Open Cars History

Harley-Davidson History

Harley_Davidson_historyHarley-Davidson Motor Company is an american manufacturer of motorcycles based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The company manufactures and sells heavy bikes designed for riding on the highway.


In early 1901 William S. Harley, who was only 21 years, developed a project of a small engine of 7.07 cubic inches. The next two years Harley and his childhood friend Arthur Davidson developed their bike with the engine. The work was completed in 1903 with the help of his brother, Arthur. Upon completion the boys realized that their creation was not able to conquer even the modest hills of Milwaukee without using pedals. So, Harley and Davidson decided to leave their bike with the engine as the first, not a very good experience.

They immediately began to work on a new, more modern bike. This first “real” Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a bigger engine of 24.74 cubic inches. New advanced frame was similar to the frame of the bike 1903 Milwaukee Merkel (constructed by Joseph Merkel, the founder of Flying Merke). The new tubular frame and a powerful engine allowed a new model of Harley-Davidson to become a “motorcycle” as we understand it now. Engineer Ole EvinrudIn helped to the guys in developing the new engine.

A prototype of the new bike was created in a shed, which was located in the yard of the Davidsons family. The prototype was completed on September 8, 1904 and on the same day it participated in motorcycle races at State Fair Park. This race was the first documented appearance of Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

In 1906, Harley and Davidson built their first factory on Chestnut Street. The first plant in the first year produced 50 motorcycles.

In February 1907, the first motorcycle with a V-twin engine was shown at the Chicago auto show.

In 1911, USA had more than 150 motorcycle manufacturers, but few of them could survive by the end of the decade.

By 1914, Harley-Davidson became the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the USA.

After the First World War the “Harley Davidson” company got the first official military order – 500 bikes were ordered for the British Army. In 1917, United States entered the First World War and started to order motorcycles for the US Army. Altogether during the war it was ordered more than 20 000 “Harley-Davidson” motorcycles to arm the troops.

In 1920, the “Harley Davidson” became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Their motorcycles were for sale in 67 countries.

During the 1920s, motorcycles were again improved. A new 74-inch V-Twin engine was created in 1922, and in 1925 appeared the first fuel tank in the form of a drop, which is used in the most modern models of motorcycles.

These powerful and beautiful motorbikes symbolize freedom of the open road and the brotherhood of bikers.

In 2010 Harley-Davidson Road King model won the first place in the ranking of “the most convenient and economical bike,” by german magazine MOTORRAD.

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