Ride On: 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King Special

THE King lives, and as the name suggests, the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King Special is indeed, special. It’s a bike that’s truly worthy of the Road King moniker. From its sinister styling cues, to its corner carving ability, the Road King Special will dominate.

Joining the new and impressive Street and Road Glide Special models, the big touring bike is, we believe, better than its siblings. It is the true hidden gem in the Harley-Davidson touring range.

And no, it doesn’t feature any of that infotainment stuff or have any fan-dangled fairings, the Road King Special is a pure, raw, rider’s bike, and it is bad-ass. And the proof, well the proof is in the corners, and its almost effortless handling capabilities.

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The upright seating position places you nicely over the hand grips and the bike just follows as you lean through the apex of the corner. The Road King Special feels as if it has greater ground clearance too, thanks to its lean angles (32 degrees left/31 right).

With a seat height of 695mm and with 9-inch-tall mini ape handlebars, it allows the rider to feel more upright and aids in creating a more aggressive riding position. Braking is excellent as well, thanks to reflex linked Brembo brakes on the front and rear.

They work a treat, and combined with ABS that operates independently, give the rider extra confidence when braking hard into corners.

The King has a dry weight of 351kg, and although a physically big looking bike, it’s very easy to trust the King. The lack of a bat wing fairing mounted to the forks allows the rider more direct, nimbler steering, and improved visibility.

Freeway riding is also no hassle for the Road King Special. Fitted with cruise control as standard, it’s comfortable and delivers a plush ride on long straight roads. It’s here though that the Special feels like a bit of a let down.

The standard Road King comes fitted with a detachable windscreen. This feature alone adds a great deal of rider comfort when touring or undertaking freeway riding. It’s not on the Road King Special, and we reckon Harley-Davidson has missed an opportunity here.

What you do get with the Road King Special over the standard Road King is Sinister Black styling that replaces the chrome detailing, drop dead gorgeous gloss black prodigy rims, and stretched saddlebags that drape down over the exhaust and look hot as f$&k.

Menacing is the only way we can describe this bike’s persona, enhanced by the black headlight that sits out front of the Road King Special. Dare we say it could be the King’s crown, for the ruler of the roads.

The 107 Milwaukee Eight motor is replaced with the all-conquering 114 Milwaukee Eight too, and features 163Nm of torque, and as with all the 2020 Harley-Davidson touring range, the Reflex Defensive Rider Systems (RDRS) come standard.

The RDRS system utilises advanced chassis control, electronic brake control and power train technology to assist you with accelerating and braking in a straight line or while in a turn. Brake hold is a standout feature, especially when you have a passenger on board.

It makes the riding experience as easy as possible. Our test bike was layered in Barracuda Silver, presenting a beautiful contrast to the custom blacked out motor and accessories. An aftermarket sissy bar and rack were also fitted.

A total of five colours including Vivid Black, River Rock Grey Denim, Billiard Burgundy and our personal favourite here at Exhaust Notes Australia, Zephyr Blue/Black Sunglo. Harley-Davidson’s huge parts and accessories catalogue is of course on hand for custom bits.

Prices start at $36,495 ride away for a 2020 Road King Special in Vivid Black. So impressed were we, that we’ll call it out and say this might just be the best bike in the entire Harley-Davidson line up this year.

Now if only Harley-Davidson would install one of those huge 131 cubic inch Screamin’ Eagle motors in it.

Our test bike was provided by Harley-Davidson Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King Special, contact your local Harley-Davidson dealer. On road images courtesy of HMC Photography.


Riding experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance


Pros - handling; comfort, power of the 114 motor; Sinister Black highlights.
Cons - no detachable windscreen as standard; high purchase price.
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin
Andrew Jenkin is the ride editor at Exhaust Notes Australia, founding editor of Two Wheel Addicts, a contributor at Bike Review and panel judge for Harley Davidson's Breakout Boss competition. Andrew has a love for anything on two wheels whether that be sports, naked or adventure bikes, with a guilty pleasure for cruisers.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> handling; comfort, power of the 114 motor; Sinister Black highlights.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> no detachable windscreen as standard; high purchase price.Ride On: 2020 Harley-Davidson Road King Special