Harley-Davidson: Women and Motorcycles
An American tradition can be dated back to 1903 when two young men brought their idea to life and produced the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle. At the time, the motor-driven motorcycle that these young men were inventing was to be for their own personal use. Once it was produced, it became popular with motorcycle enthusiast and having survived some difficult times Harley-Davidson is just as popular today, as it was when if first began (Bolfert). According to the company’s gross revenue in 2010, Fortune 500 list Harley-Davidson at number 430. What keeps Harley-Davidson going strong? Is it the motorcycles, the people who ride these machines, or is it because Harley-Davidson Motor Company is a great American success story (Bolfert)? The story of Harley-Davidson is an interesting story that I hope you will enjoy learning about. The motorcycles are true legends of art, but the people who choose to ride these machines are truly remarkable people. People often judge a group of riders as being a rough and rowdy crowd looking for trouble, but as you will learn through this paper, most of these groups are the friendliest and most helpful people you could find. Harley-Davidson and motorcycles are usually considered a masculine sport intended for men (Mitchel). However, there are women out there who enjoy the freedom of riding their own Harley. So, when did women become so passionate for the open road and begin riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles? What does Harley-Davidson Motor Company do to attract women to the sales of its products and services? Let the story of Harley-Davidson and women riders begin.
Although there had been steam powered tricycles and gasoline bicycles in the 17 and 1800’s, the story of Harley-Davidson begins in a small shed of a neighbor. William Harley and Arthur Davidson were neighbors and boyhood friends that worked at a Milwaukee manufacturing company as an apprentice draftsman and pattern maker with dreams of their own. They set out to build a motor-driven bicycle for their own personal use. Having built their own bike in 1902, they were not satisfied that the engine didn’t take all the work out of cycling and soon sought the help of Arthurs’ brother Walter, who was a skilled mechanic, to help produce a more powerful engine. They also needed a toolmaker to help with the development of the motorcycle and asked their brother William to join the team (Bolfert).
Later, the same year the first true Harley-Davidson engine was completed and Bill Harley and the three Davidson brothers were ready to put their idea into production. Needing more space to produce their creation, the Davidson brothers’ father built a 10x15-foot building in their backyard. It was here that a legend was born with the boys painting “Harley-Davidson’s Motor Company” on the door and producing three motorcycles in 1903 (Bolfert). Harley-Davidson’s reputation of being durable and dependable began with the very first produced motorcycle. This motorcycle had been bought and sold to several different men, who performed very low maintenance to the bike, and accumulated 100,000 miles with its original bearings (Bolfert). To meet the demand for stronger engines and better performance, Harley and the Davidson brothers produced the first V-twin engine in 1909. However, the first 27 manufactured V-twin motorcycles were recalled and destroyed, with the exception of one which resides in the Harley-Davidson museum today. In 1910 no V-twin models were produced because they wanted to make sure they developed an engine that would “measure up to the Harley-Davidson reputation for power, dependability and performance” (Bolfert). The V-twin model was reintroduced in 1911 and the Harley-Davidson low, deep rumble sound known today roars on (Bolfert). From the beginning, women have had the same enthusiasm as men for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Photos from the early years of 1900 show...
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