For many decades the world of modified bikes has always been a subculture within a subculture, and the individuals that spend their spare time getting stuck in, happily wear that tag with pride.
Fast forward to today’s digital era and you can’t go anywhere these days without being a few miles from a custom bike shop/apparel boutique/an eatery that serves food on a scaffolding plank and drinks in old marmalade jars. However, like every industry, it’s easy to decipher the wheat from the chaff.
Harley-Davidson is probably the most customised of all motorcycle brands, and over the years people have taken the brand from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to the modifying limit. So, for even the most inexperienced enthusiast, there are decades worth of articles, builds, and manuals that can be called upon when customising a Harley. But, when it comes to the people that build bikes for a living, you really get to see what a ‘proper job’ professional builders can create.
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The Battle of the Kings is an annual internal dual between Harley-Davidson dealerships throughout the world. With every shop having to modify the same specific model as everyone else, it gives each shop the opportunity to showcase their interpretation of what a custom Harley-Davidson should look like. The rules are tight, with budget restrictions and various criteria around using official Harley accessories, Screamin’ Eagle parts and a restriction on the amount of fabrication work that can be carried out. Battle of the Kings is not about the team with the biggest wallet winning, rather it rewards creativity and solid engineering skills.
For 2019, the chosen Harley model is the £10k Sportster Forty-Eight. From a UK perspective, there was a plethora of modifying talent ready to show the world what they could do. In total, 11 dealerships from all corners of the UK submitted their own modified creation, and the competition was fierce.
This year’s national winner, which moves through to the second round, was the ‘The Crook’ from Warr’s Harley Davidson of King’s Road, London. It’s the third time that Britain’s oldest H-D dealer has taken the national Battle of the King crown, so they’ve certainly got some form.
Created by Charlie Stockwell, Warr’s Head of Design and Custom, The Crook runs a stock chassis but raids Harley’s Parts and Accessories range for a whole host of parts, including the rocker covers, handlebar grips, footpegs, brake levers, solo saddle and black wheel rims. The team also added an S&S Grand National chrome exhaust, fat Firestone tyres, mini LED indicators, custom fuel tank and a one-off rear fender. It’s been set off by a subtle black paint job to finish a project which, Warr’s say, ‘creates a build where there wasn’t anything that was too challenging. The whole idea was to promote easy custom building that’s effective by looking awesome.’
The overall Battle of the Kings 2019 winner isn’t announced until November 2019, when all the various national champions show off their creations together. There are still many rounds to negotiate before anyone can be crowned ‘King’, and you can keep up to date with the finalists by searching ‘Battle of the Kings’ online.