Featured image for "When Did Harley Davidson* Start Making Motorcycles?" blog post. Harley Davidson motorcycle.

When Did Harley Davidson* Start Making Motorcycles?

Our most recent piece will answer the topic presented by several Harley* enthusiasts: when did Harley Davidson* start making motorcycles?

Motorcycle production started at the Davidson family’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, garage in 1903, when William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson began building a prototype. After some time, Walter and William A., Arthur’s brothers, joined the group. They contributed fresh thoughts that would be helpful in determining the direction the organization would go in the future.

The names William S. Harley and the Davidson brothers were the inspiration for the Harley Davidson* brand name.

After its founding in 1907, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company* saw fast growth. Only three prototype 405CC (24.74cu in) single-cylinder motorcycles were built in 1903. Moving to larger quarters in 1910, the firm eventually turned well over 3,000 bicycles.

Early advancements included the spring fork and chain drive; nevertheless, it was the V-twin engine that would ultimately decide the company’s direction.

Since the company’s founding in 1911, each and every Harley-Davidson* model has used this same cylinder arrangement. When the United States joined World War I in 1917, Harley-Davidson* was given the assignment of providing the military with more than 20,000 motorcycles to use in the war effort. Because of the bike’s dependable nature and high level of durability, the military chose to use them.

Additionally, the official Harley-Davidson* works racing team, which competed on both dirt and board tracks around the United States, had a great deal of success in the many competitions that they entered. At the beginning of the 1920s, the firm began shipping goods to Japan and Europe, with the objective of developing these markets further over the course of the next decades.

AMSOIL V-Twin Oil Change Kit HDCK.
AMSOIL V-Twin Oil Change Kit (HDCK)

In order to overtake Indian* as the most popular motorcycle brand in the United States, it was necessary for Harley-Davidson* to have a sizable retail presence over the whole of North America. A side-valve V-twin engine was introduced to the D Series to complement the inlet-over-exhaust and single-cylinder motors already offered by the company due to its reliability.

In 1936, Harley-Davidson* released the 61 EL “Knucklehead*,” so named for the fist-shaped design of its rocker covers.

Harley-Davidson* found fresh success during World War II, when it supplied more than 70,000 WLA motorcycles to the Allied forces. When manufacture of civilian motorcycles began in 1945, the brand was given permission to make use of 125cc two-stroke engines that had been designed by the German DKW*. The “Panhead” engine, which featured more rocker covers than the “Knucklehead*,” debuted in 1948.

AMSOIL O-il Change Kit HDBK.
AMSOIL V-Twin Oil Change Kit (HDBK)

The Hydra-Glide* kind of telescopic fork was invented in 1949, shortly after the introduction of hydraulically damped telescopic forks. Harley-Davidson* created a variety of smaller-capacity V-twins to compete with Triumph* and BSA’s* lighter and quicker British bikes in the 1950s. Since it was first introduced in 1957, the Harley Davidson* XL* Sportster has become one of the company’s most enduring motorcycle models.

A portion of the Aermacchi* firm was purchased by motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson* in the year 1960. In order to cater to the growing need for cost-effective modes of mobility, the company rebranded these single-cylinder motorcycles as Harley-Davidsons*.

Harley-Davidson* introduced the electric starter on their groundbreaking Electra Glide* motorcycle in 1965. Their competitive response to Japanese motorcycle manufacturers came when they began making bikes at lower costs while yet maintaining a modern aesthetic.

Unfortunately, imports from other countries started having an effect on the bottom line of the corporation. Despite being listed on the New York Stock Exchange* in 1965, Harley-Davidson* continued to have financial difficulties, and in 1969, AMF* (American Metal Foundries) purchased a controlling interest in the firm. The reputation of Harley-Davidson* continued to suffer while AMF* was in charge of the company until 1981, when it was purchased by new owners.

HDMB Oil Change Kit.
AMSOIL V-Twin Oil Change Kit (HDMB)

The XR750, a dirt-track racer introduced in the 1970s, quickly rose to prominence as the most widely used racing motorbike in America. In this decade, Harley Davidson* also caught on to the postwar fad of modifying motorcycles, as typified by the Harley* choppers shown in the film Easy Rider*. The first factory-built Harley* custom motorcycle to combine a big-twin engine with a Sportster chassis was the 1971 FX Super Glide*.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the corporation was in the midst of a severe financial crisis. The management buyout that took place at AMF* in 1981 led to improvements in manufacturing procedures and quality control. In addition, there was an urgent need to market Harley-Davidson* as an American corporation with a history that was commensurate with its reputation.

AMSOIL pc banner.

In 1984, Harley-Davidson* made its comeback to the racing circuit by releasing the Evolution* big-twin motorcycle. This event signified the company’s return to the racing circuit. The huge twin-cylinder engine proved to be appropriate for use in tourers like the Super Glide*, which helped solidify Harley Davidson’s* position as the leading maker of tourers in the United States. Further enhancements included the characteristic disc wheels of the 1990 Fat Boy* and the powerful Twin Cam 88* V-twin engine of 1999’s models.

Furthermore, Harley-Davidson* manufactured a variety of motorcycles that drew creativity from the history of the firm and included the most cutting-edge technological advancements. This model was promoted by the manufacturer to a new kind of motorcycle consumer who was interested in purchasing an elegant American motorbike but did not fit the usual image of a “biker.”

AMSOIL dealer banner.

Several new Harley-Davidson* models, including the V-Rod* in 2001, and the Buell line of powerful sports motorcycles were introduced in the new millennium.

Milwaukee hosted a series of activities honoring the company’s 100th anniversary in 2003, capping up with a rally attended by more than 100,000 brand devotees. Because of its prudent management and unwavering faith in the transformative potential of new ideas, Harley-Davidson* has emerged as the most successful and profitable global brand of the twenty-first century.

HDMC Oil Change Kit.
AMSOIL V-Twin Oil Change Kit (HDMC)

In its capacity as a producer of motorcycles, Harley-Davidson* has accomplished a great deal of progress. For the last 118 years, this motorcycle was manufactured in the United States, and it has become a legend in its own right.

If you are a forward-thinking and discerning Harley* rider who is searching for the ultimate performance and protection for your cherished bike, it may be worthwhile to give serious consideration to the possibility of using specially compounded synthetic lubricants.

Even when subjected to the intense heat and strain of summer riding, a synthetic motorcycle motor oil of superior quality is able to maintain its original level of viscosity. Smooth, consistent shifts are made possible by preserving viscosity, and compensator noise is reduced as a result.

Engine Maintenance banner.

Because of its better high-temperature film strength as well as its potent anti-wear ingredients, a high-performance synthetic motorcycle oil will continue to protect the motorbike even when it is subjected to high temperatures.

A high-quality synthetic motor oil designed specifically for bikes will have the goal of preventing the buildup of potentially hazardous sludge and carbon deposits.

We have come to the conclusion of our piece titled “When Did Harley Davidson* Start Making Motorcycles?,” and we hope that you have found this little excursion through history to be pleasant. Keep checking back for updates on our other motorbike blog posts.

*All trademarked names and images are the property of their respective owners and may be registered marks in some countries. No affiliation or endorsement claim, express or implied, is made by their use.

Spread the love

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *