A True American Motorcycle Legend
Harley Davidson motorcycles have become am unshakeable icon in American culture. With their humble beginnings in 1903, their climb to the top of the motorcycle industry is a shining example of the American Dream. This may be the reason this American favorite has amassed such a fiercely loyal following around the world.
William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson began their journey in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1903 with not much more than a blueprint for a bicycle. The first Harley product had pedals, a tomato can for a carburetor and a 116 cc engine on a bicycle frame. The two men would look back on the “power cycle” attempt as a learning experiment. Their much improved second generation attempt would be the first “real” Harley Davidson motorcycles on the market.
Police departments started using Harley Davidson motorcycles in 1907 and were the first to use motorcycles with the prototype 45-degree V-Twin engine that would become a Harley trademark in 1914. Their successful beginning and expansion was aided by one other large force of loyal customers. The Motorcycle manufacturer would be called on by the British and American armies to provide motorcycles for use on the front lines. They were awarded “E” awards by the US Army and Navy for Excellence in Production in 1943 and 1945. Harley Davidson motorcycles have been used in all the wars throughout the 20th century.
Harley motorcycles became known for their style customization gave rise to the Chopper motorcycle style that quickly became popular across the country. Over the years, there have been six main model families of motorcycle manufactured by Harley Davidson, most of the m sticking to the heavyweight, air-cooled cruiser “hog” that the company has become known for. The Touring family is known for the large saddlebags and rear-coil over air suspension. The popular Softails are in this family. The Sportster family was introduced in 1957. This is the oldest family still in line-up today. The lighter, smaller bike was great on dirt and flat tracks making is great for racing.
Harley Davidson stuck to the same style until the 1990’s when it decided to add street bikes and sports bikes to their resume after working with Buell. This brought about a new line of thinking for the motorcycle icon. It was the turn of the century when the company decided to start thinking of the younger crowd and add that group to their loyal legions. This decision brought more performance-oriented bikes into the line-up.
The VRSC or V-Rod was all muscle. With this family, the Revolution engine was introduced to the masses. Along with that family, The VRSXC was designed for drag racing and not street legal. Nicknamed “the Destroyer,” it had an eight second drag time with the newly designed Revolution engine.
The newest family to the Harley Davidson line-up is the street family. This group was designed with the younger fans in mind. This young family has only been on the market since 2013. They are built with a water-cooled modified version of the Revolution engine called the Revolution X. They are considered “entry” bikes for those just starting to ride Harley’s. They also have the lowest price tag of all the Harley Davidson motorcycles.
The Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) line are team collaborations with unique, color schemes, accessories and characteristics. These stock models are given the royal treatment including the “Screamin’ Eagle” twin cam 110 engine, original custom paint and loaded with Harley Davidson’s top-shelf controls and components. They are limited-edition models that are only available for one year. They also flash the highest price take with some upwards of $40,000.
After more than 100 years in business, Harley Davidson is still at the top of its game. The American Icon has always stayed true to their loyal following while opening themselves up to younger generation. From the start, their bikes have had the trademark 45-degree air-cooled V-Twins Harley’s are known for. Harley Davidson has covered it all over the years from cruising to racing bikes, loyal Harley fans will keep the Icon going for many more years to come.