Harley-Davidson’s Battle of the Kings 2016

Charles Edwards-Freshwater (Online Editor)
The ultimate battle between Harley-Davidson’s best bespoke bikes

If there’s one thing we’ve always loved about Harley-Davidson it’s their devil may care attitude. Synonymous with putting the pedal to the metal and the rip roaring lifestyle that being a biker entails, Harley-Davidson have become an icon in the motoring world for the raw power and rock ‘n’ roll appeal of their machines.

Though the brand may have evolved in recent years to appeal to a wider audience, there is still that dangerous edge, that adrenaline fuelled roar to the machines that Harley-Davidson create that can’t help but appeal to the rebellious side of us all. Of course, each of their machines is stunning to behold already, but going bespoke with Harley Davidson is a whole different experience altogether.

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To fully showcase the expertise of the bespoke builders in every Harley-Davidson workshop in the UK, each year the marque holds an internal competition, a challenge which lets each of their bespoke artisans create a killer machine that shows off the very best of their abilities. Needless to say that 2016’s line up is undoubtedly one of the most striking.

With over 30 Harley Davidson workshops in the UK, each of the 30 bikes that have been entered for the competition this year are all completely outstanding in their craftsmanship, every one having begun life as a one of Harley’s most impressive modern machines - the 2016 Iron 883.

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A beast of a machine that harkens back to Harley’s original roadster aesthetic, the 2016 Iron 883 was based on one of the brand’s first Dark Custom motorcycles, a black devil of a motorcycle that was an explosively cool example of stripped-down, customised aggression.

Taking this original model as a blueprint, Harley Davidson then began to build on the design, giving it an all new suspension and a new rolled leather seat as well as modern pipes and wheels for a slicker look and performance. Of course, the engine is always the heart of any motoring vehicle, and for the 2016 Iron 883 this vital part has been enhanced to its limits, coupled with a lighter sports frame to ensure that the bike is one mean machine that can pick up the speed in an instant.

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Now imagine that this bike is just the framework for the ones built by the bespoke artisans and you can get some sort of idea of what you’re dealing with. Tweaked, perfected and given an overall makeover in both performance and design by each of them, it’s hard to choose which of the bikes hold the most promise, especially when last year’s competition was so close.

The victor of last year was a transformed Street 750 designed by Ondrej Odehnal from Prague, a bike that garnered not only the most public votes but also appealed to the lifestyle the best, combining the fast paced aesthetic of the brand with some cool and sleek touches that let it stand out from the crowd. This year the any entries are as diverse as the many owners of Harley’s out there, and that’s in no way a bad thing. 

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Exemplifying the versatility of their bespoke range whilst giving Harley fans a taste of the sheer artisanal skill that these professionals have, there are some definite stand outs in the crowd this year however, one of which has to be the one from Harley-Davidson's Leeds workshop.

Inspired by fitness industry icon Lex “BOOMBabY” Griffin, the bike has received a complete beefed up makeover, the bodywork blacked out and patterned with orange hydro dipped snake skin pattern for that extra edge of cool, whilst the fenders have been cut back and a new chunkier tank was fabricated to capture Lex’s powerful attitude. Designed by James Hope who got his first Harley at only 21, this beast is one that is sure to snap up the competition with its powerfully sharp look.

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The Reading workshop’s bike is also one of the standouts from England’s selection, a bike that proves that with the bespoke touch a Harley can be completely transformed. Sure, the biker attitude of the motorcycle is still very present; the red paintwork and punk rock decals that line the sides are certainly Harley through and through.

What has really transformed this bike is the change of the frame, based on a Ford Model-A the bike has had new wheels fitted and been made altogether sturdier and more powerful, giving it a new age hot rod aesthetic that will certainly appeal to a new generation of Harley fans.

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An excellent showcase of Harley Davidson’s bespoke skills from around the UK, The Battle of Kings is set to be another stiff competition this year, and well worth following for any motorcycle enthusiast who want a glimpse of what can be achieved with a touch of bespoke brilliance. The only thing that remains to be done is get your own bespoke model created. After all, the Harley lifestyle is as versatile as you are, so why not get a motorcycle that reflects your own rebellious spirit? 

Make an Enquiry about Harley Davidson’s bespoke services HERE

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