WE RIDE WHERE YOU LIVE

Whether you’re taking your game to the big city streets or back roads in the country, H.O.G.® helps you connect at a new level, with inside access to the best rides, the hottest events, and more.

WE RIDE WHERE YOU LIVE

Whether you’re taking your game to the big city streets or back roads in the country, H.O.G.® helps you connect at a new level, with inside access to the best rides, the hottest events, and more.

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RIPPED FROM THE PAGES OF HOG® MAGAZINE ...

 

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The call came as I was riding, enjoying the scenery somewhere along the route between Daytona Beach and Tacoma, Washington while shooting the 2014 Cannonball Endurance Run. Ray Drea, Harley-Davidson’s chief stylist, was on the other end asking me if I wanted to join him in Tokyo for the Mooneyes Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show. A chance to travel with members of the H-D Styling team to one of the world’s coolest custom bike shows? My interest spiked as I imagined what the show would look like through a motorcycle designer’s eyes. Of course I wanted to go.

SHOW TIME

The plan was simple: Spend a week in the Tokyo-Yokohama area attending the show and visiting as many custom bike shops as time allowed. Joining us would be two young designers from the H-D Styling department, Ben McGinley and Dais Nagao, and Charlie Wartgow from the Motorcycle Product Planning team. They called it an “anthropology” trip.

Why go all the way to Japan when we have great custom bike shows here in the U.S.? Simple. H-D® motorcycles are sold the world over, so it’s important to not just understand how the brand is viewed elsewhere but to see how global customers ride, why they ride, and what they bring to the custom bike scene.

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A trip like this also reflects one of the core tenets at Harley-Davidson: its focus on the customer. As Ray explained, the brand follows a “customer-led development process.” And nothing beats getting out and talking directly to customers.

We landed in Tokyo on Friday, jet-lagged and stoked. Dais, a Tokyo native, was a tremendous help and a great guide. Despite 20 years of living in the States, he was able to help us navigate both the streets and the menus. After a pre-party Friday night, we were off and running on Saturday.

The crowd in front of the Pacifico Yokohama Exhibition Hall was jumping as it awaited the entry of the invited builders who were staged out back. As announcers called their names, builders roared down the long red carpet on their custom creations. Between the loudspeakers, the crowd, and the roar of the bikes, the atmosphere was electric! These builders are rock stars!

H.O.G.® INSIDER AND HOG.COM

H.O.G.® offers many ways to stay on top of H.O.G. news. The members-only hog.com brings you great rides, member stories, and the latest event information, while the H.O.G. INSIDER email makes sure you’re the first to know when new information is available.

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There were so many styles of bikes: old-school choppers, café racers, Brat Style, sport, vintage. But they weren’t as predictable and regimented as you may see at other shows. We found ourselves continually uttering, “WOW!” as we took in details, approaches, entire bikes, and even displays. And it was tough to choose a favorite. As Ray said, it was “like comparing Rembrandt to Picasso. How can you say one is better than the other? Two very different artists and each one is awesome.”

SHOPPING AROUND

Our remaining days were spent visiting custom bike builder shops. With a population of 32.5 million people, greater Tokyo can support a lot of shops, so we focused on the best of the best. On Sunday, we stopped in on Go Takamine and his Brat Style company’s Tokyo shop. What he started 20 years ago has become an international style. Next was Kaichiroh “Cross” Kurosu at Cherry’s Company, who won the “Best of Show” at Mooneyes with his “Chronos Project” late-model Harley® motorcycle (with pan rockers) in a Softail® frame. That’s two wins in a row for this talented builder.

After the first day’s visits, the H-D team was impressed by how much is accomplished in such small building spaces. Rather than seeing new parts on shelves, you see raw materials ready to be shaped into what is needed. To this end, some of the builders do absolutely everything in their own shops.

“Every element is important,” Ray noted. “They don’t just use a wire tie, for instance, they’ll hand-make something to do the same thing.”

As Ben said at the end of one long day, “The shops are even more inspiring than the show.” He went on to explain how the average rider is looking for literal inspiration, specific ideas they can use, but designers are looking for something else. Not ideas, per se, but creative nourishment.

“What we need is to feed our creative side, to feed the machine,” he said. “We need fresh input to encourage fresh and exciting output.”

Across all of the shops we visited, one theme emerged: the amazing craftsmanship and attention to detail of each individual part that comes together into a larger whole.

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AFTERMATH

In the end, this trip meant more than just taking in some of the best bikes in the world. It was the sum of all that our senses took in, made even better as a shared experience. Ray noted that that’s how it is at work.

“Together is what delivers that wow,” he explained. “It takes the ideas to a new level.”

Dais’s insights into Japanese design, presentation, and culture were invaluable. Ray’s 30 years of design experience brought a very thoughtful side. And then there was Ben, who offered insight through a younger pair of eyes.

Ben summed up the feeling when he said how excited he was “to go back to the studio totally jazzed to draw bikes and come up with something new.”

I know I was inspired. And I can’t wait to see how H-D designers translate the amazing creativity on display in Japan into exciting new products.

Story and Photography by Michael Lichter

WANT TO READ MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS? GO TO HOG.COM

H.O.G.® MAKES RALLIES ROAR

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There’s no better way to get a taste of local Harley-Davidson culture than by riding to a H.O.G. rally in a state near you. Nearly every state in the U.S. offers one, so you can make your rally adventure a one-day ride, a long weekend, or even a cross-country adventure.

H.O.G.® RECOMMENDS: PALISADES PARKWAY TO BEAR MOUNTAIN

Here’s just one example of the great roads and rides H.O.G. and your fellow members will show you, a ride from just outside New York City to the top of Bear Mountain.

LOCATION:
New Jersey, New York, U.S.

DISTANCE:
45 miles (one-way)

BEST TIME TO RIDE:
Spring, Summer, Fall

POINTS OF INTEREST:
Cool Beans International Coffee & Teas, Oradell, NJ Bear Mountain State Park, NY

VIEW THE ROUTE WITH RIDE PLANNER

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ANY QUESTIONS?

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about H.O.G.®:

What are my benefits?

H.O.G.® gives you HOG® magazine, a Touring Handbook, a monthly e-newsletter, Roadside Assistance, and the opportunity to take part in the ABCs of Touring contest, local H.O.G. chapters, and H.O.G. Mileage Recognition.

  • HOG® magazine
  • Roadside Assistance program
  • Touring Handbook
  • E-newsletter and hog.com
  • Patch and pin
  • ABCs of Touring contest
  • Chapter membership
  • Mileage Recognition
  • Exclusive rallies and events
  • Harley-Davidson® Insurance
  • Visa Signature Card
  • Best Western Ride Rewards®

These are just the tangible benefits of membership. The adventures and friendships you’ll gain are what last a lifetime.

What’s Mileage Recognition?

The miles you log are part of who you are, and H.O.G. understands that. As a H.O.G. member, we’ll send you pins and patches to recognize the key milestone achievements you make as a rider. To get started, take your bike to an authorized H-D® dealership to have it validated for the program. After the dealership endorses your enrollment form, you’ll send it to H.O.G. Then, just get on your ride and go. Yet another way H.O.G. fuels your ride.

How do I create a profile on hog.com?

Visit hog.com, click on the “Create a Profile” button, and enter the required information. However, you’ll need your H.O.G.® member number, so have it ready.

How do I learn more about H.O.G. chapter membership?

Local chapters allow members to share their passion for Harley-Davidson® motorcycles. Currently there are more than 1,400 official chapters around the world, each chapter sponsored by an authorized H-D dealership. Use our Chapter Locator to find one for you and make new friends for the road (and life).

H.O.G.® CHAPTER LOCATOR

What’s the Roadside Assistance program?

Any time you take to the road, H.O.G.® has your back with Roadside Assistance, and your membership includes one service per calendar year, up to $100* – enough to safely get you and your bike from the side of the road to the nearest dealership.

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ANY MORE QUESTIONS?

Don’t hesitate to contact the H.O.G.® Member Services Center. They’ll be happy to provide any information you need – or just listen as you tell them how excited you are about your Harley‑Davidson® motorcycle.

Phone:1-800-CLUBHOG
(1-800-258-2464)

8AM-6PM CT, Monday-Friday