Boy , its a sheer pleasure watching a real matured Harley.

Congrats Jose
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Old 16th October 2013, 14:23   #6
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Default Re: Living with a Harley Davidson RoadKing

Jose, this has indeed been an excellent account of ownership review. Could you share a few more snaps of the vehicle?
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