Founded in Milwaukee,Wisconsin(USA) in 1903.Harley-Davidson,or Harley Known throughout the world.Harley-Davidson unites people deeply, passionately and authentically. From town to town and country to country, H-D’s ideals of freedom and self-expression transcend cultures, gender and
age.Harley-Davidson manufactures and sells custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles that feature leading-edge styling, innovative design, distinctive sound, and superior quality with the ability to personalize.
In 1901,20-year-old William S. Harley drew up plans for a small engine with a displacement of 7.07 cubic inches (116 cc) and four-inch (102 mm) flywheels.The engine was designed for use in a regular pedal-bicycle frame. Over the next two years, Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motor-bicycle using the north side Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their friend, Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 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. They quickly wrote off their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.
Work immediately began on a new and improved second-generation machine. This first “real” Harley- Davidson motorcycle had a bigger engine of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc) with 9.75 inches (25 cm) flywheels weighing 28 lb (13 kg). The machine’s advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the 1903 Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle (designed by Joseph Merkel, later of Flying Merkel fame). The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized bicycle category and marked the path to future motorcycle designs. The boys 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.
The prototype of the new loop-frame Harley-Davidson was assembled in a 10 ft × 15 ft (3.0 m × 4.6 m) shed in the Davidson family backyard.Most of the major parts, however, were made elsewhere, including some probably fabricated at the West Milwaukee railshops where oldest brother William A. Davidson was then tool room foreman. This prototype machine was functional by September 8, 1904, when it competed in a Milwaukee motorcycle race held at State Fair Park. It was ridden by Edward Hildebrand and placed fourth. This is the first documented appearance of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the historical record.
In 1906, 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 first Juneau Avenue plant was a 40 ft × 60 ft (12 m × 18 m) single-story wooden structure. The company produced about 50 motorcycles that year.In 1907, William S. Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering. That year additional factory expansion came with a second floor and later with facings and additions of Milwaukee pale yellow (“cream”) brick. With the new facilities production increased to 150 motorcycles in 1907. 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.
In 1907 William A. Davidson, brother to Arthur and Walter Davidson, quit his job as tool foreman for the Milwaukee Road railroad and joined the Motor Company.
Production in 1905 and 1906 were all single-cylinder models with 26.84 cubic inch (440 cm3) engines. In February 1907 a prototype model with a 45-degree V-Twin engine was displayed at the Chicago Automobile Show. Although shown and advertised, very few V-Twin models were built between 1907 and 1910. These first V-Twins displaced 53.68 cubic inches (880 cm3) and produced about 7 horsepower (5.2 kW). This gave about double the power of the first singles. Top speed was about 60 mph (100 km/h). Production jumped from 450 motorcycles in 1908 to 1,149 machines in 1909.
By 1911, some 150 makes of motorcycles had already been built in the United States – although just a handful would survive the 1910s.
In 1911, an improved V-Twin model was introduced. The new engine had mechanically operated intake valves, as opposed to the “automatic” intake valves used on earlier V-Twins that opened by engine vacuum. With a displacement of 49.48 cubic inches (811cm), the 1911 V-Twin was smaller than earlier twins, but gave better performance. After 1913 the majority of bikes produced by Harley-Davidson would be V-Twin models.
In 1912, Harley-Davidson introduced their patented “Ful-Floteing Seat”, which was suspended by a coil spring inside the seat tube.The spring tension could be adjusted to suit the rider’s weight. More than 3 inches (76 mm) of travel was available. Harley-Davidson would use seats of this type until 1958.
By 1913, the yellow brick factory had been demolished and on the site a new 5-story structure had been built. Begun in 1910, the factory with its many additions would take 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 would dominate motorcycle racing after 1914. Production that year swelled to 16,284 machines.
By 1920, Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, with 28,189 machines produced, and dealers in 67 countries.
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.
The U.S. military purchased over 20,000 motorcycles from Harley-Davidson.
In the mid-1930s, Alfred Rich Child opened a production line in Japan
Established in 1918, the oldest continuously operating Harley-Davidson dealership outside of the United States is in Australia.
In 1936, the 61E and 61EL models with the “Knucklehead” OHV engines were introduced.
Harley-Davidson acquired the design of a small German motorcycle, the DKW RT 125, which they adapted, manufactured, and sold from 1948 to 1966.Various models were made, including the Hummer from 1955 to 1959.
In August 2009, Harley-Davidson announced plans to enter the market in India, and started selling motorcycles there in 2010. The company established a subsidiary, Harley-Davidson India, in Gurugram, near Delhi,in 2011, and created an Indian dealer network.
In 1960, Harley-Davidson consolidated the Model 165 and Hummer lines into the Super-10, introduced the Topper scooter,and bought fifty percent of Aermacchi’s motorcycle division.
Harley-Davidson purchased full control of Aermacchi’s motorcycle production in 1974 and continued making two-stroke motorcycles there until 1978, when they sold the facility to Cagiva, owned by the Castiglioni family.
In 1998 the first Harley-Davidson factory outside the US opened in Manaus, Brazil, taking advantage of the free economic zone there. The location was positioned to sell motorcycles in the southern hemisphere market.
Harley-Davidson produced an “environmental warranty”. The warranty ensures each owner that the vehicle is designed and built free of any defects in materials and workmanship that would cause the vehicle to not meet EPA standards.
The classic Harley-Davidson engines are V-twin engines, with a 45 angle between the cylinders. The crankshaft has a single pin, and both pistons are connected to this pin through their connecting rods.
To simplify the engine and reduce costs, the V-twin ignition was designed to operate with a single set of points and no distributor. This is known as a dual fire ignition system, causing both spark plugs to fire regardless of which cylinder was on its compression stroke, with the other spark plug firing on its
cylinder’s exhaust stroke, effectively “wasting a spark”.The 45 design of the engine thus creates a plug firing sequencing as such: The first cylinder fires, the second (rear) cylinder fires 315 later, then there is a 405 gap until the first cylinder fires again, giving the engine its unique sound.Harley-Davidson has
used various ignition systems throughout its history – be it the early points and condenser system, (Big Twin up to 1978 and Sportsters up to 1978), magneto ignition system used on some 1958 to 1969 Sportsters, early electronic with centrifugal mechanical advance weights, (all models 1978 and a half to 1979), or the late electronic with transistorized ignition control module, more familiarly known as the black box or the brain, (all models 1980 to present).
Starting in 1995, the company introduced Electronic Fuel Injection (EFI) as an option for the 30th anniversary edition Electra Glide. EFI became standard on all Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including Sportsters, upon the introduction of the 2007 product line.
The Revolution engine is based on the VR-1000 Super bike race program, co-developed by Harley-Davidson’s Power train Engineering team and Porsche Engineering in Stuttgart, Germany. It is a liquid cooled, dual overhead cam, internally counterbalanced 60 degree V-twin engine with a displacement of 69 cubic inch (1,130 cm), producing 115 hp (86 kW) at 8,250 rpm at the crank, with a redline of 9,000 rpm.It was introduced for the new VRSC (V-Rod) line in 2001 for the 2002 model year.
An extreme endurance test of the Revolution engine was performed in a dynometer installation, simulating the German Autobahn (highways without general speed limit) between the Porsche researchand development center in Weissach, near Stuttgart to Düsseldorf. Uncounted samples of engines failed, until an engine successfully passed the 500 hour nonstop run. This was the benchmark for the engineers to approve the start of production for the Revolution engine, which was documented in the Discovery channel special Harley-Davidson: Birth of the V-Rod, October 14, 2001.
Modern Harley-branded motorcycles fall into one of six model families: Touring, Softail, Dyna, Sportster, Vrod and Street. These model families are distinguished by the frame, engine, suspension, and other characteristics.
Touring models use Big-Twin engines and large-diameter telescopic forks. All Touring designations begin with the letters FL, e.g., FLHR (Road King) and FLTR (Road Glide).
The touring family, also known as “dressers” or “baggers”, includes Road King, Road Glide, Street Glide and Electra Glide models offered in various trims. The Road Kings have a “retro cruiser” appearance and are equipped with a large clear windshield. Road Kings are reminiscent of big-twin models from the1940s and 1950s. Electra Glides can be identified by their full front fairings. Most Electra Glides sport a fork-mounted fairing referred to as the “Batwing” due to its unmistakable shape.
Touring models are distinguishable by their large saddlebags, rear coil-over air suspension and are the only models to offer full fairings with radios and CBs. All touring models use the same frame, first introduced with a Shovelhead motor in 1980, and carried forward with only modest upgrades until 2009.
In 2006, Harley introduced the FLHX Street Glide, a bike designed by Willie G. Davidson to be his personal ride, to its touring line.
These big-twin motorcycles capitalize on Harley’s strong value on tradition. With the rear-wheel suspension hidden under the transmission, they are visually similar to the “hardtail” choppers popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as from their own earlier history. In keeping with that tradition, Harley offers Softail models with “Heritage” styling that incorporate design cues from throughout their history and used to offer “Springer” front ends on these Softail models from the factory.
Dyna-frame motorcycles were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s and debuted in the 1991 model year with the FXDB Sturgis offered in limited edition quantities. In 1992 the line continued with the limited edition FXDB Daytona and a production model FXD Super Glide. The new DYNA frame featured big-twin engines and traditional styling. They can be distinguished from the Softail by the traditional coil-over suspension that connects the swingarm to the frame, and from the Sportster by their larger engines. On these models, the transmission also houses the engine’s oil reservoir.
2003 Harley-Davidson XL1200 Custom Anniversary Edition
Introduced in 1957, the Sportster family were conceived as racing motorcycles, and were popular on dirt and flat-track race courses through the 1960s and 1970s. Smaller and lighter than the other Harley models, contemporary Sportsters make use of 883 cc or 1,200 cc Evolution engines and, though often modified, remain similar in appearance to their racing ancestors.
Introduced in 2001 and produced until 2017,the VRSC muscle bike family bears little resemblance to Harley’s more traditional lineup. Competing against Japanese and American muscle bikes in the upcoming muscle bike/power cruiser segment, the “V-Rod” makes use of an engine developed jointly with Porsche that, for the first time in Harley history, incorporates overhead cams and liquid cooling. The V-Rod is visually distinctive, easily identified by the 60-degree V-Twin engine, the radiator and the hydroformed frame members that support the round-topped air cleaner cover.The VRSC platform was also used for factory drag-racing motorcycles.
The VRXSE V-Rod Destroyer is Harley-Davidson’s production drag racing motorcycle, constructed to run the quarter mile in less than ten seconds. It is based on the same revolution engine that powers the VRSC line, but the VRXSE uses the Screaming’ Eagle 1,300 cc “stroked” incarnation, featuring a 75 mm crankshaft, 105 mm Pistons, and 58 mm throttle bodies.
The Street, Harley-Davidson’s newest platform and their first all new platform in thirteen years, was designed to appeal to younger riders looking for a lighter bike at a cheaper price.The Street 750 model was launched in India at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo, Delhi-NCR on February 5, 2014. The Street 750
weighs 218 kg and has a ground clearance of 144 mm giving it the lowest weight and the highest ground clearance of Harley-Davidson motorcycles currently available.
Factory tours and museum
Harley-Davidson offers factory tours at four of its manufacturing sites, and the Harley-Davidson Museum, which opened in 2008, exhibits Harley-Davidson’s history, culture, and vehicles, including the motor company’s corporate archives.
Labor Hall of Fame
William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, William A. Davidson and Walter Davidson, Sr. were inducted into the Labor Hall of Fame for their accomplishments for the H-D company and its workforce.
Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders come from diverse backgrounds. What all riders have in common regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity is they are all freedom-loving, adventure-seeking individuals whom aspire to the values Harley-Davidson stands for independence, authenticity and the passion for
being on the open road.Harley has more than 1,400 independently owned Harley-Davidson dealerships in nearly 100 countries,reaching the next generation of riders globally.
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