Roses and chrome: European H.O.G.® Rally rolls into Slovenia
The annual European H.O.G.® Rally has always been designed to provide a new destination for riders each year, keeping the event fresh and allowing riders to make their own adventures along the way. With 2016 being a very special year for H.O.G. – a quarter of a century of activity in Europe and the 25th iteration of the European H.O.G. Rally – that deserved a very special destination, the beautiful and historic 'Port of Roses' – Portorož on the south-western tip of Slovenia.
Completely open and free to celebrate this special birthday of the world's largest and most successful motorcycle owners' group, the site was on the Adriatic coast, dominated by the historic hotels, restaurants and casinos that make this one of Europe's grandest seaside resorts.
The event included some proven elements familiar from previous H.O.G. rallies and some new activities and attractions specific to the location. The Demo Area provided the opportunity to test ride the latest Harley-Davidson® range, including the powerful new S-series bikes, and this year it was supplemented by the Harley-Davidson Service Point, staffed by technicians from local dealer Harley-Davidson Zagreb. The Harley Expo Area allowed rally visitors to see the complete Harley-Davidson range including for many the first opportunity to see the new Roadster model, while the static Jumpstart™ provided a riding experience for those yet to take to the road.
H.O.G. members were treated as VIP guests with an exclusive H.O.G. Zone with free photo opportunities for everyone, the opportunity to collect a free limited-edition 25th Anniversary pin, and complimentary tickets to Monfort Fight Night at the nearby historic salt warehouse.
This year's Custom Bike Show saw one of the most beautiful backdrops yet, the stunning white marble Tartini Square in the ancient town of Piran. The historic venue saw European custom bike builders and home constructors alike competing for the coveted glass trophies. Fittingly, Slovenian customisers made the greatest impact across the categories, including the Best In Show award taken by Dreamachine Motos.
One of the greatest attractions at any European H.O.G. Rally is the Guided Tours – escorted tours by local chapters – which show parts of the region that riders would be unlikely to come across by chance. This year was no exception, with rides escorted by Slovenia's Lipa Chapter and Croatia's Pleter Chapter through the stunning Istrian hills with stops to see the unique local villages; to Brijuni National Park, set in an archipelago of 14 beautiful islands; the Slovenian Karst region between Trieste Bay and the Vipavska Valley, including caves, springs and disappearing lakes; and a ride to the amazing Postojna Cave and the town of Skocjan.
Saturday saw the ever-popular Parade – including the colourful Chapter Parade of Flags – take to the local roads and towns of Slovenia, sweeping up to the Croatian border, through the Istrian Hills and along the stunning coastline of the peninsula, with more than 1,000 riders stretching back an impressive 9km.
Harley-Davidson's event partner Jeep was again present in force with Jeep demos, an off-road test ride experience and the Jeep Expo with the special-edition Renegade 'Hell's Revenge' – as well as a Jeep parasailing experience.
Nighttime saw the event site come alive with the familiar party atmosphere of a H.O.G. rally, given a unique twist with the performances of top local Slovenian bands and an eclectic mix of entertainment including sets from DJ Destruction and live music at the main stage and in the ever-popular Harley Bar. A host of restaurants, nightclubs and event venues in Portorož, Piran and along the coast kept riders entertained until the early hours and beyond. By day the Shopping Zone, dealer area and event merchandise point provided the opportunity to take home a memento of what was widely accepted as one of the most popular H.O.G. rallies of recent years.
With 25,000 attendees and more than 15,000 Harley-Davidson® motorcycles rolling in, this year's event will be a hard act to follow, but we are already working on the special elements that will make the 2017 annual European H.O.G. Rally unique. H.O.G. members will be the first to know as soon as details are finalised. See you there!
For more fantastic images visit the H.O.G. Europe Gallery website