Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson MotorcyclesHarley-Davidson Motor Company, the only major U.S.-based motorcycle manufacturer, produces heavyweight motorcycles and a complete line of motorcycle parts, accessories and general merchandise.

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Today Harley Davidson Motorcycles are well known for two things (1) being the leader of the heavyweight cruisers and (2) being the biggest American manufacturer of motorcycles. Harley Davidson Motorcycles didn’t always have a ravenous following; in fact the company has a very humble beginning. Back in 1903 two friends William Harley and Arthur Davidson designed a one cylinder engine and built a very basic motorcycle. The first Harley Davidson motorcycles were built in a 10 by 15 foot wooden shack. It had “Harley-Davidson Motor Company” carved into the wooden door.

The first Harley Davidson motorcycles were made with the intention of being racing machines. The motorcycles did there job well and Harley Davidson motorcycles were winning race after race. Popularity for these motorcycles grew and even Police departments started to add Harley Davidson motorcycles to their fleets.

By 1920, Harley Davidson motorcycles were the most popular motorcycle in the world. The company had about 2000 separate dealers in 67 different countries. Also, in the 20’s Harley Davidson motorcycles introduce the 45 cubic inch V-twin engine (later to be known as the “flathead”). This engine proves to be so reliable that variations of it are available on Harley-Davidson motorcycles as late as 1973.

During the 30’s motorcycle production is dominated by only two companies Harley Davidson and Indian motorcycles (Hendee Manufacturing). The 40’s brought the war and production of civilian motorcycles is almost entirely suspended in favor of military production.

In the 50’s and 60’s Harley Davidson continued to improve on the V-twin engine and continued to dominate throughout the race circuit. In 1969 Harley-Davidson Motorcycles merges with the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF), a longtime producer of leisure products.

During the 70’s Harley-Davidson motorcycles responded to the customizing craze by introducing the FX 1200 Super Glide®, which combined a sporty front end (similar to that of the XL series) with the frame and powertrain of the FL series. A new class of motorcycle, the cruiser, is born. In the early 80’s a group of Harley-Davidson executives purchase Harley-Davidson Motor Company from AMF.

In the 90’s Harley-Davidson buys a minority interest in the Buell Motorcycle Company. Erik Buell created the Company to manufacture American sport motorcycles using Harley-Davidson® XL 883 and 1200 engines. And in 2003 more than 250,000 people come to Milwaukee for the final stop of the Open Road Tour and the Harley-Davidson 100th Anniversary Celebration and Party.

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