Sycamore Harley-Davidson wins Battle of the Kings

Andy H Harley-Davidson, Video Leave a Comment

For Harley-Davidson’s 2018 Battle of the Kings, the rules changed.

No longer a mandated competition, the fifteen entrants had a wider choice of donor bikes ranging from the Street and Street Rod, through the Iron, Forty-Eight and Roadster Sportsters up to the Street Bob and Fat Bob from the new Softail range. This opened up new possibilities and fresh challenges, reigned in only by a requirement to do the work for £5,500 (€6,000) and that the result be road-legal.

12,000 on-line public votes whittled the fifteen down to five, which went to the London Motorcycle Show at ExCeL, where a panel of judges comprising senior editorial of MCN, Built, Bike Social and American-V, and Harley-Davidson enthusiast and racer, Shakey Byrne, had the arduous task of picking a winner.

Having been one of those five, with the benefit of seeing them very close-up, I can tell you that it was an arduous task and was glad that the judging was broken down into three categories: concept, originality and execution. For my part, that means I’ve got absolutely no idea who I scored highest overall, because I judged each on its merits.

I don’t think that necessarily did the Shaw’s and Guildford bikes any favours in the originality department as despite many significant differences, some startling similarities made them look like variations on a single theme.

It is perhaps ironic that the only Sportster to make the top five – Sycamore Harley-Davidson’s ‘Alley Rat’ – was the ultimate winner, its distressed finish and use of AMF-era graphics being right on the money at the moment … and just days before the launch of the new XL1200 Iron!

Second place fell to the Street Bob with the most one-off fabrication – Maidstone Harley-Davidson’s ‘Ottoway’, which doffed its cap to Harley’s earliest machinery and in a shade of grey that will always be associated with silence.

A very different grey that paid tribute to the US Navy adorned West Coast Harley-Davidson’s ‘Enlisted’: the most subtle of the five, which owed its style to the classic Hydra Glide, and won’t be the first FX – another Street Bob – to make the transition to an FL, but it’s not a well-trodden path.

Alley Rat will now go head-to-head against other national finalists in a European-wide 2018 Grand Finale.

Dealer Base model Bike’s name Custom King
Guildford H-D Softail Street Bob The Petrali Racer Michael Noble
Maidstone H-D Softail Street Bob Ottaway Group Collective
Shaw H-D Softail Street Bob The Edge Neil Sefton
Sycamore H-D Sportster Forty-Eight Alley Rat Todd Meynell
West Coast H-D Softail Street Bob Enlisted Fraser Hine

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