Bikes Dual Sport Super Moto
An American Icon
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Prints & Photographs
1903, the same year Henry Ford incorporated the Ford
Motor Company and the Wright brothers first flew,
William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter
Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
They gave their bike a quality engine, so it could prove
itself in races, but planned to manufacture it as a
same year the merchant, C. H. Lange, sold the first
officially distributed Harley-Davidson in Chicago, a
city given to "motoracing" and auto-touring. Another of
the Davidson brothers, William, joined the company,
which soon burst the seams of its first manufacturing
center and, by 1906, had to move to larger quarters in
the beginning the Harley-Davidson motorcycle began to
set records. In 1908, for example, the Harley achieved a
record 188.234 miles per gallon. It captured seven first
place finishes in 1910 motorcycle racing, and, by 1912
claimed 200 U.S. distributors. A sturdy Harley-Davidson
Sidecar won the first annual Pike's Peak race in 1916,
and another bike claimed first in the 1922 Adelaide to
Melbourne South Australia race
Smashes Adelaide to Melbourne Record.
and Bicycle Illustrated
April 13, 1922.
Library of Congress
the 1960s "the hog," as it affectionately came to be
called, scored seven consecutive victories at the
Daytona 200. During the next decade the Harley took four
consecutive wins at the AMA Grand National Championships
and broke the world motorcycle record for land speed.
Harley-Davidson came to be America's most recognized
motorcycle, but it was not the first. Howard Roper
developed a coal powered steam-engine motorcycle in 1867
and Gottlieb Daimler, a German, developed a gas-powered
motorcycle in 1885, which he attached to a wooden bike.
That marked the moment in history when the dual
development of a viable gas-powered engine and the
modern bicycle collided.
motorcycle cop "Miss Traffic Stopper,"
ticketing male driver].
1 photoprint, 1962.
Prints & Photographs
of the nineteenth century inventors who worked with both
the engine and the bicycle chose to follow one of three
paths. Daimler, for example, went on to develop
automobiles, the Wright brothers left their bike shop to
fly airplanes, and men like Harley and the Davidson's
developed motorcycles. Their business competitors were
other new start-up companies such as Excelsior, Indian,
Pierce, Merkel, Schickel and Thor.
beginning a unique and characteristic sound endeared the
Harley-Davidson to its owners. The Harley's pistons
connected to its crankshaft in a way that caused the
motor to give two "pops" then a quiet pause as it hummed
along the road. Yet around that constant sound, other
things evolved and changed: a 45 degree V-twin motor was
introduced in 1909, the "Bar and Shield" logo in 1910,
and the teardrop-shaped gas tank in the 1920s. In the
1930's an "eagle" design was placed on those tanks and
the famous "Knucklehead" engine was introduced. At a
time the Harley became widely used as both a police and
a commercial vehicle, the company even manufactured
sidecars and sported motorbikes built for two.
comedy films--glamour pose by
three young women in bathing suits on
two of them on a motorcycle].
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Prints & Photographs
World War I Harley-Davidson manufactured nearly 20,000
motorcycles for the U.S. government. And during World
War II virtually all of the Harleys produced went
towards the war effort. As nations such as England were
forced to give up motorcycle production to favor
production of tanks and planes, Harley's motorcycles
were also shipped overseas to U.S. allies.
WWII the Harley's market share, as well as its myth,
continued to grow. Its main U.S. competitor, Indian
Motorcycle, ceased production in the 1950s. And veteran
owners, new bikers, and even movies such as
Easy Rider raised
the Harley Davidson to the status of American icon.
Glamorous stars pictured with Harleys, from the early
Mack Sennett Studio, to Jayne Mansfield, Elvis Presley,
and Peter Fonda, certainly enhanced the company's image.
For the most
part, however, Harley-Davidsons, like all motorcycles,
are enjoyed by individuals and groups who find biking a
wonderful way to get where they are going. Who in
on-the-road-America has not seen bikers tooling along
the highway whether on a Fall outing, in a parade,
making a statement, or raising money for charity?
Indeed, the Harley-Davidson company prides itself on the
money it has raised for charity during the last quarter
century, with the help of its customers and dealers.
following safety tips are taken from discussions in the
Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson forums. Most of these
riders have been riding a long time. Here are some of
Be very cautious after the first
rain after a dry spell. All the oil that has
accumulated on the road comes up in the first half
hour and is very, very slick.
Ride like you're invisible.
Here are 155 articles, most written by James R.
Davis, all on advanced techniques. Most of them are
things we don't WANT to experience to learn.
Toll booths have the most oil problems for
motorcycle riders. Slow way down as you approach.
Stay in the left tire track area. Stop and catch
yourself with your feet ever-so-gently, and pull
away with the greatest care you can because you will
almost certainly have some junk on your tires when
you pull away. Make your passenger aware of toll
booth dangers as well and if they are handling the
tolls, make sure they don't move the wrong way and
cause an unnecessary spill.
An important book, full of basic and advanced safety
tips, is David L. Hough's Book, "Proficient
Motorcycling." Buy it and read it before and after
every riding season.
Practice various riding skills such as emergency
braking skills, swerving, slow turns, and smooth
throttle operation at least 15 minutes a week in a
vacant parking lot or other area devoid of people
Slow down before entering blind turns and be
watchful at intersections and when passing driveways
Stay to the left side of your lane when passing
parked cars to your right.
Park where either gravity or the engine will get you
out of a parking spot. In other words, back into a
downhill sloped space and pull straight into an
uphill sloped space.
Look ahead, plan ahead! Look as far down the road as
you can. Pay close attention to colors and shapes on
the road surface (scanning for trash, bumps, holes,
cracks, new asphalt, old concrete, spills, puddles,
etc.) and also observe how other vehicles are
reacting to the road (scanning for brake lights,
swerves, bumps, etc.).
Practice hard braking when you don't need to so you
can "safely" apply the brakes under an emergency
situation. Practice in vacant parking lots or quiet
streets that won't interfere with other
New riders should never carry passengers until such
time as they are "very" comfortable with their bike.
Usually this takes at least a year without a
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