2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special | First Look Review

2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special. Images courtesy Harley-Davidson.
2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special. Images courtesy Harley-Davidson.

Harley-Davidson has announced a new model in its 2017 Touring lineup: the Road King Special. This blacked-out, muscular-looking bagger is powered by the new Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine, and offers a fresh and contemporary take on the classic Road King.

Got a hankering for a Harley? Read our 2017 Street Glide Review here.

Most of the Road King’s chrome was stripped away, replaced by a shiny black finish. “Chrome was retained only on some key engine components,” said Harley-Davidson Designer-Stylist Dais Nagao. “The lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes and tappet blocks are finished with chrome to emphasize the V-Twin shape of the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine. We added a new engine-turned air cleaner insert, a finish that’s also featured on the tank console.”

The 2017 Road King Special in Charcoal Denim.
The 2017 Road King Special in Charcoal Denim.

Harley-Davidson’s press release continues, “The Road King Special’s engine guard, handlebar and hand controls, mirrors, turn signals, engine covers, air cleaner cover, mufflers and exhaust shields also feature black surfaces. New gloss black turbine cast-aluminum wheels include a 19-inch front wheel topped by a low-profile fender. At the rear, stretched saddlebags flow over the mufflers to provide a slammed-to-the-ground appearance without reducing suspension travel. A rear fascia panel fills the space between the saddlebags and rear fender, and a low-mount license plate module completes the tight, low lines of the rear end.”

Check out our video interview of Paul James, Director of Motorcycle Product Planning at Harley-Davidson.

The Road King Special sports a 9-inch-tall, 1.25-inch-diameter mini-ape hanger handlebar, the finishing touch on what looks to be a sleek and contemporary factory custom machine.

The 2017 Road King Special is powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine.
The 2017 Road King Special is powered by the Milwaukee-Eight 107 engine.

Like all 2017 Harley-Davidson Touring models, the Road King Special also features new front and rear suspension components, with hand-adjustable emulsion-technology rear shock absorbers that offer 15 percent more preload adjustment than previous low-profile touring shocks. The front suspension features new double-bending valve suspension technology that delivers the damping performance of a racing-style cartridge fork with  linear damping characteristics and reduced weight. Reflex linked brakes with ABS and the Harley-Davidson Smart Security System are standard.

The Road King Special model is available in four color options: Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Rod Red Flake Hard Candy Custom and Olive Gold, starting at $21,999.


  1. Yikes . . . My Sunday Morning Coming Down support group helps keep me free from the cult of HD and its purple Koolaid. But damn, this just blew my skirt up and it feels like I wanna know more – Satan keep away!

    • You can own a Harley without wearing the uniform. I wear hi viz Cordura jacket and pants, flip up helmet, and proper riding gloves and boots. I just like the bikes, we’re free people, we can wear and do what we want. The opinions of others shouldn’t be that important to us as to dictate what we do.

      • Dan, you are so right. Be they HD riders or anyone else; if we trade in clichés and stereotypes the next thing ya know we’re building great big walls. The last Harley I rode any distance was about 25 years ago, a ’79 Fat Bob. At first, I felt like I was pushing a wheelbarrow but what I couldn’t explain away was the smile on my face. Now that HD has this new engine, I’m looking forward to finding out what HD progress feels like. I’ll always be an ATGATT rider, but I bet I’ll be wearing that smile too!

  2. Walter Wilkins, stop fighting the primal urge to own a Harley. Get rid of the skirt and the support group; get a set of deep loud pipes and a hot blond. You will wish you’d come around sooner. …don’t ask me how I know.

    • Ahhh, me poor ol’mom warned me about those who speak of “rear suspension components” . . . “hand-adjustable absorbers”. . . “double-bending” and “tight low lines”. Sure, the “Smart Security System” makes it all sound so safe and innocent, but isn’t it just one oil spot away from tattoos and leather?!

      • Oil spots, tats & leather… that’s nothin’. When you get to whips & leather hoods that’s when you worry; some of those Harley girls will take you there! Besides, oil spots are the provenance of the classic Brit crowd; Italians have a penchant for the cheesiest switchgear ever devised; strictly minor league. Buy the Harley and never look back.

        • Right – Never look back? Then, what explains the HD biker in Danny Lyon’s iconic ’66 pic, “Crossing the Ohio River”? Little known alternative fact: Ten seconds after that picture was taken the HD biker rear ended a Honda Super Cub. Inexplicably, the Honda rider immediately said “sorry” which sparked the “You meet the Nicest People on a Honda” campaign.

          Seriously though, I’ve been riding – a lot – for about 45 years. If thought I could ride a Harley – especially one as beautiful as the Milwaukee-Eight Road King – and, I didn’t have to dress up like a pirate? Well, I’d consider selling my other bikes and give it a go. As it stands for me, I’ll admire the Harley, but other bikes, especially Triumph, wins.

          • Will, C.mon, admit it, you might enjoy dressing as a pirate. Taking nothing from the Triumph, they’re way cool too; but when you’re chugging down a country road it’s simply not the same. As a rider of over 60 years, owned virtually all of them from V-maxes to Ninjas; had 14 bikes in the last two years alone; there’s just something about those two big pistons and the way Harley makes a bike feel. There are better bikes, faster, better suspended, better handling, more luxurious, etc; and every Harley I’ve ever owned benefited from a custom seat, better shocks, & engine mods; but I’ve never had a different brand that made me feel better going down the road or that I loved as much (even my Honest Charley Flathead V8). Go figure…

  3. Sounds like you and I could swill back a few beers, smoke a cigar or two, never agree and still part as friends. And that’s the magic of Two Wheels. Long may HD and all its magic be acknowledged. There’s more than one football team, more than one beer, and more than one bike – eff the divisions between us, may we ride knowing we ride together.

  4. At first glance, I wasn’t that impressed. However, after more thorough scrutiny, I have grown to like it. Of course, I need to ride one, but I’m sure that it doesn’t venture too far from that familiar FL feel. I’ll be checking it out soon.

  5. I love the looks of this version of the King, but here’s my problem with it…cost. So, if I have this straight, they removed the windshield, driving lights (signature King historic item) fender trim, painted everything black, frenched in the bags, lowered the suspension (yuk) and added $3000 to the price. Ouch! For that much difference I’ll take the original King, thank you very much.


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