Harley Davidson, nowadays, is the premier American motorcycle company worldwide. It has reached its name and fame in every corner of the globe. Following it, youths and seniors have genuinely become fans of the classic, stylish, and aggressive styling design of Harley Davidson motorcycles.
As a Harley motorcycle fan, you must know its story and evolution. In fact, the history of Harley Davidson is itself an inspiring one. The Harley-Davidson owners company started as a small motorcycle manufacturer in 1903, becoming one of the largest and most influential motorcycle manufacturers worldwide.
History Of Harley Davidson Motorcycle: In-Depth Detailed
Harley Davidson is all set to celebrate its 120th anniversary the following year. During the past 120 years, Harley has become synonymous with an aggressive, modern, and stylish Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine. But how did it all start?
The story began in 1901 in Milwaukee, America. William S. Harley was only 20 years old when he designed an engine. It has 7.07 inches of cubic displacement. He designed it to use with the frame of a pedal bicycle.
It had 24.74 cubic inches (406 ccs) displacement capacity. The loop-frame design was an advanced one. Later, Joseph Markel adopted this frame design for the first Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was named 1903 Milwaukee Markel after the designer’s name.
As the engine was made bigger and the frame design was developed further, the design looked different from the conventional bicycles. Also, it paved the way for the world’s first motorcycle design. Ole Evinrude was a gas engine manufacturer at that time. They helped Harley improve the displacement rate and performance with their bigger engines.
Harley History In A Nutshell
- The first attempt to make the engine was in 1901
- Their prototype became operational in 1904
- The first factory was founded in 1906
- In 1911 they brought their V-twin engine
- World War I saw 20000 units of motorcycles sold
- Survived Great Depression with Indian Motorcycle
- In World War II, supplied motorcycles to the military
- Changes in ownership in 1969 and 1984
As Harley received the bigger engine from Evinrude, they worked on it. As a result, they prepared their prototype by the end of 1904. Yes, the prototype became fully functional and operating on September 04, 1904.
At that time, there was a motorcycle race going on in Milwaukee. It was held in State Fair Park. The prototype stood 4th in the motorcycle race, thanks to the excellent riding performance of Edward Hilderbrand. This fourth placement of Harley’s 1st prototype made them famous immediately in every corner of America.
Following their fame, Harley opened their 1st advertisement. Their first ad was shown in the Automobile and Cycle Trade Journal. So, the advertisement provided a bare engine. Buyers can get it and assemble it through their DIY process.
The First Official Factory
After the advertisement, few people showed interest in Harley bare engines. Following it, Harley sold three of their early bikes cheaper price. Although these three bikes weren’t assembled, they paved the way for modern-day motorcycle design.
The following year, their sales increased, and complete list the founder moved the manufacturing shed to Chestnut Street. There they built their first actual sales price manufacturing plant in 1906. Chestnut Street Rod was later named Juneau Avenue.
Harley Davidson continued their operation on Juneau Avenue for many years. Later, they built the headquarters in the exact location. Their tribute to their early workers and production facility helped them become the global motorcycle manufacturing leader.
In 1905, Harley manufactured 50 motorcycles from their newly established facility. The first products were all single-cylinder in 1905 and 1906. These motorcycles had 440cc of displacement capacity. For the next couple of years, the company kept developing its engines. As a result, they came up with V-twin engines.
The Later Development
Harley kept on growing despite World War I. In fact, with the growing demand for military-grade motorcycles, price, Harley-Davidson expanded its production facility. During the war, Harley sold almost 20000 units to the U.S. military.
After the war, Harley introduced their bicycle line. It helped them grab more attention and gain more customers. As a result, Harley became the largest motorcycle manufacturer worldwide by 1920, and they started exporting motorcycles to European and Asian markets. The Harley Davidson Motorcycle offers additional options for customization, allowing riders to make it their own truly.”
Their success continued even during World War II. However, the reputation of the company came almost to an end in 1952. The American Terrific Commission imposed 40% duties on imported motorcycles then, which dropped Harley sales.
Multiple Changes In Harley Davidson Ownership
The next few years have seen multiple changes in the ownership of Harley Davidson. The first change came in American Machine, and Foundry bought the company in 1969. They slashed production following the dropped sales. Riding on open roads with a Harley Davidson provides a thrilling sense of freedom.
Sadly, the production quality dropped significantly at that time too. As a result, the bikes became expensive but had an inferior performance. Undoubtedly, it resulted in popularity loss and a significant drop in sales.
Thus, the company almost became bankrupt. The introduction of the Japanese Universal Motorcycle was also responsible for such worsening condition of Harley. Following it, American Machine and Foundry transferred the ownership to 13 investors.
Vaughn Beals and Willie G. Davidson led the investors’ group. They bought Harley Davidson for 80 million dollars at that time. The investors’ group changed the production management and helped Harley revive.
Who Owns Harley Davidson Now?
Harley Davidson has enlisted as a public limited company in the American share market. So, technically, all the shareholder of the company is its owner. However, a few key shareholders own the maximum shares of the company. To inquire about purchasing a Harley Davidson motorcycle, please contact the dealer nearest to you.
When buying a Harley Davidson motorcycle, it is important to consider the finance charges associated with the loan. Nonetheless, a strong management and operating body looks after all Harley motorcycles’ production, marketing, and sales promotion. Currently, Jochen Zeitz is the CEO and Chairman of the Harley governing body.
He has been working closely with Harley since early 2010. Also, he is credited for many iconic initiatives of the company. In fact, the first Harley electric motorcycle Livewire is essentially the result of his idea and implementation.
Where Did Harley Davidson Start?
Harley-Davidson Clubs are communities of motorcycle enthusiasts who share a passion for the iconic Harley-Davidson brand. The Harley-Davidson strike is a significant event in the history of the motorcycle industry. Harley Davidson started its journey in Milwaukee, USA.
Its first workshop was in a local machine shop. Later in 1906, they first established their fully functional manufacturing plant on Chestnut Avenue, named Juneau Avenue. Its present headquarters is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
The three young men shared a passion for mechanics and a vision to create the ultimate motorcycle. Little did they know that their humble beginnings in a small machine shop would lead to a global empire that would revolutionize the world of motorcycling. Government fees can significantly impact the cost of owning a Harley Davidson-motorcycle.
When Did Harley Davidson Start
The company officially founded itself in 1903, though it started its journey in 1901. Its journey started with developing the 7.07-inch cubic capacity facilitated engine. The exhaust stroke is a crucial part of the combustion process in a Harley Davidson motorcycle engine. The exhaust heat from the Harley Davidson motorcycle was intense, radiating a powerful and distinctive warmth.
The four owners of Harley Davidson were:
- William S. Harley
- Arthur Davidson
- Walter Davidson
- William A. Davidson
As you see, the motorcycle company got its name from its owners’ last name.
Top Harley Models By Decades
Over the past 119 years, Harley has introduced some iconic motorcycles to the world. Enlisting all these motorcycle models on this shortlist will be nearly impossible. So, we will follow a decade-by-decade enlisting method.
Harley-Davidson Models, the beloved American motorcycle manufacturer, has been a driving force in the industry for the past 119 years. Founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the company has become synonymous with quality, innovation, and the freedom of the open road.
1911 7D: It came with the first V-twin engine 1914 10-F: The bike had a two-starter feature and two-speeds
1925 JD: Harley’s first step towards the genuinely stylish design 1929 D-Series: The first one with the flathead V-twin engine and competed with Indian motorcycles
1932 R-Series: This model helped Harley become a staple in America with further traditional styling in the design 1937 UL: It consisted of the 4-speed transmission and was a Solo Sports model.
1942 WLA: The company mass-produced this motorcycle for the military during World War II 1948 FL: It was the first to get the famous Panhead V-twin engine
1952 K-Model: It was a lightweight model and focused on being sporty and perfect for racing 1957 Sportster XL: Harley’s first economical bike to reach all customers. It is also easy to maneuver.
1961 Super 10: With an air-cooled and two-stroke engine, it was a smaller and entry-level motorcycle 1965 FL Electra Glide: The company introduced their famous electric start with this motorcycle. The Panhead engine was last seen in it.
1971 F.X. Super Glide: A mid-range motorbike comprising the powerful V-twin engine and Sportster’s control and style1977 FXS Low ride for rider: One of the best-sold models from the company that had extended forks.
1980 FXB Sturgis: The limited edition was produced in honor of the Sturgis motorcycle rally. Harley only made 1500 bikes of this model. 1984 FX/FL Softail: The Softail model looked similar to the 40s and 50s motorcycle with the bossy V-twin engines.
1990 FLSTF Fat Boy: This was a cruiser motorcycle. It was mainly made in 1984 and 1989 for the Daytona Bike Week to mark the occasion. 1992 FXDB Daytona: Only 1700 motorcycles of this model were produced as a tribute to Daytona Beach.
2002 FXDWG3: It is the most factory-customized motorcycle Harley built ever. 2007 FXDB Dyna Street Bob has a streamlined design with a minimalistic look. The bike doesn’t have a passenger seat.
2014 XG Street: The economical yet sporty bike was made to attract the youth 2019 Livewire™: It is the first electric motorcycle from the company and received design accolades worldwide
Harley Davidson Engine History
The history of Harley Davidson is inseparable from its engine upgradation. Harley has redesigned its motorcycle engine for almost 10 to 20 years. The bigger and more powerful engine has helped the company to manufacture excellent motorbikes. Harley Davidson, the iconic American motorcycle company, has a rich history deeply intertwined with its engines.
Einzylinder Engine: It is a simple single-cylinder engine
V-Twin: The V-Twin is a two-cylinder engine with an improved design and displacement facility
F-Head: This was an improved version of the V-twin engine with more prowess and capacity
Flathead Engine: This engine was used in Harley motorcycles till 1952. However, in a few Servi Cars, the engine continued till 1973. Its cylinder heads had a flat, curved design from where it got the name
Knucklehead Engine: Harley’s first engine that came with overhead valves. This engine reached 48HP in the later years. Also, it paved the way for the powerful big twin and air-cooled engines
Panhead: It got the first electric start and was seen in the Harley
K-Model: This was a limited-time engine identical to the flathead engine but with more power.
Ironhead Engine: Harley introduced this compact yet sporty engine for their Sportster versions.
Shovelhead Engines: It was one of the most promising engines from the company. Also, it was their lase engine without any computer-aided design.
Customizing Your Harley Davidson
Understanding the importance of customizing your Harley Davidson is paramount for any motorcycle enthusiast. Personalizing and modifying your bike according to your preferences enhances its aesthetic appeal and allows for a more tailored and comfortable riding experience. Customization allows riders to transform their Harley Davidson into a unique reflection of their personality and style.
- Determine Your Customization Goals: Decide what aspects of your Harley Davidson you want to customize, such as the paint job, exhaust note sound system, handlebars, or seat.
- Research And Gather Ideas: Find inspiration from other customized Harley-Davidson, online forums, or motorcycle magazines to understand the customization options available.
- Set A Budget: Determine how much you will spend on customizing your Harley Davidson and prioritize which modifications are most important to you.
- Find A Reputable Customization Shop Or Mechanic: If you don’t have the skills or tools to customize your Harley Davidson, search for a trusted customization shop or mechanic specializing in Harley-Davidson.
- Choose High-Quality Aftermarket Parts: Select aftermarket parts that are compatible with your Harley Davidson model and ensure they come from durable materials for long-lasting performance.
- Consider Professional Installation: Some customization projects may require professional installation to ensure proper fit and functionality, especially if you are making significant modifications.
- Take Your Time And Plan Carefully: Customizing your Harley Davidson is a personal process, so take the time to plan and make decisions that align with your vision and preferences.
- Test And Adjust: Once your customization is complete, take your Harley Davidson for a test-inspiring ride to ensure everything works properly and make any necessary adjustments for optimal performance.
- Enjoy The Smoother Ride: After customizing your Harley Davidson, take pride in your unique creation and enjoy the enhanced riding experience that reflects your personal style and taste.
Safety Tips And Riding Gear
Regarding riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle, knowing safety tips and having the right riding gear is of utmost importance. Riding a motorcycle is inherently different from driving a car, and understanding the unique safety considerations is crucial for a rider’s well-being. Knowing safety tips specific to Harley Davidson-motorcycles ensures a smooth and secure riding experience.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. It is the most important protective gear and can significantly reduce the risk of head injuries in case of an accident.
- Wear protective clothing such as leather jackets, pants, and gloves to provide an extra layer of protection in case of a fall or slide.
- Ensure your riding gear includes sturdy boots covering the ankles to protect your feet and provide better riding stability.
- Use reflective materials or clothing to increase your visibility to other drivers, especially during nighttime or lowlight conditions.
- Conduct a pre-ride inspection of your Harley Davidson to ensure all lights, brakes, tires, and other essential components work properly.
- Follow all traffic rules and regulations, including speed limits, to minimize the risk of accidents and ensure a safe riding experience.
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles on the road, allowing enough space to react and maneuver in case of sudden stops or lane changes.
- Practice defensive riding techniques, constantly scanning the road for potential hazards and being prepared to react and adjust your riding accordingly.
- Be mindful of weather conditions and adjust your riding style accordingly. Rain, snow, or strong winds can significantly affect the handling of your motorcycle, so exercise caution and adjust your speed and braking accordingly.
- Stay alert and focused while riding, avoiding distractions such as using mobile devices or listening to loud music that can impair your ability to hear traffic sounds or react quickly to potential dangers.
Maintenance And Care For Your Harley Davidson
Knowing proper maintenance and care for your Harley Davidson is paramount for any owner. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are not just vehicles; they symbolize freedom, power, and luxury. To ensure that your Harley Davidson remains in top-notch condition and provides you with an unrivaled riding experience, it is crucial to understand the significance of regular maintenance and care.
- Regularly check and change the engine oil to ensure proper lubrication and prevent engine damage.
- Inspect and clean the air filter to maintain proper airflow and prevent dirt and debris from entering the engine.
- Inspect and adjust the drive belt tension to ensure proper performance and prevent wear.
- Check and maintain proper tire pressure to ensure optimal handling and extended tire life.
- Clean and lubricate the chain regularly to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
- Inspect and replace worn brake pads to maintain proper braking performance and safety.
- Regularly check and adjust the clutch and throttle cables for smooth operation.
- Clean and polish the motorcycle regularly to maintain its appearance and prevent corrosion.
- Check and replace worn spark plugs to ensure proper ignition and fuel efficiency.
- Regularly inspect the battery and clean the terminals to prevent electrical issues.
- Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual for periodic servicing and inspections.
Harley Davidson Motorcycle has become the most iconic and stylish motorcycle brand in the last 120 years. Thus, the history of Harley Davidson is inspiring, with many ups and downs. Despite this, Harley has stayed on its track and gifted us with the best versions of motorcycles.
Over the years, they have improved the engine design, motorcycle performance, and style to become a pioneer. It will be interesting to see how the company incorporates the growing need for electric bikes as it brought it in 2019. Also, the company is changing its design language faster to make its motorcycles more eco-friendly, which is an appreciable effort.
Which Country Made Harley-Davidson?
Harley-Davidson motorcycles were made in the United States. Founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1903, the company has become a household name and a staple in the motorcycle industry.
Is Harley Still In India?
No, Harley is not currently in India. The company first entered the Indian market in 2009 with the aim of tapping into the rapidly growing two-wheeler industry.
Are Harley-Davidson Powerful?
Yes, Harley Davidson is popular for its powerful engines and high torque levels. The company has produced top-of-the-line motorcycles for over a century, founded in 1903 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson.
Who Founded Harley-Davidson?
Harley-Davidson was founded by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson in 1903. Harley-Davidson, one of the most iconic motorcycle brands in the world, has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the early 20th century.
Why Is The Harley 48 Called A 48?
The Harley 48 is called a “48” because it pays homage to Harley-Davidson’s iconic “peanut” fuel tank design that was first introduced in 1948. The bike’s name reflects Harley-Davidson motorcycles’ classic styling and heritage.