Pros: A good used motorcycle; hard bags; air adjustable shocks, comfort, windshield, powerful, holds value
2002 Harley-Davidson Road King
I looked for a bike to replace my 2006 H-D Heritage Softail Classic, which was destroyed in a high speed impact as an out of control SUV t-boned my mount as I was riding along Atlanta's Interstate 20 near downtown.
Luckily, I healed but my Harley had seen its best days, in fact it was totaled. I spent my time after my hospitalization and when I could motivate around, waiting for my insurance settlement and haunting the local Harley-Davidson dealer, Granite Mountain H-D looking at the bikes and trying to decide which type I wanted next. I knew it would be a Touring model (one with windshield and saddlebags) but which one?
A traditional Touring model that has been made for many years is the Harley-Davidson Road King motorcycle. It's as traditional and as American as apple pie. I had always admired this model as it reminds me of the Harley my dad used to ride back in the 50s and 60s.
These late 50s - early 60s Harleys differed from the older models by being sprung at both ends, with rear shock absorbers and a hydraulic front fork, rather than the rigid tail section of the older Hydra Glide model. When the old kick start Big Twin was fitted with an electric starter the name was changed to Electra Glide. All Harleys today are electric start, but the Electra Glide was first.
This is a 2002 Road King, a lineal descendant of those early dressers with the advantage of the more modern Twin Cam engine and a better transmission.
The engine of the 2002 is bigger (1450 cc or 88 CI) with a five-speed transmission. The 45° V-twin motor still has the push rod operated overhead valve train that has been standard with H-D since 1936, however the Twin Cam technology is more durable than old Pan Heads and Knuckleheads, not to mention the AMF Shovelheads, and the Twin Cam is isolated from the frame by rubber mounts making the 2002 H-D Big Twin downright pleasant to ride rather than like riding a paint shaker. This lack of vibration makes the motorcycle more comfortable to ride as the day goes on. The dual exhausts lead to chrome mufflers on either side of the motorcycle. The rear cylinder's exhaust header crosses under the seat making it uncomfortably warm to ride in summer stop and go traffic.
Four piston disk brakes front and rear add stopping power with dual disks on the front. The gas tank holds 5 gallons of fuel so the cruising range is ~ 150 miles or so, but I usually start looking by 150. The speedo and main switch are located in a chrome console that runs the full length of the gas tank.
The windshield is large and easily detachable. The large touring front end is led by a big chrome Hiawatha headlight with twin passing lights on a chrome light bar where the turn signal lights are also mounted. The large Dunlop tires front and rear are mounted on styled aluminum wheels with 9 bars. The wide seat is leather marked with RK badges. There are chrome engine guard and saddle bag guard bars on both ends of the bike. The tank is painted with Harley-Davidson over a V logo.
The Road King has body colored hard saddlebags - this bike was black - with chrome latches and red side reflectors. The front fender is marked Road King in chrome and has an amber running light on the front.
The bike has a carburetor and has the usual starting drill with turn on the gas petcock, apply the choke, turn on the main switch and the run switch on the right handgrip and hit the start button. The engine fires on the first turn and takes off at a fast idle. I let the bike run until the idle speeds up and the choke can be removed to make it handle its best for the parking area and better low speed maneuverability. The dresser has a comforting solid feel and the fat tires help absorb some of the bumps in the road as I pulled into traffic. The footboards are also more comfortable than the pegs on some models.
The riding is certainly comfortable and the large windshield keeps the wind and rain off you and defects bugs and other debris. The hard Fiberglas saddle bags hold your extra gear like a rain coat, your lady's handbag, and purchases from the store, and give you a place to put your jacket if you get too warm.
I didn't buy this one because I was waiting for my insurance settlement, but I eventually bought the 2009 model Road King Classic when it came through.