Harley-Davidson, Inc. It was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression , along with Indian. There are owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company-sponsored, brand-focused museum. Harley-Davidson is noted for a style of customization that gave rise to the chopper motorcycle style. Construction of a new plant in Thailand began in late
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Harley-Davidson, Inc. It was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression , along with Indian. There are owner clubs and events worldwide, as well as a company-sponsored, brand-focused museum. Harley-Davidson is noted for a style of customization that gave rise to the chopper motorcycle style.
Construction of a new plant in Thailand began in late In , 20 year-old William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine with a displacement of 7. Over the next two years, he and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motor-bicycle using the northside Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their friend Henry Melk.
It was finished in with the help of Arthur's brother Walter Davidson. Upon testing their power-cycle, Harley and the Davidson brothers found it unable to climb the hills around Milwaukee without pedal assistance, and they wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.
The three began work on a new and improved machine with an engine of Its advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle designed by Joseph Merkel, later of Flying Merkel fame. They also received help with their bigger engine from outboard motor pioneer Ole Evinrude , who was then building gas engines of his own design for automotive use on Milwaukee's Lake Street. Davidson was toolroom foreman. This prototype machine was functional by September 8, , when it competed in a Milwaukee motorcycle race held at State Fair Park.
Edward Hildebrand rode it and placed fourth in the race. In January , the company placed small advertisements in the Automobile and Cycle Trade Journal offering bare Harley-Davidson engines to the do-it-yourself trade.
By April, they were producing complete motorcycles on a very limited basis. That year, Harley-Davidson dealer Carl H. Lang of Chicago sold three bikes from the five built in the Davidson backyard shed. Years later, the company moved the original shed to the Juneau Avenue factory where it stood for many decades as a tribute.
In , Harley and the Davidson brothers built their first factory on Chestnut Street later Juneau Avenue ,  at the current location of Harley-Davidson's corporate headquarters. The company produced about 50 motorcycles that year. In , William S.
Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin—Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering. That year, they expanded the factory with a second floor and later with facings and additions of Milwaukee pale yellow "cream" brick. With the new facilities, production increased to motorcycles in The company was officially incorporated that September.
They also began selling their motorcycles to police departments around this time, a market that has been important to them ever since. Davidson quit his job as tool foreman for the Milwaukee Road railroad and joined the Motor Company. Production in and were all single-cylinder models with Very few V-Twin models were built between and These first V-Twins displaced Production jumped from motorcycles in to 1, machines in In , the company introduced an improved V-Twin model with a displacement of It was smaller than earlier twins but gave better performance.
After , the majority of bikes produced by Harley-Davidson were V-Twin models. In , Harley-Davidson introduced their patented "Ful-Floteing Seat" which was suspended by a coil spring inside the seat tube. By , the yellow brick factory had been demolished and a new five-story structure had been built on the site which took up two blocks along Juneau Avenue and around the corner on 38th Street.
Despite the competition, Harley-Davidson was already pulling ahead of Indian and dominated motorcycle racing after Production that year swelled to 16, machines. In , the United States entered World War I and the military demanded motorcycles for the war effort. Harley-Davidson launched a line of bicycles in in hopes of recruiting customers for its motorcycles.
Models included the traditional diamond frame men's bicycle, a step-through frame 3—18 "Ladies Standard", and a 5—17 "Boy Scout" for youth. The effort was discontinued in because of disappointing sales. By , Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, with 28, machines produced and dealers in 67 countries.
Harley-Davidson's sales fell from 21, in to 3, in Despite this, Harley-Davidson unveiled a new lineup for , which included a flathead engine and Art Deco styling. In order to survive the remainder of the Depression, the company manufactured industrial powerplants based on their motorcycle engines. They also designed and built a three-wheeled delivery vehicle called the Servi-Car , which remained in production until The Japanese license-holder, Sankyo Seiyaku Corporation, severed its business relations with Harley-Davidson in and continued manufacturing the VL under the Rikuo name.
By , all Harley-Davidson flathead engines were equipped with dry-sump oil recirculation systems similar to the one introduced in the "Knucklehead" OHV engine. In , the 74 cubic-inch "Knucklehead" was introduced as the F and the FL. One of only two American cycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression ,   Harley-Davidson again produced large numbers of motorcycles for the US Army in World War II and resumed civilian production afterwards, producing a range of large V-twin motorcycles that were successful both on racetracks and for private buyers.
The A in this case stood for "Army". Shipments to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease program numbered at least 30, The U. Army also asked Harley-Davidson to produce a new motorcycle with many of the features of BMW's side-valve and shaft-driven R This shared no dimensions, no parts or no design concepts except side valves with any prior Harley-Davidson engine. Only 1, were made and the XA never went into full production.
It remains the only shaft-driven Harley-Davidson ever made. As part of war reparations , Harley-Davidson acquired the design of a small German motorcycle, the DKW RT , which they adapted, manufactured, and sold from to In , Harley-Davidson consolidated the Model and Hummer lines into the Super, introduced the Topper scooter,  and bought fifty percent of Aermacchi 's motorcycle division.
After the Pacer and Scat models were discontinued at the end of , the Bobcat became the last of Harley-Davidson's American-made two-stroke motorcycles. The Bobcat was manufactured only in the model year. Harley-Davidson replaced their American-made lightweight two-stroke motorcycles with the Italian Aermacchi -built two-stroke powered M, MS, and Rapido. The M had a semi-step-through frame and tank. The MS was a M with a larger tank that eliminated the step-through feature.
Harley-Davidson purchased full control of Aermacchi 's motorcycle production in and continued making two-stroke motorcycles there until , when they sold the facility to Cagiva , owned by the Castiglioni family. Established in , the oldest continuously operating Harley-Davidson dealership outside of the United States is in Australia. Production continued until In , following their application to the U.
Tariff Commission for a 40 percent tax on imported motorcycles, Harley-Davidson was charged with restrictive practices. In , American Machine and Foundry AMF bought the company,   streamlined production, and slashed the workforce. This tactic resulted in a labor strike and lower-quality bikes. The bike was essentially a stock Harley-Davidson with Confederate -specific paint and details.
In the early eighties, Harley-Davidson claimed that Japanese manufacturers were importing motorcycles into the US in such volume as to harm or threaten to harm domestic producers.
Harley-Davidson subsequently rejected offers of assistance from Japanese motorcycle makers. Rather than trying to match the Japanese, the new management deliberately exploited the "retro" appeal of the machines, building motorcycles that deliberately adopted the look and feel of their earlier machines and the subsequent customizations of owners of that era.
Many components such as brakes, forks, shocks, carburetors, electrics and wheels were outsourced from foreign manufacturers and quality increased, technical improvements were made, and buyers slowly returned.
In response to possible motorcycle market loss due to the aging of baby-boomers, Harley-Davidson bought luxury motorhome manufacturer Holiday Rambler in The "Sturgis" model, boasting a dual belt-drive, was introduced initially in and was made for three years.
This bike was then brought back as a commemorative model in Harley-Davidson's association with sportbike manufacturer Buell Motorcycle Company began in when they supplied Buell with fifty surplus XR engines.
Buell continued to buy engines from Harley-Davidson until , when Harley-Davidson bought 49 percent of the Buell Motorcycle Company. In an attempt to attract newcomers to motorcycling in general and to Harley-Davidson in particular, Buell developed a low-cost, low-maintenance motorcycle. The resulting single-cylinder Buell Blast was introduced in ,  and was made through , which, according to Buell, was to be the final year of production.
On October 15, , Harley-Davidson Inc. The company refused to consider selling Buell. The location was positioned to sell motorcycles in the southern hemisphere market. Harley-Davidson hired Elton John to headline their th anniversary event on September 1, During its period of peak demand, during the late s and early first decade of the 21st century, Harley-Davidson embarked on a program of expanding the number of dealerships throughout the country.
Harley-Davidson, like the auto manufacturers, records a sale not when a consumer buys their product, but rather when it is delivered to a dealer. When demand softened following the unique model year, this news led to a dramatic decline in the stock price. Starting around , several police departments started reporting problems with high speed instability on the Harley-Davidson Touring motorcycles. The CHP test riders reported experiencing wobble or weave instability while operating the motorcycles on the test track.
On February 2, , upon the expiration of their union contract, about 2, employees at Harley-Davidson Inc. The day before the strike, after the union voted against the proposed contract and to authorize the strike, the company shut down all production at the plant.
Harley-Davidson announced on February 16, , that it had reached a labor agreement with union workers at its largest manufacturing plant, a breakthrough in the two-week-old strike.
There are Harley-Davidson models for you, whether you need a long-range hog, custom special, city-based speed machine, or anything in between. When you visit our websites, we and our third-party partners send cookies — small, removable data files — to your computer. Sign Up for Email. Share This x. Saved Vehicles x. We will not use your sensitive personal information for any purposes other than those described in this Policy unless we have obtained your consent. Only American Lightweight made with a standard dual seat.
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There are Harley-Davidson models for you, whether you need a long-range hog, custom special, city-based speed machine, or anything in between. Get Details on the Street Line. Get Details on the Sportster Line. This provides them with a strong power-to-weight ratio and an exceptional level of performance for Orange Country riders. With big-twin engines and styling designed to perfectly resemble a traditional hardtail chopper, these models are provided with hidden rear-wheel suspensions for enhanced comfort.
Their degree V-Twin engines are manufactured jointly with Porsche, making them popular members of the recent power cruiser segment. Comfort, carrying potential, and capable cruising are focused upon in order to provide some of the best coast-to-coast machines in the country. Get Details on the Touring Line. Harley-Davidson Trike models are all about one thing: freedom.
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