Science & Tech

A Harley-Davidson is not just a motorcycle

By Matt Williamson
Info Guru,

Rate This Article:

2.8 / 5.0
woman on motorcycle
More than a motorcycle, Harley-Davidson has become a brand, a lifestyle and an over a 100-year-old American icon.
  • Share
  • Tweet

Harley-Davidson accessories online

Just what makes a Harley-Davidson a Harley is hard to quantify; but as much as anything else, it comes down to the bike's unique looks, sound and feel. According to some, owning a Harley is like a poke in the eye to mainstream sensibilities, a rolling sculpture, a club, a support group, a fantasy, a noisy declaration of independence, a way of life, a brotherhood, a religion, an obsession, something to believe in, an escape, and probably the best consumer product marketing device in history.

William Harley and brothers William, Walter, together with Arthur Davidson built the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle in Milwaukee in 1903. It was essentially a bicycle equipped with a motor, and required riders to pedal uphill. The bike sold rapidly, and by 1909 the company had improved its design to feature an innovative engine, with two cylinders arranged in a distinctive "V" angle. The new "V-twin" engine produced a deep, rumbling sound that became a trademark of Harley-Davidson motorcycles. With this new, more powerful engine the bike could exceed 96 km/h (60 mph), and hills were no longer a problem. The success of the new Harley-Davidson model encouraged other manufacturers to enter the market, and by 1913 Harley and the Davidson brothers had more than 150 competitors.

Harley-Davidson maintained its advantage by marketing to police departments and the U.S. military. During World War I (1914-1918), the U.S. armed forces commissioned 20,000 Harley-Davidson bikes. The company developed new technologies during the 1920s, such as the distinctive teardrop-shaped gas tank and the front brake, that enabled it to outsell many of its competitors. Most other motorcycle manufacturers in the United States were unable to survive the Great Depression of the 1930s, and by the early 1940s the only ones remaining were Harley-Davidson and Indian, a company famous for its Ghost line of motorcycles. Harley-Davidson prospered during World War II (1939-1945), supplying more than 90,000 motorcycles to Allied military forces. When Indian closed in 1953, Harley-Davidson became the only manufacturer of motorcycles in the United States. The company increased its popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s when it launched a line of "superbikes"—loud, heavyweight motorcycles that became brash symbols of American counterculture. Meanwhile, the freewheeling attitudes of the 1960s spawned a biker subculture that centered its activities around Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Groups of motorcycle enthusiasts began traveling the country together on Harley-Davidsons, and became known for their black leather clothing, tattoos, and steadfast loyalty to their bikes. Harley Davidson accessories were the "in thing". Today, bikers can get every type of accessory online at Harley-Davidson parts by Dennis Kirk. This site offers a vast selection of Harley Davidson accessories to warm any biker's heart!

In 1969 Harley-Davidson was bought by the American Machine and Foundry Company (AMF), a manufacturer of machinery, sporting goods, and automobiles which expanded assembly operations by opening a new plant in York, Pennsylvania. To make up for the cost of the plant, the company raised the price of its bikes. Then, when AMF management pressed for higher sales volumes, the plants rushed the production of Harley motorcycles and the quality of the bikes began to decline. At the same time, the company faced a major threat from the increasing popularity in the United States of inexpensive, high-quality Japanese motorcycles manufactured by companies such as Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Harley-Davidson's share of the U.S. motorcycle market plummeted from 80 percent in 1969 to less than 20 percent in 1979, and AMF began looking for a way out of the motorcycle business. In an effort to save the company, a group of 13 Harley-Davidson executives brokered a leveraged buyout of the company in 1981 that was funded by Citicorp, a large banking company. What's happened since is marketing history. Harley owners are almost cult like in their devotion to the bra

Go online to find whatever you're looking for in discount Harley parts. You'll be surprised at the really reasonable prices for any item you need to bring your Harley up to speed (literally and figuratively). Fenders, tires and wheels, brakes, suspension, handlebars and controls and all things electric—all available to you at discounted prices. Buy something else with the money you save when you buy discount Harley parts online. Like a new pair of Road Hog sunglasses.

Rate this Article

Click on the stars below to rate this article from 1 to 5

  • Share
  • Tweet