Harley-Davidson is one of the most legendary companies in the world: their high-quality motorcycles have become synonymous with the American way of life. However, this wasn't always the case: when Harley-Davidson started in the early 1900's, it was just one of many wannabes. The following historically important moments helped guarantee the legend of the Harley and its dominance on the market today.
The Debut of Harley Davidson
Motorcycles were already a huge deal in Europe when William Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson built their first motorcycle in 1903. However, they hadn't really taken off in America yet, primarily because they weren't fast or powerful enough: early motorcycles could rarely break bicycle speed.
At first, the 10.2 cubic-inch Harley-Davidson wasn't much different than earlier models, but the three experimented to create a more powerful motorcycle that was worth selling. However, they could only produce three in their first year, as each machine was built by hand.
The First V-Twin Motor
Business steadily improved for Harley after their debut, but business really picked up with the creation of the iconic V-Twin engine in 1909. The earliest model of this engine could produce speeds up to 60 MPH. Demand skyrocketed for V-Twin-powered cycles and the company produced 1,149 models that year.
In an economic landscape where over 150 different companies were vying to be the king of motorcycles, the V-Twin helped Harley stand out and gave it an edge in an over-saturated market.
First Military Motorcycles in WWI
World War I was one of the most grueling and destructive wars in history. Part of its harshness was due to the fact that old-school military tactics were used in a conflict which featured high-tech weaponry. And into the fray entered Harley-Davidson.
Harley jacked up its production of motorcycles to wild levels during 1917 and 1918 to meet the Allies demands for its vehicles. At first, they were used primarily for combat situations, but were adapted for escort, courier and rescue missions.
This early foray into war production helped lay the ground for extensive wartime support by the company which continues to modern times.
Helps Petrali Set the Land Speed Record
As time passed and vehicles become more and more powerful, a cottage industry of daredevils created a new national past time: breaking land speed records. New records were broken practically every week, but Harley-Davidson was key to helping set a record that would stand for a decade.
By 1937, Joe Petrali was a legendary racer who had broken multiple records. His longest standing record was the one-mile motorcycle land speed record set at Daytona Beach set in March of 1937, a 136.183 MP record that stood until 1948.
The bike he was riding at the time? A modified and streamlined Harley.
These moments are just a sample of the ways that Harley-Davidson has influenced history. And as they continue to innovate and create some of the most popular cycles on the market, its clear that they will impact history for decades to come. Contact a company like Rocket Harley-Davidson for additional information.Share
5 February 2015
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