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Harley Davidson isn't just a bike -- it's a way of life! This community is dedicated to those who love the ultimate ride which is of course, the Harley Davidson.
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Harley Davidson - So Much More Than What You May Imagine
The name Harley Davidson is as loaded as a brand can be when you consider all of the images that come to mind when you hear it and what it represents to different people. To some, it's synonymous with the stereotypical long hair, leather wearing bad guy who should be feared while for others it represents a way of life that can only be understood by those who ride. The truth is that there is far more to Harley Davidson than you can imagine and that goes for the fans and the clueless! Even in the annals of American ingenuity and inventiveness, no one could have made up a story like the true history of Harley Davidson motorcycles.
It began in 1901, when 21-year-old engineer William S. Harley began experimenting with a design to put an engine onto a bicycle. Within two years, Harley and his partner, Arthur Davidson, are experimenting with making a motorcycle inside their "factory," a 10-by-15 foot wooden shed with the words "Harley Davidson Motor Company" scrawled on the door. Arthur's brother Walter later joined their efforts.
What followed then has become legend in American motorcycle history. Not only did they not burn down their wooden factory, the three inventors produced a motorcycle that would last for 100,000. Four years later, joined by Arthur's and Walter's brother, William, the Harley Davidson Motor Company is incorporated and begins turning out motorcycles that to this day carry a tradition like no other.
For while many fine motorcycles are made around the world, for many enthusiasts there is only one motorcycle, affectionately known as "The Hog."
The nickname of "hog" for massive, powerful Harley Davidsons began in 1920 when the fledgling company's products were winning races to public acclaim. The racing team began carrying its mascot, a pig, around the track in a victory lap. Hence, H-D motorcycles quickly became known as "hogs."
By 1933 an Art Deco eagle was painted on all Harley Davidson gas tanks, which by now had assumed a teardrop shape. When America went war in 1941, civilian motorcycle production was halted and Harley Davidson shifted to producing military motorcycles, earning the first of several "E" ratings from the Army for efficiency.
In 1953 two major events occurred: Harley Davidson marked its 50th anniversary, and Hendee Manufacturing, maker of the Indian motorcycle, went out of business. The latter event left H-D as the sole American motorcycle manufacturer for the next 46 years.
Continuing its history of innovation, Harley Davidson in the 1960s recognized the growing importance of fiberglass in motorcycle production. It purchased the Tomahawk boat manufacturer and began to design bikes with fiberglass bodies to reduce weight. Then in 1971, responding to the customizing craze, H-D created a new class of motorcycle, the cruiser, with the new FX 1200 Super Glide.
With its longstanding tradition of producing the finest racing motorcycles in the country, Harley Davidson introduced the FXS Low Rider® in 1977: drag-style handlebars, unique engine and paint treatments, plus a distinctive lowered seat position.
By 1983, after a group of 13 H-D executives had bought the company back from AMF, Harley-Davidson began one of its most unique ventures: the Harley Owners Group, or H.O.G.(r) By the year 2000, the Group had more than 500,000 members.
The 1980s also saw Harley-Davidson become involved in a major philanthropic effort, the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Thousands of charity rides across the country produce millions of dollars for the organization. Meanwhile, Harley Davidson also invests Buell Motorcycles, the fledgling business of inventive engineer Erik Buell, who licenses the use of Harley-Davidson basics to create a new class of roaring street machines.
When the company celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2003, thousands of Harley Davidson owners converged on the centennial events in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Like the annual bikers' rally held in Sturgis, North Dakota, makers and owners alike agreed: There's only one Harley Davidson.