Harley-Davidson Launches New Bike Amid Metal Fences, Custom-Painted Parts

By Anna Sekula January 25, 2010, 3:26 PM EST

Harley-Davidson's laid-back preview party

Photo: Rebecca Smeyne for BizBash

Harley-Davidson's "Back to Basics" Preview Party
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On the eve of the 2010 New York Cycle World International Motorcycle Show, Harley-Davidson unveiled its latest model with a laid-back but brand-appropriate party at the Ace Hotel. Emphasizing the “back to basics” mentality of the new Forty-Eight motorcycle and other choppers in the Dark Custom line, the Thursday-night shindig outfitted the bohemian-style venue's basement-level Liberty Hall with chain-link fences and retro images of bikes. Approximately 300 guests attended, including many invited through local dealerships and rider groups, who arrived on their hogs, wearing black leather biker gear.

To coordinate the efforts of its Milwaukee-based marketing, events, and PR team—as well as Caffeine Communications, the Wisconsin-based agency who conceived the concept—Harley tapped New York marketing firm Mirrorball.

Inspired by the motorcycle—a vehicle created in homage to the sportster style of bikes introduced in 1957—planners brought in some decorative elements to pair with the hotel's retro aesthetic. Mounted with vintage images of bikes, metal chain-link fences acted as the backdrop for displays of Dark Custom vehicles, and customized peanut tanks, the fuel container specific to the new model, sat atop stands. To showcase the work of its house stylists, Harley set up a space for Ray Drea and Paul Martin, who painted peanut tanks with custom artwork.

The food and drink also echoed the theme, with cans of beer and glasses of whiskey replacing the typical cocktail, and packets of chips, pork scratchings, and spiced almonds chosen over delicate canapés. Twin brothers Greg and Darin Bresnitz tag-teamed as DJ Finger on the Pulse, spinning old-school rock songs for the biker-heavy crowd.

Rounding out the low-key festivities was the unveiling of the Forty-Eight, after which guests were invited to sit astride the bike and get a feel for the new model.

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