Link - by Avi Abrams

      Back to the Basics: Lean as wire, hard as iron and dark as a tar road
        at midnight

      This is Blackline, the newest motorcycle in Harley-Davidson’s Dark
      Custom family. Designed for our post-everything, back-to-the-basics times,
      Blackline adds more fuel to the Dark Custom movement that young riders
      have embraced in record numbers. We've arranged for the exclusive
      interview with Harley-Davidson's Dark Custom team to answer questions
      about this amazing new motorcycle’s unique, authentic approach; and why
      young riders are gravitating toward the Dark Custom machines.


      It seems this bike's attitude is rooted in Depression era; what are the
        bikes that inspired it, back in the Harley-Davidson catalogue?

      Amanda Lee, Harley-Davidson Motor Company:
      The Blackline motorcycle embodies an attitude of rebellion and defiance
      that takes its cues from the rogue roots of Harley-Davidson’s 108-year

      (Photographs courtesy of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company

      Blackline is understated and yet classic; you’ll see styling elements
      inspired by many of its Big Twin predecessors from as early as the 1920s.
      For example, the Horseshoe Oil Tank was inspired by the original on the
      1936 EL. The black rims on the wheels also hearken back to the 1930s. A
      unique styling element of the Blackline are the black cylinders with gray
      heads, topped with a black rocker top – this is seen on certain Panhead
      and Shovelhead models of the 1950s and ‘60s.

      Minimalist styling, stripped-down, barely-legal and chopped elements


      The black primary cover with chrome clutch cover is reminiscent of what
      appeared on the Big Twins in the late 1940s through the 1960s. The round
      air cleaner you see on the Blackline is also found on the Softail Cross
      Bones – this is a styling element that originated in the 1940s and was
      used all the way up to the Evolution era of the 1980s and ‘90s.


      Up front and tucked into the frame, the black headlamp replicates the
      standard appearance on Harleys from the World War 1 years all the way up
      to the late 1940s, after which they were chromed. The lower black fork
      legs are slightly reminiscent of the 1949 Hydra Glide front end because
      that was the original, modern FL front end. The slammed speedo on the
      handlebars is pre-1936 and delivers a sporty look. Other styling elements
      come from more than just Harley-Davidson history, taking authentic cues
      from motorcycle culture as well. The chopped rear fender made famous by
      post-WWII riders is bobbed high-and-tight over a slim 144mm tire.


      I also notice some similarity to the popular British bikes from the
        1970s, such as Norton Commando, Triumph T150, etc - powerful,
        youth-oriented freedom symbols. Is this intentional homage to these
        legendary machines?

      Actually, no. The Harley-Davidson Blackline motorcycle carries forward
      many styling cues that are unique to Harley-Davidson’s 108-year legacy, as
      noted in the previous answer.


      This is one beautiful lean, mean machine - many will notice design
        references to the 1930s and 1940s era of unadulterated rebel machines.
        Am I correct in assuming that Harley-Davidson designers tapped that
        stylistic niche to market machines to modern often-disillusioned
        post-everything youth?

      Riders have always related to Harley-Davidson in ways that are authentic
      to their generation. Years back, we recognized a growing movement among
      young riders that reflected the “back to basics” mentality, focusing more
      on customization through minimalization. We were excited to see this
      happening because so much of what young riders were embracing came from
      the rogue roots of Harley’s history. So in 2008, we shined the light on
      this movement and we named it Dark Custom.


      The Blackline motorcycle is part of Dark Custom. Dark Custom embodies
      minimalist styling, stripped-down, barely-legal and chopped elements, a
      rough and raw attitude and blacked-out engine components that are meant to
      be ridden hard and put away dirty. Basically, Dark Custom is about
      stripping away the embellishments that don’t define today’s younger
      generation of riders and exposing the bike in a way that allows riders to
      make their own statement. The Blackline is basically a light-weight
      Softail, stripped down lean and raw. It is not a sport bike, but certainly
      is athletic.


      A motorcycle for all those who run by their own moral code. It’s for
        riders who know who they are, and answer to no one.

      In terms of the bike’s personality, the Blackline is a motorcycle for all
      those who run by their own moral code. It’s for riders who know who they
      are, and answer to no one. The Blackline celebrates a spirit of defiance
      and irreverence that defines Dark Custom – it’s pared to the bone,
      stripped to the legal limit, and is the perfect balance of allegiance and
      rebellion with a look that’s honest, functional and attainable. Simply put
      – it brings together a trifecta of mechanical beauty, internal combustion
      and the long black line of the road ahead.


      What Dark Custom line consists of, and will there be further Dark
        Custom entries?

      Six motorcycles make up the Dark Custom line – the Nightster, Cross Bones,
      Iron 883, Forty-Eight, Street Bob and Fat Bob (go to
      to learn more and see the bikes) Of course the economic climate over the
      past few years has been challenging, but the incidence of motorcycling
      among young adults is growing, and Harley-Davidson has been growing its
      market share leadership among this age category. We are the leader among
      young adults ages 18-34 in U.S. street bike market share. The Blackline is
      priced at an affordable U.S. MSRP of $15,499 in Vivid Black.


      DRB: What is your favorite bike stunt / movie sequence?

      Well, I have to say that Evel Knievel is my all time favorite motorcycle
      daredevil. I had the chance to spend some time with his son, Kelly
      Knievel, for an exhibit that we hosted at the Harley-Davidson Museum in
      Milwaukee last year, and it was amazing to hear some of Kelly’s first-hand
      stories about his dad’s rise to fame.


      I don’t know if it’s considered a “stunt” scene, but the funniest
      motorcycle movie moment is when Pee-Wee Herman knocks over an entire row
      of motorcycles in the movie “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.” The bikers run
      outside and grab him – he’s such a nerd, and he thinks he’s going down,
      but in the end they all end up being buddies. DRB:
      If this bike had a character/personality, what would it be, and what
        are the best words to describe its typical rider?

      The Blackline embodies a place and time in your life when you aren’t
      looking back and you’re not looking forward. You just ARE. You answer to
      no one. You run by your own moral code. And you have one helluva good time
      doing it.

      (Photographs courtesy of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company




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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's a disappointingly shill-rich article. Entirely too much advertising copy in it. What a shame.

Anonymous Paige said...

Writing as a long time DRB fan, this post was disappointingly out-of-place ad for HD, purveyor of slow, bloated status symbols for middle-aged rubes. There's nothing interesting or original about a modest stab at cashing in on the chopper/bobber/rat fad.

Blogger Daniel S. said...

That looks about like the most generic and boring motorcycle that they could have possibly designed. HD has resigned itself to making the most sterile and non-innovative motorcycles on the market.

If you want to see a minimalistic cruiser design with splashes of classic aesthetics then look at the Confederate Hellcat.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"A motorcycle for all those who run by their own moral code. It’s for riders who know who they are, and answer to no one."

Oh puhleeez!

I suppose this sort of marketing must work though when you see the pudgy accountants and quantity suveyors out putting around on these things.

And the bike itself, dull as ditch water Harley parts bin effort.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize ya'll got bills to pay and all, but really at the end of the day you'll make more money if you don't make Hawaii 5-0 look demure when it comes to product placement.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, not really fair to compare a low end Harley to a company that makes 30 $100,000 in a good year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"basically a light-weight Softail" and other comments in the article show that HD still have no imagination and are deliberately borrowing tired old ideas from their own tired old models. I'm looking forward to the day when they drop the prehistoric design and put out something really new. Pushrods? Come on HD, it's 2011.

Blogger eolon said...

All you Jap bikers need to calm down. Harley is the only motorcycle. They make many different models if you don't like this one. They still won't sell to fags, though.

Best Regards,



LA 2728

Blogger rashomon said...

A lightweight Softail is a contradiction in terms. These are steampunk motorcycles without the irony -- built by the truly clueless for aging pot-bellied guys. Real outlaws have long since ridden sportbikes.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I miss my Softtail, but I wouldn't buy another.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a 45 year rider who's owned 10 street bikes, other than the underdeveloped, and short lived XLCR, I have never seen a Harley that didn't look like a cartoon caricature from the 50's or 60's. And unfortunately, many Harley owners have plenty of callow "attitude" towards anything other than Harley's, as the comments seen here illustrate, so I avoid Harley's and most Harley people like the plague that they are.

Anonymous Terry Smith said...

Up near the start the bike is described as being "unique" and then it starts listing all of the bits that were copied, sory "reminiscent". Overall it sounds like something put together from the left overs pile at HD.


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