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Harley-Davidson Museum Masterpieces

By Kenzo

A handy reference to milestone models

By Dain Gingerelli, photos by Randy Leffingwell

Quayside Publishing, $19.99, 240 pages
www.motorbooks.com

This is a rare instance where I must compare a book previously reviewed in Thunder Press (Dec.’08) with a new release. The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Archive Collection and Harley-Davidson Museum Masterpieces were both published by Quayside/Motorbooks. The motorcycles displayed in the Harley-Davidson Museum were selected from the company’s private archived collection, so the machines shown in each book—with the exception of the 2009 V-Rod Muscle and the 2010 Wide Glide—are not only the same, but the photos are identical. Naturally there are more photos associated with each individual motorcycle in the big art volume than was practical for this new, smaller reference work. Also, more bikes were presented in the Archive Collection since this new book restricts itself to only those motorcycles exhibited in the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Author Dain Gingerelli takes a very different approach from that of Darwin Holmstrom (Archive Collection) when writing about these motorcycles. Gingerelli explains the historical and cultural significance of each model instead of the status of each individual bike. The text for each motorcycle in this book is accompanied by sidebars including basic specifications and enjoyable “Did You Know?” trivia. The outer half-inch of each page lists the year and model on those pages as a colored, reverse index tab. Coupled with a chronological progression this makes it quick and easy to reference a desired model.

For those who haven’t seen the previous book or toured the museum, there are a few special bikes such as Russ Townshend’s 1973 FLH Rhinestone, the “Captain America” and “Billy Bike” replicas, and the 1994 Fat Boy “Biker Blues” used for the introduction of Harley-Davidson jeans. Military machines, Servi-Cars, police bikes and many early production motorcycles are, of course, presented in these 240 pages.

The Masterpieces book is not as lush an edition as its thematic predecessor, but Randy Leffingwell’s crisp photos are everything that anyone could ask for in a reference book regardless of their size or the paper stock on which they are printed. The Masterpieces book is not only pounds lighter and much smaller than the lavish coffee-table volume, it’s also a third of the price. As a ready-reference book, Harley-Davidson Museum Masterpieces is all that most enthusiasts will ever require.

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