Chrome used to rule in the big bore motorcycle world. The question wasn’t if you chose chrome for your big road bike, but how much chrome could you could afford when you bought your bike and how fast could you add more chrome. But now chrome’s long-standing reign has given way to performance black. And that’s a big deal with the 2017 Harley-Davidson Road King Special.
Black doesn’t connote power, performance, and attitude only with motorcycles. Performance cars, SUVs, trucks, boats, and even bicycles increasingly sport black trim.
And trim color isn’t the only thing that’s new with Harley’s Road King Special bagger. Other new and noteworthy parts on the 2017 checklist start with the brand new Milwaukee-Eight engine that’s on all 2017 Harley-Davidson touring bikes. You’ll also find new front and rear suspensions and a new 9-inch tall “mini-ape” handlebar. You can still buy a chrome-bedecked 2017 Road King, but the Special version is all about black.
So what’s black about it? The dark front end, gloss-black headlamp nacelle, gloss-back turbine cast-aluminum wheels, black handlebars and hand controls, and black mufflers and exhaust shields account for all of the black trim except for the engine.
The Road King Special’s engine guard, engine covers, and air cleaner cover are black, but there’s still some chrome. To contrast with the black covers, the lower rocker boxes, pushrod tubes, and tappet blocks are chrome finished to outline the V-twin shape.
The new suspension components include hand-adjustable rear shocks with more pre-load adjustment than earlier models. The front suspension is designed to enhance performance while cutting weight. The Road King Special also comes standard with ABS brakes and the Harley-Davidson Smart Security System.
The new Milwaukee-Eight engine delivers faster throttle response, better passing power, a smoother ride, and what H-D describes as “purer sound.” The four-valve cylinder heads have 50 percent greater intake and exhaust flow capacity and a higher compression ratio.
Coupled with increased displacement and dual spark plugs for each cylinder, the new engine is 11 percent quicker from zero to 60, and from 60 to 80, and also produces 10 percent more torque. The company states that heat management is better with the new engine along with reduced vibration and improved charging to the battery by 50 percent at idle.
You can order a Road King special in Vivid Black, Charcoal Denim, Hot Road Red Flake Hard Candy Custom, and Olive Gold. Vivid Black is the standard color at the Road King Special’s $22,000 starting price. Charcoal Denim and Olive Gold each cost an additional $450 and the Red Flake paint job is a $2,400 option. We think Olive Gold contrasts best with the bike’s blacked-out look, which is probably why that’s the color Harley-Davidson uses on its product pages.