The picturesque Austrian region of Carinthia is famous among skiers and hikers alike thanks to its breathtaking Alpine scenery. But once a year it also becomes famous for a very special event: European Bike Week®
Open to riders of all motorcycles, but overwhelmingly a celebration of all things Harley-Davidson®, the event regularly hosts more than 100,000 riders. This year, more than 120,000 people on 70,000 motorcycles made the pilgrimage to Lake Faak. They were joined by two very special guests from Harley-Davidson’s home town of Milwaukee: Karen and Bill Davidson. Daughter and son of the legendary Willie G. Davidson and great-grandchildren of the company founder William A. Davidson, the two came to ride the mountain passes on the company’s latest motorcycles, talk to dealers and meet and greet fans.
“I regularly attend Harley-Davidson events in the USA and abroad and it’s not my first time at European Bike Week,” said Bill Davidson. “In fact, I enjoy it so much I keep coming back for more! 2020 has been a landmark year for Harley-Davidson with the launch of our new electric motorcycle, the LiveWire™, and the much-anticipated return of the performance-orientated Low Rider® S, two fantastic motorcycles! I met a lot of people and swapped a lot of stories, and it’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”
Heart of the action
Central to proceedings at the festival was the Harley® Village and its Main Plaza, which this year featured the biggest ever Harley-Davidson Expo. All of the company’s 2020 model year motorcycles were on display, with the line-up including the new Softail® Low Rider S and the new Touring models, announced just two weeks prior to the event.
Although the Expo was packed with hundreds of visitors every day, the atmosphere was above all fun and relaxed, with MotorClothes® displays, an art exhibition and places to chill and play pinball or table football. A life-sized LEGO® Fat Boy® motorcycle captured the imagination, while adrenaline junkies could make use of the innovative Jumpstart™ system, where the newly launched LiveWire and the more traditional Street Rod® were set up with their rear wheels on rollers, allowing visitors to get that Harley buzz without even leaving the plaza.
H.O.G.® members were guaranteed a warm welcome at the dedicated H.O.G. Zone, where they could relax and chat with H.O.G. staff. Meanwhile, the all new Harley Lounge and the ever-popular Vida Loca Bar provided ample entertainment, with music blasting well into the night. Beyond the Main Plaza, the festivities continued at the Bavarian-themed Faaktoberfest Bar and the Harley Bar, with its main stage hosting bands and DJs from midday until after midnight.
Twice a day at the Expo and the Harley Bar, Harley-Davidson clothing and entertainment teams joined forces in a dance display introduced by Karen Davidson, with many of the items available to purchase on site.
“What a week!” was Karen’s take on the event. “I arrived on Tuesday and I am loving the bikes, people and the scenery here on the shores of Lake Faak each and every day. Everywhere I look there are custom versions of beautiful bikes and customers are inspired to have their own unique style… I’ve got to say some of these alpine climbs, twists and turns have been a real highlight of the year. Highly recommended!”
Have a go
Beyond the plaza, visitors were encouraged to try the H-D® experience for themselves in the Demos area, where the Low Rider S was one of 70 models available for testing on 30-minute demonstration routes. New for 2019 was the Softail® Experience: a longer route which allowed visitors to try out the ever-popular Softail range on the incredible local roads.
It wasn’t just riders who had the chance to showcase their skills and get involved. Also new for 2019 was a dedicated skate ramp, with pro riders – including several members of the European Vans team – providing demonstrations every day.
Of course, the staple elements of the event were still very much in place. The famous Custom Bike Show was held on the Friday, with more than 70 superb entries across the categories, amply demonstrating the level of creativity and individuality found within the international Harley-Davidson community. Mirko Perugini from Italy won Best in Show, while Laurent Lahmann from France won the coveted People’s Choice prize.
Then, on Saturday, the now-legendary Harley-Davidson Parade took place, with participants unperturbed by challenging weather conditions. Led by Karen and Bill Davidson and the lucky winner of the Harley Owners Group prize draw, a 5,000-strong cavalcade of motorcycles stretched over 15km through some of Carinthia’s most gorgeous scenery.
As part of the grand finale on Saturday night, there was one last surprise in store: the winner of a brand new Harley-Davidson Iron 1200™ motorcycle, sponsored by the local Villacher brewery, was announced as Luciano Banzato from Torino, Italy. This marked the end of another amazing European Bike Week – one where the party never stopped, even when the weather took a turn for the worse!
The dates for next year’s European Bike Week® have now been announced! Put it in your diary now: 8-13th September 2020