Road King Years To Avoid (Best & Worst Models Explained)

Road King

In the world of motorcycle enthusiasts, the Harley-Davidson Road King stands as an icon of power, style, and the open road. The Harley-Davidson brand is among the world’s oldest and most loyal motorcycle brands. There is no denying that this company has produced some legendary cruisers, including Road King. There is no better motorcycle for touring than the Road King, symbolizing classic motorcycle design and comfort. As a result of its unique combination of vintage aesthetics and modern functionality, it has become a favorite among bike enthusiasts. Although there are some Road King years to avoid, overall, it is one of the best bikes for cruising.

Get ready to embark on a journey through the rich history of Road King motorcycle­s. We’ll uncover some crucial ye­ars that may require extra caution when pursuing your dream ride. This guide aims to provide you with a roadmap to navigate the ups and downs of owning a Road King. So, strap on your helme­t, and let’s dive in!

Road King Specs


Engine Type
Milwaukee-Eight 114
Displacement 1,868 cc
Bore x Stroke 102 x 114.3 mm
Compression Ratio
Transmission 6-speed
Fuel System
Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Final Drive Belt


Front Suspension
49 mm Dual Bending Valve
Rear Suspension Premium standard height hand-adjustable rear suspension
Front Tire BW 130/70B18 63H
Rear Tire BW 180/55B18 80H
Front Brakes 32 mm
Rear Brakes 4-piston fixed


2,420 mm(95.27 in)
Seat Height
695 mm(27.36 in)
Wheelbase 1,625 mm(63.97 in)
Ground Clearance 125 mm(4.92 in)
Rake/Trail 26°/175 mm(6.8 in)
Curb Weight 366 kg(807 lb)
Fuel Capacity
22.7 l(5.9 gal)

Other Details

Primary Drive
Chain, 34/46 ratio
Color Choices Vivid black, Midnight Crimson, Gauntlet, Gray Metallic/Vivid Black
Headlight All LED headlamp
Tail Light LED
Price $19,929

Harley-Davidson Road King Years to Avoid

Following are some of the Harley Road King years to avoid:

  • 2003 Model
  • 2004 Model
  • 2006 Model
  • 2014 Model

Failures of the 2003 Road King

Road King 2003

2003 was the year the manufacturer finally upgraded the Road King. Despite this, it did not meet expectations. Its defective fuel system made the riding experience even worse for the rider. Due to a faulty fuel system, many motorcycle riders experienced unexpected shutdowns and fuel leaks.

Moreover, the engine and motor were not up to the mark either. Due to its incompatibility, riders couldn’t ride this stealthy motorcycle. Despite undergoing a complete makeover from its predecessors, the motorcycle version still needed to be in better shape than its predecessors. 

Failures of the 2004 Road King

2004 Road King

The 2004 Road King model was expected to make a big comeback after the 2003 model. People looking for a bike to fix up and display instead of taking out on a road trip should consider this model. Unfortunately, this year was a bad one for Harley-Davidson, as several of their motorcycles needed improvement. 

As a result of faulty transmissions and engine compatibility issues, it became infamous, allowing Yamaha V-Max to dominate the cruiser market. Furthermore, riders may encounter a chaining procedure beneath the engine and cam motor when riding this model year.

Failures of the 2006 Road King

2006 Road King

The Road King models of 2006 were called Harley Electra Glides. Harley had been trying to improve the Road King’s style and performance for several years, but the 2006 model was still a big flop. Hundreds of bikes were recalled.

It had a number of issues, including unsafe bolts and parts that were difficult to maintain or repair. Moreover, separating the various parts for maintenance and repairs was highly challenging. There are also some issues with the cylinder attached to the fuel tank.

Failures of the 2014 Road King

2014 Road King

Even though the 2014 model is impressive, it has several flaws that riders cannot ignore. This model year has several hydraulic mechanisms, performance, and faulty engine issues. 

Even though these issues can be frustrating, regular maintenance and solid repairs can make a big difference. Moreover, Harley recalled some motorcycles for replacement after faulty engine parts caused several accidents. Lastly, riders may experience a breakdown without warning, which is equally dangerous. 

Best Years of Harley Road King

Having identified the Road King years to avoid for road safety and reliability, it might be helpful to know which years are the best for used Road King.

  • 2017 Model
  • 2016 Model
  • 2005 Model

2017 Road King

2017 Road King

The 2017 Road King is a fantastic and reliable model for both short and long trips. It has a high-performance engine powered by a 96/96B cam motor that can run for the longest tours you can expect. This version is designed in a classic and vintage style and will surely make you fall in love. 

The bike’s bolts, fuel tank, and clutch system have been updated, making it one of Harley’s most desirable models. In addition, you can upgrade the appearance of this motorcycle by adding leather equipment. 

Aside from that, because of the motorcycle’s powerful engine, the engine creates rigidity that allows the emission of noise to be controlled. Lastly, higher speed on the motorcycle can also be maintained for extended periods. 

2016 Road King

One of Harley-Davidson’s best motorcycles is the 2016 Road King Classic. It also has a classic and vintage look, which is further enhanced by the leather seating and saddlebags. However, leather requires special care due to its thickness. 

Besides a higher windscreen, dual halogen headlamps, and chrome accents, the Road Glide gets everything riders love about the standard model. Saddlebags that need to be watertight are the only complaint riders have with this model.

2005 Road King

This year’s Road King may have come out in the middle of a rough patch, but it is still a bright spot. Regarding its appearance, the customized version was an update to this model. Its several features include chrome parts, streamlined fenders, and pulled-back beach handlebars.

Road King’s minimalist design makes this model comfortable yet stylish.

You must pay attention to the cam bearings on this bike since it was made during the problematic years. Lastly, there’s no major issue other than the cam bearings’ regular maintenance is enough to keep it running smoothly.


The Road Kings cruise­r bike is a well-liked choice for comfortable and enjoyable long ride­s. This motorcycle has an air of authority and power, giving riders a sense of something more. While it is generally a great option with its charming qualitie­s, not all model years are worth considering. Specifically, the 2003, 2004, 2006, and 2014 models have had the most reported issues and are the best Road King Years to avoid.
In addition, the years 2017, 2016, and 2005 offer excellent options that are worth considering. Lastly, for individuals who are ne­w to motorcycles and seeking a suitable beginner cruiser, the Honda Rebel 250 would be a solid choice.

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