EICMA isn't just about new motorcycle model releases. Lost in all the shuffle about the Harley-Davidson LiveWire announcements was the crowning of the Grand Champion of the 2018 Battle of the Kings, a Harley-Davidson international custom bike competition for dealers. Winning this year's prize was Bangkok Harley-Davidson with its 2018 Street Bob-based “The Prince.” The Thai dealer's minimally modern chopper brings clean lines and beautiful engineering to make the best of the massive Harley-Davidson Accessories catalog.
What’s more, this is the first year that Thailand had even been included in the competition so the achievement is even more amazing, especially given the fact that the team at Bangkok H-D beat out more than 300 other entries from 30 countries. A seven-man team of judges from the Harley-Davidson Styling and Design division, led by Vice President of Styling and Design Brad Richards, made the final call and The Prince won—by one vote!
With its bare-bones vintage vibe, the Street Bob is already firmly rooted in classic styling cues, but the team at Bangkok Harley-Davidson went even further, chopping off the front and rear fenders and swapping in other Harley parts, like a Sportster Forty-Eight fuel tank and a handlebar from the Roadster. A chopper’s nothing without a big front hoop, so on went a 21-inch custom five-spoke wheel, with a 16-incher bringing up the rear to emphasize the bike’s angled profile. To keep the look clean and sleek, the brake and fuel lines and wiring were rerouted.
Gold and black are a classic color match in the custom world, and Team Bangkok used both to great effect, cleverly riffing on the name of the competition and the name of the bike with a gold-color crown for the fuel cap and gold tire valve caps. Pretty princely…or is it kingly? Anyway, other details include a shiny gold powdercoating on the pushrod tubes, rocker box inserts, and air cleaner details to highlight and contrast with the engine. The saddle was also re-covered with a different hide and highlighted with contrast yellow stitching to carry the golden theme. Other detail highlights include bits from the Brass Collection, with a derby cover and timing cover offering pops of color, while anodized footpegs and handgrips bring in a more modern vibe.
The Battle of the Kings series is essentially a custom build-off competition for the Harley-Davidson dealership network. In the 2018 competition over 300 dealers from more than 30 countries entered, all with an eye on the grand prize which would be announced at the EICMA Show in Milan. The BoK rules are pretty simple: Dealers must build a custom Harley-Davidson using a maximum of 50 percent of the donor retail price as the total budget. They also have to use parts from the huge Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Accessories catalog. Public voting held earlier this year decided the winners for each region, and then a panel of international judges selected the three grand finalists.
The 2018 grand finalists included Adelaide Harley-Davidson, Australia, and Bologna Harley-Davidson, Italy. But now it’s time for next year’s Battle of the Kings competition to ramp up. And we’ve learned that for 2019, USA dealers will also be joining the battle, for the first time, which means more dealers and a wider range of bikes available—including Touring models.