Full Court Press: All the details on the 2016 Harley-Davidson Lineup

The last three years have been a product blitz from the evolutionary norm of Harley-Davidson. The new RUSHMORE line of touring motorcycles, the Livewire electric motorcycle and the Street 500/750 have barnstormed the industry. However, 2016 sees a return to evolving key models of the product line to keep existing customers happy with some simple but significant improvements.

For 2016, every step of the Harley line, from entry-level to the highest end, received tweaks. We went to Portland to experience all the changes made throughout the line.

Entry-Level Excess

The Sportster and Street 500/750 are absolutely critical to Harley-Davidson’s success. Both are entries into the brand, expanding the brand in overseas markets and responsible for bringing new customers into the fold. Key changes were made to improve refinement and riding quality, but very little revolutionary changes were implemented.

The Sportster Forty-Eight, a stalwart of their Dark Custom Line, and Iron 883 both received new, more comfortable seats, revised paint and cast wheels. The Forty-Eight also received 49mm front forks.

These changes made them markedly more friendly to ride on the pockmarked roads of Portlandia. When the going gets twisty, the lowered rotating mass of the wheels has a minimal but appreciated improvement in turn-in, and the seat makes bouncing around a bit more comfortable. Still the same Sportster, now with a bit more comfort and value added.

The Street 500 and 750 have crushed it in international markets and had reasonable success in the States, but to fire it up, Harley instituted changes heard from both existing and prospective customers, namely aesthetic changes to bring it more in line with the rest of the family. This means more metal trim, rerouted wires and an overall cleaner routing scheme to decrease the frump. We didn’t have a chance to ride this one, so a verdict will have to wait.

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Motocross legend Carey Hart on Harleys, breaking bones, business and relationships


If I talk to one of my buddies on the phone and he says he’s recovering from the weekend, I know it’s because he got hammered. But when Carey Hart says it, it could be due to a life threatening injury.

“It was my 40th birthday. So it was kinda life threatening,” said Hart about recently hitting the big 4-0 and the ensuing party. “We had a big one. There was probably about 20 of us and we did a 150-mile motorcycle ride that ended at this cool little motel bar where my wife threw me a big party.”

Hart is rebuilding a H-D 2015 Road Glide Custom using 90 percent Harley-Davidson P&A. The build is in preparation for a ride from Nashville, TN to the 75th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally (Aug. 3-9), where he’ll showcase his creation as the 2015 Grand Marshall of the Sturgis Mayor’s Ride.

How did you get hooked up with Harley Davidson?

I got my first Harley when I was in my early 20s, and its always been a passion project of mine. Not only do I like riding them, but I like working on them. And just the whole culture of it. I’ve been to most of the rallys – Laughlin, Daytona, Sturgis – it’s just something I’m really into. I’m kind of in the twilight of my riding career, and I’ve come to the point in my life where I want to do more on the two-wheel bagger side. Harley sent me this bike and I did my version of a build on it. And I’m pretty happy with how it came out.


At what point in your career did you accept getting hurt as part of your job and not having any fear of it?

As an amateur. By the time you make it to the pro level in motocross or where you’re at the level where you are doing contests, you’ve already had a good share of injuries. Very, very few riders make it to the pro level without a few major injuries along the way. It’s part of the job – it’s not about if, it’s when.

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Harley-Davidson starts the celebration for its 110th anniversary

The countdown clock had begun at the command of Willie G. Davidson, the grandson of the founders of Harley-Davidson. The year-long party to celebrate the 110th anniversary was officially underway in typical Harley-Davidson style with an appropriate blowout in the heart of Milwaukee and Bullz-Eye was invited to attend. This included the launching of the festivities and a review of the 110th anniversary Harley models and the evolution of this true American icon.

We arrived at the Iron Horse boutique hotel, which offers dream accommodations for bikers. This 5 star hotel resides in a converted 100-year old warehouse and was designed to cater to motorcycle enthusiasts by offering top-notch business services with never-before-seen rider amenities. Loaded with memorabilia and located across the river from the new Harley-Davidson Museum, it served as the perfect home base for enjoying the planned festivities.

At the unveiling of the new anniversary models we saw the new and very eye catching Hard Candy custom paint scenes that we recently saw in the new Seventy-Two Sportster model now available as an expanded option in the Dyna and Softail family of bikes as well. The Street Bob now as been restyled, with awesome factory options, and Harley’s own in-house custom division, CVO, launches a new and very radical Breakout model. The Softail, Dyna and Sportster family of bikes will see the exclusive 110th anniversary editions, with cool, rustic badging included. In the CVO family, models with the 110th package include the Road King, Road Glide and the super top of the line Ultra Classic Electra Glide.

Harley-Davidson CVO Breakout

The next day we were treated to a remarkable factory power-train tour where all the engines are made for every Harley sold world-wide. It’s hard to describe the massive size of this amazing factory, with 750,000 sq feet, equal to 17 football fields, under one roof. Clean, automated and fascinating, the tour is a must-see while in Milwaukee, and the basic tour is free, so you can’t beat that!

Returning downtown we arrived at the remarkable Harley-Davidson Museum, the largest museum in the world devoted to motorcycles. This is the Mecca for any HD enthusiast, from the first HD bike made in a shed to fascinating 3D interactive areas and rider emersion activities. A half day can be spent here easily; it’s that big. You can see a photo of the East Rider Harley in the slideshow above. The museum also featured the “Worn to be Wild” leather jacket exhibit that celebrates the iconic black leather jacket. They had over 50 jackets on display, ranging from rare historical examples pulled from both the HD archives and private collections to those worn by celebrities.

We were able to interview Harley design directors who commented that “freedom, independence and an attitude about life is pretty universal” and that “we want to put a big underline under that with everything we do” throughout the company. “The idea of Harley is universal – it’s not just an American idea.” And they want to bring the experience to everyone. This is also being showcased by Harley on several global “Epic Rides” including ride events to Tibet and through Europe for the next 12 months. They commented “it’s about the individual . . . to live freedom and spread the idea globally . . . each ride of course has its own party!”

We also had the honor of meet with Willie G. Davidson and he commented that “we know how to party with our customers . . . it has a lot to do with loyalty.” He continued, “We work continually on these (parties), this one we started (planning) five years ago . . . we are more internationally focused on our markets and our parties.”

He was quickly ushered away by security to the 10,000 gathered outside. As the huge crowd cheered Willie on with the start of the countdown clock the Harley stunt riders burned 110th in to the museum sidewalk with a massive cloud of smoke. Willie definitely knows how to party, and you can join in or just follow the fun over the next year. Just check the Harley-Davidson website for the Rumble Heard “Round the World.


Harlistas in East LA: Harley-Davidson showcases the new Seventy-Two Sportster

American motorcycle legend Harley-Davidson hosted an event for its latest Sportster model, the “Seventy-Two,” and Bullz-Eye.com was invited to ground zero of Latino motorcycle culture in East LA for the press launch and cultural immersion. The “72,” with its stylistic nod to hi metal flake custom paint and chrome so popular with the Latino low riders of Wittier Blvd., has made this one of Harley’s most splashy and eye-catching Sportster models to date.

Our first stop was the Harley-Davidson dealership in Glendale on the outskirts of downtown LA for a review of the Harley family of motorcycles for 2012 and our first glimpse of the new Seventy-Two model. This strikingly flashy Sportster is sure to get attention at any stoplight but is also within the most reasonably priced group of Harleys. The “72” boasts a hugely attention-getting hi metal flake red paint job, in Hard Candy Big Red Flake, the Evo 1200 cc V- twin, mini ape handle bars and a peanut gas tank. Forward foot controls and a low 28” seat height give laid back rider comfort, and the high torque output (73 pd-ft) in the low/mid RPMs lends the bike to impressive acceleration on the low end of the spectrum. The MSRP is $10,499 for the standard paint, and if you want the Hard Candy Big Red Flake, it has an MSRP of $11,199.

Tipping the scales at a modest 545lbs, this bike feels even lighter than it is, with a chopper fork rake, aluminum head and cylinders, skinny white wall wheels and narrow frame. The Sportster family has always been my favorite, with its nimble design and attractive low price, and it was always the most fun to drive. This is a bike either sex can easily operate with ease, the low un-sprung weight and laid back low seat height making it fun to buzz around in on a whim.

Soon after the showroom tour we were given an informative presentation of the Latino and Harley cultural marriage here in East LA. For more than 50 years, Latin American Harley riders have been proudly calling themselves Harlistas, and we were about to go on an enlightening tour of Los Angeles, with all things Latin and Harley mixed in!

Latino culture has profoundly shaped California and LA in particular, and the Latino culture loves the concept of Harley as it symbolizes freedom, individually and a sense of family – the Harley family. We visited several cultural highlights of East LA, including the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Chicano murals of Boyle Heights, Candelas Guitars and a stop at Cities Restaurant, complete with authentic Mexican premium tequila tasting, courtesy of paQui Tequila! The food and subsequent tequila shots were delicious, and we boarded the tour bus for the afternoon stops.

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Bullz-Eye Gets Back to Basics with Harley-Davidson

It started, as these things invariably do, with an email from a publicist.

The situation was thus: the fine folks from Harley-Davidson were looking to shine the light on the ’72 Harley, the latest and greatest model from their Dark Custom Line, with an all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago’s Wild Fire Harley-Davidson. Fair enough…except for the fact that I don’t own a motorcycle, it’s been more than ten years since I’ve ridden on a motorcycle, and, given that the ride in question – on the back of my brother-in-law’s bike – was so goddamned terrifying (he turned a corner, my feet dragged on the ground, and I was convinced that both our asses were about to hit the fucking pavement) that I’ve never thought for even so much as a moment about buying a motorcycle.

Ah, but the pitch wasn’t just about motorcycles. Indeed, the phrase used to describe the expedition was “a jam-packed day of ass-kicking and whiskey drinking.” Now, not being much of a scrapper, I can take or leave the former, but when you bring up the latter…? Sir, you have my undivided attention.

And that, my friends, is how I came to get…


Because of the designated start time on Saturday and the terribly unhelpful flight times from my home base from Norfolk (ORF) to Chicago, it was agreed that the most convenient time for me to arrive into O’Hare would actually be on Friday…and after this was agreed upon, I then begged, pleaded, and ultimately annoyed my hosts into getting me on the earliest possible flight, so as to be in Chicago for as long as possible.

Coming down the escalator, I was met by a driver holding up a card with my name on it, which is an experience that every flier should have at least once in their life. In short order, I had been deposited at the front door of The Drake Hotel, a gorgeous establishment right in the heart of the city, and – to my utter amazement – I was able to check in immediately, go right up to my room, drop off my bags, and hit the streets of Chicago.

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