Who founded Harley-Davidson?
William S Harley
William S Harley was the catalyst for the creation of Harley- Davidson. He designed a small 116cc engine in 1901 that he intended would be fitted to a regular pushbike. When this was found to be not powerful enough, he designed a larger 405cc motor: the Harley legend was born. He remained the firm’s chief engineer until his death in 1943, and received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1907.
A close friend of William S Harley, Arthur Davidson was the businessman in the partnership and his family helped get the company off the ground. It was Arthur Davidson that diverted Harley-Davidson’s production to the US war effort – to be later rewarded with strong sales from loyal returning troops. Both he and Harley were inducted in the US Labor Hall of Fame for dedication to their staff.