For many of us, the Harley-Davidson alphabet code is a bewildering thicket of consonants. FLSTSC collides with VRSCDX, causing reasonably intelligent minds to buckle. Amid the clutter, one acronym has become a familiar badge of exclusivity in the Harleyverse since 1999; the SE, or Screamin’ Eagle designation, is assigned to those machines produced by Harley-Davidson’s elite Custom Vehicle Operations unit. CVO is the Motor Company’s Special Ops, Chrome Division. Milwaukee’s Delta Force of Soul.
A motorcycle helmet really has three jobs: 1. Protect your head in a crash. 2. Keep road debris off your face. 3. Look cool! And, of course, it has to be comfortable while performing those three jobs. The Shoei X-Eleven motorcycle helmet does all that for me.
World War II Styling
Harley-Davidson fired a 1340cc silver bullet into the marketplace when it introduced the Softail Fat Boy in 1990. Crafted as a high-caliber response to the low-cost Japanese imports that swamped the U.S. market, the imposing “Gray Ghost”—with its metallic paint, winged USAF-inspired tank logo and solid disc wheels—made a muscular and unapologetically American statement. It helped Harley-Davidson recapture the sales leader mantle in the 750cc-and-up heavyweight division.
Yamaha’s original FJR1300 firmly took the Sport Touring category by the scruff of the neck when, to much acclaim in 2003, it enabled a European-style Japanese sport/tourer to be purchased by the American public, albeit on a special order basis. The FJR was a phenomenal success and quickly garnered a reputation for being a spectacular touring- and sport-friendly package, featuring a 145 hp inline-four engine, wrapped in an alminum chassis.
FXD135 35th Anniversary
As a well-scrubbed youth in the 1950s, Willie G. Davidson, grandson of Motor Company co-founder William A. Davidson, headed west from Wisconsin to attend the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. Out on the west coast, the sun was rising on the world of motorcycle customizing, with men like Ed Roth and Von Dutch on the crest of the new wave. The impact of the emergent custom scene would linger in Davidson’s sketchbook as he joined Harley-Davidson’s design department in 1963.