A Harley Davidson History Lesson


When the weather is unpredictable and Jim and I can’t get out on the road for, “Travels with Harley,” I like to go online and read about the history of Harley Davidson, and everything that goes along with it. Over the weekend I found out some fascinating things motorcycles, going all the way back to Susan B. Anthony who said, “The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women more than anything else in the world. “

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Indeed, bicycles were all the rage, but when Gottlieb Daimler decided to add an engine to his bicycle in 1885, everything started to change. For all intensive purposes, it wasn’t a bike at all, as it had four wheels. Two of those wheels were safety wheels. The first bicycle with an engine moved along at a snail’s pace barely hitting 12 MPH.

Once Daimler’s idea became known, other bicycles with motors were quickly being invented. Historians believe the first true motorcycle would have to be the one made by Sylvester Roper in 1869. This two-wheeled motorcycle got its power from charcoal.


Within those two decades, motorcycles were quickly being produced for the masses. The first was manufactured by the Metz Company in Massachusetts and was dubbed the Orient Aster. The Indian quickly became one of the most popular motorcycles coming out of Springfield, Massachusetts.


When Harley Davidson sold the first three motorcycles that it had manufactured in 1902, everyone decided to jump on the band wagon with names like Henderson, Excelsior, and Marvel. After the depression, the only two manufacturers that were left were Harley and Indian, but it wouldn’t be long before Harley Davidson would be the only motorcycle manufacturer left in the United States.


Women like riding motorcycles as much as bicycles. Not only were they fun, but they were also economical. Unlike today, those early female riders were adventuresome and had a much better reputation than the, “Biker Chic’s,” Of today.

Like I said, I spend a majority of the weekend online and plan to share more about women and motorcycles in next week’s blog. Hopefully before then Jim and I will be able to get in at least one, “Travels with Harley.”