Rocket III vs Road King vs Vulcan 2k

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Celtic Curmudgeon, Oct 2, 2013.

  1. Celtic Curmudgeon

    Celtic Curmudgeon Indiana Jones wanabe

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    First and foremost – this will be a second, rather than an only bike. I was planning to trade my Aprilia Caponord in on a new Rocket Roadster, but….Mrs Curmudgeon said if I stay within budget, she doesn’t care if I have one bike or two. Hanging on to the Capo reduces the budget a little, but I’ve boiled it down to three choices. The second bike will be for two-up riding, so it has to be comfortable

    Rocket III, probably an 05 or 06 vintage. Hands down the best performance choice, but since I’m keeping the Aprilia, performance isn’t as important as if it was my only bike. The Rocket is compelling for me because it’s different. I’m just not sure about how “livable” it might be – parts, maintenance, and passenger comfort.

    Road King – The good points here are, I’ve ridden them quite a bit before, only bike I’ve ever ridden all day without some body part hurting. The wife loves Road Kings, probably has the best low-speed/around town handling of the three, it’s easy to fix and can be infinitely customized and rebuilt. It’s also the iconic American motorcycle. The downer being it’s slow, and like a certain body part, everybody has one.

    Vulcan 2000 – Kind of dark horse choice here, but is interesting. Not as wicked as the RIII, but still a beast in its own right, and used ones are available at good prices. Also little maintenance drama. OTOH, seriously lacks the cool factor of the RIII or the RK.

    Again – my choice is made thru the lens of this being in addition to my ADV bike, not replacing it. I’m eager to hear everyone’s perspective.
    Curmudgeon
    #1
  2. BryonLewis

    BryonLewis Been here awhile

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    Those are similar to the cruisers I was looking at just a bit more expensive. You could also take a look at m109 (a little sporty looking), Yamaha roadliner (unique art deco styling), or vtx1800c ( one the cheapest to find used)
    #2
  3. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

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    M109 is a must miss on any list.

    Of the bikes the OP mentioned I would go with the Rocket III then go broke putting a rear tire on it every month. :lol3
    #3
  4. KingOfFleece

    KingOfFleece SplitWeight(tm) waterproof seat covers

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    Had a R3 and a RK. NEVER rode the RK as the R3 is a total hoot to ride. It's FUN like nothing else-in a lot of ways.
    #4
  5. Robert OK

    Robert OK Been here awhile

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    Am curious too about the passenger comfort on the R3?

    Two bad things about the R3, gas mileage and heat. Latter might be an issue for Boca Raton. I haven't ridden one so I'm just going on hearsay.
    #5
  6. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    I just bought a a vulcan 2000. I was very surprised how well it handled. I thought it handled much better than my Road Star that I traded in. I've never had a Road King, but had a 2004 Ultra that I put 45,000 trouble free miles on before a daydreaming cager took it out.

    If you are tall, you'll need to replace the seat. I just had the seat redone and rode it to Florida - 900 miles in 15 hours. It was very comfortable. I highly recommend these bikes, but like any bike, do your research before you buy.
    #6
  7. rauchman

    rauchman Been here awhile

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    Not to derail, but I used to have a Road Star and thought it handled pretty well for what it was. Curious how tall you are, weight, etc. How would compare the Vulcan to the HD?
    #7
  8. midfat

    midfat wholesome dirtiness

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    I rode an R3 touring about 10k miles in 5 weeks. I can tell you without reservation that, were I to go out and buy a "cruiser," it would be a Rocket III. That bike was like a fat gymnast with a drug problem. It may have looked a bit funny, but OMG it was a blast to ride. I doesn't matter if you're at sea level or 13k feet. Twist, squirt, go. Handling was, well, as you would imagine any 800lb bike would handle. But it didn't matter. It was all about the power, everywhere, anytime, all the time, anywhere.
    #8
  9. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    :lol3
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  10. Juan Loboe

    Juan Loboe Been here awhile

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    Lots of Harley dealers for service on the road, parts availability, Harley aftermarket - all good things. Bike is an absolute icon of motorcycling.

    Owned many Harley's with nary a problem, including 5 years on a '99 Road King. Obvious choice.

    Yamaha makes the very nice and reliable Stratoliner/Roadliner. Great engine, much low-down power, good fit and finish. Comfortable for the over 6-0 tall rider. 2007 and up have a much improved seat. You might need risers. Enjoyed mine...sold to make room for a GSA.

    Go with whatever you like the best; I'd go with the Hog.
    #10
  11. Juan Loboe

    Juan Loboe Been here awhile

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    Road Star = very nice Harley homage, cheaply had. Briefly owned one of them, too. Bought it used. Inexpensive. Liked it.
    #11
  12. BMW-K

    BMW-K F800GS FTW!

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    Ok, that line is Signature Worthy! :lol3
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  13. hyena

    hyena Been here awhile

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    Screw the bikes. Let's hear more about fat gymnasts with drug problems.
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  14. lfmn

    lfmn Been here awhile

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    I'm 6'1" and 185. I didn't mean to imply that the Road Star handled poorly, but given the weight difference between that and the Vulcan I was surprised that the Vulcan handled better.

    Between the HD and the Vulcan, I would give a small advantage to the HD in handling, but not enough to sway my buying decision. However, for me and my passenger, there is much more room on the Vulcan than the HD and I had custom seats on both. It's just a lot bigger bike.

    I have a Fatboy and was looking for an inexpensive 2nd bike for trips and after trying out a bunch (including a newer Ultra) I thought that the Vulcan nailed the bang for the buck better than anything else I tried.
    #14
  15. cardoctor1

    cardoctor1 Been here awhile

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    i thought i read on another site the kawi uses a plastic oil pump gear
    that can break and wipe out the motor. im in the same boat would love to add a cruiser to my garage .really want to demo the rocket touring
    #15
  16. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

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    #16
  17. alekkas

    alekkas Been here awhile

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    Only applicable to the 1500's before like 99 or something that I am sure is listed in the link provided blakebird.

    Some 2000s have reported burning some oil. Most don't. Even those, don't have issues besides adding some oil. Very little drama, very powerful bike.

    If you want the road king, get it for all it entails.

    All good choices really. Mama should be happy on any one of those with a backrest and passenger boards.
    #17
  18. vicster

    vicster Long timer

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    Stock passenger seat on the Roadster isn't bad, earlier ones not as good.

    Gas mileage on my two Rockets ranged from mid 30s, to low 40s, not out of line for a big road bike. Tank range when touring was a reliable 200 miles.

    Engine heat wasn't really an issue on either of mine. Certainly not as bad as sitting right on an air cooled big twin.

    Be sure to test ride any pre '09 Rockets to make sure they don't pop out of gear under acceleration. Triumph offers an update kit if the example is so affected, but it's $$$.

    I highly recommend you test ride a Rocket before making a final buying choice.
    #18
  19. Tripped1

    Tripped1 Likely Lost.

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    +1

    The Rocket carries its weight surprisingly well. Don't get me wrong its a BIG heavy frigging bike, but once its rolling it loses the feeling of being a huge ass bike unless you are trying to make it swap side to side.

    Opposed to a Road King (now I haven't really spent time with the new frame) the Harley touring rigs won't let you forget they are a huge ass bike, everything happens kind of slow. For what they are they are very easy to ride, but its always there that you are on a huge bike.

    The Valk I've no idea I've never so much as sat on one.
    #19
  20. crazyman

    crazyman Exiled to the swamp

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    I had a Rocket III Touring for a few years. In Florida. There's a good deal of heat coming off that monster motor. It was comfortable enough for all day riding. Handled well for a huge ass bike. I wouldn't have another one though. I've ridden a Road King a few times. A bit smaller and not as 'fun'.

    For comfort and cruising ability, it would be hard to beat the RK. Some of the Japanese bikes are a good second choice.
    #20