Battle of the Kings 2019

ULTIMATE BATTLE IN MONTREAL – Best-of-the-best bike builders perfect their imagination, skills and technical expertise to claim national title 

By Micaela Wallace

May’s Battle of the Kings (BOTK) at the Roll the Bones Old School Motorcycle & Art Show in Montreal was every custom motorcycle enthusiast’s dream. Celebrating choppers, custom builds, photography, art and music, it was a chance for local makers and people eager to talk bikes to share their passions.

An international event, BOTK challenges builders to transform standard Harley-Davidson® motorcycles into something unique. To inspire consumers to get their hands on their favourite Harley® and make it their own, participants must ensure their creations are replicable and road-legal. 

This year’s three Canadian finalists were chosen by the public to create bespoke, cutting-edge Harleys using only their imagination, technical competency and a budget that equates to half the cost of the original stock model. The three teams showcased their builds at Roll the Bones, where a panel of expert judges followed strict protocols to determine which bike would continue to Milan’s International Motorcycle and Accessories Exhibition (EICMA) for the global competition.

Two of the three finalists opted to build off the 2019 Softail Slim® model, with the third team working off the 2018 Sport Glide® model. The builders from each dealership connected with the public at the event to share their inspirations, challenges and excitement over their custom creations. I spoke with the build teams to learn about their processes and inspiration, and the highs and lows of competition building.

*NATIONAL WINNER: Moonshine

Dealership: Calgary Harley-Davidson (Calgary, Alberta)
Lead builder: Justin Willimont

Inspired by the 1983–1992 FXRT Sport Glide models, this bike design stood out from the competition and was truly a dealership effort. Lead builder Justin Willimont, a service technician at Calgary Harley-Davidson, spoke of the camaraderie, passion, innovation and teamwork that led to Moonshine being crowned the 2019 Canadian BOTK winner.  

“I can’t take any credit for the vision of Moonshine,” Willimont said. “It was truly a team effort. It wasn’t one person saying, ‘This is what we are doing.’ It was all of us spit-balling and sharing ideas that ultimately led to Moonshine being born.”  

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