sportster --> road king ?

Discussion in 'Road Warriors' started by Bloodweiser, Oct 13, 2012.

  1. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    Pipe dream?
    I've only been thinking this for a few hours, but entertain me.

    Going from a '06 XL1200R to a road king, what to expect?
    Performance, handling, upkeep costs, etc... general livability differences between the 2.
    So far my sportie has been fantastic, no qualms in 17kmi.
    It's only asked for tires, fluids and suspension finagling.

    And can I get some basic info on the RK line? Differences between years, etc.
    I don't care much for electrical gizmos. I like low tech, but favor reliability.

    Right now I'd do just about anything for a black FLHRC with hard bags.
    #1
  2. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Long timer

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    Ridden both...

    RK is just so much smoother on the road, but kiss away quickness in town.

    Upkeep, costs...gotta be the same or less for the RK. Tires, oil, gas.

    Only thing I know is that 2009 and newer Road Kings handle mucho better than older versions.

    I love having bags. I'm never caught without gear, without space to carry do-dads.

    Livability? If you can push the RK out the garage, it's livable. Can't hide those 200 or so pounds.

    Cakeeater
    #2
  3. Cakeeater

    Cakeeater Long timer

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    ooops. RK will eat more gas, of course. :1drink

    Cakeeater
    #3
  4. vaexplorer

    vaexplorer Adventurer

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    I have a 99 Twin Cam with F.I. -- really like it. It's a classic so it has the leather covered bags, which I don't like because they don't lock and I don't like fooling with the buckles. They are much slower to use than the hard bags, especially the police bags with the hockey pucks on top. The bags are real easy to swap so I could go to hard bags easily, but everytime I think about it I just go ride instead. Wish I had cruise control... available on later models than mine, not sure when that started.

    I've never lived with a sportster, so I can't compare really, but I like living with the Road King. It's much more useful than the SV650 I used to ride. I like having luggage, sitting up straight, and the consistency of fuel-injection. It's like a Honda Accord dressed up like a '51 Buick. Speaking of '51 Buick, that about sums up the personality for me. It's not an agile corner carver, it's a lead sled for cruising and that's what I do with it.

    I don't know what I'm missing with the new frame because I don't have one, so I don't worry about it. I just go ride. Plus, I don't ride quickly. The bike weighs so daggone much that I'd get something else if I was in a hurry. I find that it's perfect for big, wide, American roads with low speed limits, like it was made to go the speed limit -- so that's about what I do. I'm a "sight-seeer" type of rider and it's perfect for that.
    #4
  5. ADK

    ADK ____

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    Rent one from Brunswick H-D for a day, then you'll know. :deal :freaky
    #5
  6. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    Is that to say it's not a good backroads bomber?
    I've always taken to riding on unpainted county routes,
    on mostly ill handling bikes in general.
    And I like to go fast.

    let me get to the point.
    is a roadking not going to fit my riding style?


    I plan on it.
    #6
  7. vaexplorer

    vaexplorer Adventurer

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    Well, I suppose one CAN do anything, and plenty of folks make good time on their Road Kings. But, if I were contemplating strafing backroads and choosing between a Sportster and Road King, I'd choose a Sportster. But, I own a Road King, so I just kick back and enjoy the scenery. I hope that makes sense. Since the rental is an option, it's a dang good idea. And, we'd love to hear your thoughts afterwards.

    One other thought: I'd be interested to hear your opinion on the slight difference in the foot/leg position between the mids on the Roadster and the more forward boards on the King.
    #7
  8. sargev55

    sargev55 Been here awhile

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    i dunno,

    i think you would end up missing your roadster. i really have no intention of selling mine, bought it in 05, and it has 22k mostly hard miles on it with no real troubles.


    those are two entirely different bikes though. maint is about the same.
    #8
  9. davevv

    davevv One more old rider

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    I ride an '04 Roadster and have owned an '01 Road King. There is really not much comparison between the two bikes. The best way I can describe it is that the Roadster is a fun bike to ride, while the RK is a pleasant bike to ride. I use my Sporty as an around town bike mostly, but also take it out for the occasional blast around the country roads. I love it's looks and it's personality. It's not the fastest or most agile bike around, but for me, it is a ton of fun.

    The RK was hands down the most comfortable mile eater I've ever been on. You certainly don't buy one to go canyon carving, but if you want to enjoy the scenery in those canyons or anywhere else, then the King is ideal. They handle fine for an 800lb bike. IIRC, the lean angles are 33 right and 31 left, and they steer fairly quick because the rake is only 26 degrees. They're a pretty handy package for a bike that big. But if you really like to go fast on twisty roads, the Road King is not an ideal bike for you.

    I'm currently beginning the process of selling both my Guzzis to put another Road King back in the garage. I put in four 500 mile days on a round trip to Key West a couple months ago and discovered that my old body just doesn't tolerate that sort of thing on the Norge any more. My shoulders were killing me and there's not much that can be done to adjust handlebar position on that bike. So, since I've gotten to the point where I have to put the emphasis on comfort for my tourer, I'll be picking up one of the Road Kings with the new frame over the winter. I've got a 6-7k mile trip planned for next spring that I really want to be able to enjoy instead of suffer through.

    My advice is to keep your Roadster and add the Road King. They do different jobs and neither one can replace the other without too much compromise.

    Differences in years? Twin cam 88" starting in '99. Redesigned cam chain tensioner in '07 and new frame in '09. I believe the switch to the 96" motor and six speed was in '07 as well, and in the last year or so the 103" motor has become standard. There are a few other minor differences that I don't recall. I'll personally be looking for a low miles police version because they come standard with most of the things I want that are options on the civilian bikes. Namely, greater charging capacity, 103" motor on all '09 and later, oil cooler and ABS. They also usually sell a little cheaper than comparable civilian bikes. You do get funky looking switch gear though.
    #9
  10. sixspeed

    sixspeed 15 under Adventurer

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    LOLG, I cruised into two HD dealers today on my fall foliage ride. For some reason the XL1200X "48" speaks to me (as does the retro 72 chopper) so I usually hop on one when I go into a dealer just for grins.

    After getting off of my '11 Police RK and hopping on the 48 I feel like I just got on a minibike. :D Now the FLHP has the police air-ride seat which is higher and further back than the stock h-d two-up seats and the ergos are definitely a stretch for my size. But as compared to my two rides, my '11 FLHP Road king and my WR250R (Lowered 1" via Yamalink), the sporty seems tiny to my 5'9" frame. Not bad or uncomfortable, but tiny.

    With that said I've got 5k on my RK in 6 months and it seems to be solid. Yeah it's FI, ride by wire, CAN Bus architecture for the 'puter yadda yadda yadda. No failures and it doesn't seem to be a problem child. One of the internal changes for '11 (bushingless rods) has me a bit concerned, though I have yet to hear of massive failures due to this cost cutting measure:

    http://www.v-twinforum.com/forums/v.../173050-just-few-2011-mechanical-changes.html

    The cop saddle bags are the nuts, easy to use while on the bike and the tach on the cop bike is a plus. Can't speak for the standard RK seating but the cop seating is Harley's most comfortable size seat ever, albeit not optimum in position for smaller stature folks like me.

    What the RK does have is that it feels like an 800# bike. Slow speed maneuvers are OK , high speed are OK and the 103 incher hoofs the bike at a great pace with a whole lotta torque. But walking that hog backwards or duck walking forward is better exercise than any machine at the gym.

    But get that damn thing moving and even in stop and go traffic it is a sweetie. And I suck at riding. :rofl
    #10
  11. EricD10563

    EricD10563 Been here awhile

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    Not really a comparsion but I rode a Bonneville for about 100 miles not too long ago and next to the RK it felt like a toy, it was light and nimble as I imagine a Sportster is but when I was on the highway I felt so small. If you like a big comfortable tourer that when ridden well can sort of hustle down the road then the RK is a good bike, if you mainly want a bike to carve corners, accelerate briskly then I would keep the Sporty. I would bet though if you got a RK you'll never look back and be happy.
    #11
  12. ka5ysy

    ka5ysy Doug

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    While you are deciding on the new ride, do yourself a favor and go find a BMW dealership and take a test ride on a R1200RT or R1200GS. Either is a perfect weapon for what you describe as your riding style. Be prepared for an ephiphany: Superior handling, brakes, lean angle, ride, gas mileage, load capacity, and no engine heat to deal with, and about 200-250 pounds lighter weight.

    Generally:

    RT = Sport touring bike, fairings give outstanding weather protection, cruise control, satellite radio and all kinds of available farkles including ABS. Perfect long range touring machine that can play with crotch rockets.

    GS = Swiss Army knife of motorcycles. Premier naked standard dual purpose machine capable of anything you have the balls to try.
    #12
  13. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    I guess a little more information is in order.
    I do have other bikes now. Sorta.


    I have this for around town:

    [​IMG]


    and I'm juicing up this to take care of any aggressive inclinations I may have:

    [​IMG]


    So while the RK will be my go2 bike, it doesn't have to be perfect at everything, but I still want to be able to scare myself on it.
    The sportster has been a pretty terrific bike.
    But it's not feasible to keep it and pick up an RK. One or the other.

    I doubt I'd be able to get one of the new ones either.
    Figure, on selling the Sportster; and saving all winter,
    I'll probably have another $5k to put on top for an RK.
    Final budget, 8-10k ???
    #13
  14. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    I own both, a 2007 Road King and a 1999 883 Custom. Both have their place.

    Handling:

    The Road King is fine in the sweepers, probably comparable to the sportster. Tight turns the sportster takes over.

    Rough Roads:

    The Road King rides better to a point. When the road gets real rough the weight shows itself and I prefer the Sportster.

    Power:

    The RK is faster. My Sportster is only an 883 though, and it's been a long time since I rode a 1200.

    Comfort:

    This is pretty subjective, but I'm just as comfortable for long days on either bike. The RK has more 'room' for sure, but that doesn't always mean more comfort. The Sportster is more compact, but I am always able to stretch out on the sportster when I want to. Also on the sportster I can use the passenger pegs and lean foreword a bit, and that doesn't quite work on the RK due to peg placement.

    Passenger duties:

    RK hands down. Between the GF and I we are around 320lbs (150+170). The little 883 is about at it's limit there, and the rear shocks are about 3/4 through their stroke. Also, the seat's about full at that point. We still ride the Sportster together a good bit, but not on long days.

    Highway:

    RK, but the sportster could be better if I wanted it to be. The RK has a bigger windshield, which makes a big difference. With my windshield and my height I start to get beat up around 70 or so. Also, the RK is geared higher which makes for a more relaxed RPM and less vibration. My sportster is a solid mount with 883 gearing though, yours may be better. I only rode a rubber mount once, and not enough to really tell how it is.

    Cost of ownership:

    Similar. It could go either way here, but there's no measurable difference. RK takes another quart of oil every change, and an extra quart in the transmission every 10,000. So say it's about $20 more every 10,000 miles. Fuel milage is about 45 vs. 55. Tires last longer on the RK.


    Here's the situations when I decide to take each bike, and why. This is the important consideration IMO.

    Riding to work: Sportster. Lunchbox goes on the luggage rack, backpack with clothes goes on the backseat.

    Solo local riding: Normally Sportster. Lighter, just as comfortable, handles well. I can go either way here, but the Sportster normally gets the nod.

    One-up touring, without highway, shorter days: Sportster. Key words are 'without highway'. I can pack plenty of stuff for just me on either bike. The hard bags are nice on the RK, but since my first 6 years of riding was with a Sportster I have practice in packing one and pretty well have that figured out. Campgrounds are easier to negotiate.

    Touring either with a passenger, or when highway is involved goes to the RK. Long days where I just need to get somewhere goes to the RK. It can sit on the highway all day at 75 with no drama, where the Sportster doesn't much like that.


    I think one of the reasons I like my Sportster so much is it brings me back and reminds me of my first bike. It's almost identical, and reminds me what I had and why I liked it so much. If I could only have one, I think it would probably be the RK.

    For your decision, it's hard to say. The used market is in the gutter right now for Harley's, and used prices are down. I've seen older, clean Road Kings going for $8,000 to $10,000, and Sportsters in general are a hard sell. Without knowing your finances or garage space, you could probably pick up a 2000-2004 RK for the right price and keep both for less than the cost of a new one.

    For what year(s) to look at, they all have their goods and bads. Anything newer than a Shovelhead will get the job done, it's just a matter of how fast do you want to go, how much are you spending, and are you willing to do your own wrenching. There are a lot of independent shops, and any and all problems of the older ones have been worked out by people smarter than me. For all of the improvements of the 2009+ models, the 2008 and older got cheaper on the used markets. They are still good bikes, and I have no good reason to sell my 07 for a newer one. Even before that the 88" is a fine running motor, and the 6 speed IMO was just a marketing ploy. 5 gears is plenty for one of those bikes.

    I'm one of the ones that holds on to bikes, and I generally prefer to spend an extra year or so saving money rather than selling the old one for the new one. I don't, however, regret selling my Softail. It combined the negatives of the sportster with the negatives of the RK, and I don't see why people like them so much.

    If you really want to know, go rent a RK for a day and see if you like it. When I was wanting mine I started renting bikes to make sure what I wanted. It wasn't cheap, but it did help me know that I wasn't dropping $18,000 on a bike I didn't like. I rented a RK, Heritage, and Ultra. It came down to almost a coin toss between the RK and Heritage, and I think I made the right choice.

    Remember also that the fairing shouldn't be a deal breaker. I bought a detachable fairing with a radio, and on longer rides I throw it on. Takes 30 seconds to put on, plug in, and ready to go.

    I hope this helps. Sorry for the long post, I'm still waking up right now.
    #14
  15. Bloodweiser

    Bloodweiser honestly

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    Appreciate that long post Jules, no apologies.

    Now isn't the time for me to try and sell, I know that.
    Sportsters are hard to sell, know that too.
    I've never tried to trade-in a bike before, but if it came to that
    and idea what I'd be offered for my '06 1200R stage 1 with 19kmi?

    What's considered high mileage for an RK?
    #15
  16. Cage Dodger

    Cage Dodger n00b

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    I went from a 1998 XLH883 to a 2005 FLHTPI (Police bike with batwing fairing) 3 1/2 years ago. I definitely noticed the increase in weight at first, but now I'm used to it and it just feels like a regular motorcycle. The few times I've ridden Sportsters since then they felt like mini-bikes.

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned is the difference in low speed handling. The very first day I brought my cop bike home I tried to make a U-turn in my driveway like I've always done on my Sportster. The FL wants to fall in on tight low speed turns. I think it's due to the way the triple trees are backwards on the FL. (The steering neck is forward of the fork tubes.)

    I ended up dropping it. Luckily, no damage was done. A dropped Harley tourer will not go completely over but rests on the floorboard mounts and/or engine and bag guards. I couldn't find any damage or scratches anywhere on the bike. I haven't dropped it since.

    I ended up trading my old bike in on the deal. No regrets but I still miss my old Sporty sometimes.

    Cage
    #16
  17. thunderkat59

    thunderkat59 Cooter on a scooter

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    Not a Road King, but I moved up from a Sporty to a FXST.
    Simply no comparison. The big HD is so much 'better' for my personal style of riding, I would never, ever consider a Sporty again. I remember thrashing down old Rt100 in Delaware with my friend Sam on his RK at dusk, and he was scraping his pipes on every corner. Throwing sparks about 8' behind him on every corner. To add the the hilarity, he would puff a ciggie in between scrapes. A sight I will never forget. The only people who say a Hog cant corner, are people who've never ridden one.
    :beer
    #17
  18. jules083

    jules083 Long timer

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    High mileage I'm not sure, I've never seen one worn out. I'd probably try to buy under 50,000 or so. A friend of my dad has about 130,000 on his 2003 Road Glide, he's done a few repairs but the internals are original and he still tours on it. There are tons of low mileage ones out there, and it seems like anything over 30,000 ish really drives the price down.

    Trade in, just hit a few dealers and act interested, see what kind of offers you get.
    #18
  19. vaexplorer

    vaexplorer Adventurer

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    High Mileage? I personally tend to think anything over 30K, but that's not because 30K means anything. It's just because there are so many out there that I didn't see any reason to buy one with more miles. My 99 had 13K when I bought it. I'm not sure which is more plentiful here... low-mileage used Harleys or deer on the shoulder at night.
    #19
  20. davyjones

    davyjones Been here awhile

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    I own 2007 RK. I t only has 14K on OD but that is because I have 2 other bikes to ride on. Like others have noted, the 09's have a better frame that feels more solid, and newer ones have the 103 engine. My 07 has cruise control, HWY pegs, FI, 6 speeds, taller shield and rider backrest. All those things make for a great, long haul ride. My first HD was XR1200R that was traded for a 2010 Fat Bob. That was another great bike. If you want to just cruise around, pop off the shield on the RK and it is great for warm rides around town. Just something else to consider. It is a heavy bike but you can still perform u-turns on the road just like they taught you in MSF courses. :deal
    #20