Battle of the Kings bikes out on the road and in the press…


During the month of January this year, 29 Harley-Davidson dealers covering the length and breadth of the UK and Ireland, took part in a friendly dealer-rival competition entitled ‘Battle of the Kings’ (BOTK). The competition rules were simple: build a customised Harley-Davidson Sportster XL 1200X Forty-Eight® in the same stripped back tones as Harley’s Dark Custom range of production bikes for an affordable predetermined figure.


Within a month, all 29 Harley-Davidson dealers pushed their finished machines in front of a camera lens. The resulting photographs and build details were then compiled and, via the Harley-Davidson UK & Ireland Facebook page and a purpose built ‘Battle of the Kings’ competition App, voting began. It wasn’t an easy task – 29 bikes total and they all looked different, unique to each dealer – but thanks to the voting power of Harley-Davidson owners and fans, lovers of urban customisation and a guest judge from MotorCycle News (MCN), a top five was announced (cue drum roll)…


1)    Warr’s Harley-Davidson with the “Warr’s Urban Racer Sprint”

2)    Maidstone Harley-Davidson – King Slayer

3)    Shaw Harley-Davidson – The Clubman

4)    Edinburgh Harley-Davidson – SCR4M8LER

5)    Sycamore Harley-Davidson – Sonuvabitch


Warr’s Harley-Davidson (Kings Road) was eventually crowned ‘King of Custom’. The Warr’s Urban Racer Sprint was built by Charlie Stockwell, Warr’s Head of Design and Custom, and features café racer and urban brawler styling. The title ‘Urban racer’ underlines the fact the bike was also designed for everyday riding and practicality. The inspiration behind the bike’s unique styling is homage to a 1000cc XLCH Fred Warr raced at the Ramsgate Sprint in September 1960 – a 100mph machine straight from the packing crate.


Although Warr’s climbed the winner’s step, like the many thousands who voted, we believe everybody involved in producing the 29 entries was a winner. Some of the bikes were enjoyed by the masses at this year’s MCN Festival of Motorcycling and the Bike Show and even attracted the attention of major print publications.


Firstly, lifestyle and male fashion specialist publication FHM asked if they could use several of the competing BOTK bikes to feature in a biker-inspired clothes fashion photographic shoot. The clothes to be worn were inspired by “serious style icons”, such as Ewan McGregor, Tom Cruise, Steve McQueen, David Beckham, Ryan Gosling and James Dean.


The second event was weekly motorcycle newspaper MCN wanting to feature in greater detail the top three-placed BOTK bikes. On a damp May day, in darkest Peterborough, beneath the suitable scenery of olde worlde railway arches, MCN took delivery of the three bikes for a photoshoot and, if the rain could hold off, a ride on each bike to get the full flavour from riding one-off Harley-Davidson purpose-built Dark Custom machines. It would be fair to say that even the seasoned photographer was blown away by the quality of detail in the build of the bikes


Peter ‘Ped’ Baker, Managing Editor (Digital & Events) MCN is no stranger to Harley-Davidson and is a massive fan of customisation. He presently owns and is in the process of customising, a 1990 FXRS Low Rider and stared, pointed and stared again at the same and more details. It was clear Ped Baker was making mental comparisons and notes in order to assist in his own garage build. “All the bikes are inspirational, said Ped. “It just goes to show how much effort and how seriously the dealers took this competition. The end result definitely shows owners and future buyers of Harley-Davidson what is possible and achievable.”


Even though the three bikes within MCN’s grasp were built to be ridden and not just for show, Ped Baker only managed a short ride on the Warr’s Urban Racer Sprint before the heavens opened. This didn’t break the smile on his face though; the ride was pure quality in the way it rode and delivered that ‘feel good’ factor.


Harley-Davidson motorcycles are the last word in authentic American custom, touring and performance cruisers. They are also regarded as the perfect canvas for personalisation by way of customisation – either by you, the owner, or by calling on the experts that exist in every Harley-Davidson dealership. As can be seen from just the three bikes featured within MCN, they represent ‘Battle of the Kings’ perfectly and show Harley-Davidson dealers are the place to go for custom built motorcycles.


Dark Custom bikes are stripped back, blank canvases ready for your own personalisation available from all Harley-Davidson dealerships for a new generation of riders. Watch this space for future Dark Custom news and an exciting new arrival in the range this autumn!


Looking to customise your ride? Find a dealer.