2013 Harley-Davidson Road King Test
A classic among the FL Harley-Davidson motorcycles that date back to the 1965 Electra Glide, the Road King rules the highway with an American iron fist.
Visually, the Road King defines the bagger category, with its heavily valanced fenders, triple headlights, functional windshield and protective highway bars. Mechanically, the Twin Cam 103 motor and high-profile Harley-branded Dunlop tires provide the power and footing needed to confidently traverse the continent.
Over the years, the Road King’s motor has steadily increased in displacement, and the 103 cubic inch version is the best yet. The 96 it replaced didn’t quite have the muscle required to take a rider/passenger combination up a grade without shifting down from overdrive, and the roll-on response for passing in the top cog was indifferent.
Cranking out an even 100 ft-lbs of torque at 3250 rpm, the air-cooled, two-valve pushrod motor is absolutely capable. It still may not be as quick as its competitors, but the power is there and you can simply twist the throttle rather than stroke the gearbox.
Thanks to rubber mounting, the unbalanced powerplant, which shakes mightily at a stop, is perfectly smooth once up to speed on the open road. Click into sixth speed and the big 103 becomes as relaxed as you are.
For the solo rider, the large catcher’s mitt of a seat is luxurious. It is an all-day perch that you can settle into nicely, and the seat height is a manageable 28 inches. Your passenger may find the back of the one-piece seat wanting and a backrest is an option. Various test riders complained about the reach to the low-rise bars, making it bit difficult for the average-sized rider to settle in.
Handling is far better than one might expect from a Harley-Davidson. The latest Touring chassis is a big hit, and offers welcome rigidity to compensate for the rubber-mounted motor. The suspension is plush, and cornering clearance is fairly generous. The plastic saddlebags aren’t exactly roomy, but they close with authority.
Long-proven to be a fantastic touring machine, the latest iteration of the Harley-Davidson Road King – including the beautiful 110th Anniversary edition we tested – makes it the King of Kings.