Motorcycles are beautiful. Probably the most beautiful of the machines that surround us in this mechanical world of this age. They represent so many things themselves. Freedom, thrill, adventure and a lot more. They are the means of expression for a motorcyclist. But sometimes the motorcycles, in the form that they leave their birthplace in lacks what the rider wants to express. Personalization is a gentle touch like a message on the registration plate or the tank, little things that bring the motorcycle close to its rider. And sometimes even that is not enough. This is the scenario in which the motorcycle becomes a blank canvas for the Vincis and Michelangelos among us riders. Customization, the richest and purest means of expression when it comes to us, motorcyclists.
Custom motorcycles have been objects of desire for quite some time now. The culture has picked up in our diverse homeland India as well. So many people, so much to tell and such a shortage of time, probably why we have seen the rise of some really big names in the world of motorcycle customization in India. I am also one of those people. I am Debanjan Roy Chowdhury, a part of the Harley Davidson team.
Life gave me many options and getting into Merchant Navy was one of those chances. Loads of money and lots of travel, things that constitute the dreams of general populous, but not me. For me, motorcycles are the things that have always been an integral part of my dreams. And for me, motorcycles mean Harley Davidson. That is why I left a built world behind me to build my own.
Being around the pinnacles of technology and heritage i.e. motorcycles offered by Harley Davidson has been an amazing experience. It has been everything I ever wanted but there was a void. Just a little one. I have always wanted motorcycles to convey something. Something elemental. And therefore, my interest in custom motorcycles got stronger and stronger. And now, thanks to the Battle of the Kings and Harley Davidson, I have the opportunity to portray everything I feel by the means of a motorcycle.
Battle of the Kings is a competition held by Harley Davidson in which dealerships all around the world work on a bike under a fixed budget to make a perfect replica of their thoughts. A replica that has two wheels. A replica with a heart that is the Harley Davidson engine and one could not ask for a stronger one. I, being the part of the Harley Davidson here in India, have been given the opportunity to work on a Harley Davidson Street 750 to turn it into a machine that’s one of a kind and carries with it my dreams and aspirations. After countless grueling hours and brainstorming, the machine is complete and the first thought that came to my mind after seeing it in flesh was—Glory. At that very moment I decided that Glory is what it is going to be called. The ideology behind my custom-built Street 750 was the pristine presence of Harley Davidson in the world of motorcycling since 1903. And that’s why my build is called—Glory 1903.
Founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Harley Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturer known for its motorcycles that possess the grit and determination passed down by the manufacturer into these inanimate objects. A lot of it might have been needed to survive the great depression, face intense competition and prevail to become a brand so iconic, that the number of loyalists that Harley Davidson has all over the world, speaks for itself. Harley Davidson has seen a cult-like following all around the world and has been associated with one of the most prominent figures and people of power. I mean Harley Davidson is the bike of choice for the Terminator himself and for that, I cannot thank James Cameron enough. It has been a journey, a 115 year long journey that has seen everything, the rise, the fall, the survival and then the much-deserved recognition that has made the brand thrive. The long journey made sure that I had a lot of stuff for turning the Street 750 into an ode to Harley Davidson.
The Street 750 was my canvas of choice because in every sense of the word, it is a canvas. One of the rawest form of a Harley Davidson and a minimalistic yet dark theme meant I would have a lot of space to play around with. I also decided that I’ll escalate the competition a level further by not only modifying the motorcycle in a budget, but build the cheapest custom-modified Street 750 that there is. That is why me and my team are using the stock engine and scrap parts to complete the build. Coming to Glory 1903, as I said my theme or inspiration was the journey of Harley Davidson and its dominant presence around the world. In addition to portraying that, I wanted to convert the street 750 into a bobber.
I’ll start with the tank which has been painted to look like a globe. All the countries are displayed on the tank but the highlighted ones are those where Harley Davidson exists. And that’s almost everywhere. This paint scheme itself is a homage to the great legacy and the worldwide presence of Harley Davidson. The tank also houses another interesting bit. The fuel tank cap. The fuel tank cap is a small replica of the water tower that stands atop the Harley Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee. The water tower has been there as far as we can look back at Harley Davidson’s history and when one talks about a historical event, every little detail becomes a part of history. Therefore, I just could not get myself to leave this little detail out.
Another little detail that I added is the skull right above the headlight. The Willie G Skull. A tribute to the man himself—Willie G. Davidson. A designer by heart, he was the senior vice president and the chief styling officer for Harley Davidson. He did not only approve the designs the motorcycle designs brought to him, but he was also the man behind the designs of a few of the most acclaimed Harley Davidson motorcycles ever. Motorcycles like the Super Glide and the Low Rider wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for him. So the skull is my way of thanking the man.
The front end has been drawn from another icon—the Sportster Forty-Eight. A lot of other elements from the Sportster Forty-Eight make their way to my Glory 1903. The 16” white wall tyres both front and rear with broader white areas. The spoke wheels on my custom build are also drawn from the Sportster Forty-Eight. Apart from that, the rear of the chassis has been cut away to give way to a backrest which takes the design language of the Glory 1903 even farther away from the Street 750 that we chose as the base bike. The blue colored side panels compliment the base color on the globe-like tank. The white seat on the other hand compliments the broad white-wall tyres. The footpegs are also in white and the handlebar grips get a leather treatment that escalates the brutish look of the Glory 1903.
Mechanically the engine is stock but we haven’t left that end completely untouched. I have used screaming eagle performance parts on the stock Street 750 engine to boost the power and the performance of the motorcycle to some extent. The stock air filter has been replaced by a high flow screaming eagle air filters. Also added are the Screaming Eagle power cords and plugs. This also adds to the already beautiful thrum of the Street 750 because aural pleasure is never too much.
The base motorcycle, Street 750 has gone through dimensional changes as well. The ground clearance has been increased in order for the Glory 1903 to be able to tame varying terrains as well. Even after all the modifications to the Street 750, The Glory 1903 is a very practical motorcycle and can be ridden around like any other production motorcycle. Which is not the case with a lot of other customized motorcycles.
This opportunity given to me by the Battle of the Kings and Harley Davidson has proved to be a really big one for me as I got to do what I always wanted to do. And with the Street 750 provided to me, I have been able to portray my emotions and the utmost respect I have for Harley Davidson and its legacy. All in all, the Glory 1903 is one splendid motorcycle that is a moving culmination of the 115 years of greatness that Harley Davidson has achieved and it is my way of thanking the brand for being what it is—A legend…