Coordinates: 43°02′46″N 87°57′36″W / 43.0460968°N
87.9599862°W / 43.0460968; -87.9599862
Harley-Davidson, Inc. (H-D), or Harley, is an American motorcycle
manufacturer, founded in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin in 1903.
One of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the
Great Depression (along with Indian), the company has survived
numerous ownership arrangements, subsidiary arrangements (e.g.,
Aermacchi 1974-1978 and Buell 1987-2009), periods of poor economic
health and product quality, as well as intense global competition,
to become one of the world's largest motorcycle manufacturers and an
iconic brand widely known for its loyal following. There are owner
clubs and events worldwide as well as a company-sponsored
Noted for a style of customization that gave rise to the chopper
Harley-Davidson traditionally marketed
heavyweight, air-cooled cruiser motorcycles with engine displacements
greater than 700 cm³ and has broadened its offerings to include
its more contemporary VRSC (2002) and middle-weight Street (2015)
Harley-Davidson manufactures its motorcycles at factories in York,
Pennsylvania; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Kansas City, Missouri; Manaus,
Brazil; and Bawal, India, and markets its products worldwide.
Besides motorcycles, the company licenses and markets merchandise
Harley-Davidson brand, among them apparel, home decor and
ornaments, accessories, toys, and scale figures of its motorcycles,
and video games based on its motorcycle line and the community.
1.2 World War I
1.5 Great Depression
1.6 World War II
1.7 Small Harleys: Hummers and Aermacchis
1.9 Tarnished reputation
1.10 Restructuring and revival
1.12 First overseas factory in Brazil
1.13 Claims of stock price manipulation
1.14 Problems with Police Touring models
1.15 2007 strike
MV Agusta Group
1.17 Operations in India
1.18 Financial crisis
2.1 Big V-twins
2.2 Small V-twins
2.3 Revolution engine
2.4 Single-cylinder engines
3 Model families
4 Custom Vehicle Operations
5 Environmental record
6 Brand culture
6.1 Origin of "Hog" nickname
6.3 Harley Owners Group
6.4 Factory tours and museum
6.5 Anniversary celebrations
6.6 Labor Hall of Fame
6.7 Television drama
7 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
From left: William A. Davidson, Walter Davidson, Sr., Arthur Davidson
and William S. Harley
In 1901, 20-year-old
William S. Harley
William S. Harley drew up plans for a small
engine with a displacement of 7.07 cubic inches (116 cc³) and
four-inch (102 mm) flywheels. The engine was designed for use
in a regular pedal-bicycle frame. Over the next two years, Harley and
his childhood friend Arthur Davidson worked on their motor-bicycle
using the northside
Milwaukee machine shop at the home of their
friend, Henry Melk. It was finished in 1903 with the help of Arthur's
brother, Walter Davidson. Upon testing their power-cycle, Harley and
the Davidson brothers found it unable to climb the hills around
Milwaukee without pedal assistance. They quickly wrote off their first
motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.
Work immediately began on a new and improved second-generation
machine. This first "real"
Harley-Davidson motorcycle had a bigger
engine of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc³) with 9.75 inches
(25 cm) flywheels weighing 28 lb (13 kg). The machine's
advanced loop-frame pattern was similar to the 1903
motorcycle (designed by Joseph Merkel, later of
Flying Merkel fame).
The bigger engine and loop-frame design took it out of the motorized
bicycle category and marked the path to future motorcycle designs. The
boys also received help with their bigger engine from outboard motor
pioneer Ole Evinrude, who was then building gas engines of his own
design for automotive use on Milwaukee's Lake Street.
The prototype of the new loop-frame
Harley-Davidson was assembled in a
10 ft × 15 ft (3.0 m × 4.6 m) shed in
the Davidson family backyard. Most of the major parts, however,
were made elsewhere, including some probably fabricated at the West
Milwaukee railshops where oldest brother
William A. Davidson
William A. Davidson was then
toolroom foreman. This prototype machine was functional by September
8, 1904, when it competed in a
Milwaukee motorcycle race held at State
Fair Park. It was ridden by Edward Hildebrand and placed fourth. This
is the first documented appearance of a
Harley-Davidson motorcycle in
the historical record.
In January 1905, small advertisements were placed in the Automobile
and Cycle Trade Journal offering bare
Harley-Davidson engines to the
do-it-yourself trade. By April, complete motorcycles were in
production on a very limited basis. That year, the first
Harley-Davidson dealer, Carl H. Lang of Chicago, sold three bikes from
the five built in the Davidson backyard shed. Years later the original
shed was taken to the Juneau Avenue factory where it would stand for
many decades as a tribute to the Motor Company's humble origins until
it was accidentally destroyed by contractors cleaning the factory yard
in the early 1970s.
In 1906, Harley and the Davidson brothers built their first factory on
Chestnut Street (later Juneau Avenue), at the current location of
Harley-Davidson's corporate headquarters. The first Juneau Avenue
plant was a 40 ft × 60 ft (12 m
× 18 m) single-story wooden structure. The company produced
about 50 motorcycles that year.
Harley-Davidson 1,000 cc HT 1916
William S. Harley
William S. Harley graduated from the University of
Wisconsin–Madison with a degree in mechanical engineering. That year
additional factory expansion came with a second floor and later with
facings and additions of
Milwaukee pale yellow ("cream") brick. With
the new facilities production increased to 150 motorcycles in 1907.
The company was officially incorporated that September. They also
began selling their motorcycles to police departments around this
time, a market that has been important to them ever since.
In 1907 William A. Davidson, brother to Arthur and Walter Davidson,
quit his job as tool foreman for the
Milwaukee Road railroad and
joined the Motor Company.
Production in 1905 and 1906 were all single-cylinder models with 26.84
cubic inch (440 cm³) engines. In February 1907 a prototype model
with a 45-degree
V-Twin engine was displayed at the
Show. Although shown and advertised, very few
V-Twin models were built
between 1907 and 1910. These first V-Twins displaced 53.68 cubic
inches (880 cm³) and produced about 7 horsepower (5.2 kW).
This gave about double the power of the first singles. Top speed was
about 60 mph (100 km/h). Production jumped from 450
motorcycles in 1908 to 1,149 machines in 1909.
Harley-Davidson works in 1911
By 1911, some 150 makes of motorcycles had already been built in the
United States – although just a handful would survive the 1910s.
In 1911, an improved
V-Twin model was introduced. The new engine had
mechanically operated intake valves, as opposed to the "automatic"
intake valves used on earlier V-Twins that opened by engine vacuum.
With a displacement of 49.48 cubic inches (811 cm³), the 1911
V-Twin was smaller than earlier twins, but gave better performance.
After 1913 the majority of bikes produced by
Harley-Davidson would be
Harley-Davidson introduced their patented "Ful-Floteing
Seat", which was suspended by a coil spring inside the seat tube.
The spring tension could be adjusted to suit the rider's weight. More
than 3 inches (76 mm) of travel was available.
Harley-Davidson would use seats of this type until 1958.
By 1913, the yellow brick factory had been demolished and on the site
a new 5-story structure had been built. Begun in 1910, the factory
with its many additions would take up two blocks along Juneau Avenue
and around the corner on 38th Street. Despite the competition,
Harley-Davidson was already pulling ahead of Indian and would dominate
motorcycle racing after 1914. Production that year swelled to 16,284
Ralph Hepburn on his Harley racing bike in this 1919 photo.
World War I
In 1917, the United States entered
World War I
World War I and the military
demanded motorcycles for the war effort. Harleys had already been
used by the military in the Pancho Villa Expedition but World
War I was the first time the motorcycle had been adopted for military
issue, first with the British Model H, produced by British Triumph
Motorcycles Ltd in 1915. After the U.S. entry into the war, the
U.S. military purchased over 20,000 motorcycles from
Harley-Davidson launched a line of bicycles in 1917 in hopes of
recruiting customers for its motorcycles. Besides the traditional
diamond frame men's bicycle, models included a step-through frame 3-18
"Ladies Standard" and a 5-17 "Boy Scout" for youth. The effort was
discontinued in 1923 because of disappointing sales.
The bicycles were built for
Harley-Davidson in Dayton, Ohio, by the
Davis Machine Company from 1917 to 1921, when Davis stopped
Harley-Davidson 1000 cc HT 1923
Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in
the world, with 28,189 machines produced, and dealers in 67
In 1921, a Harley-Davidson, ridden by Otto Walker, was the first
motorcycle ever to win a race at an average speed greater than
100 mph (160 km/h).
During the 1920s, several improvements were put in place, such as a
new 74 cubic inch (1,212.6 cm³) V-Twin, introduced in
1921, and the "teardrop" gas tank in 1925. A front brake was added in
1928 although notably only on the J/JD models.
In the late summer of 1929,
Harley-Davidson introduced its 45 cubic
inches (737 cm³) flathead
V-Twin to compete with the Indian 101
Scout and the Excelsior Super X. This was the "D" model, produced
from 1929 to 1931. Riders of Indian motorcycles derisively
referred to this model as the "three cylinder Harley" because the
generator was upright and parallel to the front cylinder.
Harley-Davidson 1,200 cc SV 1931
Great Depression began a few months after the introduction of
their 45 cubic inch (737 cm³) model. Harley-Davidson's
sales fell from 21,000 in 1929 to 3,703 in 1933. Despite this,
Harley-Davidson unveiled a new lineup for 1934, which included a
flathead engine and
Art Deco styling.
In order to survive the remainder of the Depression, the company
manufactured industrial powerplants based on their motorcycle engines.
They also designed and built a three-wheeled delivery vehicle called
the Servi-Car, which remained in production until 1973.
In the mid-1930s, Alfred Rich Child opened a production line in Japan
with the 74-cubic-inch (1,210 cm³) VL. The Japanese
license-holder, Sankyo Seiyaku Corporation, severed its business
Harley-Davidson in 1936 and continued manufacturing the
VL under the Rikuo name.
Harley-Davidson dealer in Texas, ca. 1930-1945
An 80-cubic-inch (1,300 cm³) flathead engine was added to the
line in 1935, by which time the single-cylinder motorcycles had been
In 1936, the 61E and 61EL models with the "Knucklehead" OHV engines
Valvetrain problems in early Knucklehead engines
required a redesign halfway through its first year of production and
retrofitting of the new valvetrain on earlier engines.
By 1937, all
Harley-Davidson flathead engines were equipped with
dry-sump oil recirculation systems similar to the one introduced in
the "Knucklehead" OHV engine. The revised 74-cubic-inch (1,212 cc ) V
and VL models were renamed U and UL, the 80-cubic-inch
(1,300 cc³) VH and VLH to be renamed UH and ULH, and the
45-cubic-inch (740 cc³) R to be renamed W.
In 1941, the 74-cubic-inch (1,210 cm³) "Knucklehead" was
introduced as the F and the FL. The 80-cubic-inch (1,300 cc³)
flathead UH and ULH models were discontinued after 1941, while the 74
inch (1210 cm³) U & UL flathead models were produced up to
World War II
Harley copied the BMW R71 to produce its XA model.
One of only two American cycle manufacturers to survive the Great
Harley-Davidson again produced large numbers of
motorcycles for the US Army in
World War II
World War II and resumed civilian
production afterwards, producing a range of large V-twin motorcycles
that were successful both on racetracks and for private buyers.
Harley-Davidson, on the eve of World War II, was already supplying the
Army with a military-specific version of its 45 cubic inches
(740 cm³) WL line, called the WLA. The A in this case stood for
"Army". Upon the outbreak of war, the company, along with most other
manufacturing enterprises, shifted to war work. More than 90,000
military motorcycles, mostly WLAs and WLCs (the Canadian version) were
produced, many to be provided to allies.
two Army-Navy ‘E’ Awards, one in 1943 and the other in 1945, which
were awarded for Excellence in Production.
Harley produced the WLC for the Canadian military.
Shipments to the
Soviet Union under the
Lend-Lease program numbered at
least 30,000. The WLAs produced during all four years of war
production generally have 1942 serial numbers. Production of the WLA
stopped at the end of World War II, but was resumed from 1950 to 1952
for use in the Korean War.
The U.S. Army also asked
Harley-Davidson to produce a new motorcycle
with many of the features of BMW's side-valve and shaft-driven R71.
Harley largely copied the BMW engine and drive train and produced the
shaft-driven 750 cc 1942
Harley-Davidson XA. This shared no
dimensions, no parts and no design concepts (except side valves) with
Harley-Davidson engine. Due to the superior cooling of the
flat-twin engine with the cylinders across the frame, Harley's XA
cylinder heads ran 100 °F (56 °C) cooler than its
V-twins. The XA never entered full production: the motorcycle by
that time had been eclipsed by the
Jeep as the Army's general purpose
vehicle, and the WLA—already in production—was sufficient for its
limited police, escort, and courier roles. Only 1,000 were made and
the XA never went into full production. It remains the only
Harley-Davidson ever made.
Small Harleys: Hummers and Aermacchis
Harley-Davidson Hummer and
As part of war reparations,
Harley-Davidson acquired the design of a
small German motorcycle, the DKW RT 125, which they adapted,
manufactured, and sold from 1948 to 1966. Various models were
made, including the
Hummer from 1955 to 1959, but they are all
colloquially referred to as "Hummers" at present. BSA in the
United Kingdom took the same design as the foundation of their BSA
Harley-Davidson Turismo Veloce
Harley-Davidson consolidated the Model 165 and
into the Super-10, introduced the Topper scooter, and bought fifty
percent of Aermacchi's motorcycle division. Importation of
Aermacchi's 250 cc horizontal single began the following
year. The bike bore
Harley-Davidson badges and was
marketed as the
Harley-Davidson Sprint. The engine of the
Sprint was increased to 350 cc in 1969 and would remain
that size until 1974, when the four-stroke Sprint was
After the Pacer and Scat models were discontinued at the end of 1965,
the Bobcat became the last of Harley-Davidson's American-made
two-stroke motorcycles. The Bobcat was manufactured only in the 1966
Harley-Davidson replaced their American-made lightweight two-stroke
motorcycles with the Aermacchi-built two-stroke powered M-65, M-65S,
and Rapido. The M-65 had a semi-step-through frame and tank. The M-65S
was a M-65 with a larger tank that eliminated the step-through
feature. The Rapido was a larger bike with a 125 cc engine.
The Aermacchi-built Harley-Davidsons became entirely two-stroke
powered when the 250 cc two-stroke SS-250 replaced the
four-stroke 350 cc Sprint in 1974.
Harley-Davidson purchased full control of Aermacchi's motorcycle
production in 1974 and continued making two-stroke motorcycles there
until 1978, when they sold the facility to Cagiva, owned by the
Established in 1918, the oldest continuously operating Harley-Davidson
dealership outside of the United States is in Australia. Sales in
Japan started in 1912 then in 1929, Harley-Davidsons were produced
in Japan under license to the company Rikuo (Rikuo Internal Combustion
Company) under the name of
Harley-Davidson and using the company's
tooling, and later under the name Rikuo. Production continued until
Replica of the "Captain America bike" from the film Easy Rider.
In 1952, following their application to the U.S. Tariff Commission for
a 40 percent tax on imported motorcycles,
Harley-Davidson was charged
with restrictive practices.
AMF H-D Electra Glide
American Machine and Foundry
American Machine and Foundry (AMF) bought the company,
streamlined production, and slashed the workforce. This tactic
resulted in a labor strike and lower-quality bikes. The bikes were
expensive and inferior in performance, handling, and quality to
Japanese motorcycles. Sales and quality declined, and the company
almost went bankrupt. The "Harley-Davidson" name was mocked as
"Hardly Ableson", "Hardly Driveable," and "Hogly Ferguson",
and the nickname "Hog" became pejorative.
In 1977, following the successful manufacture of the Liberty Edition
to commemorate America's bicentennial in 1976, Harley-Davidson
produced what has become one of its most controversial models, the
Harley-Davidson Confederate Edition. The bike was essentially a stock
Harley with Confederate-specific paint and details.
Restructuring and revival
In 1981, AMF sold the company to a group of 13 investors led by Vaughn
Willie G. Davidson for $80 million. Inventory was
strictly controlled using the just-in-time system.
In the early eighties,
Harley-Davidson claimed that Japanese
manufacturers were importing motorcycles into the US in such volume as
to harm or threaten to harm domestic producers. After an investigation
by the U.S. International Trade Commission, President Reagan in 1983
imposed a 45 percent tariff on imported bikes with engine capacities
greater than 700 cc.
Harley-Davidson subsequently rejected offers
of assistance from Japanese motorcycle makers. However, the
company did offer to drop the request for the tariff in exchange for
loan guarantees from the Japanese.
Rather than trying to match the Japanese, the new management
deliberately exploited the "retro" appeal of the machines, building
motorcycles that deliberately adopted the look and feel of their
earlier machines and the subsequent customizations of owners of that
era. Many components such as brakes, forks, shocks, carburetors,
electrics and wheels were outsourced from foreign manufacturers and
quality increased, technical improvements were made, and buyers slowly
Harley-Davidson bought the "Sub Shock" cantilever-swingarm rear
suspension design from Missouri engineer Bill Davis and developed it
Softail series of motorcycles, introduced in 1984 with the
In response to possible motorcycle market loss due to the aging of
Harley-Davidson bought luxury motorhome manufacturer
Holiday Rambler in 1986. In 1996, the company sold Holiday Rambler
to the Monaco Coach Corporation.
The "Sturgis" model, boasting a dual belt-drive, was introduced
initially in 1980 and was made for three years. This bike was then
brought back as a commemorative model in 1991. By 1990, with the
introduction of the "Fat Boy", Harley once again became the sales
leader in the heavyweight (over 750 cc³) market. At the time
of the Fat Boy model introduction, a story rapidly spread that its
silver paint job and other features were inspired by the B-29; and Fat
Boy was a combination of the names of the atomic bombs
Fat Man and
Little Boy. However, the Urban Legend Reference Pages lists this
story as an urban legend.
1993 and 1994 saw the replacement of FXR models with the Dyna (FXD),
which became the sole rubber mount FX Big Twin frame in 1994. The FXR
was revived briefly from 1999 to 2000 for special limited editions
(FXR2, FXR3 & FXR4).
Construction started on the $75 million, 130,000 square-foot
Harley-Davidson Museum in the
Menomonee Valley on
June 1, 2006. It opened in 2008 and houses the company's vast
collection of historic motorcycles and corporate archives, along with
a restaurant, café and meeting space.
Main article: Buell
Buell Lightning XB9SX
Harley-Davidson's association with sportbike manufacturer Buell
Motorcycle Company began in 1987 when they supplied Buell with fifty
surplus XR1000 engines. Buell continued to buy engines from
Harley-Davidson until 1993, when
Harley-Davidson bought 49 percent of
Harley-Davidson increased its share
in Buell to ninety-eight percent in 1998, and to complete ownership in
In an attempt to attract newcomers to motorcycling in general and to
Harley-Davidson in particular, Buell developed a low-cost,
low-maintenance motorcycle. The resulting single-cylinder Buell Blast
was introduced in 2000, and was made through 2009, which,
according to Buell, was to be the final year of production. The
Buell Blast was the training vehicle for the
Edge New Rider Course from 2000 until May 2014, when the company
re-branded the training academy and started using the Harley-Davidson
Street 500 motorcycles. In those 14 years, more than 350,000
participants in the course learned to ride on the Buell Blast.
On October 15, 2009,
Harley-Davidson Inc. issued an official statement
that it would be discontinuing the Buell line and ceasing production
immediately. The stated reason was to focus on the Harley-Davidson
brand. The company refused to consider selling Buell. Founder Erik
Buell subsequently established
Erik Buell Racing and continued to
manufacture and develop the company's 1125RR racing motorcycle.
First overseas factory in Brazil
In 1998 the first
Harley-Davidson factory outside the US opened in
Manaus, Brazil, taking advantage of the free economic zone there. The
location was positioned to sell motorcycles in the southern hemisphere
Claims of stock price manipulation
Harley-Davidson Inc (NYSE:HOG) stock price (source: ZenoBank.com)
During its period of peak demand, during the late 1990s and early
first decade of the 21st century,
Harley-Davidson embarked on a
program of expanding the number of dealerships throughout the country.
At the same time, its current dealers typically had waiting lists that
extended up to a year for some of the most popular models.
Harley-Davidson, like the auto manufacturers, records a sale not when
a consumer buys their product, but rather when it is delivered to a
dealer. Therefore, it is possible for the manufacturer to inflate
sales numbers by requiring dealers to accept more inventory than
desired in a practice called channel stuffing. When demand softened
following the unique 2003 model year, this news led to a dramatic
decline in the stock price. In April 2004 alone, the price of HOG
shares dropped from more than $60 to less than $40. Immediately prior
to this decline, retiring
CEO Jeffrey Bleustein profited
$42 million on the exercise of employee stock options.
Harley-Davidson was named as a defendant in numerous class action
suits filed by investors who claimed they were intentionally defrauded
by Harley-Davidson's management and directors. By January 2007,
the price of
Harley-Davidson shares reached $70.
Problems with Police Touring models
Starting around 2000, several police departments started reporting
problems with high speed instability on the
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina police officer, Charles
Paul, was killed when his 2002 police touring motorcycle crashed after
reportedly experiencing a high speed wobble. The California
Highway Patrol conducted testing of the Police Touring motorcycles in
2006. The CHP test riders reported experiencing wobble or weave
instability while operating the motorcycles on the test track.
On February 2, 2007, upon the expiration of their union contract,
about 2,700 employees at
Harley-Davidson Inc.'s largest manufacturing
York, Pennsylvania went on strike after failing to agree on
wages and health benefits. During the pendency of the strike,
the company refused to pay for any portion of the striking employees'
The day before the strike, after the union voted against the proposed
contract and to authorize the strike, the company shut down all
production at the plant. The York facility employs more than 3,200
workers, both union and non-union.
Harley-Davidson announced on February 16, 2007, that it had reached a
labor agreement with union workers at its largest manufacturing plant,
a breakthrough in the two-week-old strike. The strike disrupted
Harley-Davidson's national production and was felt in Wisconsin, where
440 employees were laid off, and many Harley suppliers also laid off
workers because of the strike.
MV Agusta Group
On July 11, 2008
Harley-Davidson announced they had signed a
definitive agreement to acquire the
MV Agusta Group for $109M USD
MV Agusta Group contains two lines of motorcycles: the
MV Agusta brand and the lightweight Cagiva
brand. The acquisition was completed on August 8.
On October 15, 2009,
Harley-Davidson announced that it would divest
its interest in MV Agusta.
Harley-Davidson Inc. sold Italian
MV Agusta to Claudio Castiglioni - a member of the
family that had purchased
Aermacchi from H-D in 1978 - for a reported
3 euros, ending the transaction in the first week of August 2010.
Castiglioni was MV Agusta's former owner, and had been MV Agusta's
Harley-Davidson bought it in 2008. As part of the deal,
Harley-Davidson put $26M into MV Agusta's accounts, essentially giving
Castiglioni $26M to take the brand.
Operations in India
In August 2009,
Harley-Davidson announced plans to enter the market in
India, and started selling motorcycles there in 2010. The company
established a subsidiary,
Harley-Davidson India, in Gurgaon, near
Delhi, in 2011, and created an Indian dealer network.
According to Interbrand, the value of the
Harley-Davidson brand fell
by 43 percent to $4.34 billion in 2009. The fall in value is
believed to be connected to the 66 percent drop in the company profits
in two quarters of the previous year. On April 29, 2010,
Harley-Davidson stated that they must cut $54 million in
manufacturing costs from its production facilities in Wisconsin, and
that they would explore alternative U.S. sites to accomplish this. The
announcement came in the wake of a massive company-wide restructuring,
which began in early 2009 and involved the closing of two factories,
one distribution center, and the planned elimination of nearly 25
percent of its total workforce (around 3,500 employees). The company
announced on September 14, 2010 that it would remain in
1,450 cc V-twin
Harley-Davidson engine timeline
Harley-Davidson engines are V-twin engines, with a 45°
angle between the cylinders. The crankshaft has a single pin, and both
pistons are connected to this pin through their connecting rods.
This 45° angle is covered under several United States patents and is
an engineering tradeoff that allows a large, high-torque engine in a
relatively small space. It causes the cylinders to fire at uneven
intervals and produces the choppy "potato-potato" sound so strongly
linked to the
To simplify the engine and reduce costs, the V-twin ignition was
designed to operate with a single set of points and no distributor.
This is known as a dual fire ignition system, causing both spark plugs
to fire regardless of which cylinder was on its compression stroke,
with the other spark plug firing on its cylinder's exhaust stroke,
effectively "wasting a spark". The exhaust note is basically a throaty
growling sound with some popping. The 45° design of the engine thus
creates a plug firing sequencing as such: The first cylinder fires,
the second (rear) cylinder fires 315° later, then there is a 405°
gap until the first cylinder fires again, giving the engine its unique
Harley-Davidson has used various ignition systems throughout its
history – be it the early points and condenser system, (Big Twin up
to 1978 and Sportsters up to 1978), magneto ignition system used on
some 1958 to 1969 Sportsters, early electronic with centrifugal
mechanical advance weights, (all models 1978 and a half to 1979), or
the late electronic with transistorized ignition control module, more
familiarly known as the black box or the brain, (all models 1980 to
Starting in 1995, the company introduced Electronic Fuel Injection
(EFI) as an option for the 30th anniversary edition Electra
Glide. EFI became standard on all
including Sportsters, upon the introduction of the 2007 product
Harley-Davidson began to participate in the Sound Quality
Working Group, founded by Orfield Labs, Bruel and Kjaer, TEAC, Yamaha,
Sennheiser, SMS and Cortex. This was the nation's first group to share
research on psychological acoustics. Later that year, Harley-Davidson
participated in a series of sound quality studies at Orfield Labs,
based on recordings taken at the Talladega Superspeedway, with the
objective to lower the sound level for EU standards while analytically
capturing the "Harley Sound". This research resulted
in the bikes that were introduced in compliance with EU standards for
On February 1, 1994, the company filed a sound trademark application
for the distinctive sound of the
Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine:
"The mark consists of the exhaust sound of applicant's motorcycles,
produced by V-twin, common crankpin motorcycle engines when the goods
are in use". Nine of Harley-Davidson's competitors filed comments
opposing the application, arguing that cruiser-style motorcycles of
various brands use a single-crankpin
V-twin engine which produce a
similar sound. These objections were followed by litigation. In
June 2000, the company dropped efforts to federally register its
F-head, also known as JD, pocket valve and IOE (intake over exhaust),
1914–1929 (1,000 cm³), and 1922–1929 (1,200 cm³)
Flathead, 1930–1949 (1,200 cm³) and 1935–1941
Knucklehead, 1936–1947 61 cubic inch (1,000 cm³),
and 1941–1947 74 cubic inch (1,200 cm³)
Panhead, 1948–1952 61 cubic inch (1,000 cm³), and
1948–1965, 74 cubic inch (1,200 cm³)
Shovelhead, 1966–1984, 74 cubic inch (1,200 cm³) and
80 cubic inch (1,338 cm³) since late 1978
Evolution (a.k.a. "Evo" and "Blockhead"), 1984–1999,
80 cubic inch (1,340 cm³)
Twin Cam (a.k.a. "Fathead" as named by American Iron Magazine)
1999–present, in the following versions:
Twin Cam 88, 1999–2006, 88 cubic inch (1,450 cm³)
Twin Cam 88B, counterbalanced version of the Twin Cam 88, 2000–2006,
88 cubic inch (1,450 cm³)
Twin Cam 95, since 2000, 95 cubic inch (1,550 cm³)
(engines for early C.V.O. models)
Twin Cam 96, since 2007. As of 2012, only the Street Bob and Super
Glide Custom Models still use the 96.96 cubic inch
Twin Cam 103, 2003–2006, 2009, 103 cubic inch
(1,690 cm³) (engines for C.V.O. models), Standard on 2011
Touring models: Ultra Limited, Road King Classic and Road Glide Ultra
and optional on the Road Glide Custom and Street Glide. Standard on
most 2012 models excluding Sportsters and 2 Dynas (Street Bob and
Super Glide Custom). Standard on all 2014 dyna models.
Twin Cam 110, since 2007, 110 cubic inch (1,800 cm³)
(engines for C.V.O. models, 2016 Soft Tail Slim S; FatBoy S, Low Rider
S, and Pro-Street Breakout)
Twin-cooled 107 cu in (1,746 cc): Standard on touring
and trike model year 2017+.
Twin-cooled 114 cu in (1,868 cc): Optional on touring
and trike model year 2017+, standard on 2017 CVO models.
Twin-cooled 117 cu in (1,923 cc): Standard on 2018 CVO
D Model, 1929–1931, 750 cc
R Model, 1932–1936, 750 cc
W Model, 1937–1952, 750 cc, solo (2 wheel, frame only)
G (Servi-Car) Model, 1932–1973, 750 cc
K Model, 1952–1953, 750 cc
KH Model, 1954–1956, 900 cc
Ironhead, 1957–1971, 883 cc; 1972–1985, 1,000 cc
Evolution, since 1986, 883 cc, 1,100 cc and 1,200 cc
Revolution engine in V-Rod
The Revolution engine is based on the VR-1000
Superbike race program,
co-developed by Harley-Davidson's Powertrain Engineering team and
Porsche Engineering in Stuttgart, Germany. It is a liquid cooled, dual
overhead cam, internally counterbalanced 60 degree V-twin engine
with a displacement of 69 cubic inch (1,130 cm³),
producing 115 hp (86 kW) at 8,250 rpm at the crank,
with a redline of 9,000 rpm. It was introduced for the
new VRSC (V-Rod) line in 2001 for the 2002 model year, starting with
the single VRSCA (
V-Twin Racing Street Custom) model. The
Revolution marks Harley's first collaboration with
Porsche since the
V4 Nova project, which, like the V-Rod, was a radical departure from
Harley's traditional lineup until it was cancelled by AMF in 1981 in
favor of the Evolution engine.
A 1,250 cc Screamin' Eagle version of the Revolution engine was
made available for 2005 and 2006, and was present thereafter in a
single production model from 2005 to 2007. In 2008, the 1,250 cc
Revolution Engine became standard for the entire VRSC line.
Harley-Davidson claims 123 hp (92 kW) at the crank for the
2008 VRSCAW model. The VRXSE Destroyer is equipped with a stroker
(75 mm crank) Screamin' Eagle 79 cubic inch
(1,300 cm³) Revolution Engine, producing more than 165 hp
750 cc and 500 cc versions of the Revolution engine are used in
Harley-Davidson's Street line of light cruisers. These motors,
named the Revolution X, use a single overhead cam, screw and locknut
valve adjustment, a single internal counterbalancer, and vertically
split crankcases; all of these changes making it different from the
original Revolution design.
An extreme endurance test of the Revolution engine was performed in a
dynometer installation, simulating the German
without general speed limit) between the
Porsche research and
development center in Weissach, near
Stuttgart to Düsseldorf.
Uncounted samples of engines failed, until an engine successfully
passed the 500 hour nonstop run. This was the benchmark for the
engineers to approve the start of production for the Revolution
engine, which was documented in the
Discovery channel special
Harley-Davidson: Birth of the V-Rod, October 14, 2001.
Harley-Davidson single-cylinder motorcycle
Harley-Davidson motorcycles were powered by single-cylinder
IOE engines with the inlet valve operated by engine vacuum, based on
the DeDion-Bouton pattern. Singles of this type continued to be
made until 1913, when a pushrod and rocker system was used to operate
the overhead inlet valve on the single, a similar system having been
used on their V-twins since 1911. Single-cylinder motorcycle
engines were discontinued in 1918.
Flathead and OHV singles
Single-cylinder engines were reintroduced in 1925 as 1926 models.
These singles were available either as flathead engines or as overhead
valve engines until 1930, after which they were only available as
flatheads. The flathead single-cylinder motorcycles were
designated Model A for engines with magneto systems only and Model B
for engines with battery and coil systems, while overhead valve
versions were designated Model AA and Model BA respectively, and a
magneto-only racing version was designated Model S. This line of
single-cylinder motorcycles ended production in 1934.
Modern Harley-branded motorcycles fall into one of six model families:
Touring, Softail, Dyna, Sportster, Vrod and Street. These model
families are distinguished by the frame, engine, suspension, and other
Hamburg Police Electra Glide
Touring models use Big-Twin engines and large-diameter telescopic
forks. All Touring designations begin with the letters FL, e.g., FLHR
(Road King) and FLTR (Road Glide).
The touring family, also known as "dressers" or "baggers", includes
Road King, Road Glide, Street Glide and
Electra Glide models offered
in various trims. The Road Kings have a "retro cruiser" appearance and
are equipped with a large clear windshield. Road Kings are reminiscent
of big-twin models from the 1940s and 1950s. Electra Glides can be
identified by their full front fairings. Most Electra Glides sport a
fork-mounted fairing referred to as the "Batwing" due to its
unmistakable shape. The Road Glide and Road Glide Ultra Classic have a
frame-mounted fairing, referred to as the "Sharknose". The Sharknose
includes a unique, dual front headlight.
Touring models are distinguishable by their large saddlebags, rear
coil-over air suspension and are the only models to offer full
fairings with radios and CBs. All touring models use the same frame,
first introduced with a Shovelhead motor in 1980, and carried forward
with only modest upgrades until 2009, when it was extensively
redesigned. The frame is distinguished by the location of the steering
head in front of the forks and was the first H-D frame to rubber mount
the drivetrain to isolate the rider from the vibration of the big
Electra Glide "Ultra Classic"
The frame was modified for the 1994 model year when the oil tank went
under the transmission and the battery was moved inboard from under
the right saddlebag to under the seat. In 1997, the frame was again
modified to allow for a larger battery under the seat and to lower
seat height. In 2007,
Harley-Davidson introduced the 96 cubic inches
(1,570 cubic centimetres) Twin Cam 96 engine, as well the
six-speed transmission to give the rider better speeds on the highway.
In 2006, Harley introduced the FLHX Street Glide, a bike designed by
Willie G. Davidson to be his personal ride, to its touring line.
In 2008, Harley added anti-lock braking systems and cruise control as
a factory installed option on all touring models (standard on CVO and
Anniversary models). Also new for 2008 is the 6-US-gallon
(23 l; 5.0 imp gal) fuel tank for all touring models.
2008 also brought throttle-by-wire to all touring models.
For the 2009 model year,
Harley-Davidson redesigned the entire touring
range with several changes, including a new frame, new swingarm, a
completely revised engine-mounting system, 17-inch (430 mm) front
wheels for all but the FLHRC Road King Classic, and a 2–1–2
exhaust. The changes result in greater load carrying capacity, better
handling, a smoother engine, longer range and less exhaust heat
transmitted to the rider and passenger. Also released for
the 2009 model year is the FLHTCUTG Tri-Glide Ultra Classic, the first
three-wheeled Harley since the
Servi-Car was discontinued in 1973. The
model features a unique frame and a 103-cubic-inch (1,690 cm³)
engine exclusive to the trike.
Harley-Davidson released a redesign for specific touring
bikes and called it "Project Rushmore". Changes include a new
103CI High Output engine, one handed easy open saddlebags and
compartments, a new Boom! Box Infotainment system with either 4.3 inch
(10 cm) or 6.5 inch (16.5 cm) screens featuring touchscreen
functionality [6.5 inch (16.5 cm) models only], Bluetooth (media
and phone with approved compatible devices), available GPS and
SiriusXM, Text-to-Speech functionality (with approved compatible
devices) and USB connectivity with charging. Other features include
ABS with Reflex linked brakes, improved styling, Halogen or LED
lighting and upgraded passenger comfort.
Main article: Softail
Softail Heritage Classic
These big-twin motorcycles capitalize on Harley's strong value on
tradition. With the rear-wheel suspension hidden under the
transmission, they are visually similar to the "hardtail" choppers
popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as from their own earlier
history. In keeping with that tradition, Harley offers
with "Heritage" styling that incorporate design cues from throughout
their history and used to offer "Springer" front ends on these Softail
models from the factory.
Softail models utilize the big-twin engine (F) and the
Softail models that use 21 inch (530 mm) Front Wheels have
designations that begin with FX, e.g., FXSTB (Night Train), FXSTD
(Deuce), and FXSTS (Springer).
Softail models that use 16 inch (410 mm) Front Wheels have
designations beginning with FL, e.g., FLSTF (Fat Boy), FLSTC (Heritage
Softail Classic), FLSTN (
Softail Deluxe) and FLS (
Softail models that use Springer forks with a 21-inch (530 mm)
wheel have designations that begin with FXSTS, e.g., FXSTS (Springer
Softail) and FXSTSB (Bad Boy).
Softail models that use Springer forks with a 16-inch (410 mm)
wheel have designations that begin with FLSTS, e.g., FLSTSC (Springer
Classic) and FLSTSB (Cross Bones).
Harley-Davidson Super Glide
2005 Dyna Super Glide Custom.
Dyna-frame motorcycles were developed in the 1980s and early 1990s and
debuted in the 1991 model year with the FXDB Sturgis offered in
limited edition quantities. In 1992 the line continued with the
limited edition FXDB Daytona and a production model FXD Super Glide.
The new DYNA frame featured big-twin engines and traditional styling.
They can be distinguished from the
Softail by the traditional
coil-over suspension that connects the swingarm to the frame, and from
the Sportster by their larger engines. On these models, the
transmission also houses the engine's oil reservoir.
Prior to 2006, Dyna models typically featured a narrow, XL-style 39mm
front fork and front wheel, as well as footpegs which the manufacturer
included the letter "X" in the model designation to indicate. This
lineup traditionally included the Super Glide (FXD), Super Glide
Custom (FXDC), Street Bob (FXDB), and Low Rider (FXDL). One exception
was the Wide Glide (FXDWG), which featured thicker 41mm forks and a
narrow front wheel, but positioned the forks on wider triple-trees
that give a beefier appearance. In 2008, the Dyna Fat Bob (FXDF) was
introduced to the Dyna lineup, featuring aggressive styling like a new
2–1–2 exhaust, twin headlamps, a 180 mm rear tire, and, for
the first time in the Dyna lineup, a 130 mm front tire. For the
2012 model year, the Dyna Switchback (FLD) became the first Dyna to
break the tradition of having an FX model designation with
floorboards, detachable painted hard saddlebags, touring windshield,
headlight nacelle and a wide front tire with full fender. The new
front end resembled the big-twin FL models from 1968-1971.
The Dyna family used the 88-cubic-inch (1,440 cm³) twin cam from
1999 to 2006. In 2007, the displacement was increased to 96 cubic
inches (1,570 cm³) as the factory increased the stroke to 4.375
inches (111.1 mm). For the 2012 model year, the manufacturer
began to offer Dyna models with the 103-cubic-inch (1,690 cm³)
upgrade. All Dyna models use a rubber-mounted engine to isolate engine
vibration. Harley discontinued the Dyna platform in 2017 for the 2018
model year, having been replaced by a completely-redesigned Softail
chassis; some of the existing models previously released by the
company under the Dyna nameplate have since been carried over to the
Dyna models utilize the big-twin engine (F), footpegs noted as (X)
with the exception of the 2012 FLD Switchback, a Dyna model which used
floorboards as featured on the Touring (L) models, and the Dyna
chassis (D). Therefore, except for the FLD from 2012 to 2016, all Dyna
models have designations that begin with FXD, e.g., FXDWG (Dyna Wide
Glide) and FXDL (Dyna Low Rider).
2002 Sportster 883 Custom
Harley-Davidson XL1200 Custom Anniversary Edition
Introduced in 1957, the Sportster family were conceived as racing
motorcycles, and were popular on dirt and flat-track race courses
through the 1960s and 1970s. Smaller and lighter than the other Harley
models, contemporary Sportsters make use of 883 cc or
1,200 cc Evolution engines and, though often modified, remain
similar in appearance to their racing ancestors.
Up until the 2003 model year, the engine on the Sportster was rigidly
mounted to the frame. The 2004 Sportster received a new frame
accommodating a rubber-mounted engine. This made the bike heavier and
reduced the available lean angle, while it reduced the amount of
vibration transmitted to the frame and the rider, providing a smoother
ride for rider and passenger.
In the 2007 model year,
Harley-Davidson celebrated the 50th
anniversary of the Sportster and produced a limited edition called the
XL50, of which only 2000 were made for sale worldwide. Each motorcycle
was individually numbered and came in one of two colors, Mirage Pearl
Orange or Vivid Black. Also in 2007, electronic fuel injection was
introduced to the Sportster family, and the Nightster model was
introduced in mid-year. In 2009,
Harley-Davidson added the Iron 883 to
the Sportster line, as part of the Dark Custom series. In the 2008
Harley-Davidson released the XR1200 Sportster in Europe,
Africa, and the Middle East. The XR1200 had an
Evolution engine tuned
to produce 91 bhp (68 kW), four-piston dual front disc
brakes, and an aluminum swing arm. Motorcyclist featured the XR1200 on
the cover of its July 2008 issue and was generally positive about it
in their "First Ride" story, in which
Harley-Davidson was repeatedly
asked to sell it in the United States. One possible reason for
the delayed availability in the United States was the fact that
Harley-Davidson had to obtain the "XR1200" naming rights from Storz
Performance, a Harley customizing shop in Ventura, Calif. The
XR1200 was released in the United States in 2009 in a special color
scheme including Mirage Orange highlighting its dirt-tracker heritage.
The first 750 XR1200 models in 2009 were pre-ordered and came with a
number 1 tag for the front of the bike, autographed by Kenny Coolbeth
and Scott Parker and a thank you/welcome letter from the company,
signed by Bill Davidson. The XR1200 was discontinued
in model year 2013.
Except for the street-going XR1000 of the 1980s and the XR1200, most
Sportsters made for street use have the prefix XL in their model
designation. For the Sportster Evolution engines used since the
mid-1980s, there have been two engine sizes. Motorcycles with the
smaller engine are designated XL883, while those with the larger
engine were initially designated XL1100. When the size of the larger
engine was increased from 1,100 cc to 1,200 cc, the
designation was changed accordingly from XL1100 to XL1200. Subsequent
letters in the designation refer to model variations within the
Sportster range, e.g. the XL883C refers to an 883 cc Sportster
Custom, while the XL1200S designates the now-discontinued 1200
2003 VRSCA V-Rod
Introduced in 2001 and produced until 2017,the VRSC muscle bike
family bears little resemblance to Harley's more traditional lineup.
Competing against Japanese and American muscle bikes in the upcoming
muscle bike/power cruiser segment, the "V-Rod" makes use of an engine
developed jointly with
Porsche that, for the first time in Harley
history, incorporates overhead cams and liquid cooling. The V-Rod is
visually distinctive, easily identified by the 60-degree V-Twin
engine, the radiator and the hydroformed frame members that support
the round-topped air cleaner cover. The VRSC platform was also used
for factory drag-racing motorcycles.
In 2008, Harley added the anti-lock braking system as a factory
installed option on all VRSC models. Harley also increased the
displacement of the stock engine from 1,130 to 1,250 cc (69 to
76 cu in), which had only previously been available from
Screamin' Eagle, and added a slipper clutch as standard equipment.
2006 VRSCD Night Rod
VRSC models include:
VRSCA: V-Rod (2002–2006), VRSCAW: V-Rod (2007–2010), VRSCB: V-Rod
(2004–2005), VRSCD: Night Rod (2006–2008), VRSCDX: Night Rod
Special (2007–2014), VRSCSE: Screamin' Eagle CVO V-Rod (2005),
VRSCSE2: Screamin' Eagle CVO V-Rod (2006), VRSCR: Street Rod
(2006–2007), VRSCX: Screamin' Eagle Tribute V-Rod (2007), VRSCF:
V-Rod Muscle (2009–2014).
VRSC models utilize the Revolution engine (VR), and the street
versions are designated Street Custom (SC). After the VRSC prefix
common to all street Revolution bikes, the next letter denotes the
model, either A (base V-Rod: discontinued), AW (base V-Rod + W for
Wide with a 240 mm rear tire), B (discontinued), D (Night Rod:
discontinued), R (Street Rod: discontinued), SE and SEII(CVO Special
Edition), or X (
Special edition). Further differentiation within
models are made with an additional letter, e.g., VRSCDX denotes the
Night Rod Special.
The VRXSE V-Rod Destroyer is Harley-Davidson's production drag racing
motorcycle, constructed to run the quarter mile in less than ten
seconds. It is based on the same revolution engine that powers the
VRSC line, but the VRXSE uses the Screamin' Eagle 1,300 cc
"stroked" incarnation, featuring a 75 mm crankshaft, 105 mm
Pistons, and 58 mm throttle bodies.
The V-Rod Destroyer is not a street legal motorcycle. As such, it uses
"X" instead of "SC" to denote a non-street bike. "SE" denotes a CVO
The Street, Harley-Davidson's newest platform and their first all new
platform in thirteen years, was designed to appeal to younger riders
looking for a lighter bike at a cheaper price. The Street 750
model was launched in India at the 2014 Indian Auto Expo, Delhi-NCR on
February 5, 2014. The Street 750 weighs 218 kg and has a ground
clearance of 144 mm giving it the lowest weight and the highest
ground clearance of
Harley-Davidson motorcycles currently
The Street 750 uses an all-new, liquid-cooled, 60° V-twin engine
called the Revolution X. In the Street 750, the engine displaces
749 cc (45.7 cu in) and produces 65 Nm at
4,000 rpm. A six speed transmission is used.
The Street 750 and the smaller-displacement Street 500 has been
available since late 2014. Street series motorcycles for the
North American market will be built in Harley-Davidson's Kansas City,
Missouri plant, while those for other markets around the world
will be built completely in their plant in Bawal, India.
Custom Vehicle Operations
Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) is a team within
produces limited-edition customizations of Harley's stock models.
Every year since 1999, the team has selected two to five of the
company's base models and added higher-displacement engines,
performance upgrades, special-edition paint jobs, more chromed or
accented components, audio system upgrades, and electronic accessories
to create high-dollar, premium-quality customizations for the factory
custom market. The models most commonly upgraded in such a
fashion are the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, which has been selected
for CVO treatment every year from 2006 to the present, and the Road
King, which was selected in 2002, 2003, 2007, and 2008. The Dyna,
Softail, and VRSC families have also been selected for CVO
The Environmental Protection Agency conducted emissions-certification
and representative emissions test in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2005.
Harley-Davidson produced an "environmental warranty".
The warranty ensures each owner that the vehicle is designed and built
free of any defects in materials and workmanship that would cause the
vehicle to not meet EPA standards. In 2005, the EPA and the
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) confirmed
Harley-Davidson to be the first corporation to voluntarily enroll in
the One Clean-Up Program. This program is designed for the clean-up of
the affected soil and groundwater at the former York Naval Ordnance
Plant. The program is backed by the state and local government along
with participating organizations and corporations.
Paul Gotthold, Director of Operations for the EPA, congratulated the
Harley-Davidson has taken their environmental responsibilities very
seriously and has already made substantial progress in the
investigation and cleanup of past contamination. Proof of Harley's
efforts can be found in the recent EPA determination that designates
the Harley property as 'under control' for cleanup purposes. This
determination means that there are no serious contamination problems
at the facility. Under the new One Cleanup Program, Harley, EPA, and
PADEP will expedite the completion of the property investigation and
reach a final solution that will permanently protect human health and
Harley-Davidson also purchased most of Castalloy, a South Australian
producer of cast motorcycle wheels and hubs. The South Australian
government has set forth "protection to the purchaser
(Harley-Davidson) against environmental risks".
In August 2016
Harley-Davidson settled with the EPA for $12 million,
without admitting wrongdoing, over the sale of after-market "super
tuners". Super tuners were devices, marketed for
competition, which enabled increased performance of Harley-Davidson
products. However, the devices also modified the emission control
systems, producing increased hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide.
Harley-Davidson is required to buy back and destroy any super tuners
which do not meet Clean Air Act requirements and spend $3 million on
air pollution mitigation.
Harley-Davidson Cafe theme restaurant located on the Las Vegas Strip
According to a recent
Harley-Davidson study, in 1987 half of all
Harley riders were under age 35. Now, only 15 percent of Harley
buyers are under 35, and as of 2005, the median age had risen to
In 1987, the median household income of a
Harley-Davidson rider was
$38,000. By 1997, the median household income for those riders had
more than doubled, to $83,000.[clarification needed]
Harley-Davidson Clubs exist nowadays around the world, the
oldest one, founded in 1928, is in Prague.
Harley-Davidson attracts a loyal brand community, with licensing
Harley-Davidson logo accounting for almost 5 percent of the
company's net revenue ($41 million in 2004). Harley-Davidson
supplies many American police forces with their motorcycle
From its founding,
Harley-Davidson had worked to brand its motorcycles
as respectable and refined products, with ads that showed what
motorcycling writer Fred Rau called "refined-looking ladies with
parasols, and men in conservative suits as the target
market". The 1906 Harley-Davidson's effective, and polite,
muffler was emphasized in advertisements with the nickname "The Silent
Gray Fellow". That began to shift in the 1960s, partially in
response to the clean-cut motorcyclist portrayed in Honda's "You meet
the nicest people on a Honda" campaign, when
Harley-Davidson sought to
draw a contrast with Honda by underscoring the more working-class,
macho, and even a little anti-social attitude associated with
motorcycling's dark side. With the 1971 FX Super Glide, the company
embraced, rather than distanced, itself from chopper style, and the
counterculture custom Harley scene. Their marketing cultivated
the "bad boy" image of biker and motorcycle clubs, and to a point,
even outlaw or one-percenter motorcycle clubs.
Origin of "Hog" nickname
Beginning in 1920, a team of farm boys, including Ray Weishaar, who
became known as the "hog boys", consistently won races. The group had
a live hog as their mascot. Following a win, they would put the hog on
their Harley and take a victory lap. In 1983, the Motor Company
formed a club for owners of its product taking advantage of the
long-standing nickname by turning "hog" into the acronym HOG., for
Harley Owners Group.
Harley-Davidson attempted to trademark "hog", but
lost a case against an independent
Harley-Davidson specialist, The Hog
Farm of West Seneca, New York, in 1999 when the appellate panel
ruled that "hog" had become a generic term for large motorcycles and
was therefore unprotectable as a trademark.
On August 15, 2006,
Harley-Davidson Inc. had its NYSE ticker symbol
changed from HDI to HOG.
Harley-Davidson FL "big twins" normally had heavy steel fenders,
chrome trim, and other ornate and heavy accessories. After World War
II, riders wanting more speed would often shorten the fenders or take
them off completely to reduce the weight of the motorcycle. These
bikes were called "bobbers" or sometimes "choppers" because parts
considered unnecessary were chopped off. Those who made or rode
choppers and bobbers, especially members of outlaw bike gangs like the
Hells Angels, referred to stock FLs as "garbage wagons".
Harley Owners Group
Main article: Harley Owners Group
Harley-Davidson established the
Harley Owners Group
Harley Owners Group (HOG) in 1983 to
build on the loyalty of
Harley-Davidson enthusiasts as a means to
promote a lifestyle alongside its products. The HOG also opened new
revenue streams for the company, with the production of tie-in
merchandise offered to club members, numbering more than one million.
Other motorcycle brands, and other and consumer brands outside
motorcycling, have also tried to create factory-sponsored community
marketing clubs of their own. HOG members typically spend 30
percent more than other Harley owners, on such items as clothing and
In 1991, HOG went international, with the first official European HOG
Rally in Cheltenham, England. Today, more than one million
members and more than 1400 chapters worldwide make HOG the largest
factory-sponsored motorcycle organization in the world.
HOG benefits include organized group rides, exclusive products and
product discounts, insurance discounts, and the Hog Tales newsletter.
A one-year full membership is included with the purchase of a new,
In 2008, HOG celebrated its 25th anniversary in conjunction with the
Harley 105th in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
3rd Southern HOG Rally set to bring together largest gathering of
Harley-Davidson owners in South India. More than 600 Harley-Davidson
Owners expected to ride to Hyderabad from across 13 HOG Chapters 
Factory tours and museum
Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee
Harley-Davidson offers factory tours at four of its manufacturing
sites, and the
Harley-Davidson Museum, which opened in 2008, exhibits
Harley-Davidson's history, culture, and vehicles, including the motor
company's corporate archives.
York, Pennsylvania – Vehicle Operations: Manufacturing site for
Touring class, Softail, and custom vehicles.
Wisconsin – Tomahawk Operations: Facility that makes
sidecars, saddlebags, windshields, and more.
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri – Vehicle and Powertrain Operations:
Manufacturing site of Sportster, VRSC, and other vehicles.
Wisconsin – Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations
plant, two types of tours.
Harley-Davidson Museum: Archive; exhibits of
people, products, culture and history; restaurant & café; and
Due to the consolidation of operations, the Capitol Drive Tour Center
Wisconsin was closed in 2009.
Clockwise from top left: William S. Harley, William A. Davidson,
Walter Davidson, Sr., Arthur Davidson
Beginning with Harley-Davidson's 90th anniversary in 1993,
Harley-Davidson has had celebratory rides to
Milwaukee called the
"Ride Home". This new tradition has continued every five years,
and is referred to unofficially as "Harleyfest", in line with
Milwaukee's other festivals (Summerfest, German fest, Festa Italiana,
etc.). This event brings Harley riders from all around the
world. The 105th anniversary celebration was held on August
28–31, 2008, and included events in Milwaukee, Waukesha,
Racine, and Kenosha counties, in Southeast Wisconsin. The 110th
anniversary celebration was held on August 29–31, 2013.
Labor Hall of Fame
William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson,
William A. Davidson
William A. Davidson and Walter
Davidson, Sr. were inducted into the
Labor Hall of Fame
Labor Hall of Fame for their
accomplishments for the H-D company and its workforce.
The company's origins were dramatized in a 2016 miniseries entitled
Harley and the Davidsons, starring
Robert Aramayo as William Harley,
Bug Hall as Arthur Davidson and
Michiel Huisman as Walter
Davidson, and premiered on the
Discovery Channel as a "three-night
event series" on September 5, 2016.
United States portal
Harley-Davidson (Bally pinball)
Harley-Davidson (Sega/Stern pinball)
Harley-Davidson & L.A. Riders
Harley-Davidson: Race Across America
^ a b c d e f g "Harley-Davidson, Inc. 2017 Annual Report (Form
10-K)". sec.gov. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. February
^ a b Automotive – RSS Feed Archived November 17, 2009, at the
Wayback Machine.. Popularmechanics.com. Retrieved on July 7, 2011.
^ a b c "American Machine Foundry – Journey Into History – Hot
Bike Magazine". www.hotbikeweb.com. Retrieved April 27, 2008.
^ a b Nelson, Gregory J. "United States Patent Application:
0060260569". appft1.uspto.gov. Archived from the original on September
3, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2008.
^ Wagner, Herbert (1999), Classic Harley-Davidson, 1903-1941,
MotorBooks International, p. 13,
^ Herbert Wagner, 2003. At the Creation: Myth, Reality, and the Origin
Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, 1901–1909 (Madison: Wisconsin
Historical Society Press), pp.22–28, 42–44.
^ a b Wagner, 2003. pp.45–62.
^ "King celebrating 95 impressive years". Kokomo Tribune
– via Newspapers.com (subscription required). June
3, 1998. p. 19. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
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