How It Works
1984_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)

Harley-Davidson history

1984_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)

19011901_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)
Blueprint
William S Harley completes the blueprint for a single-cylinder ‘motorised cycle’ engine.

 

1908
Police
The first bike is used by the police force in the city
of Detroit, Michigan.

 

1910
Logo
The ‘bar and shield’ logo is used for the first time. Sensibly,
it is quickly trademarked.

1911_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)

 

1911
V-Twin debut
The V-Twin engine is launched with mechanically operated valves. Within two years, most bikes made by the firm will use this engine.

 

1913
New premises
Harley-Davidson outgrows its original yellow brick factory – so a new five-storey plant made of red bricks is built.

 

 

19141914_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)
Racing glory
Harley enters its bikes in competitive racing for the first time. It will go on to become a very successful manufacturer.

 

1917
Military service
The United States enters World War I in 1917 – and Harley enters combat service for the first time. Around 15,000 Harleys are used in the conflict

 

1920
Market leader
Harley-Davidson becomes the world’s biggest motorcycle manufacturer: more than 28,000 machines are produced in this year alone.

 

1945
WWii
Harley-Davidson restarts civilian production at the end of World War II; it produced nearly 90,000 special WLA models for military use in this war.

 

1952
K model
Harley introduces the side-valve K model. This smaller, sportier machine will go on to become the Sportster still around today.

 

19651965_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)
Glide
The Electra-Glide replaces the Duo-Glide. It has the modern convenience of an electric starter.

 

1975
Knievel at Wembley
Daredevil Evel Knievel was sponsored by Harley- Davidson. Riding an XR-750 he jumps over 13 buses in front of 90,000 people at Wembley but then crashes.

 

1981
New management
Harley is bought out and revived by an investment group including Willie Davidson, grandson of co-founder William A Davidson.

 

19841984_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)
Softail
H-D introduces the FXST Softail, which uses a new method of hiding the rear shock absorbers. It will go on to become one of the highest-selling models.

 

1994
Superbike
80 years after Harley-Davidson began competing, it enters the high-level sport of superbike racing.

 

19971990_(PD_credit-Harley-Davidson)
Milwaukee
A new product development centre is opened next to the Capitol Drive plant in Milwaukee, WI (right). It is dedicated to William G Davidson.

 

1998
Global success
To meet demand in growing nations, Harley-Davidson opens its first overseas production plant in Brazil.

 

2000
Renaissance
The Softail gets a counterbalanced version of the Twin Cam engine, dubbed 88B. It even has fuel injection.