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Hey, is that bike legal?

TOP: Rich Christoph ‘05 and Willie G. Davidson (grandson of the founder) show off the Nightster, a project the two worked on together.

Harley-Davidson leaders wanted their 2007 Nightster, a back-to-basics and honest road bike, to lure younger riders. So they asked Rich Christoph ’05, the youngest member of the Harley design team, to be lead designer.
While designing the motorcycle, Christoph was influenced by ’40s- and ’50s-era hot rods and post-WWII bobbed motorcycle styles. He wanted the Nightster to look like it was handmade in someone’s garage.

He worked closely with Willie G. Davidson, grandson of the founder of Harley-Davidson, to give the bike an “illegal” look by eliminating the center stop lamp and putting the brake lights in with the turn signals. He also relocated the license plate to the side of the fender. These features helped to visually slam the bike even lower and clean up its profile—while still passing all legal road requirements.

Christoph has been receiving a lot of attention for his design work on the bike. He has been featured in the New York Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Cycle World.

How many people can say they drove their portfolio to a job interview? Read in this New York Times article how the custom bike built by Rich Christoph ’05—using welding and metal-bending skills learned fixing his father’s old Oliver tractors—led to his being hired by Harley-Davidson and given the plum job of dreaming up the Sportster.


Summer Outlook 2012