Whitewalls, spoked wheels, train-ish headlights and leather bound saddlebag inserts. This is not a new meaning for ‘retro’, but it is very much the retro.
After a brief abruption, the Road king made an entry back to the Indian market in 2016. Of the five different platforms in the Harley line-up, the touring segment sits right at the top. And the entry-level tourer is the quintessential Road King. A no-frills motorcycle that appears to have been carved out from a billet the size of a bus with classic design that harks back to Harley’s big bikes from the sixties; nothing modern in the looks department whatsoever, which is actually the good part.
For 2017, Harley Davidson is set to up the ante and take us back to the sixties again, but this time with even more panache. Enter the Road King Classic. It’s the stripped down tourer having no fuss whatsoever and is a mesh of nostalgic style meeting the performance and versatility of a modern Harley-Davidson touring machine.
It still carries the Hiawatha headlamp and nacelle born in the 1960’s, a time when chrome ruled the streets. What’s changed is the power unit which now is the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine bringing all into the here and now in a hurry. Along with it is the new suspension unit designed to give you a plush ride. In short, it is a timeless classic built for today.
This Harley has got the design language that is responsible to take you to the 60s’ where motorcycles used to feature some of the biggest headlamps and spoked tyres with whitewall. It’s a reminiscent of that era where chrome spoke of ecstasy and class. There are many retro styled motorcycles around but nothing gets more ‘old’ than this Road King Classic. Heck, it’s in the name – ‘Classic’.
Upfront you get the huge and commanding Hiawatha Headlamp. Named after a pre-colonial Native American leader, this houses a rather clear-lens dual halogen reflector optics in a sweeping headlight nacelle. Flanked by this are the fog lamps to match the humongous Hiawatha. Surrounding the cluster is the tough and durable detachable windshield that has a clean envelope of air over the long haul. With this one can choose to go touring or cruising in just a heartbeat.
Part of every Harley Davidson tourers is the teal drop gas tank whose surface is more of a wide canvas that brings the paint flushing out. It also carries the crisp pinstripes that accentuate the clean lines of the bike and unique tank medallions to show people who the real king of the road is. Nothing else could come close to the austerity of a metallic tank badge that has the competence to tell people that this is not just a motorcycle, but a work of art born out of passion that refuses to be satisfied until every detail was perfect.
Tank mounted instrument dials gives the motorcycle an easy to read modern gauges that has RPM read out and a gear indicator along with a single line LCD read out. Inputting to these dials is the all-new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. Laced with chrome, this shiny piece of machine can be identified from miles away. The visual centrepiece of the motorcycle is a jewel machined out of metal with finned cylinders, of course.
The wheels. Giving the Road King a touch of the past are the 16” wheels which are laced in chrome and spokes and fat whitewall tyres the simple pleasures of life.
On the sides you get more of the blingy chrome. You get full length footboards and toe/hell shifters and a height adjustable passenger board and the exhaust pipes. It is easier to get both your feet on the ground with the reduced width of the primary housing and derby cover.
Then you have the saddlebag, a definitive equipment for every tourer on the road. Harley Davidsons give you some of the industry’s biggest saddle bag storage with clean and simple design. Unique to the Classic are the injection-moulded hard saddlebags draped in premium leather and a matching seat cover. They are extremely tough and durable which keep their shape and never sag.
At the rear you can expect unique rear fender styling, again in chrome. The license plate bracket sits high up the fender and houses LED around it. This completes the classic, uncluttered look of the Road King model.
The big story here is the presence of the big Milwaukee Eight engine ofcourse. Why the ‘Eight’? you may ask. It is because of Harley Davidson equipping it with four valves per cylinder.
It’s difficult not to be enamoured with the twin-Cooled, 450 V-twin mill harvesting 1745cc which rumbles with a signature fell but with a gentler manner than the previous Twin-cam Project Rushmore ones. The engine also meets the emission norms in all countries the motorcycle is sold. It features a single chain-driven cam, dual spark plugs, counter-balanced and rubber mounted to thwart the vibrations. A sad demise according to Harley loyalists.
The engine boasts of 94 bhp @ 5000 rpm of peak power and 150 Nm @ 3250 rpm of torque enough to get you to a 100 kmph faster than ever before. High flow airbox with 55mm throttle body lets the engine breathe better for making use of every ounce of power. Redesigned heat management system will improve rider and pillion comfort and keep your inner thighs cooler. The 107 gets retuned ride-by-wire system and more sensitive knock sensors for gaining all the torque on offer.
Higher compression ratios of 10.5:1 will offer better economy ratings but might become sensitive to lower fuel qualities. You can be assured of a richer exhaust note pouring out of the Chrome 2-1-2 dual exhaust with slash-up end caps due to less mechanical noise of the powertrain and optimised cover designs and driveline improvements for that aural glory. A 6-Speed Cruise Drive Transmission and a slip and assist clutch provides the rider smooth shifting of gears that helps in maintaining fatigue free long rides.
|Bore/ Stroke mm||100/111.1|
|Type||Milwaukee-Eight 107 Engine, 45° V-twin, Air and oil cooled|
|Valves per cylinder||4|
|Clutch type||Wet- Multiplate with slipper and assist|
|Transmission||6-speed Cruise Drive|
RIDE AND HANDLING
To get the maximum comfort, the blokes at Harley have given the Classic a wide set pullback handlebar that gives you a commanding position and making sure your muscles stay relaxed even after hours of riding at a stretch. You also get ergonomically designed hand controls that lets your eyes concentrate on the job at hand or at the scenery around, whichever comes first.
You will obviously get the two-up Road King seat which boasts of contemporary looks and performance—without sacrificing an ounce of nostalgic style. It is sculpted with a deep bucket and a narrow neck for that ultimate ride comfort which you always want to be seated on. This saddle will provide you with more back support and relieves pressure on your thighs. The lower ride height can accommodate many size riders and is the perfect position to beat long haul fatigue.
This ocean liner weighs in at 376 kg but you will still be very amazed by the way it turns into corners. The Road King can eat miles like there is no tomorrow and at over 140 kph, you can hardly see the motorcycle ticking over. It even corners pretty good at those speeds, provided you put a muscle more to it.
With the launch of the new Milwaukee Eight, a totally new re-engineered dual bending valve with beefy Showa Dual Bending Valve front forks front and rear suspension with easily-adjustable emulsion shocks also donned the 2017 line-up. The rear abandons the air-adjustment shocks for the conventional spring loaded which can be adjusted with just a turn of a knob and bigger pins will give improved damping performance. Compared to the previous models, the new fork technology improves the ride, have more sophisticated damping especially over the harshest bumps and reacts faster to keep the wheel planted for confident braking and handling.
Braking duties are given to Reflex linked brakes with ABS that turns a locked up front wheel or a rear wheel skid into a relic from riding’s history. Both front and rear brake units are electronically adjusted and controlled while braking to give you optimum stopping power. No matter how good you are, this will make you a better rider. Thick 180mm Dunlop Multi-Tread Whitewall tyres which are perfect for making this bike agile on every curvy stretch of road.
|Suspension / Front||Showa Dual Bending Valve telescopic fork|
|Suspension / Rear||Adjustable emulsion shocks|
|Brakes / Front||Reflex Linked Brembo Dual 320 mm disc. Calliper: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed|
|Brakes / Rear||Reflex Linked Brembo Single 220 mm disc. Calliper: 32 mm, 4-piston fixed|
|Tyres / Front||MT90B16 72H, Chrome Steel Laced w/ Custom Whitewall Tyres|
|Tyres / Rear||180/65B16 81H, Chrome Steel Laced w/ Custom Whitewall Tyres|
The Road King was sold in India at ?26.5 lacs. You may have to cough up another couple for the Classic. They will be launched in India as the 2017 line-up and should be available post launch. They are on the expensive side without having any other luxury features or gimmicks. And since they are got in through the CBU route, it is even the more frustrating to pay up. But if you want to own a modern classic brimmed with a complete retro outlook, nothing gets closer to it than the Road King Classic. And I for one can vouch for that.
The Road King Classic will be available in four colour schemes: Billet Silver/Vivid black, Mysterious Red Sunglo/Velocity Red Sunglo, Crushed Ice pearl and Vivid Black.
Being a Harley Davidson, you can literally build your own custom Road king Classic with accessories like Sceamin’ Eagle performance parts, 7” projector headlamps, engine guard kits, Defiance footboard kit, handlebars, Brawler solo seat, extended side covers, front fenders, Audio and instrumentation updates, fog lamps, heated seats and handgrips and a million dozen more.
Coming from the same country once habited by the Red Indians is another touring brand, Indian Motorcycles. Synonymous to the Classic is the Chief Vintage. It is the ultimate retro-vintage bagger, turning heads with its classic styling, iconic soft-sided saddle bags crafted from Desert Tan Genuine Leather dripping in fringe and Indian Motorcycle nostalgia.
Powering the huge Indian Chief Vintage requires an equally mammoth engine, which is why Indian motorcycle has employed its ballistic and proven Thunderstroke 111 engine on the Chief Vintage. This engine displaces 1811cc produces 138.9 Nm of torque, and comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox.
The world around is moving in hyper speed pace, developing and modernising. But on the Road King Classic, it feels like time stands still. Just like how Hiawatha posed as the Great Peacemaker, the Classic is the reminder of that compelling spiritual presence.
It has the new age engine, suspension and is a genuine practical, capable modern motorbike. To look at it, you’d never even have a clue but it has the magic of making any rider modest and matured.
Keep looking at the archaic styling, big windshield and nostalgic headlamp, you’ll get to notice the strong resemblance to the original King of the Highway; a time lost in time. You could get lost for a good, long time just looking at the classic styling details.