Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

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Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Post by ganahsokmo on Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:04 pm

Harley-Davidson Motorcycles

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is the parent company of
Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Buell Motorcycle Company and
Harley-Davidson Financial Services. Harley-Davidson Motor Company
produces heavyweight motorcycles and offers a complete line of
motorcycle parts, accessories, apparel, and general merchandise. Buell
Motorcycle Company produces a line of sport motorcycles.

  • 1870

    Birth of William A. Davidson, Milwaukee, WI.

  • 1876

    Birth of Walter Davidson, Milwaukee, WI.

  • 1880

    Birth of William S. Harley, Milwaukee, WI. As he was born just after
    Christmas, his parents gave him the middle name “Sylvester.”

  • 1881

    Birth of Arthur Davidson, Milwaukee, WI.

  • 1901

    William S. Harley, aged 21, completes a blueprint for an engine
    designed to fit into a bicycle.

  • 1903

    Harley and Arthur Davidson build the first production
    Harley-Davidson in 1903. It features a 3-1/8-inch bore and a 3-1/2-inch
    stroke yielding 7.07 cubic inches (116cc). They make a more powerful
    motor with the assistance of Ole Evinrude – better known as the inventor
    of the outboard motor. It is designed for use on the wooden velodromes
    where popular bicycle races are held.
    Harley and Davidson work in a 10 x 15-foot shed on Chestnut Street
    (later renamed Juneau Avenue) which is still the address of
    Harley-Davidson’s head office.

  • 1904

    The first Harley-Davidson dealer, C.H. Lang of Chicago, opens for

  • 1906

    A new 28 by 80-foot factory is built on Chestnut Street. The company
    has grown to have six employees. It produces its first catalog, and
    coins the nickname “Silent Gray Fellows.” It’s a reference to the fact
    that the bikes were painted dove gray, and that they were quietly
    reliable. (Evidently, the company’s founders were unaware that loud
    pipes save lives.)

  • 1907

    William A. Davidson joins the firm. Harley-Davidson Motor Company is
    incorporated, with stock shared by the Harley and the three Davidson

  • 1908

    Walter Davidson scores a perfect 1,000 points at the 7th Annual
    Federation of American Motorcyclists Endurance and Reliability Contest.
    Three days after the contest, Walter sets the FAM economy record at
    188.234 miles per gallon.
    Perhaps impressed with that reliability, Detroit becomes the first
    city to buy a H-D motorcycle for police use.

  • 1909

    “The Motor Company” makes its first V-Twin. It has a displacement of
    49.5 cubic inches and produces seven horsepower.

  • 1910

    The ‘Bar & Shield’ logo is used for the first time in 1910 and
    was trademarked one year later.

  • 1911

    The ‘F-head’ single-cylinder engine is introduced and will remain in
    use until 1929. (This is not a reference to “Hey, f-head!” it’s a
    reference to the shape of the valve ports.) It is an inlet-over-exhaust
    design, with an overhead intake valve (in the head like a modern motor)
    but a “side” exhaust valve which is in the cylinder.

  • 1912

    Harley-Davidson begins exporting motorcycles to Japan. Construction
    begins on a six-storey headquarters. The Parts and Accessories Dept. is
    formed. The company has more than 200 dealers across America.

  • 1913

    The Racing Department is formed, under the control of Bill Harley.

  • 1914

    Sidecars are made available. Some models are briefly available with a
    two-speed transmission in the rear hub. Also, belts go out of fashion –
    for the moment. Harley-Davidson is one of the last motorcycle
    manufacturers to switch from leather drive belts to chains. The leather
    belts slipped, stretched and rotted, so chains are a big improvement.

  • 1915

    H-D motorcycles become available with three-speed sliding-gear
    transmissions with final and primary drive on the same side.

  • 1916

    The Enthusiast magazine is published for the first time.

  • 1917

    About a third of the company’s production is purchased by the Army.
    To train Army mechanics, the company starts the Quartermasters School.
    After the war, it will be retained as the Service School, providing
    factory-trained mechanics for dealers.

  • 1918

    Almost half of all H-D motorcycles produced are sold for use by the
    U.S. military in World War I. After Armistice is signed, Corporal Roy
    Holtz becomes the first American soldier to enter Germany. He does so on
    a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

  • 1919

    The 37-cubic-inch Sport model is introduced. It’s a
    horizontally-opposed, fore-and-aft V-Twin.

  • 1920

    Now the largest motorcycle manufacturer, H-D boasts over 2,000
    dealers in 67 countries.
    The factory racing team, already known as
    “The Wrecking Crew” because it’s become so dominant in American racing,
    has a small pig as a mascot. The bikes are nicknamed “hogs” as a result.

  • 1925

    The company adopts teardrop-shaped gas tanks (previously they were
    flat-topped) that give its machines a very distinct look. Joe Petrali
    becomes one of the first salaried “factory racers.”

  • 1926

    Single-cylinder motorcycles are sold first time since 1918. Models
    A, AA, B and BA are available in side-valve and overhead-valve engine

  • 1928

    The first two-cam engine is made available on the JD series
    motorcycles. The bike can reach a top speed between 85 and 100 mph.
    Luckily, this year all H-D models are also available with a brake on the
    front wheel. Surprisingly few Harley-Davidson riders use them, even to
    this day.

  • 1929

    The D model is introduced with a rugged, 45-cubic-inch flathead
    V-Twin engine. The “Flathead” motor will be sold in various guises for
    over 40 years.
    The stock-market crash heralds the Great Depression. In 1929, the
    company sells 21,000 motorcycles. It’s the strongest of the dozens – if
    not hundreds – of motorcycle brands that were launched in the first
    three decades of the century; only a handful will survive into the

  • 1932

    The three-wheeled Servi-car begins its 41-year run. (Sure they were
    used to deliver great corned-beef sandwiches, but they were also used by
    the guys who wrote 410,000,000 parking tickets, too.)
    In racing, Joe Petrali begins a string of five consecutive national
    championships in dirt track, as well as four consecutive hill-climb
    titles. (In those years, the championship was decided in a single race.)

  • 1933

    The company sells only 4,000 motorcycles this year. To reduce costs
    for competitors, the AMA creates a new racing class, Class C, based on
    production equipment and allowing for limited modifications. Although
    the original, prototype-based Class A persists, the AMA emphasizes the
    new class. Purists resent the change.

  • 1935

    Alfred Child, the company’s agent in Asia, realizes that currency
    exchange rates are killing sales in Japan. He convinces the company to
    license production of its motorcycles in Japan. The Sankyo Seiyakyo
    Corporation purchases tooling and begins producing Harley “clones”. They
    are sold under the name Rikuo, which means “King of the Road.”

  • 1936

    Introduction of the EL, an overhead valve, 61-cubic-inch-powered
    bike, which earns the nickname of ‘Knucklehead’ because of the shape of
    its rocker-boxes. The company also introduces an 80-cubic-inch
    side-valve engine.

  • 1937

    Petrali sets a land-speed record of over 136 mph with a streamlined
    Knucklehead. The first WL models are produced.
    William A. Davidson dies, two days after signing an agreement that
    makes the company a union shop.

  • 1938

    Ben Campanale wins the Daytona 200 on a 45 cubic-inch WLDR. The race
    was run on the 3.2-mile beach course.
    The Jackpine Gypsies hold the first Black Hills rally in Sturgis.

  • 1941

    United States enters World War II. The production of civilian
    motorcycles is almost entirely stopped.

  • 1942

    When U.S. soldiers capture their first “Wehrmacht”-issue motorcycles
    in North Africa, they find that the BMWs and Zundapps are better suited
    to tough military duty. Harley-Davidson and Indian each develop about
    1,000 machines for evaluation, with shaft drives and Flat-Twin motors
    copied from the Germans. They are never widely issued, though the
    machines cost Uncle Sam a whopping $35,000 each.
    Walter Davidson dies.

  • 1943

    William S. Harley dies.

  • 1945

    The war finally ends. Between 1941-45 the company produced almost
    90,000 WLA models for military use.

  • 1946

    The 45 cubic-inch, flathead, WR production racer is made. It
    conforms to stricter Class C AMA rules, which are intended to reduce
    costs for competitors. It’s a flathead, because in Class C, flatheads
    are allowed to displace 750cc, while OHV motors are limited to 500cc.

  • 1948

    The company’s 61 and 74 c.i. OHV engines are updated with aluminum
    heads and hydraulic valve lifters. Also new are the one-piece rocker
    covers, which resemble cake pans, earning the motor the nickname
    As part of Germany’s war reparations, the Allies loot German patents.
    The fine, small two-stroke motors built by DKW (seen in that
    popular RT125) are copied by BSA (the Bantam) and Harley-Davidson,
    which produces the model S that will come to be known as the Hummer.

  • 1949

    Hydraulic front forks make their first appearance on the new
    Hydra-Glide models.

  • 1950

    Arthur Davidson dies.

  • 1952

    Returning servicemen seem to favor the lighter British Twins they
    saw “over there.” In response, Harley-Davidson creates the 45 c.i.
    side-valve K model. It’s a unit-construction motor – the crankcases and
    gearbox are one set of castings.

  • 1953

    Indian goes into its long, painful death throes. H-D, which
    celebrates its 50th anniversary this year will be only real motorcycle
    manufacturer in the U.S. for the rest of the century.
    The aging WR and WRTT production racers are no match for the British
    500s now invading the dirt tracks (and few road courses) of America. The
    H-D racing department counters with a new racer, the KR. Like the WR,
    it is a 750cc flat-head.

  • 1955

    The new KR begins a run of seven consecutive Daytona 200 victories,
    which will include the last race run on the old beach course and first
    one run at the new Daytona International Speedway.

  • 1957

    The Sportster is introduced. It is basically a larger-displacement
    version of the K motor, fitted with an OHV head. At 55 c.i., it offers
    performance to rival anything coming out of England (at least, anything
    coming out of England without a “Vincent” tank badge.) has a 55
    cubic-inch overhead-valve engine.

  • 1958

    Hydraulic rear suspensions appear on the Duo-Glide.

  • 1960

    Harley-Davidson acknowledges the market potential of smaller
    machines. The company makes its first and only scooter, the Topper. It
    also purchases a half-interest in the Italian company Aermacchi, which
    produces fast and stylish single-cylinder machines of up to 350cc.
    Brad Andres wins the last Daytona 200 run on the sand. 2nd through
    13th (no, not 3rd, 13th) places all go to riders on KRs.

  • 1961

    The first Aermacchi design to reach America is the Harley-Davidson
    Sprint. Short-track racers are quick to realize that its good power and
    low center of gravity make it a winner.

  • 1962

    Harley-Davidson acquires the Tomahawk boat company and starts to
    learn about the uses of fiberglass.

  • 1964

    The humble Servi-Car is the first of the company’s machines to be
    fitted with an electric starter.

  • 1965

    The Duo-Glide and is fitted with an electric starter, and thus
    becomes the Electra-Glide.

  • 1966

    Riders clamoring for more power cause the company to update the old
    Panhead motor. The new engine has rocker boxes that resemble coal
    shovels. Hence, the new mill gets the nickname “Shovelhead.” This basic
    motor will remain in production for 20 years.

  • 1968

    After years of increasingly vociferous lobbying, the import
    manufacturers convince the AMA rules committee that the 250cc
    displacement advantage given to flathead motors is unfair. The AMA
    declares that, in the future, bikes with overhead valves (all the
    British and Japanese models) can also displace up to 750cc.
    Harley-Davidson lobbies to delay the implementation of the new rule for
    one more season.

  • 1969

    Although Harley-Davidson stock is publicly traded, it is still a
    relatively closely held corporation. The shareholders – perhaps sensing
    that the “Japanese invasion” is about to open a new front in the
    heavyweight category, with the Honda CB750 Four – sell the company to
    the American Machine and Foundry Company. AMF has hitherto been known to
    the American consumer as a maker of bowling balls, but it is in fact a
    large, diversified manufacturer.
    AMF could have risen to the challenge presented by the sophisticated
    and comparatively affordable Honda. Instead, AMF’s managers roll a real
    gutter-ball. Harley-Davidson quality plummets. Before long, dealers are
    forced to rebuild motors under warranty and magazines are brutally
    critical of test bikes. Used Harleys are described as “pre-AMF” in
    classified ads.

  • 1970

    The racing department creates a new production racer, the XR-750.
    The motor is basically a destroked Sportster unit. It gets off to an
    inauspicious start; none of the factory entries reach the finish in the
    Daytona 200. The first Harley across the line is an ancient KRTT, ridden
    by Walt Fulton III.

  • 1971

    By mating the spare front end of the XL series with the frame and
    motor of the FL series, the company creates the first cruiser – the FX
    1200 Super Glide.

  • 1973

    A new assembly plant is opened in York, PA.

  • 1977

    Although most Harley fans would rather forget the years in which the
    company was owned by AMF, there is one AMF-era bike that’s highly
    sought-after by collectors: the 1977 XLCR. That “CR” stands for Café
    Racer and the bike was only the second major project for Willie G.
    Davidson (the grandson of one of the founders.) While the model is
    prized now, it was rejected by Harley customers in 1977. Only 3,100 were
    sold and the model was dropped a year later – although dealers still
    had unsold XLCRs cluttering their showroom floors well into the ’80s.
    The FXS Low Rider is also introduced this year.

  • 1979

    The FXEF “Fat Bob” is introduced. It’s called fat because of its
    dual gas tanks, and bob on account of its bobbed fenders.

  • 1980

    The FLT is introduced. It has rubber-isolated drivetrain and an
    engine and five-speed transmission which are hard bolted together.
    Belts come back into fashion: a Kevlar belt replaces the chain as the
    final drive on some models.
    The FXB Sturgis, featuring an 80 cubic-inch engine, and FXWB Wide
    Glide are introduced.

  • 1981

    After years of AMF mismanagement, Harley-Davidson has lost almost
    all customer loyalty and profits are in freefall. When a group of
    company executives led by Vaughn Beals offers to buy the division for
    $75 million, AMF quickly agrees.
    Beals leads an amazing corporate turnaround. He funds new product
    development and implements world-class quality control. It’s impossible
    to know what would have happened to the H-D brand if Beals had not risen
    up to save it, but it’s certain that no one else could have done a
    better job at rehabilitating it.

  • 1982

    The FXR/FXRS Super Glide II are introduced, featuring a
    rubber-isolated, five-speed powertrain.
    The company adopts a just-in-time inventory system on the
    manufacturing side, which helps to lower cost and improve quality.

  • 1983

    The Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) is formed.
    The company petitions the International Trade Commission (a branch of
    the U.S. federal government) to impose a tariff on Japanese motorcycles
    of over 700cc. As a result, many Japanese motorcycles that are sold as
    750cc models in the rest of the world are sleeved-down to 700cc for the
    U.S. market.

  • 1984

    The 1340cc V2 Evolution engine appears on five models. Although it’s
    been in development since the AMF era, the motor proves the newly
    independent company has turned the corner in terms of build quality. It
    is far more reliable and oil-tight.
    The Softail, which features concealed rear suspension and evokes the
    rigid-framed hogs of 30 or 40 years ago, meets with commercial success.

  • 1986

    Harley-Davidson diversifies with the acquisition of the Holiday
    Rambler motorhome company.

  • 1987

    The company makes its Initial Public Offering. Stock is traded on
    the NYSE, with the ticker symbol of HOG. The company petitions the ITC
    to relax the tariff on imported motorcycles, a year before it was
    scheduled to lapse. The move serves notice that Harley-Davidson is
    capable of competing on a level playing field, despite the fact that the
    Japanese companies now all make V-Twin cruisers that compete directly
    with the American offerings.

  • 1988

    Exploiting customers’ love of traditional styling, the Springer
    front end returns on the FXSTS Springer Softail.

  • 1990

    Introduction of the FLSTF Fat Boy.

  • 1991

    Introduction of the first motorcycle in the Dyna line, the FXDB Dyna
    Glide Sturgis.

  • 1992

    Harley-Davidson is the first company to equip all its models (except
    for a handful of racing motorcycles) with drive belts. Modern drive
    belts provide a smoother ride than chains, last longer, and free riders
    from the drudgery of chain lubrication and adjustment.

  • 1993

    H-D buys a minority interest in the Buell Motorcycle Company.

  • 1994

    The company enters the AMA Superbike Championship, fielding the
    water-cooled, DOHC VR1000. AMA rules specified that the company had to
    also build and sell 2,000 machines for road use, a process is called
    “homologation.” So, you may wonder, why have you never seen a road-going
    VR1000 if 2000 were sold? Because the model was homologated in Poland.
    By selling it there, Harley avoided U.S. liability and Poland’s lax laws
    allowed the barely-modified race bike to be legally licensed.
    Despite being ably ridden by Miguel Duhamel, Pascal Picotte, Chris
    Carr and Scott Russell, the VR1000 will never win an AMA race.

  • 1995

    Harley-Davidsons are equipped with fuel injection for the first

  • 1996

    Sales of parts and accessories are an increasingly important part of
    the business – a fact reflected in the new, 250,000 sq. ft. facility
    the company opens in Franklin, WI.

  • 1997

    A new 217,000 sq.-ft. design center opens in Milwaukee. FL engine
    production moves to a newly purchased plant in Menomonee Falls. A new
    330,000 sq. ft. plant in Kansas City takes over the production of

  • 1998

    The company opens its first foreign factory in Manaus, Brazil.
    The remaining shares of Buell are also acquired.

  • 1999

    The Touring and Dyna lines receive the new Twin Cam 88.

  • 2000

    Despite spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees in the
    mid-’90s – and having initial success in its efforts to trademark the
    “potato-potato” sound of Harley motors – the company drops its U.S.
    Patent Office application. Harley-Davidson’s vice president of
    marketing, Joanne Bischmann, tells reporters, “I’ve personally spoken
    with Harley-Davidson owners from around the world and they’ve told me
    repeatedly that there is nothing like the sound of a Harley-Davidson
    motorcycle. If our customers know the sound cannot be imitated, that’s
    good enough for me and for Harley-Davidson.”

  • 2001

    The VRSCA V-Rod is introduced. The motor – which was designed with
    input from Porsche – is fuel injected, has overhead cams, and liquid

  • 2003

    It is estimated that 250,000 people come to Milwaukee to celebrate
    The Motor Company’s 100th anniversary.

  • 2006

    Fittingly, the ’06 model-year Dyna motorcycles come with six-speed
    The company announces a major new museum, scheduled to open in
    Milwaukee in 2008.

  • 2007

    Harley upgrades its Big Twin motor, stroking it out to 96 cubic
    inches and earning the moniker “Twin Cam 96.” The six-speed transmission
    from the Dyna line is added across the board.

  • 2008

    The Motor Company opens its impressive new museum in time for
    Harley’s 105th anniversary.


Join date : 16/01/2010
Age : 37

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