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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

Current owner of a 2017 Indian Chief Vintage which I enjoy very much.

My in-laws have offered a portion of their garage to me to keep another motorcycle in, so I'm thinking of getting an older bike to keep "up north" for when my wife and I visit.

I'm not planning on spending a fortune, but have always loved the 2003 Harley Davidson Anniversary Edition bikes in Gunmetal Pearl (Blue) paint. Considering either a Heritage Softail or a Road King Classic. I'll be using it for both solo and two-up riding to destinations 1-2 hours away from "home base".

This is where you experts come in, knowing many of you have had HD bikes in the past. I enjoy how my Indian rides, which of the two Harley's I listed above would have a similar "feel"? Assuming the Road King would probably be a better tourer? I'm sure the 88ci won't feel quite as gutsy as my 111 on the Indian, but I'm not much of a hotrodder and I anticipate it'll be fine.

Any of your opinions are welcome and gladly appreciated!

Thank you in advance!
 

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I would ride both, doesn’t need to be same year the softail chassis barely changed during the evo/twin cam years. The RK was same 97-07. Personally, I love the look of the Softail but think the ride, handling and vibration make it feel ancient. The RK is much more refined, and if riding 2 up definitely more comfortable.
 

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The Heritage is the worst bike they make in my opinion, unless you solely buy for the nostalgia of saggy bags. It is the heaviest single front brake bike they make with horrible suspension travel and cramped ergos. The RK would be way better in comfort, performance, ground clearance, bags, etc. It might? even be fuel injected? The touring line up got the upgrades years before anything else.

Oh, and to compare to your current Indian, it would be like driving a 70's car compared to your newer one.
 

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I had a 2005 Road King (not Classic) and road it from FL to MD to TN and back to FL on a single road trip. Awesome bike! I had a 2016 Heritage Softail Classic that Harley changed the ergonomics on, and was another awesome bike. As you are looking at a 2003, the Road King will be your better bet. The 88B engine on the Softail is great, (I had a 2000 Softail Standard with the 88B engine) but the ergonomics on the older Heritage is quirky. YMMV
 

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2008 and older were a different touring frame. The 2009 model year is the current touring frame and upgrade from 2008 prior. 2003 100 anni was a great color. Choose wisely and keep it between the ditches.
 

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Hey Dan, did you "catch" that your two '03's (that you're asking about) have different engines ?

The Heritage engine is counterbalanced - AKA smooth..
The RK, on the other hand, gets you the "full shake" experience...

Until recently, I've always kept both Indians and Harley's in the garages - Tourings and "bar hoppers" of each make..

So I happen to know what it's like to go back and forth between a RM and a Ultra glide, as well as a Scout and a Sportster 48.. Usually doing so within the same ride (while on family rides with my bikes)..

You better make sure a RK "shaker" is "kosher" with both you and your wife for the distances and type of rides you are anticipating - as it will be quite a different experience compared to your Indian..
 
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Hey Dan, did you "catch" that your two '03's (that you're asking about) have different engines ?

The Heritage engine is counterbalanced - AKA smooth..
The RK, on the other hand, gets you the "full shake" experience...

Until recently, I've always kept both Indians and Harley's in the garages - Tourings and "bar hoppers" of each make..

So I happen to know what it's like to go back and forth between a RM and a Ultra glide, as well as a Scout and a Sportster 48.. Usually doing so within the same ride (while on family rides with my bikes)..

You better make sure a RK "shaker" is "kosher" with both you and your wife for the distances and type of rides you are anticipating - as it will be quite a different experience compared to your Indian..
Soft tail is balanced but solid mounts. Touring bikes are not balance but rubber mounted. The touring bikes shake around at idle but you should feel no vibrations above idle .
 

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If you decide on a Road King the 2009 or later FLH models are pretty good.

Overall handling, my 2012 FLHP was better than my '15 Vintage. Likely due to a little less rake, little less weight, and tighter lock to lock steering during slow speed manuvering and parking and such. Also got pushed around less from traffic/wind on the highway. But the suspension sucked, it was terrible. Above idle there was zero vibration from the rubber mounted 103. My willow green'n cream Vintage rides like an old school Caddy, excellent ride quality, and it looks way better than my Road King. And it's very good on the slab when traffic and cross winds are lighter.

If you get a HD I'd suggest you stay away from the early efi models. HD stopped using the original efi system after a couple of years and I understand parts/service is tough to get. That said, 6-7 years ago I had a efi '99 Road King that ran just fine. Luckily with no issues.
HD baggers got a frame change in 2009 (think it was '09). Frame was made stronger so not prone to the Harley wobble. My '12 FLHP never had that problem. I believe the frame was improved again in 2014, I don't know what the changes were made in 2014.
I had a carbed 2001 Heritage Springer that I sold a couple of years ago. The bike handled very well and suspension was good. Much better than the Road king, but not on par with my Vintage. Needed the $$ for a home project so I sold it, and now wish I'd kept it.

Life is an adventure.... happy shopping (o:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I figured there would be a lot of great information from this forum's members! I had read about the counterbalanced differences, and figured that the difference between mountings probably would keep the vibrations close?

I've also read about the tendency for cam chain tensioner issues on the 88's, so that is something that I'd definitely want to look into further.

The wife and I won't be doing a lot of long distance. Probably no more than 100-200 mile day trips, but it sounds like the RK would be a bit more comfortable than the Heritage Softail for that.

All other input/feedback/thoughts are still very much appreciated. Thank you all for sharing your knowledge and experiences!
 

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Cam chain tensioner issue was resolved in 2007 when the MoCo went from springs to hydraulics. 2009 or later would be my choice. My 2012 with the 103 was a great bike, other than the suspension.
 

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Any pre 2006 bike without any maintenance records is a crap shoot. If it were me it would need to have the cam cover removed and the adjusters inspected. If those fail while riding you will almost assuredly grenade the engine. Cam bearing replacement is a must while in there if they already haven't been done. Old ones that fail are caged. After market non caged are 10x better. I would also remove and cut open the oil filter for inspection. Look for any metal or plastic(from the tensioners) particles. Drain all the oil resevoirs and check for condition. You could update to the newer oil pump set up that has the hydraulic tensioners but if you're only going to use the bike a few months a year probably not worth the expense. Just replace the spring tensioner shoes. I would also pull the primary cover to check that chain tensioner and the compensator. And last but not least compression/leak down tests are a must. IIRC they made carbed and EFI versions of models back then. EFI would be my preference. I know that was kinda long winded but caveat emptor is in play when buying used. Good luck
 

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My suggestion is a 2009 or newer road king. The rear tire went to a 180, you'll have throttle by wire, a 6 gallon tank and a 6 speed.

Throttle by wire and the 6 gallon tank came out in 2008 however you would have the older frame.

Good luck with your search,

Phil
 

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The Colors of the 100th Anniversary 2003 calls your name all well and good and if it's Carbed is sweet if know how to take care of them .. Last Year of the Carbs was 2006 although most Tourers were EFI by then .. Biggest thing to check on a Bike that old is have the Spring Tension Cam Tensioners have been Upgraded .. They did not upgrade to Hydraulic until 2007 when also went to the 96 inch Engine from the 88" .. I am quite happy with my 2005 Carbed Dyna when upgraded the Cam Tensioners put in new cam bearings, Fueling Oil Pump and TW21 Andrews Cams for better Torque, and happy enough with the power although won't win any races but at least I know can fix this myself from the crank up ..


599000
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you again for all the great feedback! I knew a lot of fellow Indian riders would have valuable HD experience as well. Now to hunt for the next "toy".
 
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