They will go head-to-head at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show this weekend

It might not be the best of times for the Milwaukee brand these recent years. It has recently come under the hammer from Green activists opposing the waiving of pollution fines, and before that, slow growth and lack of customer demands forced the company to decide on closing its factory in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2019.

Luckily, Harley has a few tricks in its arsenal to keep the excitement ticking amongst its enthusiasts. And after nearly three months of building and a month of online voting, the Harley-Davidson Battle of the Kings (BOK) has finally culminated with five finalists from the UK dealer builds (The BOK is conducted for the European dealers only).

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The Edge Beach Bobber
The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The Petrali Racer

Every year, the Milwaukee motorcycle brand organizes a custom works competition that commissions top builders to work with the dealers to put their best foot forward and present a bike worthy to be called as the ‘Custom King’. This year, Harley gets the “Battle of the Kings” in its fourth year, and 274 dealers from 21 countries participated in earning the ultimate crown.

The theme of the build this year is to reflect 115 years of Harley-Davidson. The dealers started building their bikes back in October 2017 and were to be finished and submitted by 31st December. The dealers must create a unique, road-legal motorcycle, and people voted for their favorites until Monday 12th February.

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The Ottaway
The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The Enlisted

With the voting completed, there were a total of 12,000 votes cast to select the top five entries from UK and Ireland. These builds will now be forwarded to the final round of judging, which will be held at the Carole Nash MCN London Motorcycle Show this weekend. The finalists from this will then go head to head with the finalists from other regions at a Grand Final to take place at Milan’s EICMA exhibition in November 2018 where the “Custom King” will be crowned.

Out of the five finalists, four of them underpinned their creation using Harley’s popular Softail Street Bob and one used a Sportster Forty-Eight. (Harley allows dealers to make use of one of the selected machines that comprise of the Iron 883, Forty-Eight Roadster, Street 750, Street Rod, Street Bob and Fat Bob for their build.) The dealers had to complete the built within a strict budget of €6,000 ($7,400) of which at least half of it must be must be spent on choosing amongst 10,000 official Harley-Davidson parts and accessories.

1. The Edge Beach Bobber

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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Custom built by the Shaw Speed & Custom, the customization arm of Shaw Harley-Davidson, this Softail Street Bob turned Bobber has already won the coveted AMD World Championship for Modified Harleys and the UK round of BOTK 2017.

Original H-D parts and accessories used here are bigger wheels, SS&C seat support with RSD vintage seat pan, front fork guards, SS&C fender, brass inserts and fuel cap, RSD brake discs and bar grips, V&H exhaust, XLR style handlebar and Stage 1 air filter modified by Shaw Speed & Custom.

2. The Petrali Racer

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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Customised by Michael Noble of Guildford H-D, pays homage to Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Petrali, a chap known for racing in the ‘20s-‘30s. He won 49 AMA national championship races, a record that stood for 55 years. This dirt/flat track race gets its inspirations from the 1935 motorcycle used by Petrali himself.

Together with Master Tech Neil Blandford, Guildford fabricated 2-1 stainless exhaust or the matt finish Art Deco Harley paint scheme infused with modern touches such as micro LED indicators. Other parts include 1925 Solo Sprung Saddle, Brass Collection consisting of Gas Cap, footpegs, shifter, Derby and timing covers. Screamin’ Eagle air filter, Sportster air cleaner cover, Black Hand control levers. Lowbrow Customs Manta Ray rear fender, custom Paint by Image Design Custom and more.

3. The Ottaway

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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This build from Maidstone Harley-Davidson’ too is a multitude of homages in recognition of Harley’s 115th Anniversary. The biggest being with the name. William ‘Bill’ Ottaway was one of the first engineers to be employed by Harley as a speed tuner to develop their race engines.

To keep the original board / flat track aura, the chaps incorporated XR 750 inspired intake/rear tail section and board track inspired bars/cables. The “V” intake and exhaust pipes highlight the V-twin engine. Other mods include Bars, Grips, Breakout Risers, Patent Badge, S&S Filter’s, Rizoma indicators, Maxxis Tires, Racefit Titanium Silencer, T&S Downpipes, and Intake.

4. The Enlisted

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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This Scottish build from West Coast Harley-Davidson is a replica of the wartime FL model that served the U.S.A’s wartime armed forces. This particular example served the U.S. Navy which also gets a dummy hinge on the rear fender that used to remove the rear wheel quickly back in the days.

The “suicide shift” gear lever system on the Enlisted is one of a kind. Combined with the battleship grey paint scheme, the bike is my favorite here. Hollywood Handlebars, Get A Grip handgrips, leather solo spring seat, Softail Deluxe rear fender, tail light and indicator bar, custom painted air cleaner, Dome Mirror kit, front and rear axle nut covers, Heritage LED headlamp, custom painted Defiance headlamp trim and exhaust wrap.

5. The Alley Rat

The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The finalists of the Battle of the Kings 2018 have been chosen Exterior
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The only build here underpinned by a Dark Custom Forty-Eight by Syc Kustoms, the custom side of Sycamore Harley-Davidson. The bike is an urban-brawler styled AMF machine inspired from the ‘80s. The paintwork on this is purposefully shabby and rusty. “a celebration of the original shed-built bikes and the freedom for imaginations to run riot with a raw, stripped look” says Todd of Syc.

4.5 gallon custom fuel tank, Chrome retro air cleaner, side-mount vertical licence plate with stop and brake light, Coker tyres, Nostalgic black grips, Screamin’ Eagle exhaust wrap, Brass collection Derby cover, Daymaker headlamp, Screamin’ Eagle fuel pack, Tall Boy Sportster bars, 1200 Custom front brake line, 115th anniversary poker chip and more.

This event is basically a marketing tool that showcases the “wealth of in-house custom talent and the extensive range of Harley-Davidson Dark Custom parts and accessories readily available to support customization requirements of Harley-Davidson customers.”

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