Harley-Davidson Road King Special Looks and Feels Completely Different

Harley-Davidson Road King Special on MOTORESS
Harley-Davidson Road King Special

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 an exciting new chapter is created with the Harley-Davidson 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 distils it into a something that looks, and feels, completely different.

Harley-Davidson Road King Special 2017 Updated Features

  • An aggressive new Harley-Davidson custom bagger
  • Contemporary signature style includes mini-ape handlebars, stretched saddlebags, lowered profile and dominant blacked-out livery
  • Powered by the acclaimed new Milwaukee-Eight™ engine, delivering more torque and acceleration
  • New front forks and rear shock absorbers offer improved handling control and ride comfort
  • New 19-inch Turbine cast aluminium front wheel matched with 16-inch rear
  • Four stunning paint options

Harley-Davidson Road King Special 2017 Highlights

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.

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 emphasise 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 – aluminium 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.


Uniquely finished in all-black the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine powering the Harley-Davidson Road King Special produces 10 percent more torque than the outgoing Twin Cam High Output 103 engine, and weighs exactly the same. Peak torque is boosted 8Nm to 150Nm (111ft-lb) and arrives at just 3,250rpm. All of the engine’s extra performance contributes directly to improved acceleration; 11 percent quicker 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.

The valve train requires no adjustment as the design of the rocker arms enables valve lash to be set at the factory for life. Each cylinder head uses an efficient, targeted flow of oil around its hottest areas; dual spark plugs for each cylinder contribute to more-efficient combustion and a new knock sensor for each cylinder enables more-precise timing control. The single chain-driven camshaft is lighter, mechanically less complex and creates less friction and noise.

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 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 slimmer primary drive cover and the low-profile shape of the air cleaner cover provide improved rider leg room around the engine and an easier reach to the ground. An Assist and Slip Clutch with improved hydraulic actuation reduces clutch lever effort by 7 percent while the 6-speed Cruise Drive™ gearbox offers smoother changes. Final drive is via belt.

Rubber-mounted, the engine also 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 its classic character.

Mechanical powertrain noise is eliminated by the use of lighter valves, a single camshaft, optimised cover designs and improved driveline components. Also the engine intake and air cleaner are designed to reduce intake sound while ensuring maximum airflow.

As a result, the Milwaukee-Eight engine is mechanically quieter (enabling a richer exhaust tone) and meets all global noise and emissions standards while allowing the unmistakable rumble of its exhaust note to resonate.

The charging system delivers 50 percent more output to the battery at idle to better support power demands, including accessory lighting, performance audio, heated riding gear and other accessories.

Road King Special Chassis

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 down tubes 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% 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.

For more information on the Road King Special and full specifications visit Harley-Davidson.








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