Harley-Davidson

Harley-Davidson Logo

Harley-Davidson is one of the world’s oldest and most respected motorcycle manufacturers. First founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a venture between William S. Harley and Arthur and Walter Davidson, what started as an experiment to build a fast motorized bicycle quickly evolved into an engineering tour de force that has since taken the world by storm. Serving in two World Wars and as one of only two American motorcycle brands to survive the Great Depression, the history of Harley-Davidson runs parallel with the great history of America. Built on solid foundations of freedom, self-expression, passion, and authenticity, the Harley-Davidson truly is the Great American Freedom Machine, and is known the world over as a symbol of two-wheeled liberty. Harley owners live to ride and ride to live, and that’s what this brand is all about.

The History Of Harley Davidson

The Early Years

William Harley and the Davidson brothers

While Harley-Davidson’s long and illustrious history officially began in 1903 with the unveiling of their first motorcycle, the company’s roots actually stretch back a little further to 1901. In 1901, William S. Harley drew up the design for a motorized bicycle at his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and took the idea to his friend Arthur Davidson. Together, and with the help of Arthur’s brother, Walter, the first Harley-Davidson motorized bicycle was built and assembled in a small shed emblazoned with the name “Harley-Davidson Motor Company” scrawled upon the door. The trio’s first model wasn’t particularly powerful, and still required the use of pedals, but it inspired them to refine their design and work on a new machine. By 1904, the William Harley and the Davidson brothers opened their first dealership, and sold three motorcycles in their first year of opening.

A year later, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle wins a spectacular 15 mile race in Chicago, signalling Harley-Davidson’s racing ambitions for the future, and launching the company into a new era. In celebration, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company hired its first official employee and began to increase production. By 1905, demand was so great that the team moved to a larger factory and hired a further five employees. By the end of 1907, the new factory had been expanded and yearly production volume had increased to an impressive 150 units. During this time, Harley-Davidson also attracted the attentions of a third Davidson brother, William A. Davidson, who leant his expertise to the group.

The 45-Degree V-Twin

First HD V-Twin

1907 also saw the first Harley-Davidson prototype of a 45-degree V-twin. Up until this date, all of Harley-Davidson’s models featured single-cylinder engines. After the initial unveiling of the V-twin engine configuration, HD’s v-twin sales were slow to start. Despite the lukewarm appreciation of the new engine format, Harley’s sales began to grow, and by 1909 the firm was producing almost 1,150 units a year. A new and improved v-twin, a 1000cc mill with 7 horsepower, powered HD’s new vehicles, and the public was easily converted to the new powerplant – this new engine would help define Harley-Davidson for many years to come.

The new engine also ushered in a new era for the company, with a new Bar & Shield logo emblazoning the company’s products in 1913, the construction of a bigger factory, foreign exports to Japan, and a comprehensive dealership network that spanned over 200 branches across the USA. The company’s success was reflected on the race track and their sales sheets, with the addition of a new racing department and the securing of many lucrative government contracts. The US military became very interested in Harley-Davidson’s products and by 1917, almost one third of the company’s output was dedicated to fulfilling military contracts. The USA’s entry into World War I saw a rise in production, and Harley-Davidson delivered.

After the war Harley-Davidson continued developing new and exciting motorcycles, and by 1920 things were going very well for the company. Harley-Davidson motorcycles were now being bought and sold in 67 countries across the globe. As the 20s rolled on, Harley unveiled the first twin cam engines on their JD series models, which could reach speeds of up to 100 mph, they added front brakes to all of their models, and by the end of the decade, Harley pulled he covers off of their 45 cubic inch Flathead v-twin  engine.

The Depression

The end of the 20s wasn’t kind to the motorcycle industry though. A man by the name of Henry Ford was able to sell his Model T car for less than the cost of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle thanks to production-line streamlining, and the disastrous Wall Street Crash helped put many emerging manufacturers out of business. Fortunately, Harley-Davidson wasn’t hit as hard by these two problems as other motorcycle manufacturers thanks to lucrative government contracts and a high demand for HD technology. By the early 30s, Harley-Davidson was supplying hardware to more than the US military, as they struck deals with law enforcement agencies across the country and in Canada, with the Western Union, and even Post Offices. With demand higher than ever, Harley-Davidson branched out and built sidecar models, and even small motorcycle trucks too.

Throughout the 30s, Harley-Davidson continued to expand and improve their technological prowess. The addition of the Knucklehead engine helped catapulted HD further into the spotlight, with Joe Petrali piloting a modified version of the engine into the land speed record books by recording a top speed of 136.183 mph.

World War II

HD WLA 1942

In 1941, the USA entered World War II and Harley-Davidson answered the call of duty. The factory ceased working on civilian machinery and focused on supplying and producing vehicles for the army. The war effort saw Harley-Davidson producing a record number of motorcycles with a wide-range of innovations, but none would be as successful as the legendary Harley-Davidson WLA. With over 90,000 units produced, the WLA has gone down in history as one of the most famous motorcycles ever made. But while Harley-Davidson’s war efforts will go down in history, it was the post-war era that really turned the Harley-Davidson Motor Company into a cultural icon.

Post-War Harley-Davidson

With the post-war economy desperately trying to re-stabilize itself, the need for cheap and efficient transport was great. Fortunately, Harley-Davidson had just proven itself as the bike manufacturers that won the war, and many people turned to them for transport solutions as opposed to more expensive cars. Thanks to a surplus of motorcycles after the war, picking up a Harley-Davidson wasn’t a difficult task. What’s more, many former servicemen that had grown accustomed to Harley technology and mechanics, decided to transform and modify stock machines for more personal and individual ride experiences. And that is how the custom motorcycle movement began, and how motorcycle subcultures began to emerge and establish themselves in American culture, before spreading to the rest of the world.

The post-war period also saw Harley-Davidson experiment with a wider range of models than ever before. As part of the Axis power’s war reparations, Harley-Davidson was given the designs from Germany’s DKW factory, notably the RT 125, which the company remodelled into various models including the “Hummer” and “Model 165.” Shortly after, Harley also introduced their odd Topper scooter, purchased a stake in the Italian firm Aermacchi’s motorcycle division, and began importing a 250cc single cylinder engine from them. This gave birth to the Sprint model which would be part of HD’s line-up until 1974. Other interesting models from this period included the Pacer, Scat, and Bobcat. However, the introduction of the XL Sportster in 1957 was by far the most significant.

Harley In Decline

Despite having a successful start, Harley-Davidson has had its fair share of troubles. In the late 60s, the firm was purchased by the American Machine and Foundry company which resulted in some unhelpful restructuring and streamlining of HD. After cutting the workforce, AMF’s leadership resulted in the production of sub-standard motorcycles that poor competition in comparison with new, high-quality products from Japan. After a staff strike, and public outcry, sales slumped and Harley-Davidson nearly went bankrupt. This dark period gave birth to many unfortunate nicknames mocking the Bar & Shield, such as “Hardly Driveable” and “Hardly Ableson.” Harley continued to struggle throughout the 1970s.

The Harley-Davidson Revival

In 1981 a group of investors including Willie G. Davidson and Vaughn Beals managed to purchase Harley-Davidson from AMF for a sum of $80 million. With new leadership and a renewed vision, Harley-Davidson began to return to strength. Still concerned with the rise of Japanese manufacturers, Harley-Davidson managed to persuade the US government to impose an import tariff of 45% on foreign motorcycles with engines larger than 700cc. Fortunately, that tariff was dropped and Harley-Davidson decided to change direction rather than compete with Japanese manufacturers directly. In what can only be described as a tactical masterstroke, Harley-Davidson’s management decided to focus on the production of retro machines with the soul of older motorcycles but with more modern technologies.

A prime example of this strategy would be the Softail line. In 1984, the Harley-Davidson Softail first emerged. Designed to look and handle like an unsprung “hardtail” of the past, the new Softail was equipped with a sub shock cantilever-style swingarm, which hid a modern shock absorber. Marrying old-school aesthetics with modern technology like this set the tone for the new and improved Harley-Davidson. Within 10 years Harley-Davidson managed to return to the top, becoming the sales leader in the over 750cc category domestically. The introduction of the Fat Boy and Dyna improved sales dramatically too.

The Buell Motorcycle Company

The late 80s also saw Harley-Davidson lend their support to Erik Buell and his emerging Buell Motorcycle Company. Buell was a pioneering racer and mechanic who used Harley-Davidson engines to power his privateer racing bikes. In 1987, HD supplied Buell with XR1000 engines, and by 1993 Harley had become a 49% shareholder in the Buell Motorcycle Company. By 2003, Harley-Davidson owned Buell completely. Together, they built a wide range of Harley-Davidson powered motorcycles for a variety of purposes and riders. It was an exciting time for motorcycling, but by 2009 Harley-Davidson closed down Buell operations.

Modern Harley-Davidson

HD Iron 883

The modern Harley-Davidson era began in the late 90s when the company opened its first factory outside of the USA, in Manaus, Brazil, opening the Harley-Davidson Motor Company to an entirely new market. Expansion continued and the company’s renewed vigor allowed for new and exciting business prospects. In 2008 Harley-Davidson purchased the MV Agusta Group, with the MV Agusta and Cagiva brands attached. This was a short-lived venture, as HD divested its interest in MV Agusta a year later, selling the brand to the Castiglioni family. The loss of the MV Agusta marque didn’t hamper HD’s spirit, and in 2009 the company announced plans to expand into India, with the first motorcycles sold in 2011, and an official subsidiary and dealership network established in 2011.

Unfortunately the 2008 financial crisis hit the motorcycle industry hard, and Harley-Davidson suffered losses. To deal with the sudden loss in stock value, HD was forced to cut manufacturing costs and scale back operations. While the industry is slowly recovering, it’s likely to be many years before all of the world’s major motorcycle manufacturers will be able to post sales figures similar to the pre-financial crisis years. Still, despite financial woes and a stagnant industry, Harley-Davidson is still one of the most famous motorcycle manufacturers in the industry and continues to produce and market exciting products to an appreciative audience. With electric machinery in the pipeline and promises of new and innovative models, Harley-Davidson will be with us for many, many more years to come.

Are Harley’s Reliable?

Harley Engines

The question of Harley-Davidson reliability is a hotly debated topic. Calculating reliability is also a difficult thing to pin down, especially when you consider that the Harley-Davidson brand exclusively trades in retro and vintage style motorcycles, when compared with other brands that prefer to focus on innovation and championing modern technology. Harley-Davidson customers prefer the simplicity of air-cooled engines and old-school engineering, which naturally puts the brand at a disadvantage over other marques. However, Harley-Davidsons are generally very reliable because of that simplicity, and because of the meticulous maintenance employed by their owners. In fact, Harley-Davidson motorcycles have become the company’s own worst-enemy in terms of sales, with younger riders opting to purchase older, used Harley-Davidson models kept in great condition by careful owners rather than purchasing new from the dealerships! Let’s look at some other facts and sources though.

Consumer Reports

To provide a uniform measurement of reliability, we have looked at the Consumer Reports reliability study that was published back in 2015. This report examined the overall reliability of motorcycles produced by the industry’s largest manufacturers. The study was based on data collected from more than 11,000 motorcyclists that focused on the reliability of 12,000 motorcycles bought, sold, and ridden between the years 2008 and 2014. Rider’s assessed performance and reliability of certain models over a 12-month period and submitted their data to the analysts at Consumer Reports who crunched the numbers and formulated a reliability index. This index then ranked manufacturers and their reliability by measuring incidents of failure. In summary, the higher the percentage of incidents, the higher the score, and the more unreliable a motorcycle manufacturer was deemed to be. Similarly, the lower the percentage, the lower the score, and the more reliable the manufacturer’s products are.

Harley-Davidson scored a rather average 26% failure rate, placing it well behind the likes of Yamaha (11%), Suzuki (12%), Honda (12%), and Kawasaki (15%), but firmly ahead of other heritage brands such as Triumph (29%), Ducati (33%), and BMW Motorrad (40%). Still, this is an outdated study and over the past few years, Harley-Davidson reliability has greatly improved according to Harley owners.

Harley-Davidson Recalls

Another interesting way to look at product reliability is to examine the amount of recalls issued in recent years. Between 2005 and the present day, there have been 41 Harley-Davidson recall requests. While it looks like a high figure, it’s actually not as high as the likes of Ducati (with 49 recalls) and BMW Motorrad (with 60!). Still, the figure is high when compared to the Japanese manufacturers, with Suzuki issuing 5 recalls, Kawasaki with 29, Honda with 33, and Yamaha with 35. In terms of recall size, Harley-Davidson recall volumes have been quite large.  In 2011 the company issued a recall affecting 250,757 models thanks to a faulty brake light connection. More recently in 2018 Harley issued a recall on 177,636 units because of a clutch error, and a second recall affecting 174,636 due to a faulty valve in ABS equipped models. Fortunately, these errors were not catastrophic and Harley-Davidson notified affected owners and remedied the problems in all instances.

Harley-Davidson: Tradition & Innovation

Harley Livewire

As mentioned above, Harley-Davidson’s main appeal is their raw and old-school nature. In modern times, stricter emissions laws and safety rules has meant that the company has had to make a few compromises. However, thanks to the innovative engineering specialists at Harley-Davidson, very few real compromises have had to be made, and instead subtle innovations have helped the brand retain its authenticity without taking anything away from their customers. The introduction of Softail suspension was just the beginning of Harley-Davidson’s approach to innovation.

While Harley-Davidson might like to flaunt the old-school image, the manufacturer has been quite forward thinking when it comes to the application of modern technologies. For example, Harley-Davidson was one of the first mainstream manufacturers to adopt keyless ignition. Similarly, Harley-Davidson has also given all of its products an environmental warranty. This warranty ensures that all of their products are EPA compliant, protecting the owner from poor quality parts or defective materials.

The company also surprised consumers in recent years by showing their commitment to a greener future by introducing plans to release a Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle. The LiveWire model is somewhat of a curveball from Milwaukee but it proves that there is more to this brand than old-school ideas and retro styles. Though they’re steeped in tradition, HD is definitely at the forefront of innovation.

Current Harley-Davidson Models

Softail Lineup

Harley-Davidson’s current model line-up is divided into distinct families, featuring broad products that appeal to a wide range of riders. Here are the current categories, and the models available.

Street

The Harley-Davidson Street family is a series of motorcycles powered by the blacked-out, liquid-cooled Revolution-X V-twin engine. This style is aimed at those who primarily ride in urban environments with heavy traffic but who also like to hit the open road and shred through canyons. The models available are the Street 500, Street 750, and Street Rod.

Touring

Harley-Davidson’s touring line-up is one of their most comprehensive, and boasts a wide-range of models for all riders, with engine sizes going up to a massive 114 cubic inches. These models are aimed at riders looking to hit the open road in search of unlimited horizons. Models in this range include: the Road King, Street Glide, Road Glide, Road King Special, Electra Glide Ultra Classic, Street Glide Special, Road Glide Special, Road Glide Ultra, Ultra Limited Low, and range-topping Ultra Limited.

Softail

The Softail range is one of the most diverse in the catalog with a wide range of customizable models suited at riders in search of Harley-Davidson tradition but with their own unique soul and character. The line-up includes the Street Bob, Low Rider, Softail Slim, Fat Bob, Deluxe, Sport Glide, Fat Boy, Heritage Classic, Breakout, and top-level FXDR 114. All of these models are powered by Harley-Davidson’s awesome and powerful Milwaukee-Eight V-Twin engine.

Sportster

Dubbed the “Great American Freedom Machine” every model in the Sportster line-up is steeped in tradition and motorcycling lore, and embody the perfect machines for road trips, land speed records, racing, and more. Models in this illustrious range include the Superlow, Iron 883, Iron 1200, 1200 Custom, Forty-Eight, Forty-Eight Special, and Roadster.

Trike

Harley-Davidson is also a manufacturer of luxury trikes for those who prefer to roll on three wheels rather than two. HD’s trikes come equipped with all of the thrill and excitement as the rest of the Harley range but with the added bonus of a third wheel for additional comfort and confidence, making the open road more accessible for those dreaming of adventure. The Harley-Davidson trikes line-up features two models: the Freewheeler and Tri Glide Ultra.

Harley-Davidson CVO

Harley-Davidson CVO (or Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations) models are at the top of Harley’s range, boasting the best technology and the best materials that the company offers. Each of the CVO models are built in exclusive limited quantities, and come powered by HD’s incredible Milwaukee-Eight 117 engine. These models are for those who are looking for the very best touring machines on the market, with advanced technology, exclusive parts and meticulous attention to detail. The CVO models currently available are: the CVO Street Glide, CVO Road Glide, and CVO Limited.

Harley-Davidson, Inc: Company Overview

Harley HQ

The modern incarnation of Harley-Davidson became incorporated in March of 1991 and acts as the parent company of two businesses trading under the Harley-Davidson banner. The first of these is the Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC) which focuses on all of HD’s operations that deal with the design, manufacture, and sale, of motorcycles, motorcycle parts, apparel, accessories, merchandise, and other motorcycle related services. The second is the Harley-Davidson Financial Services division (HDFS). HD’s financial division provides a string of retail and wholesale financial related services to their business and personal clients. These service focus on financial loans and insurance schemes for riders and extends to more heavy-duty financing options for Harley franchises and dealerships.

Harley-Davidson Motor Company (HDMC)

The HDMC segment of the company focuses on all things motorcycle. HDMC manufactures cruiser and touring motorcycles, and sells them at retail through a vast and impressive dealership network that spans across the globe, with regional departments in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and the Europe/Middle East/Africa areas. Apart from the sale of motorcycles, HDMC also manages the manufacture, distribution, and sale of Harley-Davidson Genuine Motor Parts and Genuine Motor Accessories. Of course, HDMC also specializes in creating, selling, and licensing a wide range of branded merchandise such as Harley-Davidson apparel, MotorClothes riding gear, and general merchandise accessories. In fact, the sale of Harley-Davidson clothing accounts for over 5% of HD’s total sales. All of these products are available through the company’s dealership network.

Harley-Davidson Dealers

HDMC also provides support and assistance to all of its dealerships, with motorcycle service, business management training programs, and dealer software packages. Harley-Davidson operates 1498 dealerships in 97 countries across the globe, with 698 of them in the United States alone. These dealerships offer a wide range of products to customers, from the sale of motorcycles, to rider training through the Harley-Davidson Rider Academy scheme, the servicing and customizing motorcycles, offering unique sales packages, and the sale of merchandise.

Harley-Davidson dealerships are ranked as some of the best in the industry and frequently scores very well in the Pied Piper Prospect Satisfaction Index. The Pied Piper survey is a mystery shopper assessed survey that ranks the major motorcycle manufacturers dealerships and rates their customer interaction and likely conversion statistics. Harley-Davidson has scored in second place for the past few years with a score of 114, just behind BMW Motorrad, and above Ducati. Despite being in second place, HD is still well ahead of the industry average, scoring well above the likes of their Japanese rivals.

Harley Davidson Financial Services

The HDFS side of the company primarily deals with all kinds of financial services, including consumer loans, insurance schemes, and account financing for dealerships and stockists. In short, it provides wholesale financial services to Harley-Davidson dealerships and attractive financial plans for retail customers. For the consumer, HDFS works as an agent for affiliated insurance companies and provides protection products for customers such as motorcycle insurance, extended service contracts, maintenance protection, and credit protection. On top of that, HDFS also provides a wide range of other services to dealerships like business coverage, and also licenses the Harley-Davidson brand name to financial institutions to offer attractive financing options and branded Harley-Davidson insurance to the wider public. HDFS currently has 3 offices, in Chicago, Illinois; Plano, Texas; and Carson City in Nevada.

Buying A Harley-Davidson On Finance

HDFS also provides attractive consumer packages for those looking to buy a Harley-Davidson on finance, and offers interesting deals to customers who meet a certain criteria. The current financial services on offer include low rate promotions on new and used Harley-Davidson motorcycles, special low rates for those who have successfully graduated from the Harley-Davidson Rider Training program, special deals on their Street line-up, in-store credit for those who sign up to an H-D Visa card, unique rider-to-rider financing on used models, and of course, military financing for active military personnel.

Motorsport

HD Racing Flat Tracker 750

While the Bar & Shield doesn’t compete in the world’s most famous two-wheeled racings series, such as the MotoGP, World Superbike Championship, or Isle of Man TT, the Harley-Davidson brand was built upon a solid bedrock of motorsport history. Before HD became synonymous with muscular cruisers, it was a formidable contender in many prestigious competitions, such as the Pre-WWII AMA Hill climb and Dirt Track events, as well as Grand National races too.

After the Second World War, Harley stamped its authority across the dirt tracks of the United States of America. While churning up the dirt was Harley’s speciality, the brand also made waves on the road racing scene too, with the likes of Cal Rayborn scoring back-to-back victories at the Daytona 200 on-board Harley-Davidson machinery, and a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats with a run of 265.462 mph to further cement the company’s commitment to speed.

More recently, Harley has wreaked havoc with their XR750 flat track racer at the AMA series, with former riders such as Scott Parker recording 93 wins and a total of 9 championship titles with Harley-Davidson. Other notable riders include Chris Carr, who won no less than seven AMA Flat Track championships.

Presently, Harley-Davidson competes in the AMA Flat Track series and has enjoyed great success. Unfortunately, the re-emergence of the Indian brand and the new dominance of Indian’s FTR750 has hampered Harley’s chances at winning. However, the new breed of XG750R, and with pilots such as Sammy Halbert, Brandon Robinson, and Jarod Vanderkooi, Harley-Davidson’s return to form looks likely and inevitable.

The Harley-Davidson Museum

Inside The Harley Museum

Another important part of the HD family is the Harley-Davidson museum in Milwaukee. Located at 400 West Canal Street, the museum is a must-visit attraction for all motorcycle enthusiasts and history-buffs in general. In fact, it’s rated as one of the best tourist attractions in Milwaukee. The history of Harley-Davidson runs in parallel with the history of America, so it should appeal to everyone. The museum itself is a 20-acre estate that’s full of exhibits and displays.

The museum features a wide range of exhibits, including a full timeline of the company’s achievements, the interactive “Experience Gallery” with a vast array of models from Harley’s history that you can get up close and personal with, examples of every Harley engine ever made, custom and unique motorcycles, and much, much more. It also boasts many family friendly attractions too.There is also a dedicated themed bar and restaurant, a well-stocked gift shop, and plenty of events on all year ‘round to keep you coming back for more.

The museum has a $20 entrance fee, which is reduced to $10 on Tuesdays between October and April, with different discounts for HOG members, seniors, military personnel and students, and children. Children under 5 can visit for free. The Harley-Davidson Museum has different opening hours throughout the year and on selected days, so do check in advance before you visit to avoid disappointment. Note that the restaurant and gift shop have separate opening hours to the rest of the facility!

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Harley-Davidson

The First Harley Motorcycle

#01. Legend has it that the famous Harley-Davidson Fat Boy model earned its name thanks to a combination of the two names given to the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War: Fat Man and Little Boy. While this legend persists and many people claim it to be true, Harley-Davidson executives have never confirmed that it’s true, and it’s more likely to be an urban legend.

#02. Harley-Davidson is an American manufacturing icon, but it’s not as American as many people believe. In 1998 HD opened an assembly plant in Brazil, and in 2011 the company opened manufacturing facilities in India. Recently, the company opened a new factory in Thailand too, which has been a bone of contention for the Trump administration. Despite these overseas plants, this isn’t Harley-Davidson’s first foreign adventure. In the 1930s HD sold a license to the Japanese Sankyo company to build Harley copies, with the first model rolling into production in 1935. The Sankyo contract was eventually sold to Showa, who now make front suspension for Harley-Davidson, and Honda too.

#03. Did you know that the oldest Harley-Davidson Club was first established in 1928? A famous Czech racer by the name of B. Turek got married, and 60 fellow Harley-Davidson riders turned up to his wedding. Whilst there, the group of riders decided to meet on a more regular basis and formed the very first Harley-Davidson club. 2018 saw the Prague-based club celebrate their 90th anniversary – which is no mean feat considering the destruction that the Czech Republic faced during World War II. Today, it is the oldest Harley-Davidson organization.

#04. These days, Harley-Davidson isn’t about speed, but back in the day it was a serious contender. In fact, it was a Harley-Davidson motorcycle that was the first two-wheeled machine to average a speed of over 100 miles per hour. During a race in 1921, Harley rider Otto Walker was clocked with an average speed in excess of 100 mph throughout the entire race, an industry first!

#05. Another interesting legend from Harley-Davidson history states that the original single-cylinder model made by William Harley and the Davidson brothers was equipped with a unique carburetor…made from a tomato can. It sounds like an outlandish fabrication, and we may never know the truth but the tomato can carb has become an integral part of the company’s legend. Critics of the tomato can carb often cite that Harley-Davidson’s creators wouldn’t settle for such a primitive bit of engineering, and that sounds more believable. Though a lot less romantic.

FAQ

Who Owns Harley-Davidson? The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is owned by Harley-Davidson Inc. It’s a completely American owned company, despite what some search engines will tell you. A rather successful April Fools joke falsely claimed that Harley-Davidson was purchased by Kawasaki and that rumor still persists. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet!

Where Is Harley-Davidson Headquarters? The company has stayed true to its roots and is still based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In fact, the company’s corporate headquarters stand on the site of the original factory, in the backyard of the Davidson family home.

What Is Harley-Davidson CVO? Harley-Davidson CVO stands for “Custom Vehicle Operations.” The CVO designation is given to select limited production models that come equipped with higher specification parts or have been manufactured from premium materials. The CVO models are generally far more expensive than their non-CVO counterparts, though they are more exclusive machines that demand higher prices.

Is Harley-Davidson Moving To Thailand? The company has opened a plant and begun operations in Thailand but the company itself hasn’t moved there. To compete with global industry, HD has decided to move some production overseas to keep costs down and prices competitive. Unfortunately, this has resulted in job losses in the USA but rest assured, Harley-Davidson is an American company and always will be. Being an American brand is one of Harley’s biggest draws.

Why Is Harley-Davidson Losing Riders? There have been reports that HD is losing customers, but while sales figures are down, it’s an industry-wide trend. The company has been quoted blaming poor sales on the millennial generation’s lack of interest in motorcycles however it seems more to do with the aftermath of the financial crisis rather than a lack of interest in motorcycles in general. Sales figures are down, but Harley is not alone there.