2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special First Look Preview
A classic tourer gets an update as the 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special–powered by the all-new Milwaukee-Eight 107–is revealed. The Road King Special gets a custom urban bagger treatment, losing its windshield and much of its chrome, while picking up lots of black paint, a 19-inch front wheel, and a whole new attitude.
In an exclusive interview, we spoke with Harley-Davidson VP of Styling & Design Brad Richards and H-D Director of Motorcycle Product Planning Paul James about the Harley-Davidson Road King Special, what the Road King name means, and how the new Special fits in with the the standard Road King.
“The Road King brand is really about taking the FL formula and marinating it down to its essence,” Richards explains, “and that meant removing the fairing and taking away some of the accoutrements the FL had evolved into over the years. It was about getting back to a simpler place with our touring models.
“If you ride a Road King without a windshield, it is a different experience,” Richards observes. “To us, that is the Road King brand—looking out over either a wide set of handlebars or, in this case, a bit higher and wider set of handlebars and seeing that giant chrome nacelle that houses our headlamp. That’s very Harley-Davidson—in the chrome version [of the nacelle] seeing the reflections of the environment pass by as you’re riding and the wind in your face.”
“There’s an emotional lever that’s pulled when you ride a Road King versus when you ride a Street Glide or ride a Limited,” according to Richards. “What that is on the Road King is a very distilled, visceral experience of being in the wind and being out there. That, to us, is the Road King brand. Whether we dip it chrome or dip it in black paint, it’s still very Road King. This is just another personality we derived from that architecture.”
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