Every year is a big one when you're in the cut-throat Motorcycle business. But this annum is going to be a little bit bigger for Harley-Davidson. America’s oldest motorcycle manufacturer is celebrating its 110th Anniversary with a year-long international party, marked by a seemingly endless run of rallies and, of course, a special line of new and specially appointed motorcycles.
The anniversary year kicked off in Milwaukee as summer gave way to fall. The annual Milwaukee Rally served as the backdrop for Harley-Davidson's 110k birthday announcement. Thousands of rides crowded into the Harley-Davidson Museum grounds to watch the recently retired Willie Davidson start a 365-day dock that will remain on display throughout the year.
When that clock reaches zero next summer in Milwaukee (Aug. 29-through Sept. 1 2013) in Milwaukee, the museum will host the a massive final birthday celebration. Before that bash arrives next summer, a series of international events will look bring that Harley-Davidson culture out around the world.
Starting in January, 2013, special 110th Anniversary rallies will hit India, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, China, Mexico and Brazil. But the highlight of the year looks to be the Rome Rally next June. Bikers visiting the Eternal City will witness the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch HOGs mix with Cardinals in Vatican City. There are rumors of a bike blessing by Pope Benedict himself.
Aside from the rallies, a select few chosen riders will have a chance to share the Freedom Jacket. Earlier this year, a special media ride through China found Harley-Davidson reps and reporters from the Far East on a demo ride through Tibet. While stopped, the Harley folks asked an average Joe along the side of the road (or average Li/Chin, as the case may be) to sign a rider’s leather jacket.
That stranger painted the Chinese symbol for “Freedom” on the cow hide. See below. That jacket will make the international rounds this year, and a few choice riders will have a chance to adorn or decorate it their own unique iconography.
Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson will look to involve riders from across the demographic spectrum with a fan-driven ad campaign and Twitter trend, #stereotypicalharley. Marked by a specially produced TV spot detailing the diversity of Harley-Davidson riders, the Twitter campaign invites those riders to Tweet their stories and unique identities as the “average Harley buyer.”
The ad (“United by Independents”) first ran during the season premiere of “The Sons of Anarchy” and will continue to run throughout the 110th Anniversary year.
Finally, there’s no way Harley would put together such ambitious anniversary plans without introducing new motorcycles. For 2013, a new Street Bob will hit the roads, alongside limited edition 110th rides including Super Glide Custom, Fay Boy Lo, Road King, Electra Glide Ultra Limited, Heritage Softail Classic and 1200 Custom.
Each bike will include the special 110 Anniversary badge marking the bike’s position in the limited run.
We’ll have reviews of the new rides in the coming months. Stay tuned.