- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2002

Choosing the Harley-Davidson motorcycle that's right for you can be a real chore in many ways, it can be much like buying a new car.
As with a car, there are a myriad of choices. "People all have different tastes and needs that's why there are so many different bikes and cars made", candidly points out Thom McIlhattan, Harley-Davidson/Buell franchise owner in California.
The type of riding that you intend to do, performance requirements and personal styling preferences all play a significant role in making the proper selection. Affordability and ride quality are other factors to consider.
The Road King is powered by a 1450 cc, twin-camshaft 88V-Twin, air-cooled motor (available either carbureted or fuel injected), isolation mounted, with the exhaust split through full length duals.
The motor is mated to a five-speed transmission, with a double-row chain primary and final belt drive.
Up front are healthy-sized cartridge-type fork tubes flanking a giant chrome headlight and nacelle with twin chrome passing lamps.
There is a conveniently detachable windshield for those times when you want to enjoy the wind in your face.
Wheels are chrome-laced 16-inchers with narrow white-wall tires, covered by large metal fenders.
There is a large comfortable saddle followed by a passenger cushion with a strap handle. Stylish, lockable hard saddle bags, painted to match the rest of the bike, provide security for valuables.
The cushioned floorboards are roomier with the rear brake pedal moved forward and bringing this HOG to a halt is a piece of cake with the dual disc brakes fore and aft. Road or "crash" bars are provided for added safety for rider and passenger. There are even floorboards for the passenger replacing foot pegs.
The Road King test bike was a 2002, fuel-injected model, finished in Luxury Rich Red Pearl (metallic) with red stripes and black on the lower portion of the bags and tank. The base price was set at $17,050 with the final sale price rising to $17,895 after adding the California emissions fee and destination and handling charges.
Upgrades for this model year include: a stiffer chassis, engine mounts and swing arm, a larger rear axle and retooled suspension componentry.
The Road King, with its isolation-mounted motor and rear air shocks is well balanced, responding easily to steering input seeming lighter than it really is.
Gear changes are easy with the rocker-style shifter, which allows for a reduced range of motion.
The fuel tank accommodates 5 gallons, with a chrome tank-mounted filler cap on the right, which balances with the matching fuel gauge cap on the left of the center-mounted instrument panel.
The heaping doses of chrome look great when the bike is parked, but the glare can be overwhelming with the sun's reflection.
The Harley-Davidson Road King is a superb touring bike just as it is and one can attain even greater levels of comfort and maneuverability with affordable, personal modifications, such as handlebars and seat.
It retains Harley-Davidson's familiar look and sound of yesterday, while adding some of today's technology.
Harley has been accused by other manufacturers of producing only variations of cloned bikes, and of living in the past. If that were really an issue, why, then, do the others go to such great lengths to copy the Harley look and sound? Harley is, and will remain an American tradition.


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