On the highway, the Road King lives up to the name. 96 cu. in. laughs when passing or on inclines, and the 6 speed transmission beckons 85 MPH cruising. HD is “not new at this” and the Road King testifies. Japanese road bikes I’ve ridden have no soul, a sterile distant connection. The bike says; “You know what you are doing. Enjoy.” Harley’s ‘mystique’ for me is a gut level connection that hit me in less than 100 miles. In contrast, when a Harley speaks, it’s more like; “We know what we’re doing and we don’t just build and sell bikes. We ride them.” The past allegiances of Harley owners excused oil leaks and issues with Made in U.S.A. A retired CBS Executive on a dealer serviced Road King claimed 90K miles on the original bore and cylinders. Synthetic oil works. HD’s separate gear and motor design differ from the wet clutched Honda, mandating no synthetics.
- Solid on Freeway & back road cruises with inspiring curve attack in a 740 lb. bike
- 6 gallon fuel capacity in a narrower, taller tank than Honda
- Ergonomics wins hands down.
- Intimacy with passenger easy.
- Durable, practical hardware everywhere. Steel fenders. Impressive dual disc front brake. Quiet, clean belt drive. Fit and finish top rate. After market Rinehart pipes a bit quiet. This bike’s air horns generate shock waves. Tall windshield works fine.
- Initial Price (‘08 Road King bought 2-14-09) $20K
- Current approximate retail $11,565 Kelly Dealer Blue Book
- New Battery $234.63
- 10K mile Service $669.80
- Saddle bag latches stymied by chrome trim.
- Harley weighs 740 lbs. on 63.5“ wheelbase & holds 6 gallons premium fuel
- Power train reliability reputation and shaft drive
- Low initial, parts & maintenance costs
- New Battery $140.00
- 16K Service $329.86 out the door
- Initial Price New 2004 VTX 1300 ‘S’ $9199.00
- Current approximate retail $4000.00 Kelly Dealer Blue Book
- 150 mile range is so-so, and the tank is wide at the seat so spread your legs
- Tall back rest on Honda requires a bent knee saddle up process for driver. Passenger sits much higher than pilot. Seat height and tall back rest make passenger mount and dismount a gymnastic spectacle. No intimacy. Replace both seats.
- Low overall gearing with tight ratios. Wrung out at 100 MPH
- Plastic chrome on Honda engine & side covers is cheesy
- Passenger pegs MUST be moved forward for long rides
- Floorboards drag when leaned over; could go up an inch
- Longer wheelbase than the Road King, but carries it’s weight differently
- Honda weighs 670 lbs. on 65.7“ wheelbase & holds 4.8 gallons
From the Sidewalk.
Sold on the Harley Road King, eh? You should also look at the Indian and Victory bikes. Arlen Ness endorsing Victory says plenty and the owners concur, also citing good reliability. New cost of Victory vs. new Harley is very competitive.
Honda in this case likely decided to change later models rather than recall the problem bikes. In public view, a recall would question overlooked engineering, quality control of parts, assembly and prototype testing. Lawsuits predictable.
About the Author:
Word Monger A.K.A. Tazatator – Originally from western Pa., my ‘enthusiasm’ began as woods/enduro rider when Huskys had metal tanks & Hodakas won desert races. Dirt bikes were HARD to ride fast. Dirt Bike magazine moment: Lost 1 cowboy boot in Sepulveda Basin sand wash whilst retrieving XL 350 of equal value. Conservative Estimate of So. Ca. miles logged commuting: 100K
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