Though the calendar technically has to switch over to next year before the numbers all line up, Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary is already underway and sending rumbling V-Twins all around the world to celebrate.
Beyond the anniversary year’s international rallies, Milwaukee’s motorcycle maker is introducing new, redesigned iron to commemorate the big party. A select few motorcycle media types were brought into Milwaukee during the city’s big late summer rally for a chance to ride the new 2013 designs.
While Willie Davidson and company celebrated the huge 365-day countdown to the official 110th birthday gathering, those biker reporters jumped on the new bikes for a preview ride weeks before any of them hit showrooms.
The big entry is the wholly repackaged 2013 Harley-Davidson Street Bob. The bike still has its Dyna lines, but 2013 adds a thick front tire, blacked out rims, mini “Ape-Hanger” handlebars harkening back to the motorcycle’s post-war cruiser roots, a sport-designed “Bobber” solo seat and a blacked out console readout panels.
During a several hour afternoon ride from the Harley-Davidson Museum out along the famous Hog’s Back Ride throughout Hubertus to Wisconsin’s Holy Hill National Shrine. The Street Bob is a stylish eye-grabber of a cruiser – especially decked out in its new 2013 custom color schemes.
While the big front tire and blacked-out rims are a definite improvement, the ballyhoo’d Bobber seat still needs some work. While it would cooperate with your lower back during cruiser rides through a city or maybe an hour-long roll across the countryside, the ergonomics will start to poke at you for any ride longer than that. Such leather-wrapped whining is a quibble for a pretty motorcycle like the Street Bob, but it’d be nice to find a Harley cruiser seat as comfortable as the touring rides.
While not engaging in full on re-engineering, Harley-Davidson did choose several of its models for special 110th Anniversary treatment. For 2013, a limited edition Super Glide Custom, Fat Boy Lo, Road King, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, Heritage Softail Classic and 1200 Custom.
Available in runs of 1,450, all anniversary models are decorated for commemoration and will wear a special 110 Anniversary badge marking the bike’s manufacturing order in a limited run.
During the media ride, I admit I clenched a bit when I realized I was riding the special 110th Dyna Super Glide Custom – numbered 0003 of 1450. I never want to dump any demo motorcycle I’m riding, but I especially didn’t want to so much as scratch 0003 in the line.
The rides on the limited edition bikes were exactly what any cruiser or touring bike rider would expect. Harley-Davidson didn’t last 110 years by not knowing what they do well. So, there’s no real review news to relay on the birthday rides – except for the facelift each gets for the new model year.
For 2013, Harley-Davidson introduced Hard Candy Custom, new paint technology employing multiple layers of paint, gloss and metal fleck. Buyers choose between seven different color designs to create a classic hot-rod inspired look that will keep 2013 on the minds of Harley-Davidson enthusiasts for years to come.
In this era of matte black domination and a consistent trend for motorcycles to go darker and darker with their paint and trim schemes, it’s nice to see a little sparkle and shine back into the Harley line.