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Harley-Davidson launches Battle of the Kings custom competition

Showing off the best of in-house Harley talent

HARLEY-DAVIDSON has kicked off 2018 with its fourth annual custom competition.

On Saturday, January 13, Harley-Davidson dealerships from 21 countries revealed carefully crafted custom models, built as part of the American manufacturer’s Battle of the Kings contest.

Each year, Harley challenges its dealers to create the ultimate in custom machines, from a selection of standard models, comprising the Iron 883, Forty-Eight Roadster, Street 750, Street Rod, Street Bob and Fat Bob. With a strict budget of £5,500 – at least half of which must be spent on official Harley-Davidson parts and accessories – the dealers must create a unique, road-legal ‘Custom King’.

The competition is designed to not only highlight the extensive range of official H-D accessories available, but also the in-house dealer talent.

Of the almost 200 custom models, 15 are from dealerships here in the UK and Ireland.

Alongside the entries from other countries, these bikes are listed online, with fans asked to vote for their favourite until Monday 12th February. 

This will help to narrow down a UK and Ireland shortlist of five entries, which will be judged at The Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show on February 16-18th.

The UK winner will then go head-to-head against other regional finalists at a Grand Final at EICMA 2018. 

Check out the UK entries over the next few pages…

Built by: Dano Evans, Parts & Service Advisor

'I bought my first Harley-Davidson two years ago, it was a completely stock 1998 883 Sportster. Within weeks I was hooked; not only with the freedom the bikes represent but the people you meet and the way you can customise your bike in more ways than I’d ever imagined.'

Built by: Keith Foster, 51, Sales Executive

'Harley-Davidson bikes have uniqueness; each bike is a blank canvas for change; a starting point of a custom journey that can be simplistic or as extreme as you like,” says Keith. “Harleys also deliver a greater camaraderie between owners – they instantly talk to each other like a friend.'

Built by: Team collective

'David Rita, Tom Prior and Michael Elm from the workshop led the way with ‘Ottaway’ – a Harley-Davidson of yesteryear but with some cool modern touches to bring it into 2018.'

'The name of their build is a further nod to Harley’s ancestry. William ‘Bill’ Ottaway, one of the first engineers to be employed by the American brand as a speed tuner to develop their race engines.'

Built by: Dave Friend, 59, Customisation Specialist

'Dave Friend has ridden bikes since he was nine-years-old (off-road, of course), and started an apprenticeship as a tool maker at the age of 16. He’s been in the motorcycle trade for over 20 years, building drag racing and land speed bikes as a hobby with the result of winning British championships! He's now worked for Southampton Harley-Davidson for three years, bringing with him extensive experience in customisation and fabrication and never fails to please.'

Built by: Fraser Hine, 52, Aftersales Advisor & Custom Specialist

'Fraser has gone deep within Harley’s 115 years of heritage to produce “Enlisted” – a superb modern-day replica of the wartime FL model that served the U.S.A’s wartime armed forces. In this case, the U.S. Navy. Look closely to search out the choice details; one such example is the dummy hinge on the rear fender. The original hardtail model had a fixed fender but a hinge allowed the fender to pivot in order to remove the rear wheel.'

Built by: Todd Meynell, 29, Service Advisor

'Say hello to “Alley Rat”, yet another good-looking build from the men behind Syc Kustoms, the custom side of Sycamore. This offshoot came about after Sycamore’s top five success in the 2017 edition of BOTK. Since then seven further commissions have been undertaken by Todd and fellow Custom King Trevor Bell.'

Built by: Kenny Roetsch, 37, Head Technician

' 'Quarantotto' translated from Italian is 48, which is genius tagging when you consider the donor build bike is a Sportster Forty-Eight. Another touch of brilliance is the fact that even though Quarantotto closely mimics an old-school Bobber, it has been built to be an everyday commuting tool. which is just what Dublin’s customer required.'

Built by: Neil Sefton, 51, Head Custom Tech and Dealer Principal Steven C. Willis

'We have both worked at Shaws since it started,” said Mr Willis. “I have an understanding of what a customer wants and I give this to Neil who then creates something beautiful. We work well together.'

Built by: Andrew Gillis, 29

'I really enjoyed doing the build. It has given me great insight into custom bike building and I can understand why our customers have an addiction to customisation.'

Built by: Team collective

' 'Dirty Deeds' has been influenced by the team at Reading Harley-Davidson – along with a huge amount of involvement from the future owner – to create many one-off aspects to this bike, and been beautifully put together by Jimmy Soru in the workshop.'

Built by: Warr’s – King’s Road

'We are absolutely snowed under with custom work,' said John Warr.

'Our order book is full. But then you’d expect this because Harley-Davidson motorcycles have and always will be the prime basis for personal customisation. The latest range of Milwaukee-Eight-powered Softails is no different and this is clear to see with our entry for this year’s competition.'

Built by: Andy Sealeaf, 45, Technician

'The idea was simple,'says Greg Lockhart, Brand Manager at Bowker H-D.

'To build a Harley café racer from the parts catalogue that was easy to duplicate with a few extra custom parts to make it quick to build and at a reasonable cost.'

Built by: Steve Creaser, 47, Senior Technician

'I think it’s great that you can buy a standard Harley and convert the engine to a much larger capacity, if that wasn’t enough, you can even put stroker kits on them, a great idea!'

Built by: Michael Noble, 35, Sales Manager

'Noble's 'obsession' for Harley-Davidson motorcycles started in his teens when his father bought a Harley– that first sweet experience is always a lasting one – and also led Michael into employment, working with ‘Milwaukee metal’ and riding too! 2017 saw Michael cover 1800 miles around Europe in eight days on his 1977 Shovelhead chopper.' 

Built by: Derren Harper, 39, Parts Advisor 

'I have had a massive interest in Harley-Davidson for as long as I can remember,' said Harper.

'Which obviously makes this job all the better. I ride a Harley Tourer FLHS and adore it. All bikes are a big passion of mine; I have been racing them since I was five years-old, when I started with motocross. I love doing customisation, so if you are looking to make your Harley a bit more personal, feel free to come and see me!'

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