Revved Up Packed Facts About Harley-Davidson

The Legendary History of Harley Davidson

Today, Harley-Davidson is a household name, but in the early 1900s, it was just an idea in the backyard of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Since its origin, the company has evolved into the empire it is today. From 1903 until now, Harley-Davidson has expanded its name and products to become the most recognizable motorcycle brand on the planet. They did this despite standing the test of major historical trials like war and the Great Depression.

The Name is a Bit Deceiving
Photo Credit: Motorcycle Cruiser

1. The name is a bit deceiving

You might assume the company had two founders and their last names were Harley and Davidson. But there are four founding members of Harley-Davidson. Three out of the four members’ last names were Davidson: William Harley, Arthur Davidson, William Davidson and Walter Davidson.

“Harley-Davidson-Davidson-Davidson” just didn’t roll off the tongue as easily as Harley-Davidson.

Harley Davidson has its own museum
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson Museum

2. Harley-Davidson has its own museum.

You can visit a museum dedicated to all things Harley-Davidson at 400 West Canal Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is the perfect location considering Milwaukee is the city of Harley-Davidson’s origin story.

The company stood the test of time and the Great Depression
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives

3. The company stood the test of time and the Great Depression.

Before and during the 1920s, there were hundreds of American motorcycle manufacturers. Until the Great Depression hit, that is.

As America emerged from the Great Depression, only two manufacturers remained: Harley-Davidson and Indian. The pivots Harley-Davidson made allowed them to survive the severe economic impacts.

These included putting power plants in operation, incorporating Art Deco styling directly into the body of the bike and using a new type of delivery vehicle known as the Servi-Car.

Harley-Davidson was the first motorcycle brand to sponsor a racing team
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives

4. Harley-Davidson was the first motorcycle brand to sponsor a racing team.

Beginning on November 30, 1919, Harley began kicking up the dust at Los Angeles’ Ascot Park on November 30, 1919.

This was the beginning of the great rebirth in American motorcycle racing and the glory days of the Wrecking Crew.

Harley-Davidson also sponsored a racer named Otto Walker who broke records for high speeds over races on a Harley-Davidson bike. By 1921, racers averaged over 100 miles per hour for the entire race.

This was the first time anyone had brought the bikes consistently to these high speeds. This allowed the company to take offin sales and speed.

There have only been nine Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines
Photo Credit: Cycle World

5. There have only been nine Harley-Davidson V-twin engines.

Harley-Davidson has designed and built only nine different large-displacement V-twin engines: Flathead, Evolution, Shovelhead, Knucklehead, Panhead, Twin Cam, Revolution, Milwaukee-Eight, and Revolution Max.

Harley-Davidson attempted to trademark the classic Harley-Davidson sound
Photo Credit: Retail Brew

6. Harley-Davidson attempted to trademark the classic Harley-Davidson sound.

The distinct rev of the engine is unique to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The sound created by the 45° angle between the cylinders occurs because of this positioning. This creates uneven intervals between the firing of the cylinders of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a sound unique from any other V-twin engine or manufacturer.

Unfortunately, Harley-Davidson could not follow through with this trademark due to it not being enforceable.

Referring to a Harley-Davidson as a HOG dates back to the 1920s
Photo Credit: Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives

7. Referring to a Harley-Davidson as a HOG dates back to the 1920s.

While there is the Harley Owners Group or H.O.G., there also used to be a real pig, too.

The pig is Johnnie Duroc Weishaar, a six-week-old piglet, adopted from a local farmer, who became the race-winner’s mascot—complete with a festive white and green H-D pennant tucked into his harness—for a 100-mile road race held at Marion, Indiana, on Sept. 6, 1920.

The first Harley-Davidson bike was created in a shed
Photo Credit: Google Arts and Culture

8. The first Harley-Davidson bike was created in a shed.

Back in 1903, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle was created in a 10×15 backyard shed. By 1904, they doubled the size of their factory with more sales and a larger space to manufacture the bikes.

It’s Riding Season

It’s riding season

With peak riding season here, it’s the perfect time to hop on a bike!

Fortunately, Military AutoSource is the exclusive overseas provider of Harley-Davidson motorcycles to the U.S. Military and DoD. Whether you need a bike while you’re overseas or when you return home, we make the buying experience as smooth and easy as possible.

H-D® Deployed Recognition Program

Military AutoSource is proud to offer a motorcycle buying program tailored to fit your needs just like the bike you’re looking for. All bikes come with the value, protections, and benefits of the H-D Deployed Recognition program. This program is available exclusively through Military AutoSource for active U.S. Military, DoD contractors, and civilians who are stationed, deployed or on TDY overseas. Added benefits include:

Harley-Davidson Extended Service Plan

3-Year Harley-Davidson® Extended Service Plan

Harley Maintenance Plan

1-Year/1,000-mile Harley-Davidson Maintenance Plan

H-D Riding Academy

Harley-Davidson® Riding Academy Course

H.O.G. Membership

Harley Owners Group® (HOG®) Membership

Harley-Davidson Gift Card

$200 Harley-Davidson Gift Card 

About Military AutoSource

Military AutoSource provides a factory-direct car-buying program tailored to the unique circumstances and needs of military and diplomatic life. As the only DoD and Exchange authorized car-buying program, MAS is the exclusive military distributor and retailer for ChryslerDodgeFordHarley-DavidsonJeepLincolnNissanRamVolkswagen  and more.

Through our program, U.S. Military stationed, deployed, or on TDY as well as DoD contractors, civilians and the diplomatic community serving overseas can purchase a new car from leading manufacturers all under one roof. They can take delivery stateside in the US or to more than 50 overseas duty locations.

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