Aoshima 1/12 Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic V-twin Custom
KIT #: 004814
PRICE: 3600 Yen
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Mark Hiott

Instructions in Japanese, some parts need to be painted to match the decals. 


Harley-Davidson, often abbreviated simply as Harley, is an American motorcycle manufacturer. Founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during the first decade of the 20th century, it was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. Harley-Davidson also survived a period of poor quality control and competition from Japanese manufacturers.

The company sells today only heavyweight motorcycles with over 700 cc, designed for cruising on highways. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are noted for the tradition of heavy customization that gave rise to the chopper style of motorcycle. Except for the modern VRSC model family, current Harley-Davidson motorcycles reflect the styles of classic Harley designs. Harley-Davidson's attempts to establish itself in the light motorcycle market have met little success and have largely been abandoned since the 1978 sale of its Italian Aermacchi subsidiary.

The first "real" Harley-Davidson motorcycle had an engine of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc) with 9.75 inches (25 cm) flywheels weighing 28 lb (13 kg). The machine's advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the 1903 Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle (designed by Joseph Merkel, later of Flying Merkel fame). The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized-bicycle category and marked the path to future motorcycle designs. They also received help with their bigger engine from outboard motor pioneer Ole Evinrude, who was then building gas engines of his own design for automotive use on Milwaukee's Lake Street. The prototype of the new loop-frame Harley-Davidson was assembled in a shed in the Davidson family backyard. Most of the major parts, however, were made elsewhere, including some probably fabricated at the West Milwaukee railshops where oldest brother William A. Davidson was then toolroom foreman. This prototype machine was functional by September 8, 1904, when it competed in a Milwaukee motorcycle race held at State Fair Park. It was ridden by Edward Hildebrand and placed fourth. This is the first documented appearance of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the historical record.

The FLT Tour Glide was introduced in 1979 as a 1980 model. Sold alongside the existing FLH Electra Glide, the FLT had a larger frame with rubber engine mounts, a five-speed transmission, the 80 cu in (1,300 cc) engine, and a frame-mounted fairing. In order that the FLT frame, which was larger and heavier than the large and heavy FLH frame, would handle acceptably, the front forks were given radical steering geometry which had them mounted behind the steering head, with the frame behind the steering head being recessed to allow adequate steering lock.

The FLHT was introduced in 1983. This was an Electra Glide based on the FLT Tour Glide frame, but using the Electra Glide "batwing" fairing instead of the Tour Glide frame-mounted fairing.

Except for the base FLH, all 1984 FLs were equipped with the new rubber-mounted Evolution engine and a five-speed transmission.

All "Shovelhead" engines were discontinued by the 1985 model year. In that year, the four-speed solid-engine-mount FLH was modified to accept rubber mounting and the Evolution engine. The FLH was discontinued in 1986; all Touring models thereafter used the FLT/FLHT frame. Ironically, the FLT Tour Glide, which introduced the current Touring frame, was dropped from the lineup in 1996. A smaller version of the frame-mounted Tour fairing would return with the FLTR Road Glide in 1998.

The Evolution engine was replaced by the Twin Cam 88 engine on all large-framed Harley-Davidson motorcycles in 1999. The Twin Cam engine was enlarged from 88 to 96 in 2007.


Opening the box one is greeted by a large number of parts, most of them in chrome. The other parts are molded in black, gray and tan, plus there is a rather large clear sprue. The part are nicely molded and I didn't notice any flash of ejector marks. The huge amount of chrome parts will be a hassle to deal with as there is always a mark where they attach to the sprues. Two rubber tires are also included. Also included are various hoses and some screws that will be used to attach the wheels.

 The instruction book, and it IS a book, is all written in Japanese. Thankfully the steps are well illustrated so assembly is quite easy. There is no painted or decal guide per say, but callouts are noted throughout the various steps. Some of them are quite easy to miss, so close attention is called for.

 The decals are nice and include faces for all the gauges as well as the radio. I didn't use all the kit decals, but the ones I did use went on with no trouble.


Generally the build went pretty well. I was surprised to find the engine and wheels were not on the chrome sprue, but are molded in gray. I followed the instructions until I got to step 17. I skipped this step as I wanted to leave the front fairing off until the model was done. Less apt to break it that way.

I will give one recommendation... in step 12 the kickstand in installed. Replace it with a piece of wire, it's very flimsy. Mine broke before I could take photos and I had to use a spare from another bike model.

 The first problem I encountered  was in step 18. The "Knee Guards" (I guess that's what they are called) are installed in step 15, but when I went to install the foot pads and shifters in step 18, they wouldn't fit. They hit the knee guards! I tried different ways to see if I could get them to work, but in the end I removed the knee guards and just didn't use them. Also in step 18, the exhaust is installed. It's a good thing I test fitted everything because you can't install the side covers in step 19 with the pipes in place. I ended up installing the covers, then the exhaust pipes, then I went back to step 19 and finished the step. Parts C14 in step 19 would not fit. They are supposed to hold the pipes, but they ended up at a crazy angle that I know was not right. Again, I left them off. (you really can't see them with saddle bags installed anyway)

 The biggest problem I had was in the last step, installing the seat. I assembled the 3 piece seat, but when I went to put it on, there wasn't enough room between the fuel tank and the rear bag. Because of the cut of the seat, the saddle bags and rear bag dictate where it needs to be. I had to take the seat apart and fit each piece separately. I installed part G12 first, then I modified parts G6 until it would fit, then I installed part G5. I ended up not using parts H3, H17 and H18, they wouldn't fit the modified seat parts. (I also noticed they aren't shown on the box top either)

 The last parts installed were the front fairing and the mirrors and the bike was done.


 I didn't really care for the scheme shown on the box, and since I had to paint some of the colors to match the decals, I decided to paint it blue on white instead. It would make for some inventive decaling, but I think it looks good when finished.

 The frame, engine and various other misc parts were painted Model Masters flat black. The engine trim was painted Model Masters chrome. I also used this to touchup the chrome parts. The lights were painted with Tamiya clear red or orange. It works ok for the clear lights, but looks kinda funky on the chrome parts that required it.

 The model was first painted Model Masters gloss white. As that was drying, I photocopied the decals, cut them out, and transferred them to masking tape. It took several tries, but I finally got some masks I could use. These were placed on the model were the kit decals would have been and the model painted Model Masters gloss blue. Now came the hard part... some of the red pin-stripe is provided as separate decal for the parts you have to paint, but other decals have the stripe as part of the decal itself. I had to carefully remove the red stripe from the decals I wouldn't be using and install them on the parts I had painted. Using a new #11 blade and a straight edge, I carefully cut the stripes away from their decals. I then installed them between the white and blue. The only trouble I had was when my cat ate the decals for the fuel tank... I had to paint that red trim. Some of the other red trim needed touchup, but I think it came out ok. I suppose I could have just bought some red stripe decal, but where's the fun in that?


 Installing all the chrome parts is a bit of a chore, but the end result is worth it. Another person might chose to strip the chrome and repaint it, but I wanted to show how the models looks, warts and all. The paint scheme I chose made the job harder, but the model builds easily and I recommend it to anyone who has experience working with that much chrome. It has a few fit problems, but nothing that can't be overcome.   



Wikipedia for the history.

Internet for reference photos.

Mark Hiott

July 2013

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