History Of Harley Davidsons Essay Research Paper

History Of Harley Davidsons Essay, Research Paper

1 The Evolution of Harley – Davidson You hear the roar of the engine. You smell the odor of exhaust. Whatcould it be? It s the Classic Harley – Davidson. To evolve is to develop gradually by a process of growth and change. (Rafferty 112). When you think of evolution there are alot of things thatcome to mind, but one thing that probably doesn t come to mind ismotorcycles. Although on the contrary, if you take a look at the history ofone of the greatest motorcycle company s on the planet you will see that itfits the word perfectly. Harley – Davidson didn t start with a huge company and a board ofdirectors. This company was started with two men. William S. Harley 21 atthe time, and Arthur Davidson 20 at the time. The prototype Harley – Davidson was actually started in 1901, but at this point in timeneither had any ground plans of a manufacturing company. Their firstobject, in fact, had been to produce on outboard motor for their boat. So theycould reach their favorite fishing spots quicker and easier. Both men worked for the same company, and their after-hours projectwould consume them for the next two years. Soon they were captivated by the challenge of this new fangled devicecalled the motorcycle. 2 The motorcycle, a mechanized version of the horse, developedconcurrently with the automobile, the motorized wagon. Like many other ponder motorcycle builders, William S. harley had begun in the bicyclebusiness. Arthur Davidson had trained as pattern maker and with the addedexperience of draftsman Emil Roger, they set about the task of building a realmotorcycle. Roger had worked in Europe on the first renditions of the deDion internal compution engine, and brought the drawling with him to theUnited States of America. The first machine was basically a bicycle fitted with a single-cylinderfour-stroke engine, with direct belt drive to the rear. Displacement was 10.2cubic inches (176cc cubic centimeters) with bore and stroke of 2.12 x 2.87inches (54 x 73 mm), producing in the neighborhood of 2 horsepower. Thiswas a sufficient horsepower to keep bick and rider rolling along level ground,but not enough to tackle any significant incline. Who ever was riding thebike/motorcycle still had to pedal up hills. The engine did produce enoughpower, and added weight, to point out the short comings of the bicyclechassis. William and Arthur returned to the drawing table in search of bothadded power and durability. The second engine had bore and stroke of 3 x 3.5 inches (76 x 89 mm)for a displacement of 24.74 cubic inches (405 cc). This engine had over 200more cc s to it. The fly wheel was more than twice the diameter of theoriginal. Bill Harley designed a stronger loop frame to accommodate the newengines extra weight. The first genuine Harley-Davidson motorcycle wasborn. 3 Arthur s older brothers, Walter and William Davidson, soon came toplay larger roles in the company s fortunes. Arthur had sent a letter about theproject to Walter, then working in Kansas as a machinist, for the railroad.Walter came to Milwaukee in April of 1903 to do the wedding for eldestbrother William. Walter was also inflicted with motorcycle fever. Heimmediately took a job with the local railroad company and devoted all of hisspare time to the Harley-Davidson company. Harley-Davidson s first production model sold for a whopping twohundred dollars. There was a grand total of 38 built. Top speed on the1903-1905 single was an incredible 35 miles per hour. Records on the early production numbers are sketchy. According tohistorian Jerry Hatfield, the second prototype and two production modelswere begun in 1903. The latter two were completed in 1904, and one wasbought by a Mr. Meyer. Mr. Meyer rode it for 6,000 miles (9,660 km) before selling it to George Lyon. At 21,000 miles (33,800 km) it was purchased by aDr. Webster who later sold it to Louis Fluke. Louis Fluke later transferred itto George Sparrow. The five owners brought the mileage to 83,000 miles(133,600 km) In 1905 with production rising to eight machines, Walther Davidsonquit his job at the railroad and become the first full-time employee of theHarley-Davidson Motor Company. The first outside employee was hired ashis assistant. The backyard factory doubled in size 300 square feet (28m2).Bill Harley foreseeing the need for greater in-house capability in buildingengines, left for the University of Wisconsin. There he studied engineeringwith special emphasis on internal combusting engines. In 1913, Harley-Davidson would advertise that their first machine hadpassed 100,000 miles (161,000 km). The original bearings were intact and,remarkably, no major components had to be replaced or rebuilt. 4 If you ever see a picture of a Harley-Davidson of the first three years,note the Harley-Davidson logo on the Tank and the striping trim. Both werecreated by Arthur Davidson s Aunt, Janet Davidson. If you ever see one thatis not a picture and is a real 1903 single, consider yourself a very, very luckyperson. By 1906, The Harley-Davidson Motor Company was well on its wayto prosperity, which everyone agreed was just around the corner. With thenew 1906 model came a new nickname: The Silent Gray Fellow. Motorcycling was already straining for respectability, and Milwaukeemeant to lead the way as a responsible manufacturer. The business hadgrown quickly. Harley-Davidson was busy on all fronts, research, new ideas,designs and a national advertising compaign and the first real factory onChestnut Street, which would later become Juneau Avenue. Building the bikes in a backyard shed was over. The new factoryoffered almost 2,400 square feet (222m2) of work space. In 1907, production jumped to 154 motorcycles. The Harley-DavidsonMotor Company was incorporated. sales were $35,000 in stock limited to the18 employees. George Hendee and Oscar Hedstorm of Indian Motorcyclesand William Harley and Arthur Davidson. Indian had a headstart by several

years. As the market for the new machines grew, young Harley andDavidson called in the latter s big brothers and become The Harley-DavidsonMotor Company. The popularity of motorcycling in the 1920 s faced with the GreatDepression, but has revised in the mid-1930 s. American riders could havethe V-twin of thier choice: The Indian of Springfield Massachusetts or theHarley-Davidson from Milwaukee, Wisconsin available in any size, as longas it was large. A bit over 10 years later ended the Silent Gray Fellows. World War Ibrought the advent of the Silent Green Soldiers, or the Olive PrabDoughboys. 5 Around 1940 the Army ordered 745 WLA s from Milwaukee. Orderswhere soon forecoming from South Africa for 2,000 WLA s. 5000 for GreatBritain and another 659 for the United States. They later would buildmotorcycles for the Chinese and Russian Armed forces. By the end of thewar Milwaukee had built some 88,000 motorcycles for the Military. Not long after the war, Harley-Davidson recognized commercialapplication for motorcycles. Until 1930, most of Milwaukee s servicevehicles employed the sidecar chassis. Rigs where modified to use open andclosed side-vans, porcel cars and mail trucks. The semi-car was spawned by the cycle-law, which utilized onoutrigger wheel on each side of the motorcycle s rear wheel. The device wassold to auto service shops as a tow vehicle to bring disabled cars in forservice. It didn t work so well. In 1932 the servi-car appeared as a genuine3-wheeler. The following year 1933 small or larger bodies were avialable,and the 3 speed transmission included reverse. The new servi-car was widelyused by car dealers and repair shops. Small businesses used the trike as a delivery vehicle, but it s most common application became the policetransporter for emptying parking meters and writing traffic tickets. Solo motorcyclists generally scoffed at the 3-wheeler, which, like thesidecar, they viewed as a bastardized union of car and motorcycle. Somethingto be driven, not ridden. (Rafferty 54) As motorcycle clubs gained increasingpopularity, trike owners where welcome as haulers of food and refreshments. 6 Evolution takes time. In the motorcycle business, money is alsohelpful. In the late 1960 s, at the height of the motorcycle sales boom,Harley-Davidson had run out of time and money. The Motor Company hadsurvived Henry Ford, the Indian Motorcycle Company, the Great Depression,Hollywood and the Hell s Angels. But they were not prepared for SuicharoHonda. (Who Knew?). American Machine and Faundry bought the timeMilwaukee needed, and even helped finance the evolution. It took 15 years,(a millisecond on the Darwihianscle), but by 1984 the newest member of the species-Milwokus motorbikes- had evolved. Even veteran insiders had givenHarley-Davidson little chance of success. A dinosaur, they concluded thathad reached the end of its natural lifespan. AMF, an apparent expert in the recreation business, Had bailed out. The Japanese who could design,tool-up and build entirely new motorcycles in a period of 18 months ruled themarketplace. Milwaukee was granted a snowballs chance in hell. Then hellfroze over. Once again, to evolve is to develop gradually by a process of growthand change. The Milwaukee process was nothing if not gradual. Thecompany had, over the years, produced a few mechanical mutations that werejected by the market organization. But given the span of time and weight ofnumbers-eight decades, millions of motorcycles. Harley-Davidson had theone thing essential for survival, experience. The brick walls of Juneau Avenue housed four generations of geneticinformation. Threatened with extinction, Harley-Davidson was forced toadapt or expire. Once the decision was made, the experience could be put towork. The result of that effort was called appropriately, the evolutionaryengine. Experience is always a great teacher. It showed the new Harley had tohave the big V-twin engine. It showed the new Harley-Davidson must look,sound and feel much as the old Milwaukee iron always had. And further, thatit proform to contemporary standards in terms of comfort, safety,maintenance and reliability. It must also maintain it s resale value. 7 Harley-Davidson is still one of the major contenders with its bikes.The 1994 1000 was the first pure racing motorcycle Harley-Davidson everbuilt. Every other Harley racer, from 1915 through 1993, had been amodified production machine. The UR 1000 was purpose-built from theground up. Milwaukee has never been comfortable with the concept of pure-bredcompetition machines. But they did realize that winning bikes sellmotorcycles. So racing bikes they made. There were so many different bikes and styles and ups and downs thathappened to the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, that it is impossibleto tell about them all in this paper. I have touched on just a few of the biggerone s. After reading this paper hopefully, next time you hear the rumble of amean bike pass you, you will take a bit longer to look at it. Maybe-almostmore then likely-it will be one of the most beloved bikes of this century-aHarley-Davidson!! 8Bibliography Blackson, William. Personal Interview. 27 Nov.1997 Emling Shelly. Cuba s Motorcycle Enthusiasts Gone Hog wild over Harley-Davidsons. The Palm Beach Poast 27 April,1997: 22A Encyclopedia Americano Vol.14. Grolier Incorporated Connecticut 1992 Gwyneth K. Nothing else sounds like a Harley. The Orlando Sentinel 2 March, 1997: B1 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic Cycle World January 1998: 71 Kalnas George Sr. Personal Interview. 1,12,1997 Learning Curve. Videocassette Artistic Lecense, Inc MCMXC 1 hour 20 minutes Motorcycles that never were American Motorcyclist 15 Dec. 1994: 15 9 Rafferty Tod, The Complete Catalog of Harley-Davidson MI: Lowe and Biltould Publishers, 1997 Sandsation Volume 1 videocassette, Simitar Entertainment, Inc. 1993 45 min. The World of Motorcycles. Vol.19 Orbis Publishing Ltd. : London, 1979 10Work Cited Blackson, William, Personal Interview. 27 Nov. 1997 Harley-Davidson Road King Classic Cycle World January 1998: 71 Kalnas George Sr. Personal Interview. 1,12,97 Rafferty Tod, The Complete Catalog of Harley-Davidson MI: Lowe and Biltould Publisher, 1997. The world of Motorcycles, Vol.19. Orvis Publishing Ltd: London, 1979


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