I wanted to love the Nomad, Rubenesque curves and all, but all that weight is overkill. The saddle, floorboard and shifter positioning add up to sweet luxury, but I couldn't abide the anemic throttle response and harsh windshield buzz. I will say this for the Nomad: It has awesome mirrors. I could see all of the road. And those beautiful saddlebags…breathtaking. I just wish Kawasaki would add 20 horses—we might have ourselves a new champ.
Speaking of champs, please welcome…the Honda! My choice in this comparo, the Valkyrie's like an elephant in ballet slippers—it's big and bulbous but incredibly nimble for a pachyderm. There's a windshield the size of Texas, offering coddling Mom would approve of. Power from the monstrous flat-six motor, though abrupt, goes on forever, and the brakes are incorruptible. The problems I had were with the seating position. The saddle is like a wok, and why doesn't this thing have floorboards?! Feet dangle at precarious angles, searching for the shifter and the pegs are too far back for any real comfort. That notwithstanding, I'd still pick the Valk for a long trek—just not the boulevard.
We know the Harley's rough but it's got tons of personality. The Road King fit me fine—the floorboards are spot-on, and the entire design is well-integrated, unlike earlier generation Harleys. Hard bags fit nicely and packing is a breeze (though locking them isn't). The Fathead engine finally gives Harley some real spunk and it's as stable as a truck (but that's how it handles too). The brakes are there but use both of 'em—especially downhill. And heed this disclaimer: Personality means nothing if it strands you on the side of the road.
In a nutshell, if I was chalking up serious mileage, I'd find myself on the Valkyrie.