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Participants of a motorcycle parade ride their bikes through the center of Prague to celebrate 115th anniversary of the Harley Davidson trademark, Czech Republic, July 7, 2018. REUTERS/David W Cerny

(reuters_tickers)

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of "hogs" roared into Prague on Saturday as Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from around the world converged on the Czech capital to honour the storied motorcycle maker's 115th anniversary.

Prague, home to a 90-year-old Harley-Davidson club, the oldest in the world, is hosting the biggest anniversary bash for the motorcycles outside of their U.S. home of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where a similar party starts at the end of August.

More than 60,000 bikers and about 40,000 other visitors from over 70 countries convened in Prague, in the heart of central Europe, organisers estimated.

Some 4,000 bikers chosen in a lottery and clad in leather, denim and helmets of all sorts paraded through the city centre on Saturday, revving motors and honking horns.

The event attracted bikers from all over, like Piotr Sobczik of Poland, to share their love of the motorcycles.

"It is freedom, it is a lifestyle. It is a way of spending our free time - a passion," he said.

Riders from as far as the United States and China also came for the four-day gathering which features biker games, music and Czech beer.

"This (Harley-Davidson) brand is so strong for so many people across the entire globe," said Karen Davidson, a great-granddaughter of one of the founders.

Europe has become important for Harley-Davidson, already the dominant player in the heavyweight U.S. motorcycle market.

In 2017, Harley-Davidson sold nearly 40,000 new motorcycles in Europe, more than 16 percent of sales. Revenue from European Union countries was second only to the United States.

The company, though, was slammed last month by U.S. President Donald Trump after saying it would move production for European customers overseas to avoid retaliatory tariffs after the United States imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminium imports.

(Reporting by Jiri Skacel and David Cerny, additional reporting and writing by Jason Hovet; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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Reuters