Well, instead of hitting one of the rallies a only days ride from here this weekend, we headed up to the nearest HD dealer in Marquette for an open house/demo day so I could try out an '09 Road King. It helped that there was a seafood festival (
food) and a car show (
nice collection) down on the historic waterfront. Too bad I forgot the camera
Anyway, on to the bike.
First the good:
Chassis felt nice, tight and compliant. But hey, it only had 20 miles on it and we were taken on the smoothest section of road for miles around. A lumber wagon would have felt good. Since the RK was staged in front at the beginning I ended up right behind the leader so the guys behind must've thought I was one erratic nutcase hitting every seam and manhole there was. All of them riding nice parade dress staggered formation just as they were told. No sweepers at speed. The 180 rear felt good though. Overall, maybe a bit more composed than my '01. Hard to say.
Drivetrain, nice and tight as well with no noticeable lash. I havn't ridden an '07-08 6 speed but with reported improvements in the 5th gear whine I still could hear and feel a difference in 5th from 4th or 6th. Not enough to discourage me from buying, but it was there. As far as altered gear ratios and 6th being too tall, hard to say. We were only able to get up to 60mph for maybe a mile, but it felt a lot like the Baker Direct Drive 6 speed in my Road King. However if my Baker felt the same in 5th I might think something was starting
to go wrong.
Engine, crisp smooth, uneventful. A good thing.
Vibration in the floorboards. Tingly, buzzy, feet floating around like the old football board game. Didn't expect that. Would definitely need some attention.
Touchy throttle. Very abrupt on/off transition. Herky jerky trying to take a corner at a stoplight, parking lot speeds or making a slow turn. If this is throttle by wire I don't care for it. This thing was way worse than my '00 ZX12R with more than double the hp on a 70mph sweeper. And that was bad.
Clutch had a tight spot in it about 1/4" from the grip. Hung up a few times. New? Maladjusted?
Buffeting from the windshield, I noticed I sat high enough to see over the windshield. Buffeting was more pronounced than on my RK with Badlander seat as I seem to sit lower and look through the windshield. Big difference here.
The Road King Classic was the only '09 available other than the Crossbones. I'd have really liked to sampled a Fat Bob but there were none to be found. Should have taken the time to ride a Softail Deluxe, just to compare the ride and tranny, but I'd had enough "brotherhood" for one day.
Might ride over and look at the new Turquoise and White at another dealer tomorrow but I seriously doubt color alone could make me part with the $$ to "upgrade" as the salesmen like to put it. I bought the HD for what it is and I'm pretty much happy with that. May try one of those rear end stabilizer contraptions at some point if I start putting lots of miles on.
For now my ZRX has a totally redone suspension with a fork brace and a stiffened swingarm. It'll scratch that "performance" itch just fine.
Just my personal $0.02
Having ridden both, and owning a Road King, the Yamaha Stratoliner S would be in the running for my $$. Way more bang for the buck if you shop around and more refined to boot. Even if it only
has a 5 speed it has the torque to be geared taller and less storage in the bags could be remedied by Corbin. Still for less money. The Strat was on my short list until I found specifically the RK I ended up with. The bike won me over, not the model. I couldn't duplicate this bike in a Strat for the same money, with less resale as well.