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Harley-Davidson Goes Raw to Give Younger Generation Freedom to Discover

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Dark Custom Collection from Harley-Davidson revisits roots to spur new beginnings

MILWAUKEE, April 29 -- There's a time in everyone's life when necessity trumps extravagance. One look at Harley-Davidson's collection of chopped-up, stripped-down and purposely unpolished bikes and you suddenly realize what that bumps-and-bruises feeling of self discovery is supposed to look like. But don't be fooled by its vintage designs. Dark Custom is anything but a historical retrospective. With a new generation of riders embracing these bikes, it is clear Dark Custom is here and now.

For generations, Harley-Davidson has defied the status quo, rebelliously representing counter culture. However, over the past decade, the average Harley-Davidson rider has crept up in age. This has inspired the company's designers to revisit the Harley-Davidson roots and bring back that simple yet honest authenticity that rallied so many restless riders who came before.

"Like previous generations of bikes, Dark Custom represents an attitude," said Paul James, Director of Product Communications for Harley-Davidson. "We'd be kidding ourselves if we said history didn't have an impact on the designs of these Dark Customs. The same sort of utilitarian attitude that drove bike design in the postwar years is alive and well today. Dark Custom is about stripping away the chrome and embellishments that don't define a younger generation of riders and exposing the bike in a way that screams 'make your own statement.'"

Dark Custom's stripped-down designs are not only about anti-embellishment, they also allow Harley-Davidson to make these bikes affordable for up-and- coming riders. While other pricier models may lead young people to believe a Harley-Davidson is simply out of economical reach, some Dark Custom bikes are under $10,000, with several others only slightly higher. Last year's popular Nightster(TM) retails for $9,600 while others such as the Street Bob are under $14,000. In addition to the Nightster(TM), the Dark Custom collection includes the all-new Cross Bones(TM), Night Rod(TM) Special, Night Train(R), Fat Bob(TM) and Street Bob(TM).

In lieu of chrome, full fenders and other features considered traditional Harley-Davidson, Dark Custom is a free-spirited group of bikes with deliberate under- and overtones of rebellious expression. While darker components such as blacked-out wheel rims, fenders, hubs, engine assembly and handle bars mold the collection's darker image, Dark Custom's distinct persona is more about self expression.

Whether it's the bobber style soft tail, classic Sportster(R) or anything in between, every Dark Custom holds a rebellious grudge with aggressive, often random styling. Take the black handle bars using the same paint used to tag bridges and buildings back in the day, or the chopped and bobbed fenders. Then there are the signature "fists-high-in-the-air" handlebar designs, the stitched seats and a punk rock color scheme. Subtleties include front fork gaiters, mag wheels and grind pegs reminiscent of your '80s BMX bike. The overall clean design exposes more components and contributes greatly to the collection's randomly raw and gritty appearance.

Each class of bike within the Dark Custom collection carries basic performance and design traits of its immediate family, but that's where the familiarity -- and friendship for that matter -- ends. You can sum up the style of the Dark Custom collection in three words: raw and random.

But raw and gritty is not all you get. Things like Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), straight-shot exhaust, reduced clutch lever effort, high performance carbon fiber drive belts, more responsive engines and redesigned gauges are enough to take any unsuspecting outlaw out of the '70s and into the now.

"Dark Custom is raw and genuine, so young riders can make their own statement," said Willie G. Davidson, Vice President of Styling. "It starts where we began. Rebellious. Lean and hungry. Honest and familiar. It's good to be home."

  The Harley-Davidson Dark Custom collection includes:
  --  The all-new Cross Bones(TM): The only thing soft about this Softail(R)
      is the seat. It features a chopped front fender, retro air cleaner
      cover and a smooth lowered suspension that's closer to the road than
      any model in its class. It also boasts an air-cooled, rigid mounted,
      1584cc Twin Cam 96B balanced engine with a blacked-out finish that's
      pure badass.
  --  1200 Nightster(TM): The Sportster(R) has seen a lot of refinement over
      the years and this one is no exception. It features a gray and black
      color scheme with old-school fork gaiters, chopped rear fender, low
      suspension seat and a narrow, nimble frame for prowling back alleys.
      The 1200cc Evolution V-Twin engine hits the ground running.
  --  Night Rod(TM) Special: It came from the dark side of wherever your
      mother told you not to go. The Night Rod's(TM) race-inspired detailing
      and shades of black metal mesh perfectly with the bike's performance
      characteristics. The liquid-cooled Revolution(R) engine gets an
      upgrade to 1250cc for 2008 while a new slipper clutch and optional ABS
      complete the high-tech package.
  --  Night Train(R): An unforgettable dark profile with an even darker soul.
      Night Train's(R) narrow front wheel, bobtail fender, drag-style bar on
      risers and forward controls are complemented by a black powder-coated
      engine and six-speed transmission. The bullet headlamp, low-riding
      seat and totally exposed engine assembly give this bike a classic yet
      commanding look.
  --  Fat Bob(TM): Thick and compact like a bulldog, the Fat Bob(TM) is
      aggression on two wheels. Its design centers on the power and glory of
      a vibration-isolated Twin Cam 96(R) engine while the solid 16" wheels,
      dual headlamps and Tommy-gun exhaust shield on custom pipes offer
      ample warning to stand back.
  --  Street Bob(TM): It brings you back to a day when the best way to make
      a bike go faster and look mean was to strip off metal parts. The
      Street Bob's(TM) low-mounted solo seat, powder-coated covers, sculpted
      emblems and high handle bar design give it a powerful profile while
      neighbors are sure to recognize the rumble of its V-Twin engine.

For more information about Dark Custom or the motorcycles in the collection, visit HD.