For many riders, the Road King is the classic Harley-Davidson® touring motorcycle. And its silhouette outlines a storied history; this is a design that’s stood the test of time with roots that go back to 1949 when the first of the line – designated the FL – hit the highways.
For 2017, Harley-Davidson has added an exciting new chapter by creating the Road King Special, a machine that exudes a bold new attitude and much darker edge. Lower-slung it channels a fresh, contemporary energy from the streets and distills it into a something that looks, and feels, completely different.
Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice-President of Styling & Design, said, "The FL series has always reflected the purity of the Harley-Davidson riding experience. 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…”
Bathed in black and powered by the muscular 1750cc Milwaukee-Eight™ engine, the new Road King Special pushes Harley-Davidson’s Touring line in a dramatic new styling direction, expressing a modern perspective on the classic Road King model. Matching the style and engine upgrade is the 19-inch front wheel and suspension. New fork internals offer improved damping control while the rear shocks are totally redesigned, with hydraulic spring preload (rather than air) adjustment.
The Road King Special will be available in four colour options:
• Vivid Black
• Charcoal Denim
• Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom™
• Olive Gold.
A dark front end topped by a massive gloss-black headlamp nacelle is the signature styling element of the Road King Special, further highlighted by the lack of a standard windshield. And adding to the attitude a new 9-inch-tall, 1.25-inch-wide mini-ape handlebar puts the rider in an aggressive posture on the bike that’s also comfortable on long runs.
The Road King Special’s engine guard, handlebar and hand controls, mirrors, turn signals, engine covers, air cleaner cover, mufflers and exhaust shields also feature black surfaces. Chrome is retained only on some key engine components – the lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks to emphasize the iconic V-Twin form of the Milwaukee-Eight engine. There’s a new engine-turned timing cover insert, a finish that’s also featured on the tank console and air cleaner insert.
New gloss black Turbine cast-aluminum wheels include a 19-inch front topped by a low-profile fender. At the rear, Stretched Saddlebags flow over the mufflers to provide a slammed-to-the-ground appearance without reducing suspension travel. A rear fascia panel fills the space between the saddlebags and rear fender, and a low-mount license plate module completes the tight, low lines of the rear end.
The Harley-Davidson Smart Security System is standard equipment on the Road King Special.
New for all 2017 touring models, the Milwaukee-Eight engine offers quicker throttle response, more passing power, purer sound, a smoother ride and more of the feeling riders want from a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle engine.
Each Milwaukee-Eight engine produces 10 percent more torque than the engine it replaces in touring models. In addition to increased displacement, the Milwaukee-Eight engine features a higher compression ratio and four-valve cylinder heads with 50 percent more intake and exhaust flow capacity. The valve train requires no adjustment as the design of the rocker arms enables valve lash to be set at the factory for life. Dual spark plugs for each cylinder contribute to more-efficient combustion. A single chain-driven camshaft is lighter, mechanically less complex and creates less friction and noise.
The Milwaukee-Eight engine weighs the same as the engines it replaces, so its extra power contributes directly to improved acceleration performance. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 accelerates 11 percent quicker from 0-60 mph, equal to a two-to-three bike length improvement, and 11 percent quicker from 60-80 mph in top gear, equal to a one-to-two bike length improvement, compared to the Twin Cam High Output 103.
The Milwaukee-Eight engine offers improved rider and passenger thermal comfort due to reduced heat absorption, increased heat rejection and a redesigned exhaust system. The Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine features a precision cooling strategy that targets a flow of oil around the hottest areas of the cylinder heads. A new knock sensor for each cylinder enables more-precise timing control. The rear exhaust pipe is repositioned and the exhaust catalyst is relocated to move heat away from the passenger. Idle speed is lowered from 1,000 rpm to 850 rpm.
A new, slimmer primary drive cover and the low-profile shape of the air cleaner cover provide improved rider legroom around the engine and an easier reach to the ground for many riders. All Milwaukee-Eight powered models are fitted with an assist and slip clutch with improved hydraulic actuation and 7 percent less clutch lever effort.
The rubber-mounted Milwaukee-Eight engine features a single internal counter balancer that cancels 75 percent of primary vibration at idle for a more refined feel and more comfortable experience for rider and passengers while retaining the classic character of Harley® V-Twin engines.
Richer Exhaust Note
Lighter valves, a single camshaft, optimized cover designs and improved driveline components greatly reduce mechanical powertrain noise. The engine intake and air cleaner are designed to reduce intake sound while ensuring maximum air flow. As a result, the new Milwaukee-Eight engine is mechanically quieter, enabling a richer exhaust tone that meets all global noise and emissions standards while allowing the unmistakable rumble of its exhaust note to resonate.
The Milwaukee-Eight engine charging system delivers 50 percent more output to the battery at idle to better support the power demands of touring riders, including accessory lighting, performance audio, and heated gear and other accessories.
The Road King Special’s surefooted handling ability starts with its rigid tubular steel frame; it features a two-piece stamped/welded backbone, with twin downtubes and cast and forged junctions. The rear subframe bolts on and the rear swingarm is constructed from two drawn and MIG-welded steel sections. Rake and trail is set at 26°/175mm, with wheelbase of 1625mm and dry weight of 355kg.
New for 2017, and offering improved control and adjustability is the suspension. The 49mm Dual Bending Valve (DBV) fork internals offer 117mm travel and a taut ride with consistent and linear damping. Likewise, the dual rear shocks feature larger pistons and emulsion-tubes and offer a 30 percent greater range of spring preload adjustment; the preload is also now adjusted hydraulically via a knob.
The brakes are linked; up front twin Brembo Reflex™ 4-piston calipers grip 300mm floating discs. The fixed rear 300mm disc has its own 4-piston caliper and ABS is fitted as standard. The 19-inch/18-inch Turbine cast aluminium front and rear wheels wear Dunlop Harley-Davidson™ series tyres.