Harley Looks to Stir The Rebel Soul With 2016 Dark Customs

AUG 24, 2015 - Not everything new is shiny. Case in point, Harley-Davidson’s Dark Custom line of motorcycles.

‘Start with a dark canvas. Add horsepower and soul. Then make it your own,’ the Harley-Davidson press release states, ‘The Harley-Davidson Dark Custom movement strips a motorcycle to its mechanical essence and the motorcycling experience to its rebellious core – the quest for freedom and self-expression.’

For 2016, Harley-Davidson asserts its Dark Custom leadership with the new Iron 883, Forty-Eight and Harley-Davidson Street motorcycles, all hard-nosed machines that offer an authentic, affordable experience to a new generation of riders.

Harley-Davidson considers the series ‘forged, pressed and machined to minimalist perfection, the Iron 883 and Forty-Eight models balance function with style that can stand on its own or spark a fire of custom inspiration’. Dark Custom with an urban gene, the nimble Street 500 and Street 750 models roll into a second season with customer-led updates, ready to master the global cityscape.

“With Dark Custom, we embrace the beauty of the basic motorcycle structure,” said Harley-Davidson Styling Director Brad Richards. “It’s about the beauty of the nuts and bolts, the steel and rubber and the heart of the machine, which is a Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine. Dark Custom reaches back to our styling roots, but also invites the rider to move forward, to make the Dark Custom motorcycle his or her own with accessories, ingenuity or riding experiences.”

The Iron 883 draws inspiration from garage-built bobbers past and present, the Harley design team created the new Iron 883 model to appear chopped and drilled, intentionally a little raw and rough around the edges. Featuring clipped fenders, blacked-out powertrain and exhaust, drag-style handlebars and a solo tuck-and-roll seat cover evoke bare-knuckle street performance. A ribbed air cleaner cover speaks to the stamped-from-steel authenticity of this motorcycle. Speaking of authenticity, bullet-hole details on the belt guard, exhaust shields and front fender brace recall a racer’s effort to lighten the bike.

Colors and finishes for the Iron 883 were selected to help hide the grit and grime of riding and living in the urban environment, for riders who don’t own, or care to own a garden hose and a driveway.

“It’s always been my vision that this bike will look better with some dirt or patina,” said Harley-Davidson Senior Stylist Dais Nagao, who led the Iron 883 design project. “It’s quick and nimble and encourages the rider to be aggressive. As it’s ridden it may get some scuffs, scratches or other character marks. We can’t do that at the factory. That’s the privilege of the owner, and becomes part of the story of the bike.”

The Iron 883 is powered by an 883cc Evolution V-Twin engine tuned to power away from stop lights and deliver satisfying performance. A blacked-out floating front brake rotor complements nine-spoke cast aluminum wheels finished in black with machined highlights that reduce unsprung weight by a combined eight pounds to improve ride comfort and handling.

Ride and handling are further enhanced by new cartridge-style forks and new emulsion rear shock absorbers with progressive-rate springs and a threaded pre-load adjustment collar that makes it easy for the rider to dial in shock performance to match road conditions or passenger weight. A special shock adjustment spanner stows under the seat.

A passenger pillion matching the tuck-and-roll seat upholstery will be offered through Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts & Accessories.

The 2016 Iron 883 is offered in four color options: Charcoal Satin, Black Denim, or Olive Gold with an eagle-and-shield tank logo, or Hard Candy Custom Gold Flake with a flame detail paired with black fenders.

The 2016 Iron 883 MSRP starts at $8,849.


Harley-Davidson 2016 Iron 883

The new Forty-Eight motorcycle waits at the curb like a broad-chested bulldog guarding its turf. A burly 130mm front tire is suspended by 49mm forks secured in massive forged aluminum triple clamps and an aluminum fork brace. The classic 2.1-gallon peanut fuel tank creates a narrow, athletic waist. Chopped fenders expose the tire rubber. A perfect balance of black, color and chrome gives this bike a bold visual presence.

“The low handlebar and forward foot controls put the Forty-Eight rider in an aggressive posture, so we picked up on that with the styling,” said Harley-Davidson Industrial Designer/Stylist Ben McGinley, the lead stylist on the project. “The big front wheel is like a steamroller coming down the street, and we went with the smaller round steel air cleaner and some chrome on the exhaust to draw your eyes to the engine, which looks larger under the peanut tank. I’d describe the theme of this bike as functional muscle.”

The fuel tank styling features horizontal stripes, a throw-back to 1970s style that’s reappearing today on custom bikes. Those lines are repeated throughout the motorcycle, including in the seat stitching, slotted exhaust shields, rear sprocket and belt guard. New lightweight cast-aluminum wheels feature nine split spokes and a solid black finish with machined highlights. A side-mount license plate and combination stop/tail/turn signals keep the rear fender uncluttered.

The new 49mm forks feature a cartridge design tuned to complement new emulsion rear shock absorbers with progressive-rate springs and a threaded pre-load adjustment collar, a combination that delivers a premium, controlled ride over the roughest urban pavement. A shock adjustment spanner is stashed under the solo seat, which has been formed to support the rider with all-day comfort.

The 2016 Forty-Eight is offered in four solid colors: Vivid Black, Billet Silver, Velocity Red Sunglo and Olive Gold. Hard Candy Custom options include Hard Candy Cancun Blue Flake and Hard Candy Gold Flake.

The 2016 Forty-Eight MSRP starts at $11,199


Harley-Davidson 2016 Forty Eight

The newest motorcycles to the Harley-Davidson Street family in the review of rides is the Street 750 and 500.

Lean, quick and nimble, the Street 750 and 500 models combine a lightweight, easy handling chassis with the responsive performance of the liquid-cooled Revolution X powertrain in a café-inspired Dark Custom motorcycle developed for urban riding. For 2016, both Street models receive new front and rear brake systems with 300mm brake rotors and a powerful, stylized front caliper with 34mm pistons and matching rear caliper for even greater confidence when navigating challenging roads.

Other braking system upgrades include an improved aluminum integrated rear master cylinder with reservoir, aluminum front master cylinder with reduced friction and higher efficiency, and new brake lines. The rear brake pedal has a new position with improved ergonomics, and the new clutch and brake levers look and feel more robust. The horn mount has been tucked behind the radiator and a modified wiring harness has a tidy appearance.

Both 2016 Street models will be offered in Vivid Black, Black Denim and two new colors, Superior Blue and Velocity Red Sunglo.

The 2016 Street 500 MSRP starts at $6,849 with the 750 starting at $7,549.


Harley-Davidson 2016 Street 750

Best of all, interested riders don’t need to wait for the new line-up. The new 2016 Harley-Davidson motorcycles and accessories start rolling into Harley-Davidson dealerships immediately. They can be seen online where riders can also find local authorized Harley-Davidson dealers.

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