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Where does the Road King Scrape?

By Wom Battle

Everyone knows that the stiffer frame and other changes to the 2009+ Harley-Davidson® Tourer's made them even better to ride if you like to push them through corners. Readers of this blog will have seen my exploits on the track at Eastern Creek and know how much I enjoy riding on the Oxley Highway and similar roads.  For me, getting 300kg+ of motorcycle singing through tight bends is a thrill I can't get enough of.  The price, well just some chrome.

I often get asked about how I manage the lower clearance of the big Road King®. It's pretty simple really, you have to be very active on the motorcycle, be prepared to get your butt off the seat and put some effort in.  You also have to acknowledge that there are lean angle limits (a little over 30 degrees each way for the Road King) and pushed beyond that you are going to lose some of your chrome to the road (but it will be worth it).  The further you get off the motorcycle, the faster you can go through corners.

There's some real upsides to working a Road King hard.  It's more forgiving if you aren't all that smooth moving from side to side on the bike (old bugger knee syndrome).  It's also unlikely that you'll scrape your knees on the road (it's pretty hard to get them out when your feet are out in front of you).  If your legs get tired and you are going through a long bend you can park your butt on the rear crashbar.  The Harley-Davidson's ABS comes in handy if you like to push really hard (particularly a late brake into turn 2 at the Creek or on the downhill approach to turn 4).  When you manage to hit some of the bike on the road, it behaves rather nicely because it's not easily bounced.

For me probably the trickiest thing is when you need to trail the rear brake while hooked over in a right hand bend (any part of the bend you might need it).  It can be difficult to get your foot up on to the brake pedal.  The other must, make sure if you have the stock air adjustable rear shocks that you keep them pumped up to a level appropriate for the weight you have on the bike.  Let them get low and the rear of your bike will be doing the Samba under you.

So, doing everything right, where will you start losing chrome to the Road with a stock standard setup.

Tipping Right:  The first thing that will hit the road is the outside rear half of the footpan (photo 1).  It'll fold up under your foot and the next thing that will hit is the bracket that holds the footpan on. You can wear that away nicely and it's it's pretty solid, so I haven't been really able to hit anything else but it's only about half gone.  My mate Heffy, who's a little slack with air in his rear shocks, also manages to scrape the rear part of the frame about oil filler level, I haven't done that.

Tipping Left:  Once again the first thing to hit is the rear half of the footpan.  For me the bracket on that side doesn't hit much even when the pan folds up. The first thing after that on a stock setup is the heatshield on the exhaust that comes across under the bike (photo 3 taken after removal). Once you are there it's hard to push further.

Before my last trip to Eastern Creek I put on a set of Vance and Hines Power Duals.  This changed the strike areas a little.  Tipping Right the footpan still hit first and fold up, then the the lower part of the crossover on the V & H heatshields hit (Photo 4).  The net effect, less lean available to the right, it's hard to push beyond that.  Tipping Right: Yeah! There's more clearance now, no exhaust heatshield in the way and you'll never guess what the next thing to scrap is... Photo 5, the high part of the extension tab on the side stand!!! Who'd have thunk it?

The photos of my footpans are my second set on this bike, I was told at the dealership when I replaced them that they were not consumables.  I maintain what I said then, "If they weren't meant to be consumables they wouldn't put them so close to the road". 


Disclaimer: This non commercial website and its content is not affiliated with or associated in any way with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Harley-Davidson Australia, the Harley-Davidson Owners Group® or any Harley-Davidson® Dealers in Australia.  The use of the terms Harley-Davidson, and Road King® are unavoidable because that's what I own and ride.  This website,  called "My Harley Davidson" , and any opinions or comments expressed herein are purely about my Harley-Davidson Road King ownership experience, a truly great experience at that. I have no intention whatsoever to infringe on any trademarks or copyright ownership of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company or anyone else.

March 2024