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50000k review of the Road King

By Wom Battle

On the last leg of our recent Bun Burner 2500 my Harley-Davidson® Road King® passed the 50,000 kilometre mark in just short of three years and the question was asked by Rob in a comment "Has she been reliable and would you buy another".  The answer is a resounding yes, but I thought I'd take some time to reflect on the good and the not so good.

I get the bike serviced as per the schedule every 8000ks, and usually change the oil every 4,000.  It's very well maintained. I don't really ride it on short rides or around town so most of the k's have been done at cruising speed over longer distances.  Having said that, I've significantly tested it around the track at Eastern Creek and around the curves of the Putty, the Oxley and more.

Paint and Finishes

After 50,000k's the Road King still looks great. The paint's got a couple of stone chips in it if you look hard the chrome front end's showing some evidence of the touring I've done but there's nothing going on the I wouldn't attribute to normal wear and tear.  Harley-Davidsons are well made and well finished.

Mechanical Issues

There hasn't been much go wrong so I'm going off the top of my head.

  1. One of the welds in the exhaust system broke while riding near Portland Victoria.  Initially welded up on the road but ultimately replaces under warranty.  I believe it was a problem with the original part and it hasn't been an issue.
  2. The Compensator.  Probably the biggest issue.  After I put in the 103 kit I went through 2 of the standard compensators (the first fixed under warranty). The second I replaced with the one recommended for the Screamin' Eagle 120ci and it's holding up fine.  I understand that the new Road Kings come with the better compensator so hopefully this won't be an issue moving forward.
  3. Heat. After I got the 103 kit put in the motor ran hotter.  An oil cooler helped significantly (all the new 103's already have one) and the electric fan is fantastic in gridlock!
  4. The original battery died at 18 months, the replacement is showing very early signs of failing. I'm not waiting this time, I'm getting a new one put in today just as a precaution with some long rides coming up. The symptom, the engine doesn't fire up immediately.
  5. On one occasion during/after a day at Eastern Creek something went wrong with the bike that saw it randomly slip into limp home mode.  The resolution was to reflash the EFI chip and it hasn't happened again.
  6. At one point some oil was leaking out of one of the plugs in the front of the engine.  This was resolved
  7. At one point some oil was leaking out of one of the covers the exhaust was also bolted to (vibration).  This has been sorted and hasn't been a problem since
  8. Harley-Davidson motorcycles vibrate, occasionally things come loose, e.g. engine mounts, rear light holders. Regular maintenance should include checking that things are tight!

I reckon if I'm picking out things coming loose all in all it's pretty good!


2 fronts and three rears in 50,000k's, not bad by my books particularly given the weight of the bike and the way it's ridden.


I recently replaced the standard headlamp for a Harley-Davidson Dual Halogen.  WOW, I won't be going back to the standard any time soon. The standard, even when using the pasing lights as well on high beam, isn't quite up to touring at night.

So there you go, all I can think of for now. Make up your own mind, but I'm very happy with my Harley-Davidson Road King's performance and reliability over it's busy three year life.  I can't wait to keep riding it.



Gotta agree with that. I have 115000 on my '96 flhr, and have had a few issues including an engine rebuild due to a failed cam bearing, but on the whole it has been great. Nothing at all until about 80,000, then the engine and a few other small things like engine mounts and charging system, coil etc. Great bike, gotta love it.

Posted by andy, 23/05/2012 8:48:05 pm

Good on you Andy, thanks for sharing that. I am looking forward to the next 50k on mine.

Posted by Wom Battle - My Harley Davidson, 23/05/2012 9:17:31 pm

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