Road King Years To Avoid

As a road king enthusiast, you’ve probably experienced the thrill of cruising down the open highway on your trusty Harley-Davidson. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom and power that comes with riding one of these iconic motorcycles.

But, as with all vehicles, not every model year is created equal. Some years have been known to be plagued with issues that could potentially spoil your riding experience. That’s why it’s important to know which years to steer clear of when considering adding a new ride to your collection or upgrading from an older model.

In this article, we’ll dive into the road king years you should avoid due to various reasons such as mechanical problems or design flaws. By arming yourself with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and ensure that you’re getting the best possible bike for your hard-earned money.

So sit back, relax, and let’s explore some road king history together!


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Harley-Davidson Road King Overview

Riding a Harley-Davidson Road King is like gliding on a cloud of power and prestige, with its iconic stature and rumbling engine drawing admiring glances from fellow riders and passersby alike.

The Road King has been a staple of the Harley-Davidson lineup since its introduction in 1994, offering classic styling combined with modern performance and comfort for long hauls.

However, as with any popular motorcycle model, there are certain years and issues that one should be aware of before making a purchase.

While it’s true that no machine is perfect, some Harley Davidson Road Kings have become notorious for their specific problems.

Several road king years to avoid include certain models from the late 1990s to early 2000s, which were plagued by common Harley Road King problems like faulty cam chain tensioners and poor-quality engine components.

In contrast, many riders consider the best year for the Road King to be around 2009 when significant improvements were made in terms of reliability and performance.

So if you’re considering investing in this legendary cruiser, don’t let the worst years deter you; instead, focus on finding a well-maintained example from a more recent production run or an older model that has had any known issues addressed by its previous owner(s).

Why Is The Road King So Popular?

The Harley-Davidson Road King is an iconic American motorcycle that has gained immense popularity over the years. This classic cruiser, with its distinctive style and powerful performance, has become a favorite among motorcycle enthusiasts who appreciate its blend of tradition and modernity.

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The Road King’s appeal can be attributed to several factors:

– Timeless design:
– The Road King maintains the classic Harley look with its chrome accents, sweeping fenders, and leather saddlebags.
– The detachable windshield offers versatility for riders who prefer a more open feel or want additional protection during long rides.
– The comfortable seating position and spacious floorboards make it an ideal choice for extended trips and touring.

– Reliable performance:
– The Milwaukee-Eight engine provides ample power while maintaining smooth operation, making it suitable for both novice and experienced riders.
– The suspension system ensures a comfortable ride by absorbing road imperfections effectively.
– Advanced technology features such as cruise control and optional infotainment systems enhance the overall riding experience.

There’s no denying that the Road King exemplifies what many consider to be the best Harley-Davidson has to offer. From its robust build quality to its unparalleled style, this bike remains one of the most sought-after used road models in the market today.

Whether you’re a seasoned rider or just starting out, the Road King continues to impress with its timeless design, outstanding performance capabilities, and unwavering commitment to excellence – all qualities that make it stand out as an exceptional choice for anyone looking to experience the thrill of riding a true American classic.

## Common Harley Road King Problems

Let’s talk about some of the common problems with Harley Road Kings.

Electrical issues and suspension issues seem to be two of the most common.

Electrical Issues

It’s no secret that some Road King problems are more frustrating than others, and electrical issues definitely top the list.

With a myriad of components relying on the bike’s electrical system, any glitch can lead to a headache for riders.

From faulty wiring harnesses to malfunctioning sensors or switches, these issues can significantly affect your Harley’s performance and reliability.

So, when looking at potential Road King years to avoid, make sure you do your research on their common electrical issues and seek professional advice before making a decision.

After all, nobody wants to be stranded on the roadside with an unresponsive motorcycle!

Suspension Issues

While electrical issues can be a major headache for riders, suspension issues are another key factor to consider when looking at Road King years to avoid.

A motorcycle’s suspension plays a critical role in providing a smooth and comfortable ride, so any problems with it can seriously impact the overall riding experience.

From worn-out shocks to inadequate fork oil levels or damaged bushings, these suspension issues can lead to poor handling, decreased stability, and an increased risk of accidents.

Therefore, it’s essential that you thoroughly inspect the suspension system of any potential Road King purchase and keep an eye out for any red flags that may indicate underlying problems.

This way, you’ll be one step closer to finding the perfect Harley for your needs without compromising on safety and performance.

Road King Years To Avoid

The late 90s Road Kings had some serious design flaws that caused a lot of issues, so they’re definitely a year to avoid.

The early 2000s models weren’t much better, and were of poor quality overall.

If you want a reliable Road King, then it’s best to stay away from these two time periods.

Late 90s

It’s no secret that we all want the best bang for our buck, especially when it comes to investing in a motorcycle like the Road King.

In the late 90s, specifically the 1999 Road King, there were some issues that might make you think twice before purchasing.

The road king years during this time period were plagued with problems such as faulty cam chain tensioners and early Twin Cam engine failures.

These issues not only led to costly repairs, but also left riders stranded on the side of the road more often than they’d like.

So if you’re considering a vintage ride, maybe steer clear of those late 90s models and look for something a little newer or older for a smoother riding experience.

Early 2000s

As we move into the early 2000s, it’s essential to be aware of the road king years to avoid during this time as well.

While some issues from the late 90s were addressed, these models still had their fair share of problems.

The cam chain tensioners continued to be a weak point and could lead to catastrophic engine failure if not replaced in a timely manner.

Additionally, fuel injection systems on these bikes were known for being finicky and requiring frequent maintenance or even replacement.

So while the early 2000s may offer some improvements over the previous decade, it’s still important to do your research and be prepared for potential issues that could arise with these models.

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Poor Quality

In light of the road king years to avoid, poor quality is a significant concern for potential buyers.

It’s disheartening to invest in a motorcycle only to be met with constant issues and repairs.

Although some improvements were made in the early 2000s, these models still experienced persistent problems such as faulty cam chain tensioners and finicky fuel injection systems.

As a result, it’s crucial to thoroughly research the specific model you’re interested in and be prepared for any potential complications that may arise with these motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson Road King Pros And Cons

Now that we’ve navigated the potholes of Road King years to avoid, let’s shift gears and cruise through the scenic route of Harley-Davidson Road King pros and cons.

This iconic motorcycle has evolved over time, with various Harley Road King years providing unique experiences in the form of the Road King Classic, Road King Custom, and others.

As with any motorcycle model, there are always two sides to the coin. One of the most significant aspects of a Road King model is its Twin Cam engine; this beast under the hood provides impressive power and torque for riders who crave an exhilarating ride.

Furthermore, a comfortable seat and suspension make long rides on your Road King a pleasure rather than a pain. However, it’s essential to be aware of potential drawbacks that may come with certain years to avoid.

Some owners have reported issues with parts availability for older models or difficulty finding aftermarket accessories compatible with specific iterations of the bike. Regardless of these challenges, many riders find their love for this American classic outweighs any potential cons they might encounter along their journey.

Is The Harley Road King A Good Bike?

Absolutely! The Harley Road King has been a popular choice among motorcycle enthusiasts for years, and for good reason. Known for its comfortable ride, classic styling, and powerful V-twin engine, this bike has a lot to offer riders of all experience levels.

While there may be some model years you may want to avoid (as with any vehicle), the standard Road King line has consistently offered high-quality performance and reliability. One standout model worth considering is the 2016 Road King Classic. This particular year featured numerous improvements and upgrades over previous models, making it an excellent choice for those looking to purchase a used motorcycle.

However, as mentioned earlier, do your research on specific model years before making a decision. Ultimately, the Harley Road King’s reputation as a good bike remains well-deserved and continues to attract loyal fans worldwide.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best year for a Road King to avoid common Harley Road King problems?

Some of the best years for Harley Road King are 2009 onwards, as these models have relatively fewer issues. However, it is still essential to inspect each used Harley for potential problems, no matter which model year you choose.

Are there any Road King years with significant transmission or bearing issues?

Road King models with Twin Cam 88 engines (1999-2006) are known to have some transmission and cam bearing issues. Upgrading to a newer model with the Twin Cam 96, 103, or M8 engine should reduce these concerns.

What about 2006 model Harley Road King?

The 2006 Harley Road King model, also known as Road King Electra Glide, is considered a bad product by many users to the extent that there were calls for its recall. The 2006 Harley-Davidson Road King, also known as the FLHR Road King, received numerous complaints from users due to various issues. Some of the most common issues reported include problems with the fuel system, electrical system, and brakes.
The motorcycle was also criticized for excessive engine heat, which resulted in rider discomfort and reduced its overall reliability. There were several recalls associated with the 2006 Road King, which added to its negative reputation. In 2005, a recall was issued to address the risk of engine stalling due to a faulty voltage regulator. In 2006, another recall was issued to address issues with fuel tank leaking and potential risk of injury.
Due to these issues and recalls, some users consider the 2006 Road King as a bad product. It’s important to note that not every rider experienced problems with their 2006 Road King, but the issues faced by many riders have led to its negative reputation.

What is the difference between the Twin Cam 88, Twin Cam 96, and Twin Cam 103 engines?

The Twin Cam 88 (1999-2006) was the first of the series, and it experienced some issues, including cam bearing problems. The Twin Cam 96 (2007-2016) was an improvement in terms of power and reliability. The Twin Cam 103 (2011-2017) offered even more power and better reliability. Each subsequent engine addressed some of the issues experienced by its predecessor.

Do Road King Classic models have any common issues as compared to other Harley Road King years?

Road King Classic models have a similar track record to other Harley Road King models. Some earlier versions with the Twin Cam 88 engine may experience cam bearing issues. It’s always important to inspect and maintain any used Harley to ensure its reliability, regardless of the specific model.

Were there any Harley Road King years that experienced faulty engine parts, ignition, or suspension issues?

Most Harley Road King years have experienced various issues, such as faulty engine parts and ignition problems. Road King models with the Twin Cam 88 engine had some known issues. Suspension problems might vary by individual cases and can usually be fixed with proper maintenance.

What years should I avoid if I am looking for a Road King Custom with powerful engine and minimalist design?

If you’re looking for a powerful, minimalist Road King Custom, consider models with the Twin Cam 96, 103, or M8 engines. These engines were introduced beginning in 2007 and offer increased performance and reliability over the older Twin Cam 88 engine.

Are there any Road King years with dual halogen headlamps and chrome embellishments?

Many Road King years feature dual halogen headlamps and chrome embellishments. These features were introduced on the 2014 model, with the Project Rushmore upgrades, and have become standard additions to subsequent models as well.

What is a good Road King year to consider for my first bike to avoid common Harley Road King problems?

The 2009 Road King is a great option for a first bike, as it has fewer common issues and offers increased performance and reliability. However, it is essential to inspect and maintain any used Harley to ensure its dependability and longevity.

Have there been any Harley Road King years when Harley had to recall hundreds of bikes due to engine or transmission problems?

There have been some recalls on Harley Road King models in the past, mostly involving the Twin Cam 88 and 96 engines for engine and transmission issues. As with any used Harley, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance and inspections to avoid potential problems in the long run.

Is it true that Road King can last well over 75,000 miles?

This number can vary depending on factors such as riding conditions, how well the bike is maintained, and individual riding habits. Some Road King owners claim they have had their motorcycles reach up to 200,000 miles or more with proper care and maintenance. To get the most out of your Road King, follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and use quality parts and fluids. Additionally, ride responsibly to avoid putting unnecessary stress and wear on the motorcycle.

What is the best year for a Harley Road King?

One of the best models of Harley Road King is from the early 2000s. The 2000 model introduced the new Twin Cam 88 engine, which improved performance and had fewer road king problems.

What are the common Harley Road King problems?

Some common Harley Road King problems include faulty fuel systems, hydraulic cam chain tensioners, and issues with the rear suspension. Additionally, certain years experienced engine and transmission problems.

What are the key differences between the Road King Classic and Road King Custom?

The Road King Classic features a more classic look, with spoke wheels, leather saddlebags and a die-cast chrome dash. The Road King Custom has a more minimalist approach, with smooth wheels, hard saddlebags and new handlebars.

How does the Twin Cam 88 engine performance compare to the Twin Cam 96?

The Twin Cam 88 engine provides 88 cubic inches of displacement, while the newer Twin Cam 96 offers 96 cubic inches. The Twin Cam 96 generally offers more power and torque, improving performance in almost every aspect.

What are some similar posts to the Harley Road King?

Some similar posts to the Harley Road King are the Dyna Super Glide, the Sportster, and the HD Street 500. Each bike offers a unique riding experience with a blend of performance and style.

Are there any years of Road Kings with faulty transmission systems?

The 2006 model year had some issues with the 6-speed transmission, resulting in a recall. However, these problems were resolved in subsequent years.

What is the typical lifespan of a hydraulic cam chain tensioner on a Road King?

The lifespan of a hydraulic cam chain tensioner can vary depending on usage, care, and maintenance. Some riders report the need to replace them after 25,000-30,000 miles, while others have gone 50,000+ miles without issues.

Are there any known issues with the Twin Cam 88 engines in the Harley Road King years?

The Twin Cam 88 engines have been known to experience primary chain tensioner problems, as well as some compatibility issues with certain aftermarket components. However, these problems are not inherently widespread, and proper maintenance and care can minimize their occurrence.

What upgrades or modifications are common for Harley Road Kings?

Common upgrades for Harley Road Kings include stage 1 upgrades (intake, exhaust, and tuning), new handlebars or seats, and suspension upgrades. Additionally, many owners customize their bikes with new paint, chrome, and other personalized touches.

What should I look for when buying a used Road King?

When buying a used Road King, be sure to check for any signs of improper maintenance or neglect, such as excessive wear or damage. Look for any unusual noises or vibrations while riding and ensure that all components are functioning properly. Lastly, review the bike’s service history to ensure it was properly cared for throughout its life.


In conclusion, it seems that avoiding a Road King altogether might just save you from the agony of dealing with its common problems.

After all, who needs a wildly popular, head-turning motorcycle when you can ride something less iconic, right?

So if you’re still contemplating whether the Harley Road King is a good bike or not, maybe it’s time to ask yourself: do you really want to join the ranks of satisfied riders across the globe?

The decision is yours!

By Jacob - The Rider

Hi, my name is Jacob. I'm the founder of Backyard Rider Mag - a blog about motorcycles. I've studied engineering in college but decided to make blogging my career because it really aligned with what I wanted to do creatively - talk about bikes! I've been riding for 16 years now- everything from sportbikes to cruisers, dirtbikes or even dual sports. And after all these years on the road, there are still new bikes that excite me just as much as when I first started riding.

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