2005 H-D FLHRS/I Road King Custom, Global Motorsport Group And More! - Between The Lines

2005 Harley-Davidson FLHRS/I Road King Custom

Harley Clones its Bestseller
What do you do when your touring lineup is getting a bit gray? If you're Harley-Davidson, you freshen it up-again.

For 2005, Harley's Road King Custom makes its second appearance, and the latest update has done nothing to mellow its get-up-and-go attitude. The minimalist swept-back chrome visor perched atop a dishy headlight and a pullback beach bar make for a sweet initial visual impression, and as your eye travels across the custom bagger's clean lines, it picks up sleek details such as slanted leather bags with hidden supports. The slash-cut mufflers, chromed metal fuel-tank emblems and big, clean front and rear fenders come into view next. Rounding off the impeccable fit and finish are streamlined footboards and passenger pegs, along with a tank-mounted stretch chrome console. The only significant updates for '05 are the new clear-lens, reflector-optic headlight and new laced wheel option. The large headlight adds increased (and welcome) lighting intensity, and its lens features a small bar-and-shield cloisonn on the face.

Our test bike came in a distinctive yellow pearl (a love/hate hue for sure) and sported swish chrome aluminum Profile laced wheels-an original-equipment option now available on all Touring models. The Profile wheel has a smooth, rounded chrome rim Harley says is easier to clean, along with chrome spokes and a brilliant chrome front hub that offers enhanced corrosion resistance.

After the impressive visual tour, a hop aboard the low-profile sporty solo seat proved a little crowded at first (the dish has a short span front to back), but we liked the feel of the lowered, air-adjustable rear suspension and taut, refined chassis, especially on smaller bumps around town. Bringing the smooth Twin Cam 88 engine (available in carb or EFI) to life was a snap, as the fuel injection on our test model thankfully eliminated the need for choke. The King gets its power down low, and while it's never in a hurry to get anywhere, the throttle response is easily accessed and linear.

The beach bars, on the other hand (or both!), may look cool, but took a bit of getting used to ergonomically, as your digits are forced to grip them tightly to avoid losing purchase. Because of this and its hefty weight, the Road King can be a handful on low-speed maneuvers or tight turns, but given the look of the bike, it was almost expected. The short travel springs in back magnified sharper bumps, but the ride was generally smooth and unsullied, with easy changes from the heel-toe shifter and smooth power from the belt drive. The four-piston calipers squeezing the two front rotors slowed down the big King admirably, with easy actuation on the front control, but I still found myself using both brakes for quicker stops. And after 600 miles and three weeks of constant riding, the front brakes on our test unit (shared with sister magazine Motorcyclist) still squealed.

With the Road King Custom, though, it all comes back to that look. While thick and chunky, it's spare, too-no cluttered fenders, saddlebags or pipes here. Low, lean and clean, the '05 Harley-Davidson FLHRS/I Road King Custom strikes an appealing profile for around-town jaunts as well as the open road. The price of admission may be steep, but with the King, at least there are few surprises.-Andy Cherney

2005 H-D FLHRS/I Road King Custom
Suggested base price: $17,195-$17,495

Engine type: Air-cooled 45-degree V-twin
Displacement, bore and stroke: 1450cc (88ci), 95.18mm x 101.52mm (3.75 in. x 4.00 in.)
Fuel system: Carburetor or Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI)
Compression ratio: 8.9:1
Transmission: 5-speed belt
Front Wheels: 16 in. chrome laced wheel/MT90B16 72H tire
Rear Wheels: 16 in. chrome laced wheel/MU85B16 77H tire
Front brake: Four-piston caliper with dual 11.5 in. x 0.20 in. rotors
Rear brake: Four-piston caliper with 11.5 in. x 0.23 in. rotor
Front suspension: 41.3mm telescopic fork
Rear suspension: dual air-adjustable shocks, 2.0 in. travel
Fuel capacity: 5.0 gal.

Not Your Parents' Chopper
This after-school program's a Runner

Let's face it, there's always going to be a generation gap between kids and adults. They just don't appreciate the same things. So you could say it was a smart move for the Global Motorsport Group to contribute a bike to a Michigan middle school's extracurricular program. For one, it'd help the teens understand what makes their old man tick, and-more importantly-teach them the ageless appeal of a sweet scooter while they're at it.

After a semester of hard work in the unique School House Chopper Program last year, the eighth-graders of Western Middle School in Parma, Michigan, came away with a fully assembled Hard-Core II, one of Custom Chrome's (a Global subsidiary) HR3 kit bikes. Students in the Engine Tech class were motivated to learn valuable mechanical and team-building skills as they transformed boxes of parts into a mean machine.

"It quickly became apparent that this would be the best cross-curricular learning tool that we had. Besides...lifelong learning skills, the students also had to [absorb] applied math, science, reading and information-gathering skills," said Ted Densmore, the teacher who headed last year's program. It's a safe bet these youngsters will be the future bike builders of America.

Now that the team has finished the Custom Chrome bike, it will be raffled off to purchase more kits and keep the program alive. Custom Chrome is also working on sponsoring a similar program at local schools near its headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Look out, Jesse James.

The Pulse
They say it's always better to quit when you're on top, right? Nobody clued Mick Jagger in on this tip, but Jeff Bleustein, CEO of Harley-Davidson, has taken this sage advice and will retire from his top-dog position in April 2005. That same board named the new CEO, James Ziemer, currently vice president and chief financial officer of Harley-Davidson Inc.

Bleustein's three decades at Harley-Davidson have been overwhelmingly successful, to say the least. In 1981, he was part of the group that purchased Harley-Davidson from AMF, and by '87 Harley-Davidson recaptured its position as the leading heavyweight motorcycle manufacturer in the U.S. In '98, Bleustein assumed his current role as chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

Under Bleustein's leadership, Harley-Davidson's annual revenues grew from $1.5 billion in '96 to $4.6 billion in '03. And although The Motor Company is expected to continue wowing the world with its uptrend of earnings, it's safe to say Bleustein will be sorely missed.

In news from Japan, Takeo Fukui, CEO of Honda Motor Co., promised all of Honda's future streetbikes over 250cc will be equipped with an advanced antilock braking system. The new technology will initially be included on touring and sportbikes by the end of 2007, and on all streetbikes over 250cc by the end of this decade.

Hang onto your beanie-the custom cruiser market's not saturated yet. At least not according to new-kid-on-the-block Saxon Motorcycle Company of Arizona. Saxon has just introduced the first four models of its 2005 line, each sporting a 96-cubic-inch S&S; engine, six-speed transmission, a porky 250 rear tire and a powdercoated softail frame, with prices starting at $21,995.

So what differentiates these sleds from the others? Mike O'Brien, co-founder and chief marketing officer, explains, "We're...offering quality components, appealing designs and great graphics...(aimed at) American motorcycle enthusiasts looking for an affordable bike that will turn heads."

The bold new bikes include the Warlord, Saxon's flagship chopper, the Firestorm, a long and low pro-street ride, the Broad Sword, a groovy beach cruiser, and the Sceptre, a classic sport cruiser. Customers can choose from three levels of graphics packages, including a full custom option and upgrades such as an S&S; 111-cubic-inch engine, billet wheels and a chrome package.

Saxon will operate out of a modern 40,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Casa Grande, Arizona, and its bikes will be sold through a group of dealers nationwide starting in early '05. See more at www.saxonmotorcycles.com.

The Motorcycle Industry Council expects total 2004 motorcycle sales in the U.S. to top one million units for the first time in 20 years. 996,000 units were sold in '03-that's more motorcycles sold in the last four years than in the entire preceding decade.

A bill to close the current health insurance discriminatory loophole has been passed by the United States Senate. This legislation, S. 423 Health Care Parity for Legal Transportation, was authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). The bill will prohibit health plans from refusing coverage based on the source of the injury.

That truck driver who ran his 15-ton truck over a motorcyclist last June has been charged with reckless driving. Jack Fatta, 64, of Pennsylvania, was at a red light behind motorcyclist Mark McGreevy. The light turned green and Fatta's truck rolled forward, trapping McGreevy under the truck.

Cobra Calendar
Daytona BikeWeek
March 4-13, 2005
Daytona Beach, FL
Stroll along Main Street or hole up at the Speedway and watch the passing parade. See all the hoopla scheduled at http://daytona.bikeweek.com/.

Blast on the Bayou Motorcycle Rally
April 14-17, 2005
Lafayette, LA
Roll into this new event at the Big Easy. Check out the whole shebang at http:// www.blastrally.com/indexx.html or call (337) 857-2711.

Gotham Motorcycle Classic
April 16-17, 2005
New York City, NY
The Big Apple hosts its own moto-party on the decks of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum (and former aircraft carrier). Tons of vendors and bike builders will be set up to show you their wares. Visit www.GothamMC.com for details on the whole scene.

Laughlin River Run
April 20-24, 2005
Laughlin, NV

Laughlin offers plenty of nearby riding destinations to explore, such as Hoover Dam, Route 66, the Grand Canyon, casinos, demo rides, a custom bike show and more. See the details at www.laughlinriverrun.com or call (800) 357-8223.

Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show
April 24, 2005
Half Moon Bay, CA

Join nearly 2000 flying, driving and working machines in Half Moon Bay for a massive gathering of motorized marvels from the 20th and 21st centuries. Indians, Ducatis and Guzzis will be there, as well as warbirds and tricked-out trucks, to benefit the Coastside Adult Day Health Center. For more info see www.miramarevents.com or call (650) 726-2328.

Department of Corrections
We may have flubbed on page 23 of the February 2005 issue when we mentioned Moto Guzzi's Nevada 750 is a 2004 model. It is in fact a '05 model.

On page 74 of the February 2005 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser, we incorrectly stated that S100 Cycle Care products are available at car-care stores. They are in fact available at Harley-Davidson dealerships and most motorcycle shops across the U.S.A. and Canada.