Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, WI, and right away they were already getting requests for customized bikes. While Harleys are iconic vehicles regardless, there's nothing like adding your own detail to a bike to make it your own. From simple changes like custom paint, to elaborate add-ons like multiple engines, custom bike requests have gotten more insane over the years. We recently attended Harley-Davidson's 110th Anniversary celebration in Berlin to found out just how crazy these custom bikes can get.
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Custom bikes actually date back to the early stages of Harley's history. In 1904, this rider customized his HD499, one of the first Harleys ever sold, by adding a headlamp, replacing the front fork with a “cushion fork”, tilting back the seat—most likely for comfort—and installing fenders.
1941 - FL 74 “King Kong”
The FL Harley model was introduced in 1941 with one knucklehead engine. Bikes with these engines were appropriately nicknamed the "Knuckleheads." Apparently one knucklehead wasn't enough for this rider, former Harley-Davidson dealer Felix Predko. He customized this particular FL 74 OHV Twin with two complete V-Twin Knucklehead engines and transmissions, four pipes, two saddles and two sets of handlebars. Basically, two bikes in one. Measuring more than 13 feet from end to end, the monstrous—and aptly named—"King Kong" bike is one of more than 400 bikes on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Hot Motorcycles>>>
1947 - FL 74 OHV Twin
By 1947, Harley was producing a number of parts and accessories for the "Knucklehead." With a 74 cubic inch V-twin engine, the former owner of this bike used Harley parts and accessories, along with a few personal touches, to express his style. Bike aficionados can also check out this custom motorcycle on display in the H-D museum.
1957 - FLH "Billy Bike"
This bike was designed for the movie Easy Rider to be ridden by Dennis Hopper. To trick out this iconic film prop, they extended and widened the forks on an FLH motorcycle, chromed the sliders, laced the wheels, and installed a short sissy bar, a custom-made seat, chrome fenders and headlight. Additionally they added staggered dual exhausts, a small-capacity custom gas tank, a chrome oil tank, engine side covers, a chain guard, and of course the custom paint scheme. Two identical bikes were created for filming, but one was destroyed and the other disappeared, so HD recreated the bike to put on display in the Harley-Davidson Museum. 10 Best Mountain Bikes>>>
1960 - FLH "Captain America"
Also customized for Easy Rider, to be ridden by actor and producer Peter Fonda, this motorcycle used a 1962 FLH Police engine. The customization also featured seat buttons, an American flag paint scheme, and a matching flag print helmet.
1973 - FLH Electra "Rhinestone" Glide
In 1965 Harley introduced the Electra-Glide which replaced the Duo-Glide. This particular Electra-Glide, referred to as the Rhinestone-Glide, is believed to be the most highly decorated custom Harley in existence. Purchased in 1973 by a couple in Northampton, PA, the owners began decorating the bike, and over time, ultimately added $3,000 worth of red, white and blue rhinestone, along with more than 200 lights. The couple installed so many lights that an extra alternator was required to handle the added electrical load. At the time of purchase the stock bike weighed 722 pounds, but it is now estimated to weigh more than 800 thanks to their handiwork.