William Harley and Arthur Davidson built their first motorcycle in 1903 in a small wood shed. Soon they had a dealer in Chicago, and within four years, they had eighteen full-time employees. Harley-Davidson soon entered the racing circuit, winning so many races that their racing department became known as 'the wrecking crew.'
The company introduced its famous F-Twin workhorse model (known as 'the Silent Gray Fellow') in 1916, just in time for World War I. Many Harleys were shipped overseas during the war, and the company flourished afterward, soon becoming the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world.
In 1936, the company released the 'Knucklehead,' which, along with the 'V-Twin,' carried Harley into the 1940s. In World War II, Harley again provided bikes to the military, stopping commercial production almost completely.
The 1950s saw a British motorcycle invasion. Harley-Davidson struggled, but was saved by the release of its 'Sportster' model in 1957. Facing stiff Japanese competition in the 1960s, Harley went through some lean years before rebounding with its popular 'Softail' design.
Harley's 'Fat Boy,' introduced in the early 1990s, remains one of the best-selling bikes. Harley-Davidson riders are dedicated to their brand, and vintage Harleys can go for astronomical prices.
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