Harley-Davidson‘s “Battle of the Kings” dealer-focused custom build competition is back, this time expanding beyond European shores to include the United States.
Voting for the European phase of the competition got underway last week. Members of the public are encouraged to head to the official Custom Kings website and choose their favorite, with the winner ultimately being announced at EICMA 2019, in November. (Unfortunately, the site asks you to register to vote, so be prepared to receive emails about all the exciting products Harley has on offer…)
“The competition showcases the very best in customisation capability and the creativity of the Custom Kings who can be found at every Harley-Davidson dealership globally,” states a media release that got lost in my inbox until this week.
Last year’s Battle of the Kings was won by Harley-Davidson Bangkok, with a Street Bob-based build called “The Prince” – an understated but attractive thing that scrapped one of my favorite aspects of the Street Bob, its high ‘bar, and probably made it uncomfortable to ride.
In previous years the competition focused on Sportster, Street, and Softail models, but this time around – perhaps because the US is playing and Americans f**king love baggers – any model in the Harley-Davidson range may be selected as a base for the build. The rules are relatively simple: 50 percent of the parts used must be genuine Harley-Davidson accessories, and the customization budget is a maximum of 50 percent of the donor bike’s retail price. Additionally, dealers must choose from three style categories: Dirt, Chop and Race.
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The United States dealers have added an extra dimension to their competition, hoping to inspire the next generation of custom builders by teaming each build with a trade school, with students working alongside the dealership team to create and build their machine.
My personal choice for this year’s winner from the UK crop is “The Crook” – a reworked Street Bob from Warr’s Harley-Davidson in London. Though, I’ll admit that some of my opinion is influenced by the fact I had a chance to hang out with the bike’s builder, Charlie Stockwell, at the FXDR launch last year. He is an awesome person who does awesome things, so I’m inclined to like what he’s doing here.
I’m also fond of the Fat Bob chop job from West Coast Harley-Davidson up in Glasgow, as well as the somewhat lunatic dirt-focused Street Rod built by Leeds Harley-Davidson. That Road Glide from Guildford Harley-Davidson, however, is unlikely to stand out in the face of whatever the Americans produce. Check out all of the UK builds in the gallery below.