Having had the opportunity to ride an array of motorcycles in the past, I thought it was time to pop my Harley cherry recently. After all I am passionate about motorcycles and there isn’t really a motorcycle that is as iconic as the Harley Davidson (thanks to their unique marketing strategy).
So upon arrival in Cape Town for the December holidays I sourced a Road King Classic to take out for a cruise. Before I collected the bike everything I had ever heard about Harleys, since I was a young boy, started to cross my mind, they are big, noisy, heavy, wide, full of chrome and usually ridden by a gangbanger. So forgive me if I was slightly apprehensive at first.
Nevertheless I grabbed my helmet (a proper one, not one of those piss pot things) and headed off. Upon first sight of the Road King, it was confirmed that yes indeed this particular model of Harley Davidson is huge. In fact so huge I wondered why there wasn’t a tow bar fitted, or perhaps a spare wheel bolted to the back accompanied with a low range gearbox.
Apparently things in America are really big, but really big, just to ride this thing safely you need an autobahn. But I couldn’t deny the fact that I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.
First things first, you get a keyless start function which is modern and convenient, since you can put the keys in your jacket pocket and forget about them. As for the rest of the Ergonomics? Well the riding position isn’t exactly MotoGP derived. The lazy rider position, reminiscent of all Harley Davidsons, does take some getting used to, especially when pulling off as I have a tendency to draw my legs back looking for the pegs, on a Harley you have to stretch them out as if you are a chick in one of those gynaecologist chairs.
The switch gear, throttle response and brakes all felt manly. You need an arm designed and built by Tony Stark just to get around the controls. The throttle feels like the handle of a cricket bat. The amount of movement in the gear lever was monumental, in fact I never clicked through gears, I smashed through gears by stomping on the lever in the same way you would stomp on a rat. Yes, a Harley Davidson requires a lot of testosterone to operate. The rev counter? Well there wasn’t one, just a fat speedo on the gas tank which I could never look at since I decided to keep my eyes on the road instead.
Having said that you don’t really need a rev counter, the 1 449cc air-cooled v-twin pumps out 67 horses and 110nm of torque, so essentially you rely on the chunky torque delivery to get going and before you know it you’re up to speed. No need for over-revving. But this is a Harley, and what do all Harley riders do? Yes that’s correct, you over-rev the shit out of the car-sized powerplant. Especially when there are pedestrians nearby or when you overtake someone who has their window down.
I must admit, I would rather listen to an episode of the Kardashian’s than listen to a Harley, but when you’re on one, everything changes, all of a sudden the Harley grumble is the best sound in the world. It pisses everyone off and that’s what brings a smile to my face.
Other positives include the camaraderie between all Harley Riders, I’ve never seen more friendly people than fellow Harley riders and also the Road King is relaxing to ride. It won’t numb your testicles like most other bikes.
Overall I enjoyed my Harley experience, it was entertaining and it did feel good to be a gangbanger for a day, just a word of caution. Don’t ever go around a corner with more than 10° of lean, this will result in certain death and much fire. Just cruise up and down camps bay, revving the bejesus out of it and a good time will be had by all.
|Make Model||Harley Davidson FLHRCI Road King Classic|
|Engine||Air cooled, four stroke, 45° V-Twin, OHV, 2 valves per cylinder|
|Bore x Stroke||95.3 x 101.5 mm|
|Induction||ESPFI Twin runner, 38mm throttle bore electronic sequential port fuel injection|
|Ignition / Starting||Single-fire, non-wasted, map-controlled spark / electric|
|Max Power||67 hp 48.8 kW @ 5200 rpm|
|Max Torque||110 Nm @ 3100 rpm|
|Transmission / Drive||5 Speed / Belt|
|Gear Ratio||1st 10.110 2nd 6.958 3rd 4.953 4th 3.862 5th 3.150|
|Frame||Mild steel, rectangular section backbone w/ twin down-tubes
Swing Arm Conventional, rectangular
|Front Brakes||2x 292mm discs 4 piston calipers|
|Rear Brakes||Single 292mm disc 4 piston caliper|
|Seat Height||749.3 mm / 29.5 in.|
|Dry-Weight||322 kg / 710.0 lb|
|Fuel Capacity||18.9 Litres
/ 5.0 gal