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Harley-Davidson Road King vs Softail: Which One to Choose?

Harley Davidson is the world leader in motorcycle manufacturing. The company is a legend with history and tradition. It produces motorcycles so cool that it is difficult for the average man to choose which motorcycle suits him best.

When it comes to Harley Davidson motorcycles, there are two main types of bikes – the Road King and the Softail. Both have their own unique features and benefits, so it’s tough to say which one is better. In this article, we will look at the main characteristics of these motorcycles and compare them to each other.

These two motorcycles are designed for different usage scenarios. The Road King is designed for long journeys, while the lighter Softail is designed to travel shorter distances. Some people may prefer the Road King for its classic design, while others may prefer the Softail for its modern styling.

Also Read: Harley Davidson Sportster vs Softail: Which One to Choose?

Road King vs Softail: Comparison Table

SpecificationRoad KingSoftail
Cooling SystemAir-CooledAir-Cooled
Fuel Delivery SystemESPFIESPFI
ExhaustTwo-One-Two Dual ExhaustTwo-into-Two
Seat height26.3”26.3”
Weight375.5 kg330.2 kg
Top Speed140 mph174 mph
Length2451 mm2415 mm

Harley Softail or Road King: Detailed Comparison

Here’s a look at the key differences between the Road King and the Softail so you can decide which one is right for you.

Model History

Harley Davidson released the Road King in 1993. This “tourist” replaced the Electra-Glide Sport and survived until 2017 without any radical changes. In America, the bike is very common and practically dominates over all others, but in Europe, it no longer has such superiority.

Road King belongs to the Harley-Davidson Touring family of models, which is considered the flagship. As the name implies, this is when you need to go far and for a long time. Such motorcycles are initially designed to overcome huge distances. And with maximum comfort.

The most numerous and diverse family of Harley-Davidson motorcycles is the Softail. Now it unites more than a dozen models. Why so many? Because a number of iconic motorcycles that used to be part of the discontinued Dyna family have been redesigned for the Softail platform. This refers to Harley-Davidson Street Bob, Fat Bob, and LowRider. All of them now belong to “Softails”.

Why such a strange name? What does the “soft tail” have to do with it? The bottom line is that if you look at any motorcycle from this family from the outside, then the rear shock absorbers are not visible at all. There is a complete impression that this is an old motorcycle with a so-called dry frame, to which the rear wheel is attached rigidly, without shock-absorbing elements. Nevertheless, in fact, they are there – just thanks to a clever kinematic scheme, they managed to hide deep into the motorcycle, under the saddle. As a result, the “tail” turned out to be really “soft”!

Also Read: Harley-Davidson Sportster vs Dyna: Which One to Choose?

Engine and Performance

Both motorcycles in the basic configuration are supplied with the same Milwaukee-Eight 107 engines.

The Milwaukee-Eight is the most voluminous and technically advanced engine created by Harley. The volume varies – from 1745 cm3, in the Milwaukee-Eight 107 version, to 1870 cm3 in the Twin-Cooled Milwaukee-Eight 114. The slip clutch with hydraulic drive and Assist and Slip system eliminates locking the rear wheel when several gears are reset in a row.

The generator of the new engine has become twice as powerful, which will allow you to connect various devices to the onboard network of the motorcycle without fear of increased energy consumption.

Also Read: Harley-Davidson Dyna vs Softail: Which is Better?

Comfort and Ergonomics

The Road King is a touring motorcycle designed for long rides and comfortable riding. It has a large frame and is designed for highway riding. The Road King is also equipped with a removable windshield and Seatpost storage bags, making it a great option for road trips.

The Softail is a cruiser built for the outdoors and short rides. Its base is shorter and it is lighter than its opponent, this allows it to be more maneuverable and faster.

Also Read: Harley Davidson Road King vs Street Glide: Which One to Choose

Technology and Features

To say that these motorcycles are the pinnacle of motorcycle construction is like saying nothing. They use the best practices of the company for more than a century of history. The latest technologies are closely intertwined with the history and vision of the company. For this, the Harley-Davidson company is loved all over the world.

There is no point in comparing the technology that is used in each of the bikes in question. They are both stuffed with all the latest features and technologies, and many, such as the engine, do not differ at all.

Also Read: Hardtail vs Softail: Which Motorcycle is Right for You?


The design style of the Softail engine draws attention to the central part of the motorcycle, where a completely black Milwaukee-Eight 107 with polished valve covers, timing cover, and main gear cover flaunts. The edges of the cylinders are not specially highlighted in contrasting colors. A round air purifier, the cover of which is fastened with a central bolt, visually highlights the engine even more.

Chrome-plated heat shields and Shotgun mufflers of the “2-in-2” exhaust system make the Softail Standard profile longer and lower. The steel rims of classic wheels with spokes (19-inch front and 16-inch rear) are covered with dazzling shining chrome.

The front fork of the motorcycle is treated with a transparent varnish, polished traverses, a polished steering wheel bracket, a chrome-plated headlight ring, and turn signal housings are installed on it, contrasting with the Vivid Black coating.

The steering wheel of the mini-air hanger provides the rider with an aggressive landing, in which his fists are exposed to the wind. A compact electronic dashboard with a digital display, built into the steering wheel bracket, does not clutter the front of the motorcycle at all.

A typical touring representative, the Road King class attracts not only with its technical characteristics but also an unusually stylish appearance. The exterior elements of the bike evoke nostalgia, and the classic leather seat, an abundance of chrome details, improved trunk trim, and spoked wheels emphasize its uniqueness. The motorcycle looks solid and expensive.

The Harley Davidson Road King is distinguished from other representatives by a wide range of colors, including black, cherry, and olive colors. The ride comfort is provided by a comfortable, moderately wide seat, the presence of a high windshield, and a good location of the steering wheel “mini-ap”. The standard package includes full-size footrests with height adjustment, ideal even for owners of size 47 legs, as well as durable roomy trunks.

The instrument panel located on the tank does not shine with functionality – the huge dial of the analog speedometer, at the pilot’s choice, can show the gear turned on, revs, mileage, power reserve on the tank or the clock, and a simple arrow indicator of the fuel level is installed in the left false test.

Tires and Brakes

The front and rear disc brakes provide confident braking of the 16 and 19-inch wheels, respectively. The anti-lock braking System (ABS) is available on Softail Standard as standard equipment.

The motorcycle is equipped with a cartridge suspension on the front wheel. The rear wheel has a suspension system with a rotary lever and double shock absorbers. The front wheel is equipped with double-disc brakes, and the rear wheel has only one disc.

The Harley-Davidson Road King Classic features 3-inch and 16-inch rims on the front and rear wheels. Both front and rear tires have the size MT90B16. When equipped with Dunlop tires, the front wheel uses D402F, and the rear wheel uses D402.

Seat and Weight

Here we can say that each of the motorcycles has both positive and negative sides. For example, the Road King has larger dimensions and correspondingly heavier weight. This negatively affects the maneuverability of the motorcycle and fuel consumption. But at the expense of their size motorcycle has comfortable seat which will be a pleasant bonus on long trips. A solid weight will help you feel more confident in a strong wind and passing large trucks.

Softail has a smaller size and length of the wheelbase, which has a positive effect on maneuverability in the traffic stream but has a more uncomfortable seat. Especially for people who are taller than average.

Fuel Capacity

Due to the fact that motorcycles are designed for different distances, the volume of fuel tanks they have is different. As the Road King is larger and therefore consumes more fuel, its volume is appropriate – 5.9 gallons, and the Softail – 3.5 gallons.

The Price

In terms of price of course more favorable Softail, it is still considered below the flagship Raod King. You have to pay for the basic “Standard” package:

  • Softail – $13 950;
  • Road King – $19 110.

Similarities and Differences Between Harley Davidson Road King and Harley Davidson Softail

Let it is two different motorcycles and they have different purposes and classes, but as well as any motorcycle produced at the Harley-Davidson factory, there are general similarities in the approach and creation of masterpieces. For example, the use of the modern Milwaukee engine and other developments received for a relatively long century the company.

LENGTH96.5 in.91.3 in.
SEAT HEIGHT26.3 in.25.8 in.
GROUND CLEARANCE5.3 in.4.9 in.
TRAIL6.7 in.6.2 in.
WHEELBASE64 in.64.2 in.
FRONT TIRESBW 130/70B18 63H100/90B19, 57H, BW
REAR TIRESBW 180/55B18 80H150/80B16, 77H, BW
FUEL CAPACITY6 gal.3.5 gal.
WEIGHT794 lb.642 lb.

Is Road King Better?

Power and beauty, character and comfort – all this is combined in this legendary motorcycle of all time Road King. Nothing has been invented yet better than this perfect bike. He rightfully occupies a leading position for many years.

The stylish “Harley-Davidson Road King” is a motorcycle that is world-famous and revered by representatives of foreign and domestic motorcycle parties, thanks to its excellent technical characteristics, cool design, and maximum convenience.

This “device” is the best creation of the company and Harley has rightfully won worldwide love. It is massive and rather squat, trimmed with shining chrome, strong shiny spokes, and magnificent expensive, well-tanned leather, and its chic and very comfortable seat is the dream of any biker.

[su_box title=”” style=”soft” box_color=”#1e73be” title_color=”#000000″]

[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”Positives:”]

  • Design
  • Convenience
  • Status

[/wpsm_pros][/wpsm_column][wpsm_column size=”one-half” position=”last”][wpsm_cons title=”Negatives:”]

  • Price



Is Softail Better?

The new Harley-Davidson Softail Standard has everything that a real cruiser should have: the impressive characteristics of the Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin engine and the ascetic design of the classic bobber, opening up wide possibilities for customization.

The motorcycle received paintwork of the classic Vivid Black color, elements with mirror chrome and polishing. The contrast of black and shiny components gives the Softail Standard motorcycle a classic and minimalistic look at the same time. Softail Standard is equipped with a solo saddle, exposing a shortened rear wing, and a 3.5-gallon tank with smooth outlines.

[su_box title=”” style=”soft” box_color=”#1e73be” title_color=”#000000″]

[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”Positives:”]

  • Low fuel consumption
  • Maneuverability
  • Great for beginners

[/wpsm_pros][/wpsm_column][wpsm_column size=”one-half” position=”last”][wpsm_cons title=”Negatives:”]

  • May be inconvenient for long journeys




Are Road Kings comfortable?

Yes, Road Kings are comfortable. They offer a smooth ride and plenty of features to keep you comfortable on long rides.

What is the difference between heritage classic vs road king?

The main difference between the Heritage Classic and Road King is the former’s use of a fuel tank mounted below the seat, giving it a more traditional look. The Road King also has a larger frame and engine, making it better suited for long-distance riding.

What makes a Road King special?

A Road King is a special Harley-Davidson motorcycle that is built for long-distance riding. It has a large fuel tank and comfortable seating that make it ideal for touring.

Is Softail a good bike?

It is definitely one of the best motorcycles in its class. This is evidenced by its great popularity and corresponding sales.


Today we have compared two great bikes that have already become legends. The Road King is the company’s flagship built for long-distance rides, and the Softail is a more versatile and everyday bike.

What is the design difference between Road King vs heritage Softail? There are a few key differences between the Road King and Heritage Softail models from Harley Davidson. The most noticeable difference is in the design of the bikes. The Road King has a more traditional look with its large, round headlight and chrome details, while the Heritage Softail has a more modern look with its sleek lines and blacked-out details.

They were created for different purposes, but with the same approach to design. This approach produces some of the most popular motorcycles on the planet.

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