Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King Review

By: Shane Solomon, Photography by: Shane Solomon

Electronic controls, 200hp engine, suspension equalling that of race bikes from only a few years ago, SatNav, heated controls, bum warmers… Harley-Davidson's Road King has none of those things.

Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King Review
Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King

Sure, the recent revamping of the model saw a host of things brought up to current spec - electronic fuel injection, a keyless immobiliser system and four-piston Brembo brakes to name but a few - but these things are all hidden. On the outside, not much separates the newest Road King, in looks, from a bike made back when you were running around in short pants.

And therein lies its charm, and claim made by its name - Road King. With a reverberating 103-cube V-twin 1690cc engine that delivers 134Nm of torque at just 3500 rpm, one of the best seats in the business and nothing ahead of you but a huge chrome headlight, it's hard not to feel like you are king of the road - albeit a small part of it.

The Road King offers a simple analogue speedo on the fuel tank; there's no SatNav here to let the path to your destination ruin your simple enjoyment of the ride. The King does come with some comforts though, the most noticeable being the fabulously comfortable seat: a pair of locking panniers are fitted, along with a large adjustable screen and chrome crash bars.

With a very low centre of gravity, aided by a low 730mm seat height, there's no denying it's a big, heavy bike. However, at 368kg wet, it's a surprisingly good-handling beast. Like all cruisers with forward controls, ground clearance becomes the limiting factor when carving up the twisties, or the gentle bends for that matter. However, the excellent stoppers and fantastic grunt when pulling out of slow corners made for an unexpectedly pleasant and spirited ride recently, as I journeyed between Christchurch to Akaroa.

Back on the flats, the big King was happy to lope along at what seemed like a few thousand revs in sixth gear, at near legal limits. Serious long distance would be no problem with a decent 22-litre fuel tank (although the fitting of a rider backrest would help with the sciatica).

Under way, slowly, the Road King has another surprise: it is very manoeuvrable at low speed, much more nimble than its size and 1625mm wheelbase should allow it to be.

Overall, the Road King is Harley-cool, and a well-behaved, round-town machine that is also suited to touring - a nice, big-bore cruiser in the classic mode.

Comfy seat
Nice classic cruiser lines

Usual ground clearance issues
Isn't parked full-time in my garage

Buddha's five-star rating
Scratching *1/2
Touring ****1/2
Commuting **1/2
Grunt factor ****
Pillion comfort ***1/2

Dealer Pointer
Fancy taking to the roads this summer on one of The Motor Company's fine creations? Check out your local Harley dealer and take one of these beauties for a demo ride today!

Harley-Davidson FLHR Road King
Engine Air-cooled, twin cam 103, pushrod-operated, overhead valves with hydraulic, self-adjusting lifters, 2 valves-per-cylinder
Capacity 1690cc
Bore x stroke 98.4 x 111.1 mm
Compression ratio 9.6:1
Fuel system Electronic sequential port fuel injection
Transmission type 6-Speed, multi-plate wet clutch
Final drive Belt
Frame type Mild steel, tubular
Front suspension 41mm telescopic forks
Rear suspension Air-adjustable
Front brake Dual 300mm discs
Brake rear Single 300mm disc
Dry weight 355kg
Seat height 735mm
Fuel capacity 22.7L
Max power N/A
Max torque 126Nm (92.6ft/lb) at 3500rpm
Price $34,250*

*Manufacturer's list price, excluding dealer and statutory costs

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