Harley-Davidson Art of Rebellion

February 10, 2009
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
Contributing Editor |Articles |Articles RSS

Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

Harley-Davidson Art of Rebellion
Harley-Davidson’s new 883 Sportster Dark Custom made its debut at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, California.

Harley-Davidson never has, nor hopefully never will be your typical motorcycle manufacturer. The success of their brand is almost solely based around their ‘Bad Boy’ image and reputation for making motorcycles that cater to those who police are debriefed about in their morning doughnut-and-coffee meetings at the local precinct. Recently, mid-life-crisis doctors and lawyers trying to relive their youth have latched onto this image, spending loads of money and making the Bar and Shield a massive mainstream success. Some would even say they have become sellouts.

Purists will always criticize those who make the most of our capitalist economy, but they are quick to forget it is this which allows H-D to continue development and employ many thousands of Americans, something that can’t be said for some of their competition. As of recent the boys of Milwaukee have pushed to get away from this stigma and for the First look at their 883 Sportster Dark Custom, they continued that push.

Dubbed The Art of Rebellion, featured were 10 of today’s most influential artists. All were given a blank Sportster tank to do with whatever they wished, aimed to embrace their vision of the rebellion theme. They were also encouraged to bring any conventional artwork that encompassed the same theme. Artwork plus motorcycles? Very untraditional. Very refreshing.
The artists on hand included some big-name players, highlighted by the massively popular Shepard Fairey, Frank Kozik and Clayton brothers. Also commissioned were the Shawn Barber, Bob Dob, Tara McPherson, Alex Pardee, David Trulli, Mark Dean Veca and Oliver Vernon. Amazing, to say the least. The artwork was also for sale, with the majority of process being donated to the Art Matters, a charity dedicated to providing underprivileged artists funds to fulfill their dreams, one which Fairey sits on the board of.

Harley-Davidson Art of Rebellion
This eye-catching original piece was created by artist Frank Kozik. MotoUSA tried to take it home but was bested by another bidder. Yes, it was that cool!

Equally a piece of art on show for the night’s VIP activities was H-D’s new Dark Custom. “The Iron 883 defies the plastic conventions of other motorcycles at this price,” said Mark-Hans Richer, Harley-Davidson Chief Marketing Officer. “It’s got old school style, a new school ride and gives the owner a platform for creative customization.”

Stylizing is a collage of old and new, aimed to embrace rebellion with its dark and evil looks. Out back sits a black chopped rear fender to showcase the 150-series rear tire and cast aluminum wheel. Also dark and black are the front fork and fender supports, fuel tank, oil tank cover, belt guard, drag-style handlebar and mid-mount foot controls. The solo seat sits at a low-slung 25.3 inches. If the desire arises to share your dark-night riding experience, a passenger seat and backrest in matching black finishes can be added as accessories.

Highlighted within the old school H-D exterior is a black powder-coated 883cc Evolution powertrain with black covers and Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI). Performance was tuned with broadening the torque curve in mind, while shorty dual exhausts are designed to make for an unmistakable H-D sound.

Judging by the look of the latest from Harley-Davidson, I would venture to say this should squash the sigma that Sportsters are only for girls. The Iron 883 Dark Night has Bad Ass written all over. Stayed tuned for a full ride report as we have a test unit on the way.

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