Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023)


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Harley Davidson Road King Special (2023)

Get ready to hit the road in style with the highly anticipated Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023). This iconic model holds a special place in the Harley-Davidson lineup, offering a combination of history, power, and aesthetic appeal. In this article, we will delve into the design, performance, comfort, features, and overall ride experience of the Road King Special. From its distinct styling to its powerful engine, we will explore what sets this model apart from the rest. Whether you’re a Harley enthusiast or simply curious about this iconic motorcycle, join us as we take a closer look at the Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023).

Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023) – A truly special and upgraded Road King

Harley-Davidson is a brand that is renowned for its superior fit and stylish finish, and the Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023) is no exception. The Road King Special is essentially an upgraded version of the Road King and it features the more powerful flagship engine, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 rather than the standard 107. The bike is bold and muscular, which when paired with the motorcycle’s solid framework, slick control, and attention to detail makes this bike an all-rounder.

2023 was a remarkable year for Harley-Davidson as the company started the year with the launch of its motorcycle range. This included the Road King Special as well. The company also released the Anniversary Editions of the Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Street Glide Special, and Road Glide Special. Each of the four models got limited units of the Anniversary Edition, with the Street Glide Special and Road Glide Special getting 160 units globally.

Here is what Jochen Zeitz had to say upon the launch of the Road Glide Special (2023) –

“Since 1903, Harley-Davidson has pioneered American motorcycle design, technology, and performance, and today marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of Harley-Davidson’s 120th Anniversary,” said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson.

2023 Harley-Davidson Road King Special Review

When it comes to Harley-Davidson’s Touring lineup, flagship models like the Road Glide Special run the roost. Especially with the colossal front fairings, the feature-rich touring bikes boast the Motor Company’s newest full-color TFT display, the Boom! Box GTS Infotainment system, 5.25-inch speakers, and more. The company doesn’t throw the kitchen sink at all of its Touring bikes though. For the Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023), it opts for something a bit more restraint.

Favoring an old-school attitude, the Road King Special is a rolling time capsule of America’s motorcycling heyday. Only a windshield will separate the rider from the elements. Chrome coats the handlebars, exhaust, and the blinker bracket. The Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023) is the black sheep of the lineup in more ways than one.

The windshield goes by the wayside whereas a blacked-out aesthetic replaces its chrome finishes. There is a 19-inch front wheel and streamlined fender that modernizes the bike’s silhouette. The brand’s Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin engine makes the Road King Special truly special.

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With that said, if you’re in the market for a new touring bike and the Road King Special is one of the options, you will want to learn everything possible about the bike. In this in-depth review, you will learn all about the Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023).

Harley Davidson Road King Special (2023)


Touting 114 cubic inches of displacement, Harley-Davidson’s newest Big Twin is the company’s largest production powerplant. Since 2017, the company has been refining the Bar and Shield’s Touring and Softail lines, and it is more tractable than the monster displacement lets on. By Harley’s lofty standards, the Milwaukee-Eight 114 V-Twin is supremely smooth. At a stop, the bike still shakes and rattles but once I got it rolling, it all went away.

Away from a stop, the Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023) jumps off the line with 160 Nm of torque. On the open road, the Milwaukee-Eight glides down the highway effortlessly. At just 2,600 RPM in 6th gear, the Road King Special is content to trot along at 70 MPH all day long. The Milwaukee-Eight’s low-down pull is always ready to get the rider out of tricky situations. However, the torque is finite, spiking around 2,500 RPM before trailing off near 4,000 RPM. This leaves a narrow window of peak performance but the next helping of torque will be a shift away.

To my surprise, the bike’s air/oil-cooled V-twin still retains most of Harley-Davidson’s patented grumble but loses most of the rumble. Despite the oil-cooled heads, the engine’s cooling fins require air flowing between them to manage the mill’s temperature.

After 10 minutes of lugging the Road King Special through mid-day traffic, the Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin started throwing head onto me. Due to the exhaust, this warmth was most prominent on my right leg but given enough time, the port side started radiating it as well. Fortunately, when the Road Glide Special gets back up to speed, the heat quickly dissipates, returning the cockpit to a pleasant environment.

Model NameRoad Glide® Special
Engine Size1868 cc (114 ci)
Engine TypeMilwaukee-Eight™ 114 V Twin
HorsepowerNot provided
Torque160 Nm @ 3250 RPM
Dry Weight818 lbs (371 kg)
Wet Weight853 lbs (387 kg)
Length95.7 in (2430 mm)
Wheelbase64 in (1625 mm)
Ground Clearance5.1 in (129.5 mm)
Fuel Capacity6 gallons (22.7 liters)
Fuel Efficiency43 US MPG (5.5 L/100km)
Seat Height27.4 in (695 mm)
PriceMSRP: $27,999
Valve ConfigurationOHV – Pushrod
Compression Ratio10.5:1
Fuel TypeGas
Fuel RequirementsPremium
Fuel InjectorYes
Transmission TypeManual
Number Of Speeds6
Primary Drive (Rear Wheel)Belt
Front Suspension TypeTelescopic Fork
Rear Suspension TypeTwin Sided Swing Arm
Front Brake TypeDual Hydraulic Disc
Rear Brake TypeHydraulic Disc
Anti-Lock BrakesStandard
Seat TypeOne-Piece
Number Of Seats2


As with any Harley-Davidson bike, the engine will play the starring role and Harley’s Reflex Defensive Rider System delivers a surprisingly strong performance. Introduced on the Tri-Glide Ultra, Freewheeler, and CVO family in 2020, RDRS combines the latest trikes and high-end tourers with long-overdue riding aids. Also available as an add-on four touring rigs, the system incorporates lean-sensitive linked braking and ABS.

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When it was time for me to get back on the gas, its cornering-enhanced traction system allowed me to adjust to the available grip in all conditions with Standard and Rain modes.  When I got into the corner too hot, the Drag-Torque Slip Control System mitigated rear-wheel slip under abrupt downshifts and deceleration. Despite the plethora of features and proprietary acronyms, the RDRS operates in the background.

There aren’t excessive settings to choose between as Harley didn’t want to complicate things with multi-layered menus. The features are always on but they do not intrude unless I exceeded the system’s parameters. Aside from the gauge icons illuminating once the system activates, the RDRS never detracted from my ride.

While I did not have to initiate the traction control or ABS during my time with the Road King Special (2023), the DTSCS will prove to be valuable when hustling through local canyons. The rear wheel chirps under rapid deceleration but the system remedies the engine/rear wheel speed differential before any major slippage occurs. It is the inevitable safety net that truly sets the RDRS apart and most Harley riders would benefit from its simple yet effective technology.

The bike’s electronic suite is not entirely performance-oriented. The brand’s Vehicle Hold Control is an invaluable tool for takeoffs on an incline. However, the most convenient feature here will be the Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS). When the tire tips below the ideal PSI, a light on the dash will immediately alert the user. Unless you are accustomed to carrying a tire pressure gauge, the system will ensure that riders do not need to track PSI before each ride. I was able to check the tire status by cycling through the speedometer’s second display window.

The RDRS in Road King Special might not offer multiple levels of engine braking or customizable ride modes but the system will seamlessly integrate into the Harley ecosystem. Catering to a brand that converts without isolating brand loyalists, the new technology will stay true to Harley’s feel by improving function while preserving form. The new-fangled technology might refine the Road King Special (2023) subtly but its Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin engine still takes center stage.


Like most Touring models, the Harley-Davidson Road King Special’s comfortable confines promote long days in the saddle. Thanks to the contoured shape and ample padding of the bike, the Road Glide Special’s seat rivals the coziest lounge chairs. Wide floorboards encouraged me to stretch out my legs for the long haul while the sleek hard bags offered generous storage for a day trip. The 9-inch ape hangers will open the rider triangle although the upright position won’t be as commanding at high speeds.

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On a windless day, the Road King Special’s experience will be unmatched. With my knees in the breeze, the unencumbered ride represented the purest form of motorcycle riding. In blustery conditions, the rider could become a parachute. Without a windshield to tuck behind, every air current and crosswind gust would batter the rider’s chest.

The ape hangers compound this effect. With the hands placed below the shoulders, the rider will be absorbing the brunt of the upcoming wind. For this reason, I choose to set the cruise control at 70 MPH while on the interstate. One and on the bars and hunching over the tank, which reduces the buffeting on my core. Passing power is plentiful but speeds considerably over interstate limits are not as sustainable.

During a 400-mile road trip, a detour onto the backroad highway revealed the 2023 Road King Special’s true expertise. From sweeping curves to sweeping vistas, flowing one-lane highways will showcase the bike’s true strengths. Favoring gentle and constant-radius turns, the Road Glide Special manages to shine on the road less traveled.


The ape hangers may keep the rider’s sleeves flapping in the wind but the leverage created will keep the Road Glide Special on its feet. For a motorcycle that weighs slightly over 800 pounds in running order, the bike is eager to tip in. Side-to-side transitions will be swift and smooth. At lean, the bike remains planted and predictable.

In tight, technical sections, the Road Glide Special’s dragging floorboards will remind you of its 32-inch lean angle. Its Brembo brakes have a lot of bike and overall stopping power but the lever’s short travel could temper feedback and feel. After a strong initial pull, its lever will only nudge toward the handlebars. Without having a linear progression at the lever, I learned to rely on its fork dive to calculate my braking force but it is not a poor reflection of the suspension.

The bike’s hulking 49mm Showa fork gobbles up the road irregularities without sacrificing the steering. When preload is tuned to the rider’s weight, dual rear shocks are able to deliver an ultra-plush ride. Whether it is on the twisty roads or the turnpike, the Road Glide Special (2023) will stay stable and agile. Except for the preload adjustment knob of the rear shock, the suspension is fixed but the stock settings meet the bagger’s needs. While the bike is not performance-oriented, its performance still meets the main objective – touring.

Harley Davidson Road King Special (2023)

Design and customization

The Harley-Davidson Road King Special (2023) is a simple motorcycle with basic features to keep the rider smooth but misses out on modern touches like turn-by-turn navigation, Bluetooth, etc. The bike features a solid frame and reliable engine to keep the miles rolling. The bike attracts attention, demands respect, and asserts its dominance on the highway. The bike has a minimalist design but riders can always install an aftermarket windshield if they need additional protection.

The bike is based on an all-black theme, starting from its exhaust and carrying over to components like handlebar, mirrors, headlights, and air cleaner. While its engine has a similar design as seen on the cooling fins, it has a few noticeable chrome accents, which make the design unique and eye-catching.

The bike has kept an open option for customizable colors for folks who want to add a personal touch to their Road Glide Special (2023). It has multiple options like the Midnight Crimson and Mineral Green Denim. For those looking to unleash their inner speedster, there is an Apex variant as well. Riders looking to embark on longer tours will have the option to add on sleek-shaped hard shell bags that carry more luggage.

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