When was Harley-Davidson founded? Harley-Davidson is an American motorcycle manufacturer with more than 100 years of history. It was founded in the early 20th century by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson. With more than a century of motorcycle manufacturing to its credit, it has become one of the most iconic brands in the world.
When was Harley-Davidson founded?
Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, WI and officially incorporated in 1907, with Walter Davidson acting as the first president. Arthur Davidson became the first general sales manager and the secretary, while William Davidson was the first works manager. William Harley, meanwhile, became the chief engineer and treasurer.
Given the ratio of three Davidsons to one Harley, you may wonder why the company wasn’t called Davidson-Harley. Since the original idea for the motorcycle came from William Harley, the gang thought it was only fair to have his name first.
Who were the founders of Harley-Davidson?
A common question is whether or not Harley-Davidson is a person. It’s actually four people.
William Harley was only a year older than Arthur Davidson. The two boys grew up just a couple of houses apart in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Such was the start of their lifelong friendship.
Both boys were enamored with bicycles. William even took a job at a Milwaukee-based bicycle factory when he was 15, rising from the rank of cycle fitter to drafter, which led him to work as a draftsman at the Barth Manufacturing Company.
It was there that he designed his first internal combustion engine. It was based on the French de Dion-Bouton engine, which would go on to be used by many early motorcycle manufacturers.
Along with Arthur, another draftsman from Barth, and a friend whose father owned a lathe, William and his cohorts would spend the next several years working on a proto motorcycle in their spare time. The prototype fizzled out, but it proved invaluable because it made William and Arthur realize that they needed a machinist.
The two reached out to Arthur’s older brother Walter, who was living in Parsons, Kansas, at the time. Walter arrived expecting to see a motorcycle but instead was greeted by an unfinished mess. But in that mess, Walter saw a dream, so he decided to stay in Milwaukee to make William and Arthur’s dream a reality.
Soon, another mechanic, William Davidson, Arthur’s eldest brother, joined the trio. By 1904, a second prototype was completed. It was the first-ever Harley-Davidson motorcycle to participate in a motorcycle race. And while it didn’t win, the team was already off and running to make motorcycle history!
Who developed the two-cylinder engine innovation?
The first three motorcycles produced by Harley-Davidson in 1903 all had a buckle crank, a single-cylinder engine, pedals, and a leather drive belt. You would pedal until enough engine compression was built up, at which point the engine took over.
Harley, however, wanted to take bikes to the next level, which meant a two-cylinder engine. Perfected by 1909, the engine, called a V-Twin, could reach speeds as high as 60 mph.
With such a feat, Harley-Davidson’s production rose to 3,200 machines by 1910.
How was the Harley-Davidson culture cultivated?
To stir up the press, Harley-Davidson sponsored “The Wrecking Crew,” a racing team known for their exhilarating performances. Today it is commonplace for a motorcycle company to sponsor a team, but when Harley-Davidson did it, the move was revolutionary.
The plan was a success, generating plenty of news and sales. Wisely, the company re-invested most of its profits into improving their products.
Arthur Davidson saw opportunity wherever he looked. By 1914 he had the USPS using 4,800 bikes to deliver mail. Soon, the military was using Harley® motorcycles as well. By the 1950s, police departments nationwide were also using a Harley-Davidson® motorcycle.
Many motorcycle cops would use boots, breaches, and saddlebags, which achieved a “Wild West” look which captured the imagination of young boys and the general public.
Seeing a further opportunity, Walter Davidson started marketing the Harley-Davidson® brand using clothing and accessories.
Since then, the company has expanded into motorcycle insurance, a riding academy (for both new and skilled riders), credit cards, and more.
Why are Harley-Davidson motorcycles called HOGs?
There is no official link to where the “HOG” moniker originates from. However, more than 100 years ago, a member of the Harley-Davidson racing team named Ray Weishaar, shared a Coke with a piglet.
It would become one of the most recognized photos of Harley-Davidson history, and a key moment in the brand’s lore.
Almost nothing is said about the piglet after the race, but the two would later be reflected as the source of the “Hog” moniker.
Where are Harley-Davidson vehicles manufactured and sold?
Harley-Davidsons are widely available around the world from North and South America to Asia, Europe, and Africa.
In 2021, Harley-Davidson sold more than 126,000 motorcycles in the US alone. The company owes its global presence to its manufacturing plants in York, Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Manaus, Brazil; Bawal, India; and Pluak Daeng, Thailand.
What are the best Harley-Davidson motorcycles ever made?
If we’re talking about historical significance, the best hog ever made should be the 1915 11F. This was the model that took Harley-Davidson to a whole new level. After all, it was HD’s first bike to feature a three-speed transmission, an automatic coiler, and a full electrical system. This model produced 11hp, which was mindblowing at the time, and it even had rear taillights.
Another best in terms of historical significance is the XR750, which was Evel Knievel’s literal ride-or-die from 1970-1976. This model also won 29 out of the 37 American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Grand National Championships from 1972-2008.
If we’re talking about the best HD bike in recent history, the 2008 FXDWAG Dyna Wide Glide has got to be up there at the top of the list. Introduced in 1993, this model had Tommy Gun 2-1-2 exhausts and a larger back end which really set it apart from its siblings.
Throughout its lifespan, the Dyna achieved legendary status in the world of motorcycling. Unfortunately, the model was phased out in 2017 to make way for the redesigned Softail line.
When did the first Harley-Davidson come out?
The first three motorcycles produced by Harley-Davidson in 1903 all had a buckle crank, a single-cylinder engine, pedals, and a leather drive belt.
What is the oldest Harley bike?
The first Harley-Davidson was built in 1903 by William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Motorcycle.com reminds us. This prototype motorcycle was created in a backyard shed by William and Arthur. The company sold those production models in 1904-1905.
Are you wondering what is high mileage for a Harley Davidson?
The usual answer is 80,000 to 100,000 miles, but Harley Davidsons can get up to 150,000 miles as well. This will depend on the wear and tear on the bike and the model. There are a few simple ways to keep your Harley Davidson bike running longer.
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