Harley_davidson: The American Legend

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Harley Davidson: The American Legend

The first thought of motorcycles as a means of transportation began in the year 1900. The pioneers’ of this field were William S. Harley and his lifelong friend Arthur Davidson. They were both born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. It took them almost three years to build their first production ready motorcycle which was a single cylinder, 10 cubic inch engine. It was bolted directly to a bicycle chassis driven by a pulley system with a leather belt. We are going to look at the development, racing, and the people who made the Harley Davidson an American Legend.
In 1907 they were experimenting with a two-cylinder model, which was essentially the same engine they started with. The only difference was that they had bolted one more cylinder at a 45 degree angle to the first. There were only two configurations possible. The side-by side twin would have been too wide and bulky. The v-configuration was the necessary choice. According to Harry Sucher, author of “Harley Davidson; The Milwaukee marvel”, engine power would nearly double while adding far less than double the weight.
Bill Harley engineered the engine. He figured that he would need to make the cylinders reach the top of their stroke near simultaneous to take advantage of low range torque, and make the engine more dependable according to Rand Leffingwell, “Harley-Davidson; History & Mystique.” This created two lasting effects: The vibration and the exhaust sound for which Harley-Davidsons because famous.
After the first 15 years, Harley-Davidson had established themselves as a fore-runner in the motorcycle market. The other prominent companies were Indian, Thor, and Excelsior. At the beginning of WWI, they were overwhelmed with orders from governments around the globe for bikes for the war effort. This allowed Harley-Davidson to almost triple the size of their manufacturing plant, which is still located in the same place in Milwaukee. These orders brought greater economic prosperity to all the motorcycle companies of the time but especially Harley-Davidson.
Harley-Davidson became very involved with racing between 1915 and 1925. They have continued to stay involved in racing ever since, but with much less success since they had to start competing with Japanese companies. The Harley-Davidson always placed in the top five at every event, and sometimes all five seats were taken by Harley-Davidsons. These early races were very well organized but usually very dangerous. This scared a majority of the public but the young were entranced by it and sought for sponsorship from major companies such as Harley-Davidson.

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