How heavy is your Harley-Davidson? The lighter Road King is heavier!

How heavy is your bike? Well, that depends a bit on the model, but mainly on where you fix the scale.

Take my Road King Classic, it weights according to the technical description 355 kg. Now that is heavy, 3.5 times my own weight, and if I sit on it with a normal sized passenger, I move around half a ton on 2 wheels.

But then, 355 kg are light, compared to my previous bike, a Honda Goldwing. This one weighted 417 kg, 62 kg, or nearly 10 stones, more. Just lifting 60kg is a tall order, and I never dropped the Goldwing nor the Road King, so have no real experience in getting them upright. I dropped my lighter ST 1100 Pan European a couple of times, with 297 kg still not easy to lift, but feasible.

I will let you into a secret, something I maybe should not say: my Road King Classic feels more heavy then the Goldwing. Not so much when driving around, just when standing at red lights, or pushing it around the garage. One reason may be simple psychological fear, knowing that my Road King does not have a reverse gear – I loved that reverse gear button, and it saved my face a couple of times.

Really, when driving very slowly at pedestrian speed, the Road King feels more heavy, and that is not psychological twisted perception, but pure physics. Let me try to explain: when you stand at a red light, you are controlling hundreds of kilo, but you are not actually holding them up or lifting them, you could not. When leaning at a slight angle, every bike becomes more heavy, and from a certain point onwards, you can not hold it anymore.

It all has to do with the lever

If you now look at these 2 pictures, a Honda Goldwing next to a Harley Davidson Road King Classic, you will see 2 important elements responsible for the weight, the engine and the fuel tank.

Or phrased more correctly: the center of gravity of these items. They are higher for a Harley-Davidson, and lower for a Goldwing, with its flat 6 cylinder boxer engine, and a fuel tank under the driver seat.

The Harley Davidson V2 in contrast builds quite high, and the fuel tank is located above the driver seat.

If we now measure (roughly) the distance of the combined center of gravity from the ground for the Goldwing and the Road King, the 2 key numbers are 40 and 54.

And if you multiply these “distance values” with the weight of the bikes, you see that the result is about 15% greater for the Road King then for the Goldwing, which means the Harley feels 15% more heavy to keep in balance then the actually 62kg heavier Honda.

Like my math teacher always required us to write below a calculation:

Q.E.D. (quod erat demonstrandum), the lighter Harley is heavier.

… and maybe this is also the reason why you see more Harley’s with ape handlebars

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