BELLINGHAM, WASH., AUG. 12-16—When I arrived at the Hotel Bellweather on Bellingham Bay in Washington State for Harley-Davidson’s 2013 model year press launch, it didn’t take long before my curiosity about The Motor Company’s 2013 lineup was satisfied. Prior to our evening’s dinner, Jen Hoyer, media relations manager for H-D, along with Greg Falkner, motorcycle product planning manager, and Fred Knoch, parts and accessories manager, literally pulled the wrapper off a pair of Street Bobs in Hard Candy Custom metal flake paintwork. The bikes don’t actually come with a candy wrapper, but the 2013 storage cover served as one.
The Street Bob was singled out for special treatment this year and has changed for the better as a result of customer and dealer feedback, proving that someone’s listening. Leading the change is a new console with integral ignition switch—just like the other Big Twins. The Sparto-style taillight is also gone, replaced by a chopped rear fender and side-mounted license plate with turn signals that also function as brake lights. A new round air cleaner cover highlights the TC96 stock black engine. Isolated risers, a forged top clamp and gloss black treatment on the triple clamps and lower fork legs, along with a new battery cover, tapered mufflers and a choice of tank medallion or scallop two-tone paint complete the changes to the stock Dyna platform-based Street Bob. Rolling on black-laced wheels, it still weighs in with an MSRP of $12,999.
And new for 2013, you can also customize your Street Bob before it ever leaves the factory by visiting the H-D1 Factory Customization website—a program previously exclusive to 1200 Custom Sportster buyers. You can browse and build online, choose your handlebar options (mini apes, drag or pullback), seat preference (solo stock or Badlander with passenger pegs), and your choice of mid-mount or forward foot controls. And then simply take the build sheet to your dealer and wait for the factory to deliver. Having had the opportunity to ride the Street Bob in all configurations, my favorite was the forward control/drag bar combination, but those of shorter inseam may prefer mid-mount foot controls and pullback bars. The stock TC96 engine can be upgraded to a TC103 for a mere $350, and chromed out for another $350 (both huge bargains).
The Street Bob is also a perfect palette for the new Hard Candy Custom treatment, but Hard Candy finishes are also available on the Seventy-Two, Forty-Eight, Softail Deluxe, Softail Blackline and the new CVO Breakout models. Hard Candy Custom is The Motor Company’s new retro styling movement, reminiscent of the ’60s-era SoCal choppers, featuring big metal flake paints in Big Red Flake, Lucky Green Flake and Coloma Gold Flake. Each is an eight-layer paint job with custom graphics applied at the factory, meaning that you also get a factory warranty. The Hard Candy Custom program isn’t limited to tins sets; it includes general merchandise, as well as parts and accessories. A few of those include a metal flake seat option, solo sprung seats, grips and sissy bars. Also offered are downtube and swingarm bags. In any color, the Street Bobs are a sweet ride.
Hard Candy Custom treatment is available in limited color choices on the Seventy-Two, Street Bob, Blackline, Softail Deluxe and Forty-Eight, with more intricate two-tone variants for many Sportster, Dyna, Softail and Touring models.
Where shall we ride?
For an occasion as unique as the introduction of Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary lineup, a special ride was in order. Cue the fine folks of Global Enduro, a Harley-Davidson-authorized tour operator that just happens to have a British Columbia/Pacific Northwest tour up their sleeve. Jim Peters, Global Enduro principal, along with Richard “Richie” Finney and Russell Couchman would be our tour guides, as we rode for three days on some of the most awe-inspiring roads in North America. Global Enduro has a variety of tours available and has been running them successfully for the last 10 years. This particular tour is the latest “Once in a Lifetime Harley-Davidson Authorized Tour.” Jim and his guides delivered an amazing experience including great roads, terrific food and diversity in lodging that you have to experience to believe. The word breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe the beauty of this remote wilderness, but it’s the best I can do.
Our first day on the road included a stop at Tweets, a unique eatery in Bow, Washington, that featured great coffee and unbelievably delicious peach tarts. From there, it was off to Washington’s North Cascades Highway. It was 96 miles of mountains, valleys and incredible views, including Washington Pass, which had some of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen. Following a brief stop in the quaint old cattle town of Winthrop, we concluded the day at the award-winning Sun Mountain Lodge where the food is scrumptious, the wind whistles through the trees and the stars at night look as though you could reach out and grab them.
During our tour, we had plenty of time to swap rides. Naturally, the Limited Edition 110th Anniversary bikes were coveted. Four Anniversary models were ours for the riding; the Fat Boy Lo, Heritage Softail Classic, Road King and an Ultra Limited. The 110th Anniversary models have several features in common: Each bike is serialized, meaning in the example of the Heritage, #004 of 1,900 was displayed on a tasteful chrome plate, and each wears two-tone Anniversary Vintage Bronze paint with Anniversary Vintage Black and Anniversary Pearl Coat accented by floating pinstripes and a watermarked logo on the front fender. Other 110th identifiers are found on the derby cover, air cleaner, timing cover and special contrasting seat panels, while unique wheel finishes also set them apart.
The easiest way to spot a 110th Anniversary bike is the special “Living Finish” solid bronze, black nickel-plated single-wing tank badge with a bright gold-tone Bar and Shield cloisonné. This was a finish that Willie G. reportedly wanted to see used for some time, and the 110th anniversary tank badge seemed like the opportune place. The bronze badge features a distressed finish with buffed highlights, sealed with clear coat to maintain consistency from bike to bike. These badges will only be applied to 110th Anniversary models, which will be produced in the following quantities: the 1200 Custom Sportster (1,500), Super Glide Custom (1,450), Fat Boy Lo (1,750), Heritage Softail Classic (1,900), Road King (1,750), Electra Glide Ultra Limited (3,750) and the Tri Glide Ultra Classic (1,450). CVO Anniversary models are the Ultra Classic Electra Glide (1,100), CVO Road King Classic (900) and the CVO Road Glide Custom (900). These models come with all available factory-installed options as standard equipment.
Canada wants to talk to the lady in the truck
Herding a group of 15 motojournalists is a bit like herding cats. Our second day on the road would require our crossing the U.S./Canada border in a nondescript area that said “Chopaka” on the side of the Canadian guard shack. We’d all been told repeatedly that we would need our passports to cross. We also needed papers for the bikes. Given the nature of our trip and mass arrival at quiet little Chopaka, some issues would ensue, resulting in about a two-hour border crossing to get all 20 of us through. Jen Hoyer, our group leader, was summoned by the U.S. Border Guard because Canada wanted to talk to “the lady in the truck.” And talk they did, as the rest of us sweltered roadside in the 90-degree temps. We were politely asked not to take any photos, but observations were not prohibited. The contrast between the U.S. and Canadian border facilities was stark. The Canadian checkpoint was little more than a cottage with a roof to pull under like an old gas station. A rusty 500-gallon propane tank sat out back and an air hose ringer at the stop sign completed the package.
The U.S. facility featured a newly built roadway, a 16-foot-high fence around the compound, wind turbines for power and an X-ray machine for peering inside tractor trailers. Maybe it was the offseason, but there couldn’t have been six cars crossing during our time there. Our tax dollars at work.
With our paperwork in order, we were off to one of Global Enduro’s surprise lunch stops, the Crowsnest Vineyards. The establishment is owned by German immigrants and the bratwurst was outstanding. It was a most relaxing atmosphere with terrific staff, but we had to keep moving. Another great leg of riding was in store from Aspen Grove to the Sundance Guest Ranch near Ashcroft. This was the only leg where we experienced any rain at all and it was just a few drops.
The Sundance Guest Ranch provided a great place to stay and featured a delicious meal of cooked-to-order steaks. Following an after-dinner game of horseshoes, we retired to the onsite BYOB lounge where some impromptu guitar playing by ranch staff and our guide Russell set the tone for a relaxed night (and a good bit of conversation the next morning). One of the unique features of the Sundance was the lack of keys for room doors. I found that experience liberating.
The next morning offered a chance to watch the horses be jangled in (if you were up by 7:00 a.m., that is). It was just like in the movies, only better. A few hundred horses came trotting in from the fields all at once. A little later a trail ride was offered, while others got a jump on the day’s ride.
An international incident
I’d chosen the Anniversary Heritage for the day’s ride and as we were in the fueling line for the day, the pump shut off. Inadvertently, my tank was never topped off. My riding partner and friend Harry Fisher, drill leader of the Victor McLaglen Motor Corps, was surprised when I told him at a road construction stop outside of Seton Lake that my fuel light was on. Several areas of the road were one lane only and featured concrete barriers making the prospect of running out of fuel a daunting one. Several miles later, the reserve mileage indicator stopped at 10, so I told Harry that if I was going to have to sit a while, I was going to pick the spot. A few short miles later the Heritage sputtered as I crested a hill, so I pulled off.
Harry remembered seeing a boat launch area a few miles back and we rode back towards it hoping someone would have fuel, since the area was very remote. An unlikely couple—he from Switzerland, she from Costa Rica—produced two two-liter bottles of fuel wrapped in cloth from beneath the seat of their car. One bottle was U.S. gas, the other Mexican; we bought them both and eventually met up with Global Enduro’s Russell Couchman who was waiting roadside for us just before the lunch stop. We concluded that the Heritage was confused with the Road King at the morning fill up, since both were wearing the 110th Anniversary colors, and was ultimately short filled at the morning’s gas stop. The Heritage ran fine to the lunch stop at the Pony Cafe in Pemberton and on to Whistler, where we delivered the bikes to Harry Fisher’s transporter and were shuttled back to the Four Seasons Resort, our home for the night.
An option of either mountain biking or a ride in the Peak 2 Peak gondola was presented, and I chose the mountain biking. Another delicious meal wrapped up the evening along with the Global Enduro tradition of presenting award shirts for each day. It’s like the Tour de France leader wearing the yellow shirt, except these shirts are labeled “Spirit of the Day,” “Skidmark” and “Dick of the Day,” respectively. I’m sure we all deserved a shirt for one reason or another, but there were only three winners each evening. The Global Enduro group offered a once-in-a-lifetime trip with roads that not only offered great views, but were in remarkably good condition. Our daily mileage varied from 225 to 300 to 145, and each day presented scenery that I’ll never forget.
The opportunity to ride the majority of the bikes in the H-D model year lineup (no V-Rods, no CVOs, no Sportsters and no Tri Glide Ultra) was a great opportunity to see what fit. All of the bikes we rode featured the TC103 engine and they all performed flawlessly. What bike fits you best is more a matter of size and style than right or wrong. I was surprised in the differences between the Road King and the Heritage. The Fat Boy Lo was true to its name and a bit too low for my average-size frame (5’11” and 32″ inseam). The touring bikes were all comfortable, as you would expect. The Ultra Limited equipped with lowers was a bit of a toe-room issue for me, and considering the 90-degree temps, I could have done without them; otherwise, it was like riding an easy chair. There are even new passenger armrests for the Tour-Pak in the P&A catalog.
The 110th Anniversary year is about making stereotypes and breaking them. Although demographics indicate certain groups of people prefer certain bike features and styles, nobody is telling you what you have to ride. “United by independents fueling 110 years of self expression,” says Harley-Davidson. Now 110 years into this adventure, there is a bike and color scheme to fit everyone. The Motor Company is even scoffing at the green bike taboo, offering the Lucky Green Flake as a Hard Candy Custom color.
For 1,903 men and women, the Anniversary will mean a special Limited Edition Leather Jacket with custom-printed removable liner, sculpted metal badge graphics (for him) and rhinestones/embroidered faux sued inlaid with Swarovski crystal for her.
With 110th anniversary activities touching every corner of the world, including Rome and the Vatican, and culminating in Milwaukee between August 29 and September 1, 2013, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be involved, too. Find out more by visiting www.harley-davidson.com.
Global Enduro is forming one more British Columbia/Pacific Northwest Once in a Lifetime Authorized Harley-Davidson Tour now. It is limited to 20 bikes, so visit www.harley-davidson.com/authorizedtours to book your spot.
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2013 Harley-Davidson Retail Price Guide