Faaker See, September 10 2017,125,000 revellers and more than 70,000 motorcycles arrived in the region of Carinthia, southern Austria, last week for the 20th Harley-Davidson festival to be located on the shores of the iconic Lake Faak.
This epic celebration brings together a vast and diverse array of people from all over the world, united by their shared passion for Harley-Davidson. In the last 20 years the festival has grown to become Europe’s biggest free motorcycle rally – and is the final major event in the European riding calendar.
Among the visitors who travelled furthest to get to Lake Faak was Karen Davidson: the great-granddaughter of one of the founders of Harley-Davidson, who made her way especially from Milwaukee to Austria to join this unique experience.
And this year there was something new to enthral the eager crowd: Harley-Davidson had 20 members of the international press going head-to-head flat track style in the Hooligan Simultaneous Time Trial (STT) International Invitational.
Taking place on a purpose made dirt oval each journalist rode a Street Rod 750 specially prepared for the event with modified handlebars, seat unit, fuel tank, exhaust, wheels and tyres.
Practice for the journalists was held on Tuesday 5th September with the main event on the 6th. The focus was on fun, with a real mix of riding abilities and experience taking to a dirt oval for the first time. Tuition was expertly provided by flat track master Marco Belli, a 4-time Italian champion who also has UK and European titles to his name.
The racing was fast, furious and close quarters – typical flat track in other words! Third place was claimed by Daigoro Suzuki, a freelance journalist from Japan. Second went to Spain’s Ferran Mas, of Solo Moto magazine and top spot on the rostrum was won by Italian Elia Sammartin from Rider’s Magazine.
But perhaps the real prize of the day went to second placed Mas – he took home the Number 1-plated Street Rod 750 flat tracker he raced on, thanks to turning in the fastest lap time in the final.
It was the first time that European Harley-Davidson fans got to see the all-new 2018 range of motorcycles, with the Softail® family taking pride of place at the Expo Zone, while many of the bikes in the 2018 range were also available for customers to try out on the road at the Demo Rides area.
The Harley Village took centre stage as usual, with a huge area spanning more than 40,000 square metres. Some 22 Harley-Davidson dealers from five countries, along with more than 130 independent retailers and food stalls, presented an unbeatable range of delights for shopping, admiring and savouring.
The Jeep® brand – a key partner and official sponsor of major Harley-Davidson events and rallies throughout 2017 – had a big presence throughout the event. The Jeep Test Drive Experience and Jeep Off Road Experience offered the opportunity to get behind the wheel of one of the iconic brand’s products; there was the opportunity to zip-line over the entire test drive area! On the main concourse the Jeep lounge showcased its latest launch of the all-new Jeep Compass. Also on sale was an array of Jeep merchandise in the Jeep lounge, plus the bonus of Bullfrog Barbers.
For many riders, the journey to Faaker See is all about the beautiful Carinthian countryside with its ideal riding roads and incredible alpine vistas, and the local Alpe Adria Chapter was also on hand to provide guided tours for the uninitiated. And in the evenings, more than 25 bands kept the big open-air main stage and two party marquees rocking – including Black Stone Cherry, Danko Jones and The Picturebooks.
On Friday, the Custom Bike Show featured some of the most beautiful builds from Europe and beyond with more than 70 entries. The title ‘Best in Show’ was awarded to Nedal Amin from Kuwait, who received a trophy worth more than €4,000 designed by 2SAINTS Paris.
Two people also received specially customised European Bike Week 20th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Forty-Eight motorcycles as part of the celebrations. On Friday night Ana “Mamana” Ivancic received one as a gift in a ceremony to mark the 20 years the event has been hosted at Faaker See. Peter Van De Luijsterwon one in a prize draw on Saturday night, where a lucky number was drawn from 6000 wristbands given away at the event.
The Parade on Saturday saw at least 10,000 bikes cross the starting line for a tour around the surrounding Carinthian mountains and lakes, while later in the afternoon the Red Bull Flying Bulls wowed the crowd with an aerobatic display from their Alpha Jet, piloted by Stefan Doblhammer. And that night, a spectacular high-altitude fireworks display lit up the night sky above the lake – a gift from the Motor Company to all of its fans.
It won’t be long until you’ll need snowshoes and skis in Faak, but the bikes will be back next year too: We’re pleased to announce that the 21st European Bike Week will take place on September 4-9, 2018.