Old school bikers like their older bikes, but many stick with bikes that are older than old, and for a variety of reasons. Some just love the higher potency of the bike’s vibration, while others simply love to work on the older models with tender loving care. Whatever the reason may be, just having a bike to putt around town in or ride along highways near their homes is good enough for them, regardless of what year it is or how ancient it may seem. In 1994 Harley released the Road King, which was actually descended from 1941’s very first FL model, which was meant for more than just local riding, with a bigger engine and much larger frame that was commonly said to hog the road (hence the nickname ‘Hog’).
This particular model was designed and built with long-distance travel in mind, and had the comfort and equipment to back up the idea. It didn’t take long for the Road King to find a niche for itself among devoted Harley riders, and its popularity endured. Engineered with travel in mind, the Road King became one of the most popular cruisers developed by the iconic motorcycle makers, and it just got better from there
Here we are going to discuss one of the newer Road King model years, the 2012 FLHR Road King. With a look that never goes out of style and comfort that is unparalleled, it is one of the premier tour bikes out there today. So sit back, relax, and get a brain-full of this beautiful over-the-road creation by America’s beloved motorcycle company, Harley-Davidson.
A Brief History of the H-D Road King
To give you a clear idea of how the Road King has evolved, let’s take a quick tour through the years and take a look at the changes that made this bike what it has eventually become. Notice how each specific step taken by the company not only improved the bike, but morphed its name as well.
The 1940s through the 2000s
Bikes with large frames first started coming out in 1940, including the EL and U models, but it wasn’t until 1941 that Harley-Davidson put out the FL. It was as 74 cubic inch Knucklehead with a large frame that wasn’t common to the times. It was during this decade that Harley began referring to the bike as the ‘Hydra-Glide’, thanks to the hydraulically damped telescopic forks.
After a few years of leaving things the way they were, the company opted to install a new transmission in 1952, which included a foot shiftier and hand-clutching system. This led to finally stopping production of the EL and its old transmission’s way of shifting gears. By the end of 1952 the FL was the only remaining big-framed bike. A new high-compression engine prompted it to be dubbed the FLH. A new rear swing arm and suspension then changed it to the FLH ‘Duo-Glide’, which stuck until 1985.
In ’65 the bike got an electric starter and became the ‘Electra-Glide’, and in the next few years the bike underwent several other mechanical and aesthetic changes. Soon, both the FLH and FLT were being produced together. Some other minor changes in the 70's brought the public the FLHS Electra-Glide Sport, but it was discontinued in 1982. By 1978 the 80 cubic inch engine became a standard feature in the model.
The 80's brought us the FLHT, which was pretty much an Electra-Glide on the frame of the FLT Tour Glide. In ’84 the put in the Evolution engine and a five-speed tranny. Finally, in 1987 Harley re-introduced more changes and then put out the FLHT Electra-Glide Sport once again.
During the 1990's, and up to 2012, Harley focused much on improvements and making the bike not only more pleasing to the eye, but also more comfortable on the road. They added things like improved security systems, better sounding transmissions, sturdier saddlebags and chassis, and the like. After all of that work, they finally arrived at the 2012 production year.
The 2012 FLHR Road King
The truth of the matter is that the FLHR Road King produced during this year turned out to be one of the most beautiful, comfortable, and durable road cruisers put out by Harley Davidson, and that for a variety of reasons. It was built with a 1690cc Twin-Cam 103 engine, which was able to distribute power to the back wheel by means of a six-speed tranny that was Cruise-Drive equipped. The bike was able to get an incredible 42-plus miles per gallon. Not only that, but the locking roomy saddlebags came standard on the bike, making it a favorite among road-trippers. So did the adjustable rear suspension, which could be set according to the type of riding being done. With extra-comfortable seating and a detachable windshield, Harley made sure that this version of the FLHR was perfect for any ride, any time.
Other extras that proved to be popular were electronic cruise-control, the aforementioned Smart Security system, anti-lock brakes, and a tank that held six gallons of gas. The company also presented a ‘V-Rod 10th Anniversary Edition’, which featured detachable hard saddlebags and new bodywork, for a more improved experience for the rider due to better ergonomics. For those who valued bike color as personal expression, it was offered in Ember Red Sunglow/Merlot Sunglow, Vivid Black, Midnight Pearl, and Big Blue Pearl. It had a top speed of 96 mph and offered 67 horsepower at 5700 rpms.
Here is the bottom line when it comes to the 2012 FLHR Road King by Harley Davidson: It takes years of trial and error, perfecting the imperfect, and listening to what the rider wants and needs when building a bike such as this one. All of those things and more resulted in this bike. Some may consider this bike an average tour bike, but the fact of the matter is that it is one of the best and finest made, with decades of experience behind it and the love of many poured into it. Harley delivers a superior riding experience, and the Road King of 2012 is no exception. Check out more at the Holeshot Harley Davidson site and take the time to read up more thoroughly on the history of the Road King.
You will soon discover an intense personal need to have one
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson