Harley-Davidson rides through motorcycle headlines with new Blackline
Saturday, 22 January 2011
| Written by Digits
Harley's 2011 BlacklineHarley-Davidson tore through two-wheeled headlines of rival motorcycle manufacturers with their own new bobber style model riding onto show room floors.
In an apparent biker version of dueling banjos, just a day after Victory Motorcycles rolled out their street-savvy High-Ball, Harley-Davidson answered with its own take of a manufacturer’s stripped down motorcycle, the Blackline.
But if this was indeed an answer to the positive press over the High-Ball, even the harshest of critics have to give Harley-Davidson the nod of it being well-played.
After all, Harley featured an accessory that only they could ever boast, the legendary name and endorsement of Willie G. Davidson.
It was the famous Chief Styling officer and grandson of the company’s co-founder William A. Davidson who sat astride the Blackline as it was unveiled in New York to coincide with the International Motorcycle Show opening.
‘Lean as wire, hard as iron and dark as a tar road at midnight, the new Blackline motorcycle is a Harley-Davidson Softail model pared to the bone’ states the press release describing the latest model in Harley-Davidson’s line-up. ‘A rebellious creation of the Dark Custom movement, the Blackline celebrates three fundamental elements of motorcycling: mechanical beauty, internal combustion, and the long black line of the road ahead.’
But while it was the famous face of Willie G on the new motorcycle, it was the vision and talent of Wisconsin native Casey Ketterhagen, a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design who had the honor of being lead stylist for the Blackline.
"I was trying to get back to the basics of two wheels and a motor," Ketterhagen told Rick Barrett of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel , explaining he wanted to design a bike that would have minimal graphics, a subdued paint scheme, and minimal non-essential parts and covers.
The inpiration for the Blackline's nameOffering two other two-tone paint schemes along with the mandatory biker black of Cool Blue Pearl/Vivid Black and Sedona Orange/Vivid Black, questions may leap to mind over the name of 'Blackline'. It is in fact the ‘Blackline’ trim running up the five gallon fuel tank bare of any traditionally placed instrument panels and switches that gives the latest offering from Harley-Davidson its name. This motorcycle-naming trim leads to an analog speedometer, which is a good place to look for the motorcycles design direction.
Starkly sitting on a triple-clamp mount that also holds indicator lights, the speedometer is indicative of the days of the original bobber movement combined with the raw, hand-hewn style which has been embraced by today’s young builders. Old meets new with the solitary cluster also featuring an LCD screen on the speedometer includes low-fuel warning and “miles to empty” display function.
Looking at the rest of the motorcycle, the rear fender is bobbed high-and-tight over a slim, 144mm tire that emphasizes an authentic hardtail profile. The compact headlight and speedometer are tucked low into the wide, FX front end, and there’s just enough shine to make the black parts look blacker. Black-rimmed laced wheels complete a look that’s tough, tempered and undeniably Harley-Davidson.
The styling spotlight shines on a Big Twin engine dressed in black and silver, and on a fuel tank shaved smooth and low. Aboard the Blackline, the rider hugs the frame on the lowest two-up seat ever offered by Harley-Davidson, and reaches high for new Split Drag™ handlebars that bolt right to the top triple-clamp.
Always the first to catch the eye on the engine, this model features a new look for the air cleaner cover, with a round shape and unabashedly brilliant chrome.
The Softail chassis utilizes rear suspension control provided by coil-over shock absorbers mounted horizontally along the frame rails below the powertrain, where they are out of sight. So while the swingarm section replicates the lines of a vintage hardtail frame, the Blackline delivers suspension performance and handling that are thoroughly modern. The internally counter-balanced Twin Cam 96B engine is rigid-mounted within the frame, creating a solid connection between rider and the power that moves the motorcycle to enhance the emotional experience of riding.
Harley's 2011 Blackline
Some other key features include;
New Powertrain styling
Powertrain is finished in gloss black powdercoat on the rocker box covers, the crankcase, the outer primary cover, and the transmission side cover. The cylinders are silver powdercoat with machined highlights. The derby cover and timing covers are chromed.
Rigid-mounted, counter-balanced Twin Cam 96B™ V-Twin engine with Electronic Sequential Port Fuel Injection (ESPFI), rated at 89 ft. lbs. peak torque at 3250 rpm.
6-Speed Cruise Drive® Transmission.
New Black Denim powdercoat frame and swingarm.
New Profile Laced Aluminum wheels with black anodized rims. Front wheel is 21 x 2.15 inches; rear wheel is 16 x 3 inches. Dunlop® D402 tires are MH90-21 front and MU85B16 rear.
New FX front end with black powdercoat triple clamps and black painted fork lowers.
New Split Drag™ internally-wired handlebars mount directly to the top triple clamp.
New Asymmetric five-gallon Softail fuel tank is clean on the left side, with a low-profile fuel fill on the right. Die cast “Blackline” trim panel flowing down the center of the tank is just high enough to cover the fuel pump hardware.
New Bobbed rear fender with combination stop/tail/turn lights in black housings, and a new composite license plate holder and light module that mounts on the lower edge of the fender.
New Raw forged rear fender supports are finished in Black Denim powdercoat.
New One-piece, two-up seat and passenger pillion. Laden rider seat height is 24 inches, the lowest two-up seat offered by Harley-Davidson. Gap between the nose of seat and fuel tank exposes the top of the frame.
New 5.75-inch diameter headlamp in gloss black shell.
Polished forward foot controls.
Over/under chrome shotgun exhaust.
Optional Security Package with Anti-lock Braking System and Smart Security System
With motorcycle manufacturers apparently pitching ‘less means more sales’ at their design and marketing meetings bikers wanting to get back to the basics of riding seem to have more choices everyday.
Harley's 2011 Blackline
While Harley has looked back in order to move forward with its sales, riders can enjoy some ‘old school style’ with modern luxuries. The Blackline is a softail offering a smoother ride, and with the shock absorbers hidden away bikers can enjoy the stripped down look and rebel reputation.
Starting at $15,499 the Blackline is riding in a sea of vintage and bobber designs, a trend among the larger motorcycle manufacturers pretty much started by Harley-Davidson*. With Harley hoping the Blackline ‘throws new fuel on a fire that burns across generations, an unquenchable desire to ride’ the Blackline realistically rides at a different end of the 'old school' pack of Victory's recently released High-Ball, if not simply from having more polish. For the time being however, comparisons will inevitably be made between the two motorcycles.
With the incredibly close timing of the unveiling of the two models the more cynical may say the events were (excuse the pun) staged, but at the end of the day it could just considered unfortunate as the Blackline and High-Ball invariably end up sharing the same news space when the apparent efforts deserve so much more.
But riders should expect to hear both companies promote these latest models when Harley-Davidson and Victory Motorcycles discuss their financial results for 2010 over the next ten days, possibly referring to the rebel rides as 'a new direction'.
Harley's 2011 Blackline SOURCE
Harley-Davidson Young Adult Movement Grows With Launch of Bike That Declares Defiance
New Blackline Motorcycle is Stripped to the Core for Riders Who Take a Stand
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Lean as wire, hard as iron and dark as a tar road at midnight, Harley-Davidson introduces the new Blackline motorcycle, a Softail designed to celebrate the place young riders want to grow into, but not out of. The Blackline is the next rebellious chapter for the iconic American brand that now holds the number one position with consumers age 18-34. This latest creation in the Dark Custom movement embodies three fundamentals of motorcycling: mechanical beauty, internal combustion, and the wide, open road.
"The Blackline is a motorcycle for all those who run by their own rules," said Mike Lowney, director, market outreach for Harley-Davidson. "It's more than a bike – it's a mindset that is rooted in the spirit of defiance and irreverence embraced by today's young riders."
The Blackline balances allegiance with rebellion, discarding previous conventions of color and chrome for a Dark Custom look that's honest, functional and attainable. Visual elements of the original bobber movement are combined with the raw, hand-hewn style embraced by today's young builders. The Blackline throws new fuel on a fire that burns across generations, an unquenchable desire to ride.
Instrumentation is compact and tucked, and there's just enough shine to make the black parts look blacker. The chopped fender, narrow, split drag handlebar, and slammed speedometer contribute to the lean and linear nature of the bike that gives the Blackline its name.
The styling spotlight shines on the Big Twin engine dressed in black and silver with machined highlights reminiscent of its Big Twin predecessors of the 1930s, '40s and '50s. The engine is capped off by a fuel tank shaved smooth and low. Aboard the Blackline, the rider hugs the frame on the lowest two-up seat ever offered by Harley-Davidson.
Details on the Blackline are understated, yet classic. The round air cleaner, which debuted on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the 1940s, has become a prized feature over the years. The blacked-out horseshoe oil tank recalls the original on the 1936 EL. Other styling elements come from more than just Harley-Davidson history, taking authentic cues from motorcycle culture as well. The chopped rear fender made famous by post-WWII riders is bobbed high-and-tight over a slim 144mm tire.
Up front, and tucked tight into the frame, the gloss black headlamp replicates the standard on Harleys going back to the post World War I years. The smooth, black rims on profile laced aluminum wheels hearken back to the 1930s. The simple, slammed speedometer reminiscent of the Depression era delivers a sporty look. Narrow, split drag handlebars are a first on the Softail platform.
The Blackline joins the Dark Custom lineup that includes the Forty-Eight, Nightster, Iron 883, Cross Bones, Fat Bob and Street Bob. Check out more on Dark Custom motorcycles at Motorcycles, Parts, Events and Community | Dark Custom Motorcycles | Harley-Davidson USA.
Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson's Web site at Harley-Davidson USA.
SOURCE Harley-Davidson Motor Company
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