History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, The (Unofficial) (1996)

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Released 28-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 56:22
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Gary Legon

Warner Vision
Starring Roger One-Take
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Jamie Legon
Gary Legon

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    I have seen a number of documentaries about Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and was very much looking forward to viewing this one. Unfortunately it was not quite up to the standard of others I have seen. By the end, I was relieved it was over.

    The Unofficial History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles chronicles the legendary American motorcycling icon Harley-Davidson. It recounts the unassuming beginnings of the business started in 1903 by two friends 21-year old William S. Harley and 20-year old Arthur Davidson.

    The documentary sheds light on Harley-Davidson's war time commitment and the extent of their support for the Allied war effort. It also spends a lot of time going through minute differences between each model, listing the pros and cons of each step in the evolution of the brand.

    Considerable time was spent interviewing Harley enthusiasts, for whom their Harley's have become a passion. It highlights that Harley-Davidson's appeal for people from all walks of life, from lawyers to the hardcore bikers. The most frequent comment was "Once you try a Harley you will be hooked".

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer at first seems adequate, but closer inspection reveals many flaws. The camera work at times is a little shaky.

    The transfer is in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame.

    The video transfer is not as sharp and clear as it should be. It is a little murky, as if the whole documentary was filmed slightly out-of-focus. The shadow detail appeared to be adequate. There were few night scenes and therefore little chance to assess it thoroughly. With all the chrome on offer, there were ample opportunities to assess low level noise and it failed miserably. I lost count of the number of times it occurred, but the major instances were at 22:40, 22:50, 24:20, 24:50, 26:05, 26:40, 27:30, 36:38, 40:52, 41:05 and 42:05. There were other examples but they were smaller and not as noticeable.

    The colours were mostly clear though a little on the dull side, and constant except for one slight modulation at 20:30.

    There were no visible MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. There were also very few film artefacts present with only one major occurrence, at 30:27.

    There are no subtitles available.

    This is a single layered disc with no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio fares a little better than the video, but it is far from perfect.

    There is only one audio track, it is an English 2.0 Dolby Digital 192kbps surround-encoded offering.

    The dialog was clear and easily understood at all times. Audio sync was not an issue with this transfer.

    The music, credited to Jamie and Gary Legon, was repetitive and annoying. It was mostly made up of guitar dominated instrumentals, though I lost count of how many times I heard Wild Thing. At times the musical accompaniment was overpowering, detracting from the narration.

    Even though the 2.0 channel track is surround encoded there was little use of the surround speakers. The sub-woofer remained inactive throughout.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The menu system is static and silent.


    This extra describes the history of Harley-Davidson in note form. It is very reminiscent of a Powerpoint presentation and is silent.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    As far as we are aware this DVD is not available in other regions.


    The Unofficial History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles is a documentary that does not do the motorcycling icon justice. The data presented is informative and interesting. The video is adequate but has major low level noise problems. The audio is a little better, but the background music is highly repetitive and annoying. All in all I was hoping for something more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Geoff Greer (read my bio)
Thursday, June 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using S-Video output
DisplayBang & Olufsen BeoVision Avante 82cm 16:9 Widescreen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVR-1803. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR 1803
SpeakersParadigm: Phantom Version 3 Front, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 Rear, Jensen SPX-17 Sub

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