For those who want the term ‘contemporary perspective’ defined, it simply means the Milwaukee motorcycle manufacturer swapped chrome out for black and lowered the bike’s profile, just to name a few of the changes.
“The Road King Special pounds down the boulevard like a gleaming locomotive rolling through a train yard at midnight,” said Brad Richards, Harley-Davidson Vice-President of Styling and Design. “The Road King has always reflected the purity of the Harley-Davidson FL riding experience. 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.”
Swapping chrome for black and powered by the muscular Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, designers feel the new Road King Special motorcycle pushes Harley-Davidson’s touring line in a dramatic new styling direction, expressing a contemporary 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. A new 9-inch-tall, 1.25-inch-diameter mini-ape handlebar puts the rider in an aggressive posture on the bike that’s also comfortable for long runs on the open road.
“Chrome was retained only on some key engine components,” said Harley-Davidson Designer- Stylist Dais Nagao. “The lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks are finished with chrome to emphasize the V-Twin shape of the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. We added a new engine-turned air cleaner insert, a finish that’s also featured on the tank console.”
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. New gloss black turbine cast-aluminum wheels include a 19-inch front wheel 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.
Comfort, control and performance are enhanced by the all-new front and rear suspension components featured on all 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring model motorcycles. New hand-adjustable emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers offer 15 percent more pre-load adjustment than previous low-profile 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 and the Harley-Davidson Smart Security System are standard equipment on the Road King Special.
Let’s not forget about the new powerhouse
New for all 2017 touring models, the Milwaukee-Eight engine offers quicker throttle response, more passing power, purer sound, a smoother ride and more of the feeling riders want from a Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycle engine. While Clutch and Chrome covers many of the engine’s highlights in our article ‘Harley's Milwaukee-Eight Engine - Everything You Need to Know’ here are some recaps of why Harley-Davidson feels this engine is simply awesome.
Promising more power, 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 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.
Ask any Harley-Davidson rider one of the lesser-loved features and a common answer will be the intense, thigh-burning heat coming from the engine. Well, the Milwaukee-Eight engine hopes to fix that through 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.
Two other important features in the area of heat management, the rear exhaust pipe is repositioned and the exhaust catalyst is relocated to move heat away from the passenger as well as the engine’s idle speed lowered from 1,000 rpm to 850 rpm.
Offering a more comfortable ride, a new, slimmer primary drive cover and the low-profile shape of the air cleaner cover provides improved rider legroom around the engine and an easier reach to the ground for many riders.
Another design change to deliver a smoother ride, 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 promising to retain the classic character of Harley V-Twin engines.
This last point leads us to the one, intangible thing die-hard Harley riders boast and look for, the engine’s sound. Entire bike bight conversations and magazine articles have been had and written about the distinctive sound a Harley-Davidson engine makes.
The new Milwaukee Eight uses 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.
Basically, everything is quieter so riders can actually hear the engine. Novel concept!
What do I get with the new model?
The Road King Special model is offered in four color options: Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom and Olive Gold. Pricing starts at $21,999 and of course riders will be able to customize the new model to whatever the wallet can handle.