From Engineering to Art

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Harley Davidson Enters the New Millennium


Harley Davidson has been at the forefront of the cruising motorcycle lifestyle for decades. Since well before they became part of the pop-culture in Hollywood blockbusters like Easy Rider, they were the choice of every rider looking for a free lifestyle. The pusuit of the kind of edgyness associated poster_optwith motorcycling and in a big, bad American-made iron horse. These bikes have always been associated with that open road experience and ‘take on the world’ attitude, so with that firmly established, they recently took their customization heritage to new heights.

Today Harley Davidson is a powerhouse in the 2-wheel marketplace with strong international sales and resurrection of a nameplate that was becoming obscure by the 1980s. To pay homage to the wildly successful custom Harleys on the scene, they recently released the Iron 883 motorcycle, a blacked-out street demon with attitude that comes standard. Based on the popular Sportster, the Iron 883 is the most entry level and affordable in the line. The bike is billed as the most customizable too which has always been a great angle for manufacturers
to sell the consumer a blank canvas and show them what it could be.

Code named the Dark Custom, the Iron 883 is the latest iteration of the Sportster. The Sportster is the bike that inspired many 1960s choppers and kept the name competitive at events around the world. The Iron 883 has the same blacked-out appearance as five other models in Harley’s stable, so they wanted to find the essence of the experience. The bike’s lineage was really the underlying theme, to express the freedom of those who have owned one through the years.

To put the bike on the map, they contracted artisans from around the US to customise the panels on the Iron 883. They came from all walks
of life: male, female, professionals to street artists all with one common goal … to take the Iron 883 to new visual heights. 3275292180_47c12cf7c7__opt

Harley Davidson personally invited relevant artists to transform the bikes into rolling ‘Art of Rebellion’3275299352_9d293bcdd4__opt and brought them together for a formal gallery showing. The artists included: Shawn Barber, Christian Clayton, Rob Clayton, Bob Dob, Shepard Fairey, Frank Kozik, Tara Mc Pherson, Alex Pardee, David Trulli, Mark Dean Veca and Oliver Vernon

Held at the prestigious Santa Monica Bergamot Station Arts Center between February 7-21 2009, the event drew in all kinds of notable people in motorsports and in the celebrity world. All of the wonderful and unusual approaches to customizing bikes was quite a display considering these artists aren’t into customizing anything. They used canvas, skin, metal and all kinds of different media regularly but never moving steel and alloys. Since art is a commodity, Harley Davidson used the opportunity to generate funds for artists themselves. All of the bikes were part of a silent auction and the proceeds sent to fund artists around the country of social importance.

We caught up with Harley Davidson Canada Public Relations Manager, Alex Carroni who was busy on the road at the time. “The Iron 883 is definitely going to be a great seller, just like the other models in the Dark Custom styling,” she stated “definitely the best bang for your buck out there, with img_3bike_w1280_optthe sinister looks and a low MSRP to keep owners customizing them. The entire Art of Rebellion campaign was geared towards what you can do with the bike.”

The Iron 883 itself keeps that rebellious tradition with responsive handling, smooth clutch effort, and carbon reinforced drive belt to keep it moving.
The styling of motorcycling minimalism is truly pushed to the edge in the new bike too. Decked in black from fender to fender, the new Harley-Davidson Iron 883 brings the beat of an 883cc Evolution engine, backed up by
a combo of gritty, old-school garage features like front fork gaiters, drag style handlebars, and side-mount license plate holder. A ticket to ride the Iron 883 starts at just $9,569CAD, leaving plenty of freedom for customization.

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