Harley-Davidson

Overview

In the world of motorcycles, there is nothing like a Harley-Davidson. And there is no book like this one about America's iconic bike. Celebrating the motorcycles that have made Harley-Davidson an American legend, this book showcases the standout models of the past 100 years. Period photographs and new color images feature the classic Harleys from Flatheads, Knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads, Evolutions, and Twin Cams to Sportsters and the new V-rod. Lively text chronicles the company's century, from the early ...

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Overview

In the world of motorcycles, there is nothing like a Harley-Davidson. And there is no book like this one about America's iconic bike. Celebrating the motorcycles that have made Harley-Davidson an American legend, this book showcases the standout models of the past 100 years. Period photographs and new color images feature the classic Harleys from Flatheads, Knuckleheads, Panheads, Shovelheads, Evolutions, and Twin Cams to Sportsters and the new V-rod. Lively text chronicles the company's century, from the early years when Harley-Davidson grew from a backyard enterprise into the world's biggest producer of motorcycles, to the Evolution revolution, which saw the company come back to self-management--and its greatest success ever.

For more than 100 years, Harley-Davidson has been the motorcycle--a beautiful machine combining power, performance, and infinite cool in all of its forms. And this is the Harley-Davidson book, conveying the full story and all the excitement of America's motorcycle.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

American Rider, June 2007

“Lively text [and] excellent images … illustrate 100 years of standout models”

From the Publisher
American Rider, June 2007

“Lively text [and] excellent images … illustrate 100 years of standout models”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780760329917
  • Publisher: Motorbooks
  • Publication date: 6/15/2007
  • Series: Gallery Series
  • Edition description: First
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 958,924
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 8.08 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Doug Mitchel is the author of 20 books, all illustrated with his own very high quality photographs. Doug is also a regular contributor to a variety of magazines, from American Iron to Iron Works.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 1: The Early Days

Chapter 2: The ‘20s Roar In

Chapter 3: The Knucklehead’s Debut

Chapter 4: The Panhead and More

Chapter 5: The Shovelhead Years

Chapter 6: Enter the EVO

Chapter 7: New Times, New Motor

Index

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Introduction

The turn of the last century would prove to be a tumultuous period for the eager inventors who rushed to build their own version of the two-wheeled contraptions we call motorcycles. With a limited availability of off-the-shelf components, those without a high degree of both engineering and marketing savvy found themselves out of business as quickly as they began. The United States had nearly 300 makers of these spindly, underpowered machines, but only a handful survived their first days of creation.

Of these attempts, one was crafted by a pair of boyhood chums who were also neighbors and coworkers. Young and energetic, William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson witnessed the birth of motorcycling in 1901 and were eager to join their talents to create one of their own. Harley had an extensive background in engineering, while Davidson was more of a hands-on guy who could create the required tooling. Working in a small wooden shed behind the Davidson home, the boys were soon joined by two more Davidsons as the project progressed. This innocent band of men would go on to create not just another brand of motorcycle, but an American icon. It's doubtful that even in their youthful exuberance they could have foretold what would become a legendary brand in the field of motorcycling.

Their first effort was similar to many others being built, since technology and hardware options were few. About all they had to offer was a single-cylinder motor bolted to a fortified bicycle frame. The basic black paint was adorned with the now classic Harley-Davidson name on only one side of the angular fuel tank, but it was all that was required to roll the company into the history books. That machinehas come to be known as Serial Number One, and the fully restored machine is now on display for the world to see at the corporate headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

With wide-eyed innocence and a desire to succeed, Harley and Davidson set into action their plans to sell a motorcycle bearing their names. Although a total of three Davidsons and only one Harley were involved, the order of family names was chosen due to the high degree of engineering brought to the table by William Harley. With William's engineering background playing the major role in the design, it was only fitting that his name be first in the company moniker. This was in spite of the fact that three members of the Davidson family joined the fray at the earliest stage, thus proving the value of a sound design and its creator.

Early efforts of the boys were marred by failure, yet they refused to give in to such minor setbacks. Turning to a friend and mentor named Ole Evinrude for guidance, the team learned of improved methods for building a motor. Air cooling was chosen over the previous liquid-cooled route to save weight and complexity. The results of their improved design yielded a displacement of 24.74 inches and a horsepower rating of 3. Hardly the power that dreams are made of, but dependability was a required parameter from the start.

Having addressed and amended the initial engine needs, their next conflict came with the frame that would carry the new motor. Early efforts in engine design allowed a standard bicycle frame to carry the load, but their enhanced mill was too much for any existing bike chassis.

Other builders were experimenting with improved designs of their own, and the Harley-Davidson crew followed in their footsteps to create a unit that was capable of holding the single-cylinder powerplant firmly in its grasp. With motor and chassis dilemmas now firmly in hand, little was left to complete the assembly of their first "production" motorcycle. The entire process took months to complete, but they were soon seen tooling around the rough streets of Milwaukee aboard their new creation.

The years that followed saw numerous, yet incremental, improvements to their first motorcycle. The sparse record keeping of the period preserved few details of their engineering progress, and the passing of time has all but eliminated these. Remaining examples of the earliest machines, however, provide evidence enough of their ongoing enhancements.

With William Harley returning to school to expand his knowledge, and still no record of changes, it is hard to say how many 1904 models were assembled. Today's estimates put the number somewhere in the single digit range. But even then, changes to the 1903 were more than likely minimal at best.

As availability of new materials and technology grew, so did the efforts of the original crew and their two-wheeled creation. It would take several years, but a V-twin motor was finally created that delivered the power and reliability that was demanded from the makers and their buyers. Once the engine layout was created, there was no looking back, and Harley-Davidsons have become known for their thumping V-twin mills. A few attempts were made to install an alternate motor into the frames, but those never caught on and were quickly scrapped.

Even having accepted the V-twin configuration as its own, Harley-Davidson continued to improve the breed with every new iteration of the motor. Some changes were more dramatic than others, but every step taken made the machines more powerful and more reliable. With newer and better motors, the style and contours of the overall machines grew into the classic lines we know today.
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