how Harley Davidson started

How Harley Davidson Started – From a Wooden Shed to an American Icon

Over time, Harley-Davidson has become a symbol of freedom and individuality in American culture. But how Harley Davidson started and the journey to reach such heights was not simple. In this article, let’s explore how one powerhouse company grew from its humble beginnings into an iconic brand recognized around the world for producing beautiful yet powerful motorcycles.

The Founding of Harley-Davidson

In 1901, William S. Harley, a draftsman, unveiled his ingenious design for a small engine that could be attached to the frame of an ordinary bike. With help from his lifelong friend Arthur Davidson and two brothers Walter and William Davidson, they developed what would become the world’s first “motorcycle”. After constructing their prototype in 1903, they took it out for testing only to find that it was unable to conquer hills without some extra pedaling power form its rider.

Undaunted by the setback, the group worked tirelessly to create a more powerful machine with improved loop-frame design. Within four months of completing their prototype in 1904 and placing fourth at State Fair Park Motorcycle Race, they had already begun producing motorcycles – sending out five bikes from production that same year. Three of these were sold immediately through Harley Davidson’s first dealer, Carl H. Lang of Chicago; proving demand for this innovative model even before it hit store shelves.

The Early Years

During the early years of how Harley Davidson started, in 1906, the Davidson brothers and Harley moved from their shed to a factory which still stands as their headquarters today. In less than one year at this new location, they saw production skyrocket tenfold compared to when they worked out of the shed.

The demand for these machines was so high that within twelve months of opening their first plant, work had already begun on an expansion with a second floor. Finally in September 1907 Harley-Davidson officially incorporated – producing a staggering 150 motorcycles in its inaugural incorporation year and selling them to police departments across the nation.

As Harley-Davidson’s popularity increased, so too did their factory size to accommodate the ever-growing demand for their motorcycles. Their contributions to American history are unparalleled, with over 20,000 bikes being manufactured for US military forces during World War I. Furthermore, each year brought new and improved features and designs allowing them to stay ahead of the competition in motorcycle manufacturing excellence.

Throughout the Great Depression, Harley Davidson was one of two American motorcycle companies to remain in business and even more notably contributed to WWII by producing over 90,000 motorcycles for the war. Earning them both Army-Navy “E” Awards for Excellence in Production as an acknowledgment of their wartime efforts.

The Legacy of Harley-Davidson

For over 115 years, Harley-Davidson has established itself as an American symbol of liberty and self-expression. People all around the globe seek out the company’s robust motorcycles that are renowned for their superior quality, cutting edge features, and modern designs. From its humble beginnings, how Harley Davidson started and to where it is today; Harley-Davidson remains devoted to pushing the boundaries with each new model in order to satisfy riders of any age group.

How Harley Davidson Started

The remarkable story of Harley-Davidson is a gratifying reminder that dreams can come true with dedication and hard work. Despite their initial struggles, the founders persevered and turned their vision into one of the most iconic brands in modern history. Nowadays, motorcycles from this brand stand for not only a mode of transportation but also freedom, individuality, and an embodiment of patriotism. Thus proving to us all that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.


Below are some frequently asked questions on how Harley Davidson started:

When was Harley Davidson founded?

It was 1903 when two innovative visionaries, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson, established the now legendary company; Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee, WI.

Who were the four founders of Harley Davidson?

Four brave pioneers – William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, Walter Davidson and William A. Davidson – were responsible for the emergence of one of the most iconic brands in history: Harley-Davidson.

What was the first Harley Davidson motorcycle like?

In 1903, the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle came to life: a “motorcycle” with an engine designed to fit on a bike frame. However, it lacked the power needed for hill climbing without rider support.
Thankfully their efforts didn’t go unnoticed as they quickly started working on an updated machine that was completed in 1904 – and we still ride those same motorcycles today.

What role did Harley Davidson play in World War I and II?

During WWI, Harley-Davidson supplied the US military with more than 20,000 motorcycles. And then during WWII they provided 90,000 of their cutting-edge bikes to the war effort – becoming symbols of strength and courage on and off the battlefield.
This commitment was recognized by two Army-Navy “E” Awards for Excellence in Production – a testament to Harley-Davidson’s superiority as an industrial leader.

What is the legacy of Harley Davidson?

How Harley Davidson started has a lot to do with their legacy. Established as a symbol of liberty and self-expression, Harley-Davidson has become an emblematic American icon. The company’s drive for quality and creativity remains unchanged in its production of sensational models that capture the enthusiasm of riders throughout all generations.
By continually crafting new bikes with unparalleled excellence, they have retained their leadership position within the industry as well as lasting loyalty from enthusiasts around the world.

What is the current status of Harley Davidson?

Despite its iconic reputation and the continual release of cutting-edge motorcycles, Harley-Davidson has been hit hard lately by decreasing sales and modifications in customer needs. Nevertheless, it remains one of America’s most beloved brands.

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