Harley-Davidson and mobbing up snowy mountains aren’t two words you generally put together. But if you watched the Aspen X Games 2019, these two disparate terms were indeed combined in a mash-up known as the Harley-Davidson Snow Hill Climb. While the races made their Winter X Games debut last year, difficulty levels were bumped up this year as the course was moved from a straight-shot up the middle of the SuperPipe to the back of the Big Air landing which has a much steeper grade and two jumps. The field of competitors also doubled in size from eight to 16.
These aren’t everyday Harley-Davidsons, though. True, a Sportster Evolution lies at the heart of most of the race bikes, but the V-twins are mounted in custom dirt-bike style frames. Swingarms were stretched and tires were studded, bolted, or swapped for paddles. Gearing and tire choice was paramount when dealing with the slippery conditions, which only grew worse with each race. One competitor, stunt rider Logan Lackey of UNKNOWN Industries, came the closest to competing on a true Harley as he converted his stunt bike, a 2001 FXDX with a JIMS 120 engine, into a hill climber.
In the race for the gold medal, defending champion Travis Whitlock, with 14 national and three world hill-climbing championships to his name, squared off against Logan Mead, a 24-year-old professional hill climber from Concord, California. The two had the fastest qualifying times and both breezed through their preliminary races. When the tree turned green, Mead’s motorcycle hooked up and shot off the line while Whitlock’s bike squirmed out of the gate fishing for traction. By the time Whitlock finally got grip, Mead had already checked out for the gold. In the bronze medal race, Jake Anstett defeated last year’s bronze medal winner Austin Cardwell to grab the final spot on the podium.
In addition to hosting the snow hill climb, Harley-Davidson showcased its upcoming electric motorcycle line at the Aspen X Games 2019, from the near-production LiveWire to its prototype e-scooter and an electric mountain bike/dirt bike hybrid, but alas, no mention of how the Pan America is coming along was made.