Arguably one of the most iconic and recognisable motorcycles you will ever see is the legendary Harley Davidson. Even if you are not a bike fan, the fierce roar and low slung position of these beautiful bikes will hold your gaze.
The name comes from the founding three brothers, William, Arthur and Walter Davidson with their lifelong friend, William Harley. Together they built the first motorised cycle in 1901, which began the story of Harley Davidson. Such was the success that the first production plant followed just five years later.
Love or loathe it, you simply can't ignore it and did you know?
1. Legendary stuntman Evel Knievel did many of his famous stunts on a Harley. In 1975 Mr Knievel jumped 133 feet over 14 Greyhound busses. This record stood the test of time until it was broken by Bubba Blackwell and 2008, who jumped 157 feet and then broken again by Seth Enslow in 2010 who jumped 183.7 feet. All on Harleys.
2. In 1971, The Harley Davidson snowmobile hit the white powder stuff like a snow leopard on speed. Named the 'Ski Daddler' by it's original makers, AMF who were the proud owners of the Harley Davidson company between 1961 and 1981. Not hard to see why the name change came about!
Image from National Motorcycle Museum
3. The very first Harley Davidson workshop was a 10 x 15' wooden shed in Milwaukee. One of the first bikes from 'the shed' was sold to school pal Harry Meyer in 1903.
Image from Harley Davidson Timeline
4. In 1920, Harley Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world selling through 2000 dealers in 67 countries.
5. Got a spare million to buy your next bike? May we interest you in a Harley Davidson? Well look no further than the 'Cosmic Starship' which apparently hails its rather cosmic price tag from the incredible paintwork by Jack Armstrong.
6. If a million dollars is just a tad out of reach, but you still want to embrace the legendary Harley shield, then how about a piece of timeless (and totally not tacky) merchandise.
Harley Davidson has put its name to cigarettes, novelty telephones, ties, beef jerky, table sets and a range of other merchandise, link here for some favourites
Although it has to be said that their T shirts and more modern gear do take cool to a new sub zero level. According to Motley Fool, clothing contributes around 5% to the gross Harley income.
Image Autos Arena
7. Malcolm Forbes, founder of Forbes magazine apparently owned 50 Harley Davidsons. As well as being pretty smart and with great taste in bikes he was also a great friend to have. History tells us that he gifted many bikes to his friends.
8. Harley Davidsons are nicknamed 'Hogs', not for their wild animal composure, but because one of the racing team members owned a piglet! This became the mascot of the racing team and joined the victorious on a victory lap after each win.
9. William B Johnson was the first African American Harley Davidson dealer. In an era where suppression and discrimination were the norm, Harley Davidson took the moral stand and worked with 'Wild Bill' Johnson.
He was the first black rider to join the AMA (American Motorcycle Association) who was a courageous and highly successful hill climb racer.
The full story of Mr Johnson is a fascinating one and summarised in Kreol Magazine
10. The Harley Davidson Foundation gives grant funding to help Education, Health and Environment. It encourages diversity, friendship and family bonding.
Just one of their beneficiaries is Hunger Task Force. who quote
"Hunger Task Force is proud to partner with Harley-Davidson! Harley-Davidson believes in personal freedom and that includes freedom from hunger. Together we grow a million pounds of fresh produce to feed Milwaukee’s hungry at the Farm, powered by The Harley-Davidson Foundation. We educate our youth on healthy eating and we nurture 250 acres of farmland that includes orchards, ponds and an oak savannah. Harley-Davidson has invested in our partnership for more than 20 years and the employees of the Motor Company are the absolute hardest working volunteers at the Farm."
In 2012 the Harley Davidson Foundation contributed over $4.5 million to worthy causes.
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