So a long time in the making, I recently gave up my 2007 XL1200N Nightster in favor of a 2019 FLHRXS Road King Special. As is the norm nothing I do can be done straightforward or the easy way…
I didn’t set out to trade in my Nightster, but I did get tired of it beating me up when I rode. I really enjoyed the acceleration and handling of the XL1200N, but the lack of shock travel and the ergonomics for someone of my frame (6’2″ tall), coupled with the type of riding I was looking to do meant it was time to start thinking about a change. When I first bought my Nightster almost 10 years ago, the thought of a big heavy bagger was the farthest thing from my mind. I test rode a bunch of motorcycles and settled on either a nightrod or a sportster platform bike.
At the time, I wanted to hoon around town and do hoodrat stuff with my buddies on the weekends. I didn’t think about anything more than an afternoon ride or some quick country rides. As I put more and more miles on the sporty and my riding style / needs began to change my thoughts turned to more of a touring setup.
Naturally over the past couple of years I went up to HD and test rode various “bigger” bike models, but most of them in their stock configuration felt like trying to ride a brick from a throttle response and handling perspective. After talking to some of my riding buddies who ride bigger bikes, they assured me that bigger bikes could be hopped up comparable to my sporty, but that it wouldn’t be a 1:1. This became my sticking point, while I understood some compromises would have to be made, I was a bit unsure what I would be willing to give up for some additional comfort on the longer rides I was looking to do. What good is comfort if it came at the cost of acceleration, handling, and manageability? Would I have to compromise across the board and just put on my “dad” jeans and settle into a bagger or full dresser?
A few years went by and I was originally drawn to the hot rod metal flake of the 2018 HD touring line up, but with a transition in jobs and other commitments the timing wasn’t right. As the mid year refresh of 2019 models came out I saw the scorched orange and denim black color combination, as well as the 114″ M8 motor stock, and I was sold. I went and test rode several different models. From stock Road Glide, Street Glide, Road King, and their special counterparts, to various stage 1 and stage 2 hopped up editions, I knew my next HD would be touring and it would have to have the 114″ motor in it. I’m a big proponent of buy it once, save up for what you truly want. I ended up deciding on a Road King Special due to the lack of weight on the front end, the ergonomics, and I didn’t want all of the electronic doo-dads present on the Road Glide or Street Glides. For me some wind and the feeling of being on a motorcycle were more important than the isolated bubble that the full faring models offered. Also at slow speed the lighter front end of the Road King felt significantly more manageable.
During my research phase, I made the mistake of getting on a stage 2 114″ M8 with the torque cams in it. I would HIGHLY suggest if you have the chance to ride one of these machines to do so. It was easily the hardest accelerating machine I’ve ever ridden or driven. The amount of available power and the way that it utilized the power was impressive. So now to my growing list of mods and wants, I have added the stage 2 torque cams.
I went and saw the scorched orange and black denim paint in person, and knew that was the paint for my next ride. Unfortunately this is the most popular paint color of the year, and my local HD did not have a FLHXRS with it, after a $500 deposit and a few days, they were able to locate me one in Tulsa. Wednesday my salesman Rich called me and let me know Friday would be the day that the bike would arrive. Even though it was only a two day wait, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning seeing the truck arrive with my new whip on the trailer.
Purchasing / trading was a bittersweet experience, seeing my old 1200N and remembering all of the memories and miles we put down was a bit of a somber moment. After having her for 10 years and putting roughly 35K miles on her, it became real as I handed my keys over to Rich and signed the title over to the dealership. Onward and upward as they say, after taking delivery of the Road King it was time to make new memories, ride the piss out of her, and start to plan how I wanted to make her mine.
Also having hard bags makes her a pretty awesome grocery getter: