Harley Davidson is well known as a popular motorcycle brand in the world. As it was founded more than a hundred years ago, Harley Davidson has managed to produce some impressive and high quality motorcycles. In fact, Harley Davidson is so influential in the world of motorcycling that it is referred to as the “American Motorcycle”.
However, despite being a well known publicly traded company, did you know that Harley Davidson has a long history of struggles? Moreover, its success has gone through many ups and downs, which wrote off amazing fun facts you would never imagine before. Get ready to wow because here are 12 fun facts about Harley Davidson that surely will blow your mind!
1. The Failed Experiment
Before this company successfully produced great motorcycles, the founder, William S. Harley worked with Arthur and Walter Davidson to build a small engine designed to fit on a regular bike frame in 1903. Unfortunately, while the test was almost successful, the bike failed to climb hills without the rider providing pedaling assistance.
However, they did not give up easily. Learning from the previous experiment, they created a bigger engine and loop-frame design. And right after successfully completing the prototype in 1904, they registered the bike into a local motorcycle race at the State Fair Park, and got fourth place. As it was the beginning of everything, they wrote their first motor-bicycle as a valuable learning experiment.
2. World’s Biggest Motorcycles Maker in Less Than 20 Years
Just one year later after the first experiment, Harley Davidson’s success began to snowball. The first Harley Davidson Dealer established and sold the first three of the brand’s production motorcycles ever made. Beside their size, the performance of their motorcycles started to make a significant improvement and they won a 15-mile race in Chicago in 1905.
In 1909, the first V-twin powered Harley Davidson motorcycle was introduced, offering an iconic 45 degree cylinder of motorcycles with displacement of 49.5 cubic inches and a horsepower of seven. And finally, by 1920, Harley was successfully becoming the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, with 2,000 dealers in 67 countries around the world.
From humble roots to becoming one of America’s most iconic brands, Harley Davidson definitely has its own styling, sound, and overall vibe to its appeal. No wonder that Harley Davidson became the world’s biggest motorcycle maker in less than 20 years.
3. World War Motorcycle
When you think of a classic, red-blooded American motorcycle brand the first thing that comes to your mind are probably ‘Harley Davidson’. However, don’t you know that Harley Davidson is also contributing in World War I and World War II?
Harley Davidson has played an important role in American history as well. This company produced over 20,000 motorcycles for the US military during World War I. Moreover, as one of the American motorcycle companies to survive the Great Depression, Harley Davidson also played a significant part during World War II.
This company produced over 90,000 motorcycles for use in the war. And for that reason, Harley Davidson was awarded two Army-Navy “E” Awards for Excellence in Production, in honor of their efforts during the war. After all, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company is the quintessential producer of American bikes with a lot of history.
4. The Most Expensive Harley Worth USD 2.4 Million
Not many motorcycles are as iconic and precious as a Harley Davidson. As this America’s longest-running motorcycle company is famous for its distinctive design and sound, many collectors are looking for the iconic item which is worth more than supercars. No wonder that the world’s most expensive motorbike, The Harley Davidson Bucherer Blue Edition, is worth A$2.4 million.
Designed on the Harley Davidson Softail Slim S, this 2018 bike is a partnership between Swiss jeweler, watchmaker Carl Bucherer, and custom bike shop Bündnerbike. The Softail Slim is covered in 24K gold and 630 diamonds. Moreover, underneath the six layers of paint is a handmade silver-plated body and the seat made from cowhide hand-sewn in Switzerland.
Beside that, there are 2 pieces of precious jewelry built into the tank: a Bucherer Blue Edition watch and a solitaire 5.40 carat diamond ring. Not to mention, the bike took over 2,500 hour for 6 people to do the hand work alone, amazing isn’t it?
5. Electric Bike Harley Davidson
Some of you might have heard about the spin off of electric motorcycles from Harley Davidson under the brand LiveWire. It has since gone on to become the best-selling electric motorcycle model in the US, according to the company. Moreover, electric motorcycles themselves have seen rocketing interest lately, and a new study showed that over half of young riders are considering switching to an electric motorcycle.
However, not stopping there, did you know that Harley Davidson just launched an electric bike called Serial 1? In fact, electric bike sales in the US have been exploding since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the US imported about 270,000 e-bikes, according to Bloomberg citing data from the Light Electric Vehicle Association.
Therefore, Harley Davidson is tempted to enter this crowded market. Built under Harley’s new company, the company believes it will bring passionate motorcycle and bicycle enthusiasts worthy of the Harley Davidson name.
6. Factories All Over The World
As an American motorcycle brand, you probably think that Harley Davidson is only manufactured in the US. Well, get ready for another fun fact about Harley Davidson! In fact, Harley Davidson has three factories in the US which each one is responsible for different models, parts, or accessories.
However, the company also has factories in Brazil, India and most recently Thailand. These are the factories where Harley motorcycles are wholly made and assembled.
Moreover, Harley Davidson parts are also produced in factories in Germany, Japan, Italy, Taiwan and Mexico. Therefore, not just accessories like seats and windshields that are produced outside of the US but also more crucial parts like engine components too.
7. Police Bike for Over 100 Years
Today, Harley bikes can be found in over 3,400 police departments here in the U.S. and in 45 foreign countries, incredible isn’t it? If you are curious about the fun fact behind it, well, it came from a long history over 100 years ago.
Not too long after the Harley Davidson Company started, various police departments began requesting custom-built bikes to use in the course of their work in 1907. These bikes were well-engineered, strongly-built, and quite suitable for police work.
Finally, thanks to their hard work, innovation, and technology excellence, Harley Davidson has maintained the relationship with law enforcement as well as military agencies for more than 100 years.
8. The First to Average 100 Miles per Hour
You might have never heard about the inspiring story from Haley Davidson and the racer, Otto Walker. Well, he was originally sponsored by Harley Davidson in 1914. Unfortunately, he ended up getting injured soon after his initial contract in 1916.
After a 5 years gap, in February of 1921, he began to race again and set an astounding record with Harley Davidson. He became the first ever racer to win a race while maintaining an average speed of over 100 miles per hour. This remarkable record became the first ever to bring a bike to these kinds of speeds consistently throughout an entire long race.
9. The Iconic Harley Sound
Motorcycles are probably one of the most unique vehicles because virtually no two sound alike. Just like the first Harley Davidson motorcycle engines with the iconic sound. Maybe you are curious where the distinctive sound comes from. Don’t worry, we will explain it to you!
Well, it was actually designed to use only one set of ignition points, as they lacked a distributor. Moreover, both sparks would fire at the same time, regardless of which cylinder was actually active. And for that reason, the throaty growl of a Harley Davidson comes from the 45-degree motor.
Since the particular motor arrangement, there are distinct and uneven intervals between the firing of the cylinders. Therefore, this causes the unique sound that Harley Davidson motorcycles are known for.
10. The Oldest Harley Davidson Club
Now it’s time to reveal the fun facts behind the oldest Harley Davidson Club in the world! Who would expect that it was originally formed during a wedding? Back in 1927, a famous Czech racer who is also a Harley-Davidson rider, B. Turek decided to get married. About sixty fellow Harley Davidson riders attended his wedding and then they formed the very first Harley-Davidson club in Prague, as they decided to meet up more often.
This year, they will be celebrating their 95th anniversary. The club remains open to this day and holds the title of the oldest Harley Davidson organization that is respected and honored.
11. Behind The “Hog” Nickname
A lot of Harley Davidson motorcycle riders dearly call their favorite vehicle a ‘HOG’. Well, there is also a unique story behind it. This term originates from a group of farm boys who often raced on their motorcycles in the 1920s. They had a pig for a mascot and even took him for victory rides after winning a race.
So, Harley Davidson embraced the term, and one of Harley Davidson racers started to popularize it during race competition. Moreover, Harley Davidson even formed the acronym H.O.G. to stand for Harley Owners Group.
12. Harley Davidson Museum
If you are looking back to Harley Davidson’s journey, this company indeed deserved to have its own museum. This company is one of the few manufacturers out there who also owns and operates their own museum. Located in Milwaukee, the Harley-Davidson Museum was first opened in 2008.
This museum offers a lot of exhibits, activities, and tours which are surely perfect for people of all ages. Not to mention, they also offer a ton of hands-on activities for the kids. As a fan of Harley Davidson, the museum is full of motorcycles and other stuff from the history of the Harley Davidson Motor Company.
Moreover, this museum even has an “engine room”, where you can see how Harley Davidson motors are broken down and resembled together. Should you end up in Milwaukee, this museum is definitely a great place for anyone to visit.
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In the end, Harley Davidson is not just a motorcycle, but also part of American history. As Harley Davidson lovers, you may adore its design, sound, or its performance. After all, knowing more fun facts about Harley Davidson and the story behind it surely will be an amazing chance to broaden your knowledge about your favorite motorcycle.