When it comes to motorcycles, the top known brand is Harley Davidson. Harleys are distinctive in design and attract a loyal following. Bikers who are not fans contend that the bikes are badly engineered, under-powered and under-performing. But in reality Harleys are designed for long, low-speed cruising on flat, straight roads. And Harley is a name that smacks of prestige and success and tradition and longevity and power. And sound! There’s the unique sound of a Harley that speaks volumes about the name.
The Harley Davidson Motor Company was officially founded on August 28, 1903 by, strangely enough, two guys named Harley and Davidson (plus Davidson’s two brothers). Production started in Milwaukee, where it in fact continues today. Incidentally, a few years ago Harley celebrated their 100th anniversary, quite an accomplishment. And nowhere was the celebration bigger than in hometown Milwaukee, where thousands of motorists congregated for the celebration over Labor Day weekend.
Harley grew by leaps and bounds. They were the motorcycles of choice for police forces in the US and abroad. Harleys were used extensively in combat in World War I. By 1920, Harley Davidson was officially the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. And they were only one of two American cycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression in 1929.
In the 70s, the Japanese had developed motorcycles that were far superior to the Harleys. As a result, Harley Davidson very nearly declared bankruptcy. However, Harleys improved their quality and craftsmanship, exploited the “retro” appeal of the machines, and eventually turned themselves around to being once again among the leaders in motorcycle mania everywhere,