Harley-Davidson is the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer. Later founded out of a small shed in 1903 by William S Harley. With brothers Arthur and Walter Davidson in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Specifically the Motor Company produces traditional cruiser motorcycles utilizing air-cooled V-Twin engines.
When Harley and Davidson produced and sold their first motorcycle in 1903. In the meantime, they were one of many small motorcycle marques springing up across the country. Flash forward more than a century and the Harley-Davidson brand is so rooted in American culture. Eventually the history of the company intertwines with the history of America itself.
Previously, Harley-Davidson incorporated in 1907, with William Davidson officially joining forces with his two brothers and Harley. Afterwards setting down roots in Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson began hiring employees. At last, they were producing bikes using its signature 45-degree air-cooled V-Twin.
First World War
During the next decade H-D continued to expand many sales were generated by Uncle Sam. With the American military sourcing Harley motorcycles during the First World War.
Previously the Bar and Shield continued to grow and by the early ‘30s, its only surviving domestic rival was Indian. And found itself producing high quantities of bikes for the American military during World War II. In the meantime Harley-Davidson press material cites its wartime motorcycle production at 90,000 units.
Later after war, Harley-Davidson developments include the introduction of the Sportster in 1957. The oldest production model in the current H-D lineup, as well as other signature H-D models.
Simultaneously, Harley experienced changes in ownership in the ‘60s, going public in 1965. And eventually merging with American Machine and Foundry (AMF) in 1969. Afterwards, a decline in fortunes saw AMF sell its stake back to current ownership. Certainly included members of the founding families, in the early ‘80s. So the Davidson family’s involvement in the day-to-day running of H-D continues. Later with direct descendent Willie G Davidson serving as President of Styling.
Moreover, the ‘80s and ‘90s saw the introduction of model families that continue to this day. Likewise the Softail, FLT and Road King lines, joining classic models like the Electra Glide. In the ‘90s Harley-Davidson also solidified its hold over Buell motorcycles. Particularly taking a controlling stake in the American sportbike/street bike manufacturer, selling Buell motorcycles at many H-D dealers.
Previously, the turn of the century, Harley-Davidson has retained its image as a classic American icon. But the Motor Co is reaching out to other riders with the introduction of more performance-oriented models. Likewise the V-Rod – significant as the first liquid-cooled production Harley. As the riding demographic ages, H-D is also realizing it must break into the younger market. So with the release of edgier makeovers of its classic models like the Cross Bones. And similarly other members of its Dark Custom line like the Iron 883.
Harley-Davidson has also been working hard to improve the riding quality of its touring bikes. In 2009, it did away with the stamped and welded single-piece frame. So that anchored Harley touring motorcycles for the last 30 years and replaced it with a cast, single-spar, rigid-backbone frame. It also went with a wider, longer swingarm. H-D also introduced a new three-wheel motorcycle called the Tri Glide that has the classic styling and popular touring features of its best-selling Ultra Classic Electra Glide.