For many riders, the Road King® is the classic Harley-Davidson® Touring motorcycle. Its trademark silhouette represents Harley-Davidson history; 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 American highways and around the globe.
For 2017 Harley-Davidson has added an exciting new chapter to the Road King story 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 Road King that looks, and feels, completely different.
“The FL series has always reflected the purity of the Harley-Davidson riding experience,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice-President of Styling & Design.
“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 new muscular 1750cc Milwaukee-Eight™ engine, the Road King Special’s look pushes Harley-Davidson’s Touring line in a dramatic new styling direction, expressing a modern perspective on the classic Road King model.
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. Adding to the attitude is a new 9-inch-tall, 1.25-inch-wide (22.86cm x 3.17cm) mini-ape handlebar to put the rider in an aggressive but comfortable stance 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 Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycles, the Milwaukee-Eight engine offers quicker throttle response, more overtaking power, purer sound, a smoother ride and more of the feeling riders want from a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle engine.
The Road King Special is the first model to feature the Milwaukee-Eight in an all-black engine finish.
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 all of 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 re-positioned 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.
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 comfort and control are enhanced by the all-new front and rear suspension components featured on all 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring model motorcycles. New fork internals offer improved damping control while the rear shocks are totally redesigned, with hydraulic spring preload (rather than air) adjustment.
New emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers offer 15 to 30 percent more preload adjustment than previous standard Touring shocks. The front suspension features new double-bending valve suspension technology that delivers the damping performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with linear damping characteristics and reduced weight. Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS deliver powerful and controllable stopping performance.