‘Ultimate Harley-Davidson’ New Edition | Updating an American Story

'Ultimate Harley-Davidson' New Edition | Updating an American StoryHarley-Davidson Motorcycle Book Review

Just as there is nothing like a freshly brewed cup of a premium coffee, there is great pleasure to be derived from a beautifully executed coffee table book.

Building on the success 13 years ago of the first printing of “Ultimate Harley-Davidson” (no connection to Ultimate MotorCycling), we now are enjoying a new edition of the book authored by Hugo Wilson and shot by Dave King.

Smartly packaged into nine chapters that combine to tell the Harley-Davidson story in exactingly reproduced large-scale photos, this is the sort of book a hardcore fan will spend hours devouring.

Meaty portions include full spreads of various powerplants, such as the Knucklehead, with plenty of supporting info to please the cerebrum as well as the visual cortex.

An aspect of “Ultimate Harley- Davidson” that gives it the same type of credibility that surrounds the marque it is covering, is that the motorcycles pictured look like runners rather than static museum pieces. You’ll see rust, rough paint, erratic castings and an organic portion of oil and dirt. These are unabashedly real motorcycles photographed with an admirable attention to detail.

With well over 100 years under The Motor Company’s belt, 200 pages may not seem like enough, and perhaps it’s not.

However, the market for a 500-page tome may be limited. Regardless, Wilson and King ably tell the Harley-Davidson story through text and photos, with a deft touch. Few fans of the brand will know and have seen everything in this book, and it is certainly a way to entice those who haven’t partaken in the Minnesota high-test to give it a thought.

Racing fans will be satisfied with such varied examples as the 1915 KR Fast Roadster, a 1930 hill climber, the GP Championship winning 1976 RR250, and the 1986 Buell RR1000.

Touring aficionados could spend an hour spellbound by the 1960 FLH Duo- Glide spread, and custom diehards will need a napkin to wipe up the drool evoked by the 1971 FX Super Glide. Sportsters get a chapter of their own, highlighted by the short-lived and retroactively iconic 1978 XLCR.

At the back of the book is an exhaustive list of H-Ds from 1903 to 2013, plus an explanation of the letter designation system—great resources.

Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. If you have someone on your gift list with even a passing interest in the Juneau Avenue brand, “Ultimate Harley-Davidson – New Edition”, will make you a hero at unwrapping time.