Throwback Thursday: Vintage Harley-Davidson Advertising From 1988

The 1988 FXR Superglide. One of the best handling bikes of all time.
The 1988 FXR Super Glide. One of the best handling bikes of all time.

As I was looking over my archives (AKA the piles of stuff in my office) I found an original 1988 Model Year Guide with fold out posters of every bike available at the time. This is fitting since the 2017 model year bikes have just been released, making the bikes in my catalog 29 years old.

As I thumbed through the book I couldn’t help but notice how much of the lineup, 5 different models, was devoted to the now cherished FXR line. The current “it” bike everyone wants to get their hands on was in it’s production prime in 1988. This made me wonder if today’s bikes will stand the test of time and be relevant 29 years from now.

The now legendary FXRT in its stock 1988 prime
The now legendary FXRT in its stock 1988 prime

Will people be scouring the internet for Dyna Low Rider S models in 2047 like they currently are for FXRT models? Will we look at the Infotainment™ system and laugh the way that I do when I look at the AM/FM tape deck that was standard in 1988?

The 1988 AM/FM Tape deck Sound System
The 1988 AM/FM Tape deck Sound System

After I finished wondering what the future will bring I was intrigued by the celebrity quotes found throughout the book. Jay Leno opened for the FXR line, assertively stating, “I don’t like valves that look like golf tees. Intake valves should be the size of trashcan lids, and pistons should be the size of manhole covers.” Other people featured were Larry Mullens, Jr. from the band U2, Mickey Rourke, and Malcolm Forbes. Very different people from very different industries, all connected by motorcycling.

Leno FXR
Jay Leno explains why he rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles in 1988

By the end of the night, this “old” catalog had reminded me of two universal truths in motorcycling:

  1. Fads come and go but the motorcycle industry is cyclical. Vintage never goes out of style but it does progress just like anything else.
  2. Motorcycles are universal. People from all over the world bond over riding, regardless of race, religion or wealth. Even language barriers won’t stop motorcyclists from uniting for the ride.

And with that I remember why I keep my “archives” and why I love this industry and I immediately file the catalog away and look for the next buried treasure!

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