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The History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Motorcycles Topics:  Harley-Davidson

The History of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

David King
August 22, 2010

David King
http://www.LeatherBagsAndMore.com

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle has been in production since 1903. The brand offers a variety of models for both men and women. While this brand of motorcycle is among the most expensive, the models also have a reputation for being reliable and well built. Harley-Davidson bikes are also well know for the power behind them as they were initially built as a racing bike.

The sell of the motorcycles were slow in the beginning. The one cylinder bike they made in 1903 sold quickly, but by 1905 they had only sold 11. They continued to improve their designs, and it paid off. By 1908 they had sold 154. They decided to move production from a tiny barn to a factory and hired 20 employees. The bar and shield logo that graces each and every Harley-Davidson bike was introduced in 1910.

By 1912 the business was booming. There were 200 dealerships in the United States and Japan was demanding more and more bikes. By 1914 almost all motorcycles in the racing circuit were Harley-Davidsons as they could out run all other brands on the market. Over 20,000 bikes were sold to the military and used in the war. No one was surprised in 1918 when Harley-Davidson became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.

From 1940 until 1945 consumers were very disappointed as it was almost impossible to purchase a new Harley-Davidson. This is because the company had signed another large contract with the United States military, supplying motorcycles for the war. However, this lead to the 1950's being a difficult time for Harley-Davidson as many consumers got tired of waiting and started purchasing other brands of motorcycles. By 1957 though Harley-Davidson was back on top with the introduction of the Sportster.

Minor changes to the style and design of the motorcycles took place through the early 1980's. Harley-Davidson decided some major changes were in order. They introduced a model that featured a five speed transmission called the FLT. They also replaced the drive train with a belt. The twin engine was introduced in 1984.

Harley-Davidson has always taken pride in listening to the consumers of its products. They earned the respect of many owners in 1987 when they introduced their Buy Back Program. This allowed customers to obtain the full trade in value when they came to purchase a newer model.

Since then, Harley-Davidson has continued to introduce a variety of new designs including the Fatboy that has sold well. Men and women both find Harley-Davidson motorcycles to be comfortable bikes that are well designed. Riding one is also a prestigious symbol to many.

Today, you can find a variety of Harley-Davidson retailers all over the world. They offer a full range of motorcycles to choose from. You can even have a customized bike built for you from the factory. You will find the sales people to be friendly and informative. Harley-Davidson also offers one of the best warranties on motorcycles in the industry. Harley-Davidson has stood the test of time when it comes to manufacturing quality motorcycles. This is because they have continually worked to improve upon their designs. They have also paid attention to what consumers are looking for and been willing to produce it when other motorcycle brands have hesitated. Harley-Davidson has earned a loyal consumer base with many claiming they won't consider riding anything else. The company is reaping the rewards of their dedication, owning 62% of the motorcycle market.

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