I got a chance to ride the 2012 Harley-Davidson Road King classic. Yep, I know, it’s almost 2014, better late than never to post a blog. Excluding my ability to do things within a timely manner, this blog post is still worth reading. This would be my second favorite Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Obviously my first choice is the Softail Deluxe which I own. I’m a big fan of the classic speedometer which is standard issue on both of these motorcycles. Either way, both models have a nostalgic look and feel to the user.
The 2012 Road King has the 103 engine. The engine is a standard Harley-Davidson V twin with two valves per cylinder. Compression ratio is relatively low to keep engine heat at an acceptable value. The engine is coupled to a six speed gearbox through the primary chain. No big changes here. The sixth gear is actually an overdrive to keep the RPM in the sweet spot when you’re cruising on the highway. Unfortunately when it comes time to pass a vehicle you’re going to have to downshift into a lower gear to send more power to the rear wheel for the anticipated acceleration.
I wouldn’t plan on dragging your knee on the ground as you maneuver the Road King through high-speed sweeper. Nope, this ain’t no Moto GP motorcycle. But the motorcycle does provide the feeling of confidence whether you’re entering or leaving a turn. It’s important to remember that this motorcycle has floorboards which are a strong deterrent from leaning into a turn too hard.
The rims are chrome with chromed spokes. Wrapped around those chrome rims are Dunlop whitewall tires. I think chromed rims and whitewall tires go together like peanut butter and jelly. A lot of manufacturers have moved away from wheels with spokes and are now producing either machined or casted. Soulless bastards! The whole package looks very appealing under the oversized fenders.
The moment you start the Road King Classic you know you’re on a Harley. The pulsations from the engine at idle are transferred to the rider through the handlebars and the seat. Those vibrations are there to remind you that you’re in control of one of the most prolific engines ever created caged within a motorcycle frame. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you should probably own a Honda.
This motorcycle is equipped with three disc brakes two up front and one in rear. This provides plenty of stopping power to bring this 811 pound beast to a halt. The braking system is not linked so you’re going to have to use the foot brake and the handbrake at the same time. I’m a big fan of linked brakes but I guess Harley-Davidson was not at the time.
A few of the 2014 models have a linked brake system which is activated by the speed of the motorcycle. So I guess Harley-Davidson is getting on board with linked brakes. I read somewhere that that has pissed off a lot of the Shriners who use Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I wonder what happens when a bunch of Shriners gets pissed off.
Cruise control was standard with this model which is really a nice amenity to have. There are two nice soft saddlebags protected by nicely placed chromed saddlebag guard. I’m a big fan of soft bags as opposed to the plastic ones. Again, it’s all about the nostalgic look of the motorcycle for me. I feel the soft bags continue to keep up the tradition of older motorcycles. I didn’t see any locking device on the saddlebags.
The motorcycles ergonomics produced little if any fatigue in me while I was riding the motorcycle. The handlebars are in a good position to control the motorcycle. The seat is extremely comfortable for those long jaunts. The floorboards seemed roomy enough for my feet. I’m a big fan of toe-heal shifter which is included in this model. The controls on the handgrips for starting, turn signals and so forth are standard Harley-Davidson issue. There is the addition of cruise control switches which occupies both left and right handgrips.
If you’re looking for something to race against Suzuki’s Hayabusa, you’ve picked the wrong motorcycle. I don’t care if the salesperson told you it’s a “done deal” if you upgrade to Scream-Eagle stage 15. But if you want to cruise the streets on an American icon with the nostalgic loo,k you’ve made a wise decision.