2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special

Editor Score: 91.5%
Engine 19.0/20
Suspension/Handling 13.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 9.0/10
Brakes 9.0/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 9.0/10
Appearance/Quality 9.5/10
Desirability 9.5/10
Value 8.5/10
Overall Score91.5/100

Harley’s new Street Rod was our excuse to go to Daytona last week, but while we were there we got to ride The MoCo’s new Road King Special too. Okay, so, yeah, the Street Rod was a bit underwhelming, but it would be fun to sit all the commenters heaping abuse upon H-D for that bike on one of its FLs for about a 10-minute ride. I think it would shut most of them right up. Well, actually it probably wouldn’t. I think we’ve all learned how hard it is to unseat deep-rooted preconceptions lately.

Harley has this type of bike so dialled, it’s easy to forgive them their dysfunctionality in some other arenas. The Road King is the base-level FL model (the FLs being the touring models), and as such we could’ve seen the RK Special coming, since there are already Street Glide Specials, Road Glide Specials, etc. This is the bike for people who want a naked bagger and don’t care about a stereo or Infotainment. Purists! (H-D offers various optional windshields.)

It is altogether fitting and and proper that Harley should so honor the Road King, as it’s been one of the company’s biggest sellers since its 1994 introduction. The new bike is to the original as an Airbus A380 is to a DC-3. H-D product planner Paul James points out that, in a recent dealer-customizing competition, almost everybody chose an RK as the starting point. It’s a blank slate, a clean canvas…


And the best thing about the new Special is its Milwaukee Eight 107 engine. The new eight-valve Twin felt pretty sporty when we sampled it in a Street Glide in our Bagger Brawl a couple of months ago. With a few less pounds to haul and no fairing to push, the ’King really scoots when you give it the gas.

Sixty-five mph in top cog is just about 2400 rpm, about 500 rpm shy of the Milwaukee Eight’s 102-pound-feet Dynojet-measured max torque; 100 smooth mph from here comes up quickish, no downshift required. (The ’94 Road King would barely do 100.)

Sixty-five mph in top cog is just about 2400 rpm, about 500 rpm shy of the Milwaukee Eight’s 102-pound-feet Dynojet-measured max torque; 100 smooth mph from here comes up quickish, no downshift required. (The ’94 Road King would barely do 100.)

In addition to that powerful and smooth-running V-Twin, Harley’s stylists ganged up on the King, slathering it in darkness and leaving just enough chrome to set off the engine architecture. Otherwise, a black fork topped by a big black headlight nacelle and nine-inch mini-ape handlebar lead the “gleaming locomotive rolling through a trainyard at midnight.” That goes with black hand controls (with internal wiring), triple clamp, mirrors, turn signals, engine covers, mufflers… and black turbine wheels, including the 19-inch front mit low-profile tire.


Stretched saddlebags, which actually do hold a bit more stuff, add to the long, low look, though suspension is the same 2.15 inches as the standard Road King and the ’Glides. On bumpy pavement, that’s not always enough, but the bike’s upscale emulsion shocks do a remarkably good job anyway. On smoother slab, all the FLs are veritable chariots of the gods, and in exchange for the minimal wheel travel you get to sit on a seat just 27.4 inches from the pavement, which is actually pretty swell when you’re climbing on and off a lot.

That rear fascia panel fills in the space between the bags and the bike for a custom, finished look. The 180/55-18 Dunlop tucked up under there lets the King handle better than you might expect.

That rear fascia panel fills in the space between the bags and the bike for a custom, finished look. The 180/55-18 Dunlop tucked up under there lets the King handle better than you might expect.

Up front, the new 49mm Showa “dual bending valve” fork serves up 4.6 inches of well-controlled travel. As we learned on the aforementioned Street Glide, these things go around corners surprisingly well, and in fact H-D specs say the RK will lean a degree further to each side than the Street Glide: 32 degrees to the right and 31 left – and more than that if you don’t mind scraped up floorboard edges. The Special’s low-profile Dunlops give it a really solid, taut feel: Shame we couldn’t find any curvy roads in Florida to give them a better work-out.

Triple 300mm disc brakes, the front two clamped by Brembo four-piston calipers, provide more than enough solid, two-finger braking power through the comfortable blade-style front lever, and are equipped with standard ABS (as well as H-D’s Smart Security System). The rear brake’s right where your foot expects it to be when you want it. The clutch is light and progressive; the six-speed box shifts fine, mostly without need of the clutch in the higher gears. The H-D faithful would think they’d been cheated if first gear didn’t clock in with the traditional reassuring clunk.

Housing a dual halogen headlight in a blacked-out vintage nacelle is an excellent blending of old with new.

Housing a dual halogen headlight in a blacked-out vintage nacelle is an excellent blending of old with new.

Another nod to modern functionality is at your left thumb, a one-button cruise control that works as seamlessly as any in the business. With that in place, I’m fully down with the minimalism of the rest of the bike.

For long days, you can’t beat floorboards that let you turn the other cheek (I use the passenger mini-boards too). A heel/ toe shifter doesn’t hurt. The seats on these bikes are some of the best stock seats I have ever placed glutes upon (though taller riders felt a bit locked in on the Street Glide).

It was only in the 60s on the my day in Daytona and I experienced no heat issues on the RK, but it’s good to know on hot days, Harley has anticipated and addressed the heat issue that plagues some of its competitors. The 107 “features a precision cooling strategy that targets a flow of oil around the hottest areas of the cylinder heads,” in an engine designed with reduced heat absorption compared to the Twin Cam. EITMS, Engine Idle Temperature Management System (a.k.a. parade mode), is enabled when you roll the throttle past closed, and cuts fuel and spark to the rear cylinder when you’re stuck in traffic. The exhaust is repositioned and the catalyst is positioned to route heat away from the passenger, idle speed is down from 1000 to 850…

Rubber engine mounts mean no vibration.

Rubber engine mounts mean no vibration.

What else? You’ll never need to adjust the Milwaukee Eight’s eight valves… its electrical system puts out 50% more juice at idle… that six-gallon tank should give well over 200-mile range…

If you’re getting the impression I’m fond of this bike, you’re right. It’s got that classic look that attracts love wherever you go, yet you can flog the snot out of it like a large naked sportbike and not be at all disappointed in its performance; 102 lb-ft of torque at 2900 rpm is its own bull-in-china-shop kind of fun.

At the same time, those easy-open saddlebags, low seat, excellent low-speed handling, and quiet demeanor at low throttle openings make it a great grocery-getter, kid dropper-offer, commuter, and social gathering conveyance. And with the cruise control, excellent comfort and ability to add a windscreen, I’d happily go anywhere tomorrow for a week on the King if I didn’t have to sit here pounding this computer all the time.

Actually I’m off to the south of France this afternoon to ride the new Ducati Monster 797, but I could really go either way. Am I getting old?

2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special
+ Highs

  • Minimalism without the masochism
  • What Harley does best, it does better than anybody
  • Fabulously functional and a breeze to ride
– Sighs

  • I could do without the mini-ape, but that’s just me
  • Passengers may not love their part of the seat
  • Everybody wants to tell you about their Harley
2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special Specifications
MSRP $21,999 Vivid Black; $22,449 Charcoal Denim, Olive Gold; $24,399 Hard Candy Hot Rod Red Flake
Engine Air-cooled OHV V-Twin; 4 valves/ cylinder Milwaukee Eight 107
Displacement 107 cu in (1746 cc)
Bore x Stroke 3.937 in. x 4.375 in. (100 mm x 111.1 mm)
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Fuel System Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Transmission 6-speed
Final drive Belt
Front Suspension 49mm inverted Showa dual bending valve fork, no adjustment; 4.6 in. travel
Rear Suspension Dual premium emulsion shocks; preload adjustable (by hand), 2.15 in. travel
Front Brake Dual 300mm discs, 4-piston calipers; ABS
Rear Brake 300mm disc, 4-piston caliper; ABS
Rake/ trail 29.25 degrees/ 6.9 in. (175mm)
Wheelbase 64 in. (1625mm)
Seat Height 27.4 in. (695 mm), unladen
Fuel Capacity 6.0 gal. (22.7 l)
Dry weight 781 lb. (354 kg), claimed
Wheels Black, turbine cast aluminum
Front tires 130/60 B19 61H
Rear tires 180/55B B18 80H
Color Options Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, and Olive Gold

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  • Jim

    If God grants me another 3 1/2 years, at which time I’ll be 50, this, or the standard Road King, itself, will be on my shortlist. I’m not a huge fan of Harley’s turn signal design or of its heel-toe shifter execution, but everything else is really nice; especially the new engine. Like you said, this is a practical, do-it-all bike. It is expensive, but figuring I’ll probably own it for 10 years or more, I might be able to justify it.

    • Larry Kahn

      When I turned fifty I bought a new 1050 Speed Triple. Don’t rush your old-fartness. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/af91449d41058b31eb7f798b163d05f98d6349559787d1300d0ec1667bd7f55c.jpg

      • Jim

        That made me laugh, Larry. Thank you. I’ve learned that saddlebags and a windshield make the ride more pleasant for me, so this type of bike appeals to me. Then again, so does a Concours and a Trophy. Who knows, I may just keep my Nomad. Lots of good, low mileage used options out there. After 11 years with my current mount, I’m just ready to try something new. That goes for bikes, too!

        • Larry Kahn

          No argument here, been through about 70 bikes and about 10 of the other.

          • Douglas

            10, really? Motosport’s answer to Tommy Manville?

          • Larry Kahn

            Sure the hell never married any of them. Seemed to always go for the flakey/crazy. Fun…

      • Chuck Smith

        S3 is sooo much fun. Still riding my 955i and have no intention of parting with it.

    • Buzz

      I bought an Electra Glide Ultra Classic at the ripe, old age of 39.

    • Bananapants Ficklefart

      the turn signals drive me nuts. I hate having to break my grip on the throttle to reach the button for right turns, especially going into a turn on a bike with 100+ lbft of torque and no traction control.

      • Kenneth

        Wherever the button(s) are located, might you consider that turn signals are meant to inform others of what you INTEND to do, before you do it (i.e., entering a turn). It’s also lower stress than “going nuts.”

      • Hot Stuff

        You get used to it. I hate the single turn switch on the left grip on wife’s honda. I have so many miles on Harleys I don’t even have to think about it when using the switchgear

        • Brian Fistler

          Think you have problems? The 3 bikes in my household are the wife’s Suzuki Burgman 650 with standard Japanese left thumb signals, a 2007 BMW R1200RT with signals somewhat like Harley setup, left thumb left, right thumb right turn, and a 1976 BMW R75/6 with turn signals on and up/down rocker switch under the right thumb… I think the worst is going to the Burgman, where I am constantly hitting the horn button where the left turn button is on the RT. 😉

    • mikeinkamloops

      Heel shifter comes off really easily (ditched mine years ago) and you get used to the turn signals — which are self cancelling, unlike some other brands.

  • Gabriel Owens

    Quite a beauty

  • Buzz

    I like this JB. I’m really a fan of the Road Glide but popping the windshield off and sticking my mug in the breeze is pretty appealing for beach cruising.

  • Gary

    I am fairly certain the regular Road King has slightly more rear suspension travel. Can you please confirm? Good review …

    • mikeinkamloops

      My 08 Road Glide has 3.0″ of rear travel. I’m pretty sure the standard Road King would be the same.

    • john burns

      Yeah there’s a bit of confusion there. H-D says “The Road King Special has the same basic suspension setup as the Street Glide/Road Glide Special models, which are slightly lower than the standard models, including Road King”, but I read somewhere else in HD’s materials RK and Road King Special were same.

      So looks like RKS is 2.15, and regular RK is 3.0. Either way, the new emulsion shocks do an amazing job with such a short stroke.

  • Sayyed Bashir

    Very good review of a very good bike. I love the Harley I’ve had for 10 years.

  • Born to Ride

    Need a shootout between this, the California touring, and the T-Bird LT. Make it so.

  • Tim Blanch

    burnsie, what the heck is wrong with you? “… deep-rooted preconceptions …” what exactly is that supposed to mean? if it’s another one of your jabs at politics, then i guess you are the poster boy for “… deep-rooted preconceptions …” because you sure don’t seem able to let them go. i read you because you know bikes and write about them better than anyone. that includes egan. if i want to read political jabs, i’ll go to fox, cnn, etc. do you understand what i’m saying, bro? it’s distracting, and a good editor would have clipped this stuff back in the day. i am a fan of yours! tim

    • Kenneth

      You don’t believe John simply stated a hard-to-ignore fact? He’s speaking the truth, in these days of “alternative facts.”

      • Max Wellian

        Not to mention walls of meat.

    • Bananapants Ficklefart

      if you’re in the comments section here and haven’t been called a racist or Rushin’ Sekret Ajunt, consider it a good day.

    • Barry_Allen

      “…you know bikes and write about them better than anyone…”

  • gjw1992

    Have to admit this looks – and sounds – pretty good. Especially in WD-like olive gold.

  • DickRuble

    “features a precision cooling strategy that targets a flow of oil around the hottest areas of the cylinder heads,” — mind boggling gobbledygook…

    • Douglas

      Oh, lighten up, Ruble….it’s just good Harley PR…..that cd be either Public Relations or Press Release.

      • DickRuble

        .. yeah Harley.. I didn’t say otherwise..

    • Goose

      Too complex for you to grasp Dick?

  • Old MOron

    You know, JB, it’s fine to have changing perspectives. Life moves us through different stages, and we should appreciate the riches of each one. But you’re breaking my heart.

    Let’s look at a couple of specs: 32 degrees of lean angle, 781 lbs (claimed) dry weight.

    Now let’s look at some blasphemy: “you can flog the snot out of it like a large naked sportbike and not be at all disappointed in its performance.”

    What?! What do you mean by “large naked sportbike,” a Tuono? A Super Duke?

    “Am I getting old?”

    Normally with age comes credibility. But your cred is fast fleeting!

    • JMDGT

      I can’t seem to get over the weight and lack of performance compared to a nicely done naked. A Tuono is on my must have before I cross over to the great beyond list. The Road King not so much. Even though I understand the attraction more then I used to I doubt I would ever buy one let alone be happy with it.

      • john burns

        I would suggest take one for a test spin. 102 rear-wheel lb-ft of torque at 2900 rpm has a way of masking weight.

        • JMDGT

          Torque is definately King.

    • Max Wellian

      I think he’s talking actually riding the things on the street. I owned a Vic Cross Roads (similar design) and had no issues sneaking past guys on sport tourers around twisty mountain roads with it. I’ll grant you that passing well ridden sportbikes is getting a little carried away.
      Their power is delivered low so the bikes (like most twins) just don’t feel like they’re working hard, but are actually able to get you into jailable speeds PDQ.
      I used to love to pop the windshield off mine and blast around the backroads on it. Get up to interstate speeds and it’s positively miserable though. Doing everything I could to keep my back straight and my grip light, I would still get achy knuckles in the matter of a few miles and have to get off the freeway.
      When is this Sons of Anarchy phase going to pass? Can’t see how Harley see’s fit to replace chrome plating and glossy, glittery paint with flat black paint from a spray can and charge extra. I could live without the engine chrome, but how about a nice candy apple red on the tins for a little contrast?

      • Kevin Butler

        They do offer it in a Hard Candy Custom in Hot Rod Red

    • Douglas

      Don’t listen to ‘im John…..you’re a motojournalist….philosophical embellishment is part of your mien.

    • Michael Sparg

      No even like a 10 year old Street Rod. You just can’t flog a traditional Harley!


    This minimalist version aside from the handle bars and lack of travel appeals to my never been a fan of Harley in general mindset. A few friends have Road Kings and love them dearly. I wouldn’t mind trying one out just to see for myself. A nice windshield would be nice. It looks good and seems to be appropriately equipped. My RT has everything but I could do without a lot of the features. I can’t say the Road King is in my top ten but this bike looks like a winner. I like the Moto Guzzi California better. That bike is in my top ten.

    • Douglas

      Yeah, the std RK with its chrome and luxuriant finish (but minus the @#$*&! whitewalls) would be one of the few new H-Ds I’d consider…..but the goofy mini-apes and the heel shift (it’s detachable, at least the ones on my FXDC and E-Glide were) would hafta go…..and if only Harley made a decent windscreen that actually worked (like the one my Nomad). That, along with that nifty LowRider, if I had about 35K I didn’t know what else to do with…..but, alas….

      • JMDGT

        These bikes just don’t set up right for me. They may be good tourers but that isn’t always my favorite type of riding. I have always maintained a fantasy top ten of available motorcycles over the years. The idea being ten bikes I would have in my garage if I had the dough. I’ve liked a few but never once has a HD been on the list. I’ve been riding since I was twelve.

      • Michael White

        funny thing, I intended to take off the heel shift from my 2017 RK, but as it turns out, in 3 months of ownership I have used it for all but about 2 upshifts. It is fun to stomp and you can’t miss it.


    Hurry up with the Monster 797 review.

  • Paul Bryant

    “Okay, so, yeah, the Street Rod was a bit underwhelming, but it would be fun to sit all the commenters heaping abuse upon H-D for that bike on one of its FLs for about a 10-minute ride. I think it would shut most of them right up. Well, actually it probably wouldn’t. I think we’ve all learned how hard it is to unseat deep-rooted preconceptions lately.”

    Ridiculous statement John. The “Street Rod” (which it is not, ok maybe by Harley standards it is) is a pile of overpriced junk. If Ducati, BMW, Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki etc. etc. had produced the “Street Rod” you would be ripping them apart, wondering why they took a giant leap back to the 1950-60’s.

    At 800+lbs wet and that lovely 32 degree lean angle you, or no one else, will be “flogging the snot out” of anything, besides perhaps themselves after impacting the pavement or perhaps an oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane or a tree. That, to say the least, is a irresponsible statement that might actually get someone to try and “flog the snot out of it” and wind up severely injured or dead. You’re not seriously implying this motorcycle, in any way, can be ridden like a “large naked sportbike” are you?

    Why not stick to reality? Something along the lines of “If you like Harleys and similar motorcycles you’ll like this one.” ? I’m sure it’s much better than the “Street Rod” (I still lol calling it that) but, that’s not much in the way of bragging rights.

    I’m not a fan of Harley Davidson motorcycles, shocking I know, so you won’t be surprised I don’t like this one either. People that like Harleys like Harleys, people that don’t won’t until Harley produces something that’s, well, not a Harley. I think that’s understandable as far as motorcycles go.

    But, let’s be reasonable, the only “snot flogging” this motorcycle will produce will be a direct result of a sinus infection and have nothing to do with it’s performance.

    • john burns

      Have you ridden one with the new motor, PB? Have you ridden an FL at all?

      • Sayyed Bashir

        JB, no use arguing with him. He is a moron, with a small m.

      • Paul Bryant

        With the new motor? No. I’ve ridden quite a few road kings from various years, Thanks for asking.

        Unless you’ve somehow figured out a way to break the laws of physics there’s no way you, or anyone else for that matter, are going to be flogging the snot out of it like a large naked sportbike, even with the new motor. Period.

        I sincerely hope you’re not suggesting or encouraging anyone even attempt it.

        • John A. Stockman

          I have had great opportunities to have been in positions to ride many, many different motorcycles. Different styles, types, genre, brands, you name it. Haven’t swung a leg over an old board tracker, but have ridden foot clutch, hand shift models from HD and Indian. Old British, new British, Italian, Spanish, German, Japanese of all kinds/styles, and numerous HD models, from original, AMF, Evo era. Not the new 8-valve though. Many Road Kings, pre 2008 and after 2008, when HD finally updated the FL frame. That was a big improvement. A friend had a mid 2000 Road King. Even new, it felt like there was a small hinge between the tank and seat. Visits to dealer service did not improve that feeling, and he eventually sold the bike because of that handling “quirk”. Rode a 2009 Road King, no hinge-in-the-middle feeling at all, gone. Still the limited lean angle and poor rear suspension, but it was now solid when leaned over. Now HD improves the suspension travel and performance? What is the motorcycle world coming to? Like what you like, celebrate it, be passionate. There’s a bike for just about anyone who rides, whether seasoned pro, returning after many years, or those just starting out. My needs, HD has yet to make a bike that fits me and what I need a motorcycle to be and do. All it takes is one ride on a bike that has 28 degrees of lean angle and having to tighten up my line in a right corner because there was a car over the center line. At a sedate pace complimentary of what kind and type of bike I was riding, still levered the back tire off the pavement. Didn’t crash, but I thought “how slow do I have to go?” Aware of the limits of the bike I was on and perfectly happy with that, not some squid going too fast for the motorcycle I was riding and the conditions/layout of the corner.

    • mikeinkamloops

      No, its not a 400 pound, 1000cc sport bike, nor is it meant to be. It’s a big heavy cruiser for folks who like to pack up and travel. 32 degrees is plenty when you’re packing a pillion and gear. Never needed anything more. When I’m traveling long distance, I see three types of bikes — BMW’s (usually ridden solo), Goldwings, and Harleys — lots and lots of Harleys. Don’t see many crotch rockets doing 1000km days.

      • Paul Bryant

        You’re correct. However, I’m not the one suggesting it’s comparable to a large naked sportbike. I think we both agree that’s a ridiculous statement.

        • Chuck Smith

          I agree that it is ridiculous to not understand hyperbole.

          • Paul Bryant

            Hyperbole? I’d say it’s outright fantasy BS. Compared to other Harleys this may be amazing, compared to everything else Harleys are a joke.

          • Chuck Smith

            thanks for confirming you still don’t know what hyperbole means. Not only are you stupid you lack even the ability to learn.

  • Starmag

    $10,232.09 per inch of rear suspension travel.

    “Suspension/Handling 13.5/15”

    “we’ve all learned how hard it is to unseat deep-rooted preconceptions lately.”


    • john burns

      Duke asked the same thing. I told him if it had 3″ of travel i would’ve given it a 14 out of 15! The new Showa cartridge fork is a big part of it too.

      • Bmwclay

        Showing my ignorance here but aren’t there aftermarket shocks that can add clearance at the cost of raising the seat height to what, maybe 29-30″?
        Or would that drastically change the riding, handling characteristics of a classic bike?

      • Old MOron

        Duke asked you the same thing? Hmm…

        The Duke abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Duke. Vetting these scores for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.

  • John B.

    In search of the answer to JB’s query, “Am I getting old?” I stumbled upon this gem from 2002, which introduced JB as a new MO team member. http://www.motorcycle.com/news/news326.html

    JB is only a few months my senior. As such, he’s definitely NOT getting old. More interesting, however, is how much technology has changed moto-journalism over the past 15 years. I also recently watched several MO YouTube videos from 4 or so years ago. Video technology has come a long way in the past several years. Great audio, drone shots, and HD is ubiquitous now, but wasn’t available to the masses 5 years ago.

    Reading Burns’s first MO article gave me a much greater appreciation for the content we take for granted these days. Read Burns’s article from 2002; you will enjoy it!!! http://tinyurl.com/BurnsAddress

    PS – I can’t get these links to work on my browser, but they work on my smart phone.

    • Old MOron

      Hmm, if I click on your links, they don’t work for me.
      But if I go through google, they do.
      Maybe fellow MOrons can try this: https://www.google.com/#q=john+burns+welcome+to+motorcycle&*

      • John B.

        Thanks OM! I’ve had this issue all week!

        • Old MOron

          Boy, talk about a warm reception: http://www.motorcycle.com/forum/mo-vs-world/1071-john-burns-welcome-motorcycle-online.html

          You can imagine that some of these MOrons will be gobsmacked to read JB liken a Road King to a Tuono.

          • John B.

            You’re pretty unflappable OM, and I’m surprised this article agitated you. John Burns is the F. Scott Fitzgerald of moto-journalism, sans the alcoholism and intense dislike for Dwight Eisenhower.

            When Burns wrote, “O, my love’s like a red, red rose, that’s newly sprung in June. Do you think he meant his love had a thorn ridden stem and soft velvety petals? If newfound love can be like a flower, why can’t a Road King be like a Tuono?

          • Old MOron

            Did you ever love a rock band, only to have them “go commercial”? I’m not accusing anyone of selling out, and I welcome artistic growth, but when your favorite band goes mainstream, it hurts.

          • John B.

            You forced me to be serious.

            I spent many years representing insurance carriers in catastrophic loss litigation (fires, explosions, train wrecks, crane collapses, construction failures etc). I learned compromise has two meanings: 1. A settlement reached through mutual concessions; i.e., to meet an adversary somewhere in between in a negotiation; and, 2. To concede one’s values (at least in part) to achieve a desirable pragmatic outcome. I’ve done both, and I suspect the same is true for every professional. We’re not old OM, but old enough to know compromises are inevitable, and even desirable in many instances.

            JB gave the HD Street Rod a scathing review; perhaps, the most scathing review I have ever read. In this article, he gave the Road King an A-. The two article combined give both HD lovers and haters something consistent with their world view.

            I don’t get the Harley thing, but when I’m out on the road I see hundreds of HD riders having a blast. People ride HD motorcycles because they want in on the fun. People vote with their wallets, and in America, they vote for HD more than any other brand. (Just for giggles though, I want to see a shootout between the BMW K1600B Bagger ($19,995 Base MSRP) verses the most relevant offering from Indian and HD.)

          • Old MOron

            Gee, you get serious, and maybe I’ve been too serious.
            For the record, I think Harleys are kind of like pitbulls. Nothing wrong with the bikes, but some of their owners give them a bad name.

            And I have no problem with JB scoring this bike at 91.5%. I understand it’s an A- in the realm of cruisers. I balked at the sport bike comparison.

            But maybe he meant something like, “It’s the big naked sport bike of cruisers.” That makes sense.

          • john burns

            JB, I will just shut up and let you handle it, my new counsel of record. Thank you.

          • john burns

            I believe it was you who compared it to a Tuono, OM. Obviously it’s nothing like a Tuono. My bad for not saying you can flog the snot out of it like a really large naked sportbike instead of just a large one. The point is you can ride the RK hard when the mood strikes you, all its controls – brakes, throttle and suspension – work very well together to provide a surprisingly dynamic riding experience. Even more surprising to people who haven’t ridden one with the new engine.

          • Old MOron

            Thank you for your reply. Forgive me if I sound argumentative. It’s true I’m the one who mentioned the Tuono, but I was trying to make sense of this claim:

            “you can flog the snot out of it like a large naked sportbike and not be at all disappointed in its performance.”

            A large naked sport bike? The Tuono is the first one that came to mind. So I can flog the snot out of the RK and it feels like a Tuono? Really?

            You can imagine my consternation.

            “The point is you can ride the RK hard when the mood strikes you, all its controls – brakes, throttle and suspension – work very well together to provide a surprisingly dynamic riding experience.”

            Sure, on the flat, arrow-straight roads in Florida. Bring that thing back to Latigo Canyon Road and let us know how dynamic it is. Of course not every bike is intended to be a canyon flier, but not every bike should be likened to one, either.

            Oh, and when you get it in the canyons, put someone like Duke or T-rod on it, please. You and Evans don’t strike me as unbiased anymore when it comes to cruisers.

          • Old MOron

            Yes, I mentioned the Tuono. It was the first bike that came to mind when you said “large naked sportbike.” I guess from there I took things wrong. I apologize.

  • Aurora

    It is not motorbike but armchair on a wheels…

  • Buzz

    The haters just gotta hate.

    Three friends of mine rented bikes and did a Colorado trip last summer. They rented a K1600, R1200RT and a Road King. The BMWs were way faster and handled better.

    They all liked the Road King the best of the three.

    I would have a hard time prying my fingers from my K1600 these days but that’s because I have my Guzzi 1400 for my V Twin fix. The King could replace both since I’m not doing a lot of long distance touring anymore.

    • Born to Ride

      I want to know how it really stacks up against the Guzzi. I have only ridden one Harley (an older Dyna), and I have to say I did not come away impressed at all. Conversely, I thought the Cali 1400 was a joy to ride on the too-short test ride I scored at a demo event.

      • Buzz

        I own the Cali Custom which doesn’t have the windshield and bags but I have ridden the touring Guzzi. Even thought they’re both V Twins, the power characteristics are totally different.

        The Guzzi doesn’t really like going below 2500 RPM where the H-D shines in that range. Of course the Guzzi makes much more power on top where the H-D has run out of breath.

        Paint and chrome is a lot better on the H-D and the side bags are much better on the H-D.

        I haven’t ridden a Milwaukee 8 version of the King so I can’t make much more of a comparison than that.

  • Michael Sparg

    Traditional Harley’s are great if they suit what you want from a bike. I own a 06 Street Rod. The new Street Rod just doesn’t match up. Harley will never build a proper sport bike. XR had a rubbish engine. Will just keep my bike which is as close as Harley ever got.

  • Gregory Brown

    Rode all of the new 107’s at the International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach. The RK ended up being my favorite. They made two mistakes on the Special. The short shocks on the back and the lack of a matching black windshield. Okay, three mistakes. They took driving lights and windshield off and then charged 3k more for the bike. The first thing I would do with this bike is put decent shocks on the back. The added travel and ground clearance would make it pretty fun in the twisties. But, that is not the niche of this bike. I’ve ridden many makes and models at the shows and it is always satisfying to come home to my ’06 Dyna. C’mon gents, they are all fun and as varied as their owners. No room for hate here.

  • ADB

    So is this the highest overall score ever recorded?

  • Johnny Nightrider

    I like Harley Davidson though it’s a lot of money for a motorcycle with lil chrome.No fairing.No detachable windscreen.A engine that’s not liquid cooled.No infotainment system.It weighs a lot.I’ve been thinking about buying a 1200 Sportster low T but I can get a really nice fast liquid cooled motorcycle.The 2017 Yamaha FZ10.The 2017 Suzuki Hayabusa.The Kawasaki 2017 Z900 ABS or the 2017 Kawasaki ZX14R SE or a 2017 Triumph Bonneville T120 that at least is liquid cooled>I can get so many motorcycles for far less money.Harley Davidsons are cool and fun.But it is a elitist crowd because of the cost.You got to be rich to ride a Harley and that doesn’t really make you a badass.I’ve met some of the nicest cool people at my local Harley Dealer.They look like badasses but when you talk to them it’s all Mr.Nice Guy and a image.I laugh.I’ll never fear a Rich Urbanite on a brand new Harley.It’s a joke.Be scaired of me as I ride my new Harley to the Yacht club with a bad attitude.Be cool and share the road and if someone waves at you.Wave back and show your a human with a common interest.You know what.I’m not going to buy a Harley.It’s not what I want right now.

  • Ron Hayes

    Three years ago, Tom Roderick stated that if Harley produced a bike like the Yamaha Roadliner, they would sell them by the truck load. Has it finally happened?
    The RK looks like a beautiful replacement although at 6 foot 3 other RK’s feel small and tight.

  • Bubba Blue

    “…almost everybody chose an RK as the starting point. It’s a blank slate, a clean canvas.”

    Not quite. It would be blanker and cleaner if HD offered the touring platform in a standard. No bags, regular size nacelle, no engine bars, no highway lights, 2 into 1 exhaust. (The Special doesn’t have a highway light bar like the regular Road King anyway). So, that’s what I’d like.

    Btw, these things are getting way too expensive. For the price of a Road Glide Special you could get a new Camaro.