The History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles


The Harley-Davidson, or H-D, is an American motorcycle manufacturer. Its roots go back to 1903, when the company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This company was one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. Today, the company produces an astonishing array of motorcycles, ranging from classic to modern. For more information on the company and its history, read the article below. You will also discover more about the different models.

History of Harley-Davidson

The History of Harley-Davidson is a fascinating story of American engineering, entrepreneurship, and motorcycles. It all started with the Harley-Davidson FXEF, or “Fat Bob”, which was designed to compete with the Indian Motorcycle Scout. The FXEF’s ‘F’-shaped valves and inlet-over-exhaust design quickly made it a hit, and the company began exporting motorcycles to Japan. It also began building its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where it would later relocate to. Today, the company employs more than 200 dealers around the world.

In the early 1900s, the majority of motorcycles on the road were simply motorized bicycles. The Indian Motorcycle Company had a bicycle style frame with a small motor. During the early 1900s, William Davidson studied the Merkel loop frame design, and built a prototype motorcycle with a 440cc single cylinder engine. The company has been making motorcycles ever since. Its founder, William Davidson, developed the first motorcycle in his backyard.

The early 1960s saw a great deal of change for the company. The company became publicly owned in the US, and began investing in other companies. In 1965, Harley-Davidson purchased half of Aeronautica Macchi’s motorcycle arm and a glass fibre company. In the early 1980s, it was sold to the founding families, and the company continued to grow. The company’s history is also rich in social impact. The company’s enduring legacy and enduring brand has resulted in a museum dedicated to its past and innovations.

Model families

Motorcycles by Harley-Davidson fall into seven model families. These are categorized based on engine size, frame and suspension. Most of these motorcycles use large-twin forks and are built with performance in mind. There is a model for everyone in the Street family. This style is ideal for touring, but doesn’t sacrifice power and pizzazz. These models can be purchased for their sporty looks or for the convenience and comfort of riding in the city.

The Harley-Davidson Softail line capitalizes on the Harley-Davidson tradition with a traditional hard-tail appearance. These bikes feature a hidden suspension system. These bikes are excellent for those who enjoy comfort and solo riding. The Softail platform was introduced in 2018 and is based on a Mono-shock design. For this reason, the Softail is an ideal choice for those who like to ride in comfort.

There are five families in the Harley-Davidson lineup: the Dyna, the Street Glide, the Softail, and the V-Rod. The Dyna is the smallest of the four, while the Touring is the largest. Touring models have saddlebags and extra room for long road trips. This is the perfect bike for riding two-up, and includes the Road King and the Electra Glide.

Production racers

Having been involved in motorsports for many years, Harley-Davidson has decided to discontinue its sponsorship of factory race teams. The company plans to focus on building the brand and supporting its dealer network instead. The decision comes as part of a reorganization that saw hundreds of layoffs and over 70 dealership closings. The company has also narrowed its target market and dropped several models. All these moves are being attributed to a difficult year for Harley-Davidson.

In addition to racing motorcycles, Harley-Davidson also has a line of motorcycles for the public. The company has created the Screamin’ Glide, a motorcycle based on the production Road Glide Special. This machine rides more like a superbike than a standard motorcycle, with a Dunlop KR448 racing slick. It also features specially developed Ohlins shocks and an aluminum swingarm, and weighs approximately 400 pounds. The Screamin’ Glide was a project that began last year as an after-hours project for employees, and will become a full-fledged factory effort in 2022. While the bike may not look like much, it is definitely a machine to be reckoned with.

While the company has decided not to field a factory racing team in 2021, it continues to support flat-track racing with contingency programs and dealer support. This includes a new partnership with Vance & Hines, which has provided a great deal of support for the company’s road racing team. The team has also partnered with American Flat Track and the AMA. With the success of these efforts, Harley has won several events and the 2020 Production Twins championship.

Shaft-drive models

While the traditional 45-degree V-twin Harley-Davidson motorcycle was the basis for the company’s first XA motorcycle, it was not until 1942 that the US Army asked the manufacturer to design a motorcycle with a shaft drive. In the midst of World War II, BMW motorcycles had been popular among the Army forces due to their low maintenance, consistent performance and low cost. During the war, the Army wanted a motorcycle with a shaft drive for its troops to be able to ride in difficult terrain. The XA was a military bike that had little in common with the company’s regular motorcycle range. The only thing that differentiated the XA from the normal Harley line was the engine, which was nearly identical to the one in the WLA model.

In World War II, the XA model was designed for the US Army and marketed as an ideal military transport. However, it was never put into production and is the only shaft-drive Harley-Davidson ever made. Today, a shaft-drive motorcycle is considered a luxury bike by most. These bikes are popular with collectors and military personnel who want a motorcycle that’s easier to maintain and use on the battlefield.

The only real difference between a Harley-Davidson shaft-drive model and a shaft-drive motorcycle is the drive belt. The latter requires little to no lubrication and is more efficient than the former. Drive belts last for over 100,000 miles and are easier to replace than chain chains. A shaft-drive Harley-Davidson motorcycle is more comfortable and quieter than a Harley-Davidson, and it also has less friction.


The history of the Harley-Davidson Factory began in 1906. The company advertised bare Harley-Davidson motorcycle engines for sale in January. The company began manufacturing complete motorcycles in April of the same year. In 1917, the first service school was established at the Milwaukee factory and in 1918, 50% of the company’s sales were donated to the U.S. military. By 1920, the company had expanded to a larger facility on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. The original shed remained standing for decades as a memorial.

Since 1903, the company has evolved and grown into one of the most iconic names in the motorcycle industry. The company was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and today is one of the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturers. Despite its humble origins, Harley-Davidson is known for its loyal following and has undergone a series of ownership changes and intense competition. It is also known for its distinctive motorcycles and a strong sense of individuality.

In 1907, William S. Harley graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and built the Harley-Davidson factory on two blocks along Juneau Avenue and 38th Street. After 1914, Harley-Davidson dominated motorcycle racing and production grew from just a few motorcycles to as many as 16,284 bikes a year. The company went on to use Milwaukee pale yellow brick for their factories. The Harley-Davidson Factory produced an amazing 80,000 motorcycles per year by 1924.

Otto Walker

After the First World War, Otto Walker was recruited to be a Harley-Davidson factory rider. He won his first major race at the Venice Speedway in April 1915, and he broke many speed records throughout his eight-year professional racing career. In 1919, he was named the motorcycle manufacturer’s first representative in a major motorsports race. He is widely recognized as the father of the modern Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The year was 1922, and Harley-Davidson decided to end the factory racing program. Walker would ride an olive-drab Banjo 2-Cam to claim his first championship. He returned to the race to break six American speed records, a record he’d previously held. Walker would later break a further two American speed records in the same race. His winning streak continued well into the next decade, and he was named a Legend.

In 1915, Otto Walker became a member of the Harley-Davidson Wrecking Crew, where he teamed up with team captain Leslie “Red” Parkhurst to compete in a 300-mile race. Although Walker won the race by mere feet, he ended up covered in blood due to high speeds and vibrations. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the race was just the beginning of the Harley-Davidson team’s success.

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