Everyone knows the motorcycle brand Harley Davidson, largely due to their popularity and long history in the industry. They have come up with several iconic creations and survived the roughest of economies. There are some people who might think they know all there is to know about the evolution of this company, but today we hope to prove them wrong.
We have compiled a list of things you probably didn't know about Harley Davidson. These facts will surprise you and may even shift how you view this enormous motorcycle manufacturer. Keep reading to learn 10 things you didn't know about Harley Davidson!
10 They Made Bicycles for a Short Time
According to Money Inc, Harley Davidson's original business plan included hooking their customers on their products before they were of the age to own a motorcycle. Starting in 1917, they thought the best way to do this would be to build bicycles for boys in their preteens.
Unfortunately, this idea never really took off and production ceased after a few years of sales. Today these bikes are a hot commodity for collectors due to their low production numbers, which is amazing considering the company had originally lost money on the idea.
9 They Were Used in Both World Wars
According to Money Inc, these bikes were heavily used in World War One as the Americans ordered 15,000 of them for their troops. This was the turning point for the company as it brought them the revenue and recognition by the American people that they needed to beat out their competition.
Harley Davidson also supplied bikes for World War Two as well, but this time they made over 90,000 bikes for the war effort. They were also awarded two prestigious Army-Navy 'E' Award for their manufacturing excellence in 1943 and 1945.
8 The V-Twin Engine Was First Added to a Harley in 1909
Harley Davidson placed the very first V-Twin engine on their bikes in 1909. This company alone has come up with nine different models of the V-Twin, but they were not the original designers. As Fool.com says, the idea came from Indian Motorcycle, who introduced the concept back in 1904.
Their newest version created by Harley is called the Milwaukee Eight Big Twin Engine and it seeks to provide greater power and create a smooth ride. They aim to remain compliant with environmental standards while increasing a rider's enjoyment on the road.
7 They are Called Hogs Because of an Actual Pig
Most people don't realize that the term "hog" which is generally used as a nickname for Harley's came from an actual pig. The company had a racing member named Ray Weishaar in the 1920s and he was the proud owner of a piglet, according to Fool.com.
It became a tradition amongst the Harley racers to take a victory lap with the pig if they managed to pull out a victory. The company tried to trademark the term, but it was deemed unlawful as other brands had coined the term for their own bikes as well.
6 It Hit the Big Screen in 1953 in the Classic The Wild One
A Harley motorcycle first appeared in the movie The Wild One back in 1953, according to Fool.com. The bike was owned by the lead actors enemy, who was a member of the Beetles motorcycle gang. This is the same gang that is said to have inspired the name of the famous rock band.
The actor sat upon a 1950 Hydra-Glide, but this was not the movie that made these bikes famous. There was a movie that came out in 1969 called Easy Rider and Harley Davidson was the main attraction.
5 It Took Less Than Twenty years for Harley to Beat Out its Competitors
This company managed to overtake its competitors in record time, as Fool.com notes. You might say that Honda technically owns the market as a whole, but Harley is responsible for over fifty percent of sales of motorcycles that are considered "big bikes." They managed to grow to this height so quickly due to their proficiency in building racing bikes.
They slew the competition as their bikes took the gold in every event. Now, their products are sold in over sixty-seven countries and they have partnerships with two-thousand dealers.
4 Surprisingly, Their Merchandise Line Only Accounts for 5% of Their Total Sales
It is not uncommon to see someone walking around with a Harley Davidson shirt, hat, or some other type of merchandise. It might surprise you that only five percent of their sales are from their merchandise line.
Their bikes are what make them the real dough as in 2016 they sold approximately 262,000 bikes, as Fool.com reports. This is not to say they don't make any money off of their merchandise line because the $285 million they brought in is still more than many of us will make in a lifetime.
3 The First Prototype Was Made in a Shed
We have heard of companies that have risen from their humble beginnings, and Harley Davidson is one of them. Money Inc says that the company started out in a 10 x 15 foot wooden shed with their namesake crudely written across the door. They built their very first motorcycle here, that is if you could even call it that.
It was basically a gas-powered bicycle with a small engine, but it was the start of their grand idea. They had their first prototype ready to go in 1903, but they withheld their product from the market until 1905.
2 It is Rumored Their First Carburetor Was Made Out of a Tomato Can
It has been rumored that the first Harley-Davidson ever made had a carburetor that was made out of a repurposed tomato can. It is one of those facts that might be more fiction than fact, as multiple sources give varying credibility to this profound claim.
Fool.com says that there is no true evidence to support this fact, and it does seem unlikely due to the effort the founders put into making their motorcycles a success. It is still unclear if this rumor is true, but regardless, it gives us all something to think about and adds to the mystique that is Harley Davidson.
1 During the Depression, Bikes Were Made and Sold in Japan
According to Cycle World, Harley Davidson built motorcycles for a short time in Japan. Their motorcycles were in high demand in this country, but once the Great Depression set in, it became too expensive to export them. The founders were skeptical, but in the end, decided it was in their best interest to build a factory in Japan.
This arrangement died out at the start of World War Two when the Japanese Government decided they disliked the partnership with an American company. The plant stayed open, but it and Harley split ways and ever since then they have only imported their bikes.