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What brand is the first to come down as far as motorcycles are concerned? It’s Harley-Davidson, of course! This American brand has been leaving its notable mark across the world for 112 years already, continuing longstanding traditions of superior motor-vehicle construction. The history of Harley-Davidson is rich in multiple unique discoveries and dozens of iconic motorcycles which have totally transformed the sense of riding.
Throughout its history, the ‘Harley’, an abbreviated name for Harley-Davidson, has generated a bunch of flash news which added to the company’s overall success. Here are only a few of them. Did you know that:
- the first Harleys were manufactured at the backyard? It was William Harley and Arthur Davidson who elaborated their first bicycle with engine in 1901 at the home-based machine shop;
- the company was one of two US motorcycle producers to have survived the Great Depression ? During that period its total sales dropped from 21.000 (1929) to 3.703 (1933) units. In spite of the decline, the team managed to release a new lineup, distinguished by Art Deco styling and the integration of a flathead engine;
- over the 20 years of existence (by 1920), Harley-Davidson has become the largest motorcycle designer in the world with dealerships in 67 countries?
- Harley was the first ever bike to win a race at the speed greater than 100 mph? This record was broken by Otto Walker in 1921;
- the brand was a key supplier of vehicles to the US Army during WWII? It also exported bikes to the ally countries, including the Soviet Union (30 thousand units);
- H-D was the first corporation to join the One Clean-Up Program? The program presupposed the clean-up of damaged soil and groundwater at the York Naval Ordnance Plant;
- in 1987 half of H-D customers were younger than 35? According to sales stats, now only 15% of all buyers are youngsters; the average buying age has risen to 46;
- Harleys enjoy a huge community of followers? Its brand earns some 5% of a company’s net revenue, whereas Milwaukee museum, factory tours, fan clubs, and multifarious events attract additional investments into an overall success.
Alongside with factories inside the USA, Harley-Davidson boasts operations abroad. In 1998 the producer opened a plant in Manaus, Brazil. The move was intended to expand sales to the markets in the southern hemisphere. In ten years the company expanded to the Indian market and established there a subsidiary – Harley-Davidson India. The latter created a significant dealer network.
In addition, there is Custom Vehicle Operations team that specializes in the production of limited-edition customizations to stock motorcycle models. As usual, the team takes up to five mainstream marques and tunes them with higher-displacement engines, realizes performance upgrades, adds advanced electronics, etc.
All current motorcycles under Harley’s brand belong to one of six model families which are differentiated by engine types, frame, suspension, styling, performance, destination, and other specifications.
Softail. These are big-twin bikes with a rear-wheel suspension, ‘Heritage’ styling and ‘Springer’ front ends. They are an embodiment of H-D’s glorious traditions, started in the 1960s with the ‘hardtail’ choppers.
Touring. These vehicles employ big-twin engines and boast a retro cruiser appearance. They come equipped with large-diameter telescopic forks, a large windshield and variable trims. One of the key hallmarks attributed to Touring motorcycles is the availability of large saddlebacks as well as onboard CBs and radio. The lineup consists of Road King, Road Glide, Street Glide, Electra Glide, and Ultra Limited models.
Dyna. This family was first introduced in late 1980s. The erstwhile models used big-twin engines and custom styling. By 2008, the lineup included Street Bob, Low Rider, Super Glide and Super Glide Custom bikes. Later on, it was replenished with Dyna Fat Bob and Dyna Switchback models.
VRSC/VRXSE. A renowned V-Rod bike comes equipped with V-Twin gear, air cleaner cover, hydroformed frame, and, for the first time in H-D history, with overhead cams and liquid cooling. The V-Rod Destroyer is a drag racing unit that runs the quarter mile in a few seconds. Unlike VRSC series, Destroyer is a non-street motorcycle.
Sportster. These racing motorcycles use a rubber-mounting engine that eliminates vibration transmitted to the frame and the driver. All model names in the lineup start with XR letters.
Street. Those are completely new bikes based on a new platform. They boast a liquid-cooled V-Twin engine, called revolution X, and a six-speed transmission. Today there are only two models available – Street 750 and Street 500.