The history of motorbikes does not start with the Harley Davidson, but it is such an icon that many believe it so. The history of the Harley is much easier to track.
Founded in 1903 by friends William S Harley and Arthur Davidson, this motorbike company was one of the few companies to make it through the Great Depression. Will S Harley was only 20, in 1901 when he drew the plans for a small engine placed in a regular bicycle frame. Over the next two years he and Arthur Davidson worked on this motor-bicycle in a friends Milwaukee machine shop.
Though this first motor-bicycle was a failure (it could not make the hills) it was a valuable lesson for these to enterprising entrepreneurs. They quickly began working on the next generation machine and the first real Harley and the start of the basic design for all their bikes.
This Proto type Harley, with its new loop frame was built in the shed in the backyard of Arthur Davidson’s family. However the parts were tooled by Arthur’s brother, who had access to his works rail shop. The machine was finally functional on the 08 September 1904 and then competed in the Milwaukee motorcycle race at the State Fair Park, where it placed fourth.
Bu April 1905, the company was offering complete bikes on a limited basis, and the following year saw the opening of the first Harley Davidson dealership.
From the first dealer, the company only grew in strength, employing family and many more people for production.
World War 1 saw the Harley being used for military use, with the US purchasing over 20000 bikes for their troops
By the 1920s Harley Davidson was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world, with the Harley breaking race speed records and constantly being improved.
The Great Depression had a huge impact on Harley Davidson, with sales falling from an average of 21000 in 1929 to only 3703 in 1933. But Harley stilled carried on innovating and unveiled a new line of bikes for 1934. Surviving the Great Depression was mostly due to the fact that they could manufacture different machine parts or vehicles that would be needed and bought at the time.
World War 2 saw them again be a supplier for the American government’s troops, with 90000 plus military bikes being produced and supplied to the Allies during the war effort.
Harley was bought in the 1960’s by AMF, who implemented staff reductions and other changes that greatly damaged the image of the company. But the company had a revival in 1981, when AMF sold the company and they worked on revamping the image.
Though the Harley Davidson has changed ownership and had a few ups and downs (share price fall in 2009) this iconic American brand will never go out of style.
So get yourself a Harley, either a classic or a new one, as you cannot get all your thrills from online FIFA World Cup betting sites.
The future probably holds future classics, yet to be designed and many riders enjoying the freedom of the open road on their Harley Davidson.