friend who used to work at Sun Microsystems once told me how Apple Computer Inc. was in such dire straits in the early 1990s it once considered selling to Sun for a measly $100 million. The internal code name was Snapple. The Silicon Valley gods held their breath, and once co-founder Steve Jobs rejoined Apple and retired its playbook in 1997, disaster was averted. The Cupertino company’s 2017 revenue was more than $229 billion, and it was all accomplished through constant reinvention, exploration, and not giving people what they wanted but telling them what they needed and delivering the goods. It appears that now is a good time for Harley-Davidson to follow suit and retire its playbook. But what does that look like for The Motor Company? For starters, designing and selling bikes that are begging to be ridden, flogged, and flaunted would help. Simple color and graphics variations and component swaps are nice, but today’s adventure-starved consumer dreams big, so why shouldn’t the biggest motorcycle manufacturer take the lead? Here are five custom examples of what the talented designers and engineers at 3700 West Juneau Avenue should consider. At the heart of each machine beats Milwaukee muscle; there are many ways to dress up a hog.


Number 8 Wire Motorcycles Street 750
Philipsburg, Montana

cafe streetbike Number 8 Wire Motorcycles
Café streetbikes can and should be rolling, functional art.Courtesy of Number 8 Wire Motorcycles

Urban Scrambler:

Cohn Racers Muscle R 1200
Coral Gables, Florida

Cohn Racer motorcycle
The tires are a bit over the top for this bike, but isn’t that a good place to start?Courtesy of Cohn Racers


Carducci SC3 Adventure
Sunnyvale, California

Carducci Dual Sport motorcycle
With a price tag near $70,000, only Harley-Davidson could scale it down for mere mortals to afford. But what a joy this would be to ride!Courtesy of Carducci Dual Sport

Dirt Scrambler:

Gasoline Motor Co. A-15
Sydney, Australia

Gasoline Motor Co. Scrambler motorcycle
This Aussie scrambler looks like what Tom Hardy would morph into if he ever stars in a Transformers movie.Courtesy of Gasoline Motor Co.

High-pipe ADV:

Hugo Moto World Tour bolt-on kit
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Hugo Moto motorcycle
This Florida crew offers simple and affordable bolt-on kits to transform your Sportster into a high-pipe dirty bird.Courtesy of Hugo Moto