Endurance test final balance Harley-Davidson Road King


Endurance test final balance Harley-Davidson Road King

Endurance test final balance Harley-Davidson Road King

Endurance test King Road King

Hiss! The cool blonde tingles freshly in the stemmed glass, the eyes shine brightly. After 50,000 kilometers, after dismantling and meticulous assessment, Harley-Davidson celebrates. The new long-term test king is called the Road King. MOTORRAD congratulates.

The inevitable know-it-alls ?? this time it didn’t exist. Even the usual suspects held back comfortably. Those who afterwards always wanted to know everything beforehand. Of course, explanations were made. For example, that such a 96-cubic-inch-big-block (equivalent to 1585 cubic centimeters) would easily deliver the stately 78 hp. The individual components were shaken properly by the pithy vibrations, but were largely unaffected by the loads that occurred. Something like that. Still: That a Harley is in terms of wear, reliability and ?? yes too and especially ?? Driving pleasure presented so convincingly, nobody had expected that.

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Endurance test final balance Harley-Davidson Road King

Endurance test final balance Harley-Davidson Road King
Endurance test King Road King

Road King presumably immediately decided to anticipate any operating errors with an unmeasurable oil consumption. In any case, if you checked the oil level in the separate oil tank with the dipstick screwed in completely and the Road King was standing on the side stand, there was hardly ever any loss. Everything else ?? So balancing the colossus vertically with one hand while the other tampered with the dipstick ?? In view of the mass of 349 kilograms collected with a full tank, at least single-handedly would have led to disaster anyway. In return, the Road King did its best to make its drivers happy.

Driving experience and reliability


Thanks to its absolute reliability, the Road King was a popular companion.

All of them. The accountant types as well as the connoisseurs, the tourers as well as the adventurers. "I have never moved a two-wheeler more gently", writes a Road King driver, who is usually more inclined to rough studs or beautiful women, of great feelings in the logbook. "So you can slide, so you forget time and space. And ages with dignity." At that time (at 11,000 km) the poet could not have known that the Road King would do the same. The fat girl from Milwaukee ran and ran and ran ?? and saw (apart from the tarnished rims, but given the love of cleaning "normal" Owners should only count in the rarest of cases for the aging process) at the end of the test distance like peeled from the egg. Better still, it felt that way too. In contrast to many other endurance test bikes, the kilometers traveled did not increase the vibrations, nor did the springy and damping qualities of the chassis decrease.

Okay, the pronounced tendency to swing beyond the recommended motorway speed was an issue? but right from the start. Just like the fogging of the fuel gauge, the squeaking of the brake system or the poor grip of the Dunlop tires in wet conditions. In this regard, the Avon Venom, drawn up at 45,377 kilometers, worked significantly better. Only two defects occurred during the 50,000 kilometers, namely a crack in the exhaust manifold, which was replaced under warranty at 32,800 kilometers, and the appearance of disintegration on the right silencer, also replaced under warranty at 47,377 kilometers.

With this balance alone, the Road King would have been way ahead in the MOTORRAD endurance test statistics. But in addition to its reliability, the Harley also scores with astonishingly low maintenance costs and with all components in an almost perfect condition, as the final disassembly shows. But first things first: The Road King consumed petrol, oil (when changing the oil), air filters, brake pads, tires and other small parts for 6640.46 euros over the distance. In addition, inspection costs (every 8,000 kilometers) of 1,370.32 euros were added. The bottom line is 8010, 78 euros. A very good value, what less about the above-average low gasoline consumption? which moved with an average of 6.5 liters at a reasonable level, but rather is due to the low tire wear. Together with the sensationally low depreciation of 5110 euros ?? which corresponds to 25.3 percent of the purchase price of 20,210 euros and after intensive MOTORRAD research is an absolutely realistic value? unexpectedly low costs per kilometer result. Without a loss of value it is 16 cents per kilometer, with a loss of value 26 cents.

Final inventory


Problem-free in wind and weather, breakdowns a foreign word, as we warm to your heart.

It quickly became apparent that the Road King survived the 50,000-kilometer marathon almost unscathed. In the performance measurement, it reaches an unprecedented top form and pushes 81 instead of the 79 PS measured at the beginning. During the compression test, it loses a negligible 0.5 bar on each cylinder, the performance varies in the tenths of a second range.

Most importantly, the chassis and engine innards are in almost perfect condition. Of course there is evidence of the distance covered, such as tracks on the plain bearings of the camshafts or scorch marks on the exhaust valves. But Harley and MOTORRAD technicians unanimously testify to the safe continued use. The case with the piston running clearance is somewhat different. Harley-Davidson specifies a very tight tolerance of 0.076 millimeters, so that despite the good running pattern with a running clearance of 0.10 and 0.11 millimeters, this limit is clearly exceeded and the pistons should be replaced. The cylinders in turn are still within the operating tolerance and can still be used, although slightly out of round. The same applies to the crank drive, the gear wheels, shift drum and shift forks as well as the clutch and the entire chassis. Even the timing belt, which caused some annoyance in the long-term test of the Buell XB12S, held out without any problems and shows no wear.

Is everything okay then? Basically yes, because you can undoubtedly live well with the little ailments of the Road King. With the fact that the tires in their unusual dimensions are hardly available in the free trade and usually have to be ordered from a trusted Harley dealer, one comes to terms with the low wear. Knowing that fuel consumption is practically non-existent, minds will certainly not get heated about the fact that checking the oil when the engine is warm is only possible with gloves due to the hot aluminum dipstick. Instead, they will delight in the fact that the Road King and thus also their driver meets with sympathy almost everywhere. So it’s no wonder that not only the members of the editorial team, but also most of the readers open a beer after the tour and feel like a king.

Costs and maintenance


MOTORRAD also examined the Road King in terms of costs and maintenance.

Operating costs over 50,000 kilometers
26.6 liters of oil at 7.94 euros at 211.20 euros
7 oil filters at 23.25 euros, 162.75 euros
6 air filters at 29.04 euros each, 174.24 euros
10 spark plugs at 5.10 euros each 51.00 euros
2 sets of front brake pads at 69.93 euros, 139.86 euros
1 set of rear brake pads 69.93 euros
Fork oil 9.87 euros
Gear oil 53.91 euros
Brake fluid 59.52 euros
Small parts, lubricants 97.45 euros
Seals 27.93 euros
Inspections and repairs 1370.32 euros
Tires (including assembly, balancing and disposal) 1084.00 euros
Fuel 4498.79 euros

Total costs 8010.78 euros
Acquisition cost 20,210.00 euros
Loss of value 5110.00 euros
Estimated price (dealer selling price) 15,100.00 euros

Costs per kilometer (without depreciation) 16.0 cents
Costs per kilometer (with depreciation) 26.2 cents

Maintenance and repairs
Rear tires renewed, Dunlop D 402, mileage: 12514
Front tires renewed, Dunlop D 402 F, mileage: 22800
Handlebar conversion and top case mounted, mileage: 24783
Heated grips mounted, mileage: 27,481
Rear tires renewed, Dunlop D 40, mileage: 229771
Exhaust manifold renewed after a crack (guarantee), mileage: 32800
Windshield grommets and rear brake pads renewed, mileage: 33312
Front brake pads renewed, mileage: 41051
Front and rear tires renewed, Avon Venom, mileage: 45388
Right silencer renewed (guarantee), rubber stop for side stand renewed, mileage: 47377

Balance after 50000 kilometers – condition


Only slight tracks on the plain bearings of the camshafts testify to the distance covered. The cams themselves are in perfect condition.

Cylinder head: All valves close tightly, the outlet valves have slight traces of burns, the valve seats are hardly widened, the valve shafts and guides are also in order. The cam running surfaces have a good running pattern, the plain bearings of the camshafts have pronounced running tracks.

Cylinder / piston: Both cylinders are just before the wear limit and are somewhat out of round, the rear one has a few grooves. The pistons have an even wear pattern and only moderate running marks on the shirt, the piston running clearance has been exceeded.

Crank drive: The crankshaft drive, which is completely mounted on roller bearings, is in good condition; the axial and radial play of the connecting rods are within the tolerance range.

Power transmission: The gear wheels show hardly any wear apart from slight traces on some driving claws. The clutch is also in very good condition, as are the shift drum and forks.

Frame / chassis: The paintwork and chrome plating are in good condition, the aluminum rims and the rear brake caliper are showing slight corrosion (winter operation). The hard chrome layer on the belt pulley has partially flaked off, the toothed belt is OK.

Harley takes a stand …


Arnd Dickel and Daniel Steinmetz (from left) from Harley relax and examine the Harley mechanics with MOTORRAD fleet manager Rainer Froberg.

… to the piston clearance outside the operating tolerance.
In view of the fact that the engine did not have an increased oil consumption, nor did the cylinders lose compression and the running pattern did not show any abnormalities, the pistons could be reinstalled without hesitation. However, since the amount of wear was confirmed on request at the factory, we still advise you to replace the pistons.

… to the tendency to pendulum at high speed.
First of all, you should regularly check the pressure of the rear shock absorbers and correct it if necessary, as incorrect air pressure has a negative effect on straight-line stability. In addition, we have of course seen that there is a need for action, and we have already changed the engine mounts for model year 2008 and thus achieved more stability. Since the engine became even more powerful in the 2009 model year, a completely new frame is used that has nothing to do with the old one. This should make this problem a thing of the past.

… for a robust punch when starting.
This is due to the design, this is no different with the current model. From a technical point of view this is absolutely harmless. Every retailer should expressly point this out to their customers.

… for leaking fuel gauge.
The problem is known, we are working on it.

… to the rusting muffler ends.
It’s really not nice. The dealer should already pay attention to this during the body inspection and repaint if necessary. The problem with this is that the shape of the muffler is different in the US. The end piece is straight, not angled, so that moisture cannot settle.

… to the screeching brakes.
There was a special dealer circular on this subject. If the problem occurs, the brake discs should be changed from one side to the other. Usually there is rest. If not, we will take care of it. Since the introduction of ABS for the 2008 model year and the associated switch to a Brembo system, the problem has already been eliminated. Since then we have not sold a Road King without ABS, so that we only offer ABS vehicles for the 2009 model year for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Reader experiences


Werner Staab feels like a king on his Road King.

My Road King Classic, built in 2003, is mainly used for longer tours. Among other things, the TourPack for the E-Glide, a sundowner seat that is even more comfortable than the standard seat, and a touring handlebar were installed. The AMC exhaust system brings a better sound without being extremely loud, and is characterized by an excellent processing quality. For me, the Road King is the ideal touring bike, you arrive at your destination relaxed even after 500 kilometers, you have more than enough space for your luggage, and the pillion passenger also feels very comfortable. The average consumption is 5.5 liters / 100 kilometers, and I drive the standard Dunlop tires around 14,000 to 16,000 kilometers at the rear and around 18,000 to 20,000 kilometers at the front. An independent workshop carries out the maintenance. The Road King now has 40,000 more or less problem-free kilometers on the clock. When the odometer reading was 31000, however, the camshaft bearings were damaged, which cost the cash register around 1700 euros.
Werner Staab, Nackenheim

I approved my street king in March 1996. The exhaust (dungeon), handlebars, seat and air filter (KN) were quickly converted. There was also the large dyno jet kit. As a rule, the rear tires were only changed every 15,000 kilometers and the front tires every 24,000 kilometers (always Metzler after the first tires, because they are much better in wet conditions). Candles: NGK, the rear brake pads are replaced every 20,000 kilometers, the front ones so far once every 75,000 kilometers. This also reflects my driving style. Consumption five to 7.5 liters. The fourth battery is doing its job, both pulleys, toothed belt and wheel bearings were on at 75,000 kilometers. After around 50,000 kilometers, when the exhaust manifold leading to the left had vibrated through (could be welded), there was a small sheet metal from Harley that supported it. The real breakdown was a rear camshaft bearing that leaked at 75,000 kilometers. The local Harley dealer helped me in a very accommodating manner, even though the bike was already six years old ?? Thanks again at this point. At 85,000 kilometers a factory-welded shaft came loose in the transmission ?? Material defect! I can only count among the victims of the nasty Harley vibrations an H4 light bulb at 43,000 cliometers. Otherwise no screw is lost. After traveling through Sweden, Greece, Portugal and everything in between, the Harley currently has 103,000 kilometers on the clock. I would buy the same bike again at any time, I am as enthusiastic as on the first day and that despite the lack of ABS, catalytic converter and injection system.
Franz Hah, Hanover

I’ve been riding the Road King since April and I’m absolutely thrilled. The characterful engine has an extremely strong torque. You sit very comfortably, even if you are my height (1.93 meters), and the pane is much more helpful than you think. I took it down on a trial basis, but only for one day. The Road King tempts you to glide relaxed through the landscape. It lies well on the road, but is surprisingly handy in curves. Certainly not a lawn machine, but ideal for relaxing excursions or longer tours. And that with character. As your endurance test confirms, the mature technology has a very good reputation. I haven’t had any problem whatsoever. This is also important on longer tours.
Kai-Eberhard Lue

After it took me some time to get used to the force of the machine (first registration July 2008), I now drive it with the same ease as with the previous machine (Sportster 1200 C). Only maneuvering requires a lot of effort, and the straight-line stability? especially with ruts ?? I found the Sportster better. There were no technical problems (it would be a catastrophe at 2500 kilometers) and I feel encouraged in my purchase decision. However, everyone has to decide for themselves whether the price is in relation to the product. But I bought a philosophy and got a motorcycle for free.
Michael Roessler

I’ve been riding a FLHR Road King since July 2007, my second Harley after a V-Rod. There are now 13,000 kilometers on the speedometer, the only defect was a fuel gauge that didn’t work exactly. After around 10,000 kilometers, a set of new tires was due. There were still around 1.8 millimeters on it, but I don’t like driving with square tires. The seating comfort is unbeatable, the sound and the feeling ?? stop a Harley! I only changed the usual: chrome parts here and there, different handles, a Badlander seat for solo tours and a tour case for the best passenger of all. 500 kilometers and more in a row are not a problem, the windshield causes slight turbulence (I’m 193 centimeters tall), but keeps away all the flies and falling rocks. On bumps in fast corners, rocking, but not dangerous driving behavior. Conclusion: Mopeds are kept and never sold again.
Gunter Trapper

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