Americana Overload: The new Harley Electra Glide Highway King

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
There’s a new tradition at Harley-Davidson. Each year, The Motor Co. dives deep into their archives, finds a bike that set hearts ablaze in its heyday, and releases a modern replica of it. They call it their ‘Icons Collection,’ and it’s now in its third year.

This year’s Icons Collection bike throws it way back, to the year that Nixon won the election, Led Zeppelin first took to the stage and a Big Mac cost 49 cents. Dubbed the Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King, it’s a modern day re-creation of the ultra-groovy 1968 FLH Electra Glide.

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
Editor’s note: Yip, we’re featuring a cruiser-slash-tourer from a major OEM today. It’s part of our drive to bring you, our loyal readers, more than just your weekly dose of the world’s best custom motorcycles. Plus it looks spectacular and comes in magenta—so we’re finding it hard to hate.

Harley-Davidson turns 120 this year, which means that the company has a lot of history to sift through when figuring out which legacy bikes to highlight with its Icons series. We’ve been lucky enough to not only visit the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee, but to gain access to the hallowed archives. Filled to the brim with everything from memorabilia to historic photographs, it’s a deep rabbit hole.

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
So what exactly does the H-D team consider when picking each Icons model? “Many factors,” says Brad Richards, Harley’s Vice President Of Design and Creative Director Of Motorcycles, bluntly.

“We try to keep a balance between what decades to lean into—and which models ignite the most passion within our customers’ hearts. We also consider the current narrative within the entire portfolio each year. For instance, the Electra Glide Revival [Harley’s first Icons release] was launched adjacent to the Pan America, as a reminder that our current customers are as important as future customers.”

1968 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide
The 1968 Electra Glide is as Americana nostalgia as vintage Harleys get. Splashed in a magenta paint job, with white trim and chrome accents, it’s clear which era it lived in. Customers also had the option of buying it with a deluxe ‘King of the Highway’ touring package at the time, which included fiberglass panniers, a windshield, a luggage rack and engine guards; it’s clearly where the Electra Glide Highway King nomenclature comes from.

The Electra Glide Highway King is based on Harley’s existing single-spar touring chassis, and powered by the company’s Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine. So it has all the trimmings of a modern touring bike; linked Brembo brakes, cornering ABS, traction control and drag-torque slip control, cruise control, and a hill hold feature. You can also upgrade the 160 Nm mill with Harley’s full range of Screamin’ Eagle hop-up kits.

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
Sitting on top of that chassis is bodywork that mixes existing Harley parts with a few unique items. The fuel tank, tank-mounted clocks, fenders, side covers and fork shrouds look like they come straight from other touring bikes, like the Road King. It’s a testament to how consistent Harley’s design language has remained over the years.

“We’ve stayed so true to our roots, even with our most recent bikes,” says Brad. “The proportions, forms, and the way we visually manage electronic components, means that most bikes are great canvases for future Icons.”

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
Even the saddlebags have been borrowed from the existing touring range; “Again, the form factor is still very close to the originals from the late 60s, so it worked perfectly,” adds Brad. What makes the Electra Glide Highway King stand out then, is how well its unique trim has been executed.

For starters, the two paint jobs that it comes in are equally eye-popping. You can get it in ‘Hi-Fi Orange’ or ‘Hi-Fi Magenta,’ and each version comes with color-matched tinting on the lower half of the detachable windshield. Bodacious.

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
The saddlebags on both versions are white, just like they were in the 60s. The center console features a chrome surround with a black center strip, punctuated by white striping. An Icons Collection graphic and serialization badge are etched into the console too.

One utterly unique detail is the Electra Glide Highway King’s saddle. Harley started with parts from their police motorcycle seats, then built a new unit with a custom rail design. Upholstered in black and white, it’s a standout piece.

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
The rest of the bike is finished with swathes of chrome—from the engine itself, to the crash bars, front fender trim and saddlebag guards. Chromed ‘Electra Glide’ scripts adorn the front fender, while period-correct Harley badges sit against the tank. Twin spotlights flank the headlight, while the classic laced wheels wear whitewall treads.

All that comes at a premium, naturally. The Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King will set you back $26,999 in the States—three grand more than the current Road King Special. As is customary for their Icons bikes, Harley will produce this as a 2023 model only, limited to 1,750 units (1,000 in orange, and 750 in magenta).

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King
Added up, the Electra Glide Highway King sits somewhere between a factory custom and a modern classic. It’ll surely appeal to the Harley faithful, who are known to go gaga over special edition models (especially when they’re released in an anniversary year). But we reckon it could have appeal beyond Harley’s existing fanbase, too.

Would you be tempted?

Images supplied by Harley-Davidson and Harley-Davidson Archives

2023 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Highway King

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