The new 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special is a more contemporary tourer from the American motorcycle firm. Mainly by featuring a lot less chrome and a lot more black paint.
Powered by the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, the Harley-Davidson Road King Special features a new nine-inch tail, 1.25 inch diameter mini-ape handelbar. That means a more aggressive posture for the rider, but one that also works for longer rides without being uncomfortable.
The only chrome is on the lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks. Pretty much everything else is gloss black, from the massive front headlamp housing to the exhaust shields. That big headlight is the signature element of the Road King Special. It sits above a 19-inch front wheel and a low profile mudguard. The Harley-Davidson Road King Special comes with stretched saddle bags which mean it’s not only ready for touring, but also looks like it’s already slammed to the ground without having to ditch the rear suspension.
Speaking of the suspension, it’s all new at the front and rear. You now get hand-adjustable emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers. It may sound like they are filled with paint, but they apparently give you 15% more pre-load adjustment than existing low-profile touring suspension. Meanwhile the front suspension has new double-bending valve suspenion technology which delivers the damping of a racing cartridge fork but with less weight and linear damping characteristics.
More technology for a modern and contemporary Harley comes from the reflex linked brakes with ABS and the Harley-Davidson Smart Security System, which are both standard equipment. Other details include a rear fascia panel to fill the space between the saddlebags and rear mudguard, plus a low-mount numberplate module to give a clean, low look at the back.
New Milwaukee-Eight Engine:
The 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special is powered by the new Milwauee-Eight motor, which has 10% more torque. The power comes from a bigger displacement, but also a higher compression ratio and four-valve cylinder heads with 50% more intake and exhaust flow. And it still weighs the same as the outgoing engine, which means it’s quicker by 2-3 bike lengths from 0-60mph, and roughly the same again from 60-80mph.
The new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine also keeps heat under control better to keep riders comfortable and makes sure the oil flow is around the hottest parts of the cylinder heads with a new knock sensor for each cylinder to give more precise control over the timing. And passengers also benefit from a repositioned exhaust.
Riders get less vibration from the rubber-mounted engine with a single internal counter balancer, and the bike will idle at lower revs than the previous engine. But when it’s time to pull away you get an assist and slip clutch to help you use the extra power. And along with a richer exhaust note which won’t break global noise and emissions standards, you also get a better charging system for your accessories and powering up your phone.
2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special Options:
The Road King Special is available in four colours. You can choose from Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom and Olive Gold. The Olive colour immediately brings to mind army motorcycles, and goes well with the all-black engine finish, which is a first for the Road King Special.
“The Road King Special pounds down the boulevard like a gleaming locomotive rolling through a train yard at midnight,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice-President of Styling and Design. It’s a poetic way of saying the company, founded in 1903, is moving more into the custom bagger style for contemporary touring cruisers.
Prices for the 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special start at £19,995 for the Vivid Black Paint. The colour options are £20,345, and the Hard Candy paint is £21,135. That’s before you start dipping into the almost infinite list of Harley-Davidson Screaming Eagle parts, including an LED headlight, Street Cannon exhast, chopped front mudguard and a low profile touring seat.