One of the most well-known motorcycle companies in the world, Harley Davidson, started from humble beginnings and has become one of the top motorcycle manufacturing companies in the world. This iconic motorcycle brand started in a small wooden shed, where William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson built the one-cylinder engine that started it all, back in 1901. This engine was built onto a standard bicycle and made a motorized bike that was truly the first Harley Davidson motorcycle. Their second motorbike was created with a bigger engine, and was entered into a motorcycle race in Milwaukee.
The company grew in just three years, and the headquarters was moved to what is now known as Juneau Avenue, where the company headquarters still resides to this day. They brought in help, Walter Davidson, who was Arthur’s older brother, as well as starting to hire employees, and the company began producing more motorbikes.
William Davidson earned his degree in mechanical engineering in 1907 from the University of Wisconsin, and this knowledge helped the company expand and provide even better, faster, and more amazing motorbikes. The ever-popular V-Twin engine was developed during this time, and became a signature component of Harley Davidson bikes. In 1910, the logo that is now used today was created and placed on every motorcycle that was made. The bar and shield logo is one of the most recognizable logos in motorcycle history. In 1912, Harley Davidson began to deal internationally, and began selling its popular motorcycles in Japan, among other locations outside of the United States.
During the wars, Harley Davidson produced thousands upon thousands of motorcycles for World War I and World War II. During World War I alone, the company provided 20,000 motorcycles for the military, and continued to do so for the second war. The company ceased production of their civilian motorcycles in order to commission their bikes for military use. This is what makes the Harley Davidson brand extremely popular in the United States and with the American military, due to their commitment to providing bikes for the war. This is an amazing form of patriotism that makes them what they are today.
The company experienced a slight downfall in the early 1970′s when the company was bought out by the AMF (American Machinery and Foundry). Some less-than-desirable motorcycles were produced during this time, thanks to a labor strike that damaged the reputation of this once amazing company that focused on quality and high standards. Things were looking up in the 80′s when Willie G. Davidson and Vaughn Beals and their investors took over the company, and began combining efforts with that of the Sturgis. Production improved, as did quality, and the company regained its popularity.
The company continues to provide high-quality bikes with a fascinating history, and continues to be one of the most well-known motorcycle brands in the entire world. Harley Davidson dominates the motorcycle world, accounting for over 60% of motorcycles on the road in America today. The company has been in existence for over a hundred years, and has become a household name everywhere. As long as the company continues to thrive on quality parts, mechanics, and stunning designs, Harley Davidson has a bright and promising future up ahead.