It is time for my first Harley-Davidson

Decision time is close, and the test drive of a Road King Classic should bring the final confidence and confirmation.

A recurring feature of these posts will be my upbeat reports on the great UK weather. On the day of my first drive with a Road King Classic, it was a mixed bag, ideal for a in-depth evaluation of what was going to come in the years ahead. Heavy showers and sunny skies replaced each other every 10 minutes, and the romantic rainbow could be seen on the horizon. Temperatures were at the usual 8°C, which translates for my US friends to 46°F, a temperature I actually like.

This is it, the Road King Classic 2010:

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

After the first few miles I felt very comfortable, the Road King was easy to  handle, it did what I wanted it to do, the vibrations were good vibrations, the windscreen protected me sufficiently from the wet elements, in a nutshell the Road King did what it was supposed to do, it put a big smile on my face.

I was used to heavy bikes, the Road King is 355 kg dry weight, which is light compared to the 417 kg of my previous  Goldwing. The torque is impressive, but I had to get used to the new character of the V2 engine. It did not rev high, actually some electronics cut out the progress while I pushed it up, gently reminding me its time to change to a higher gear if I ever planed to go any faster. Mental note: check if a tachometer may be helpful, they have a nice one with shift light and black face.

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

During this drive, I did not get used to the heel/toe shift lever, at the moment I consider the heel part not only absolutely useless, but also dangerous, as it actually was in the way and blocked my foot movement several times. Mental note: maybe the first thing to remove, or get used to it quickly.

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

I drove home from the dealership, and first I dressed up. Due to the missing leg protection, my jeans, now wet, fluttered so strongly that my calves nearly hurt, but with my heavy bike trousers on, all was very fine on the way back. And dry.

Clutch and brakes all felt as if I was riding this bike since years, the only thing to get used to were the turn indicator switches positioned on each handlebar side. I honked the horn twice, hitting the wrong switch while planing to turn left.

What I did not test on my first Road King ride was the ABS, something I only dared to do on the Wing after a couple of years of driving experience.  Till this day I never triggered the ABS in a emergency, maybe a sign of my defensive driving style. Knock on wood, and do not call it boring.

Harley Davidson Road King Classic

What a nice sound the V2 45° engine develops, the exhaust is not loud, even a tad too politically correct, but one can still identify the motorcycles origin and brand from a distance.

And slowly I start to like the look of the front fender over the big whitewall front tire

Mental note: do not yet order the Fat Boy fender and available Road King adapter.

On the way back my wife joined on the backseat, although she may not have called this small pad a seat. Many hours on the Goldwing sofa may have spoiled her somewhat.

But her experience is also the reason for ordering and installing 2 accessories: a Detachable Passenger Backrest, and the Comfort Profile Rear Saddlebag Guard Kit, as the standard rear guard was too high and cutting into her leg, although the passenger footrests were fixed in the higher position.

Harley davidson Road King Classic

To show the difference between these 2 rear guards, I superimposed the images:

We hope the smaller comfort guard will solve this problem, I will post pictures once they are available.

And before you comment on it: I know the back UK/EU number plate and holder may be the most legal on earth, but also the most ugly one. Mental note: find a better solution fast.

Returning to the Harley-Davidson dealership in Guildford, Great Britain, I signed on the dotted line.

to be continued…

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5 Responses to “It is time for my first Harley-Davidson”

  1. Hi glad you are enjoying it, I bought an 09 Classic and have now done over 30k miles. Thinking of changing the bars this winter, current mods, stage 2 big bore with V&H monsters. I use the toe and heel all the time, once you are used to it, it becomes second nature.

  2. […] Rear Guards while we took a Road King for a test drive. This was back in April 2010 (see my report here), and now, after 4,725 miles, and driven through 8 (eight) European Countries, the dealership […]

  3. Garry, thanks for the comments and link. I added you to my blogroll.
    One question on ordering parts in US: how troublesome are import and tax duties?

  4. My advice is don’t get a tachometer. I agree with MacDuff that you really won’t need one, so save your cash and spend it on something more frivolous, like more chrome!

    I have never got used to the heel part of the shifter and I have never used it. I don’t think many do.

    The exhaust note is ok with the standard pipes, but as you say, too politically correct. For me, the standard pipes were the first to go, replaced very quickly with a set of Vance and Hines pipes. They come in lots of styles and volumes – go listen to others on other bikes first because it is difficult to choose what noise and volume you want from a catalogue. I live in a small village so I went for loud, but not the “Oh my God” volume of pipes. I have kept my stock pipes in my garage in case I needed them for the MOT, but I haven’t needed to put them back on.

    DO NOT change the front fender. It is beautiful. If you do, I will never comment on your blog again!

    I totally agree about the detachable backrest, for have one on my Road King. I have never taken it off.

    There are two legal solutions for dealing with the rear number plate. First (which I did) was to buy a very useful rack for the rear of my bike. I selected one from the H-D parts catalogue (you need to get yourself one of these). Not only does it get used a lot, but it also goes a long way to hide the ugly number plate. Solution number two is to get the number plate fixed lower down. Your dealer can advise on this – there is a lowering kit you can buy.

    The other thing you will probably want to do is to fit locks to your saddlebags. As far as I know, H-D do not sell these, so take a look on my blog which says where you can get them…. http://garysusatour.blogspot.com/2009/09/31st-august-2009-saddlebag-locks-on.html

    Gary

  5. MacDuff Says:

    Grats on enjoying the test ride!

    Regarding the tachometer – you’ll learn the sound of the gear spin and won’t soon need a tach. On the other hand, if you’ve always had one, it would make perfect sense to go grab one.

    Also: that road king fender might grow on you even more …

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