Harley Davidson History (Explained simple) – Part 1

Harley Davidson Origins and story - logo

Since you are here, you surely know what Harley Davidson is. Its motorcycles are iconic. Legendary we can say. And the brand is well known for its quality, reliability and the emotions only an Harley can give. But how many of you know why? And how Harley Davidson became what is now? Today we will deep into Harley Davidson origins and story.

The Foundation.

To begin our story let’s travel back in 1901, in the black smoke and workshop tinkering of this time, when two students, William S. Harley and his friend Arthur Davidson, draw their first project: a prototype for a small engine with a capacity of 115.85cm³ (7.07 in³). This was the first spark for the creation of the brand we all know. The 28th august 1903 the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. was settled up in a tool shed in Milwaukee, together with the other two Davidson brothers, and they started to produce their motorcycles.

As usual at the very beginning, it was difficult to sell. However, the company grew very quickly, but only after a “beneficial” event. As a matter of fact, after 4 years, in 1907, the production was only 150 bikes! But that year was signed the agreement with the State Police that changed everything. After 6 years they were producing 13.000 bikes and keep growing. It was a raw increase of about 8600%. By the 1920 Harley Davidson was the biggest motorbike manufacturer worldwide, with a production of 30.000 units, and retailers in 67 countries all over the world.

The rise of the legend.

In 1921 Harley Davidson reached for the first time the 100mph and settled a new speed record in a competition. The speed of their motorbike made them famous, so much so, since 1914, the company was known as “The Wrecking Crew” in the races world. This name was due to them not only thanks to the power of their almost undisputed motorcycles but also thanks to some legendary riders, who were able to dominate and push to the limit these bikes which still today they are surely not the easiest to handle and require a discrete amount of skill.

Moreover, the innovations introduced, such as the 2 gears-shift, allowed the company to became one of the leaders in motorbike production and consolidate the agreement with the Police. So that in the first world war it provided 45.000 motorbikes to the U.S. Army.

In 1926 Harley was forced to leave the races due to a sell crisis it was experiencing. In fact, in that year Ford began producing the Model T, the first mass-produced car, that cost almost like a Harley. Adding the high expenses occurred for research and development, Harley had to debunk itself.

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