Cigar Aficionado

Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Bike

Polite tradition calls for celebrating a union of 25 years with a gift of silver, and half a century is worthy of gold. But how do you mark 100 years? We suggest the gift of a hog.

Given the limits of human physiology (to say nothing of divorce trends), it's nearly a certainty you won't celebrate your own such milestone. So it's time to piggyback on Harley-Davidson's centennial celebration, happening at a dealership near you.

The 2003 Harleys are the 100th-anniversary editions of America's favorite motorcycle. They've come a long way in their century. In 1903, motorcycles were humble, if innovative, creatures. Only 18 years removed from their invention in 1885, they were simply bicycles with motors. Neighbors Arthur Davidson and William S. Harley began tinkering with their own version, and joined by Davidson's brothers William A. and Walter, the four created an engine in 1902 and the first Harley a year later, in a wooden shed behind Davidson's home. By 1919, Harley had become the world's largest manufacturer of motorcycles, and over 100 years it weathered the Great Depression, cheap Japanese competition, quality problems and even a hostile takeover bid. Today, Harley-Davidson is the iconic American motorcycle, its products lions of the road.

You can choose from all manner of anniversary Harleys, from the smallish Sportsters to the hoggish Fat Boys, long-distance cruisers like the Road Glide, even an Ultra Classic Electra Glide, complete with a throwback sidecar. To enter the twenty-first century in style, go with the innovative V-Rod (pictured). Created for the 2002 model year, this is the newest Harley design on the market, powered by a racing-inspired, liquid-cooled, 115 horsepower engine that redlines at 9,000 rpm. The 600-pound, low-slung beast of a bike is Harley's current cock of the walk. Like all the anniversary bikes, the V-Rod proudly displays the centennial on the engine, with a special insignia and new paint schemes, replete with a liquid metal effect. This piece of history retails for $18,695.

Act quickly -- the anniversary models may be gone by year's end. And the odds don't favor any of us being around to celebrate 200 years of Harley hog heaven.