Harley Davidson Increases Production

Travels with Harley

Last week Travels with Harley left you with the Harley Davidson entrepreneurs moving into the new workshop, which they had built themselves.

Travels with Harley

After moving into the new Harley Davidson factory/workshop on Juneau Ave. in Milwaukee, WI in 1906, Harley and the brothers Davidson produced 50 Harley Davidson motorcycles in the first year in the new factory. In 1907, Harley Davidson became a corporation and by the year 1909, had hired 35 staff members, and increased the size of the factory by two. That same year, they produced about 1,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Travels with Harley

William S. Harley was obsessed with improving his Harley Davidson invention and started working on a two-cylinder engine design. After an unfortunate false start, Harley Davidson perfected the two-cylinder engine in 1909 and called it the, “V-Twin.” The V-Twin could reach top speeds of 60 mph and became a huge success. Because of the V-Twin, Harley Davidson became known as the company that built fast and reliable motorcycles. In 1910, Harley Davidson produced 3,200 motorcycles.

Travels with Harley

True entrepreneurs Harley Davidson was constantly looking at ways to market the company and promote sales. “The Wrecking Crew,” was a motorcycle racing team sponsored by Harley Davidson and was known for a, “By the seat of your pants,” racing style. Thanks to the fame that was generated by, “The Wrecking Crew,” Harley Davidson remained in the news while stimulating sales at the same time. Not one to rest on its laurels much of the Harley Davidson profits went straight back into product enhancements and engineering.

Travels with Harley

In 1912, Harley Davidson had another engineering breakthrough with a chain that would replace the leather drive belt. Just four years later, the step starter replaced the pedals finally removing themselves from the humble bicycle image. However, many people still depended on bicycles as an inexpensive way to get around, including the United States government.

Travels with Harley

Always looking for inventive ways to market Harley Davidson motorcycles, Arthur Davidson became determined to convince government agencies, including the United States Postal service that Harley Davidson was the new replacement for the bicycle.

Arthur Davidson’s strategy worked, and in 1914, the USPS owned 4,800 Harley Davidson delivering mail, with the military become attracted to the fast and rugged Harley Davidson motorcycles as well.

Travels with Harley

Growing in leaps and bounds, Harley Davidson production had reached 28,189 motorcycles annually becoming the largest motorcycle manufacturer on the planet. However, problems were about to occur when America suffered a mild depression back in the early 1920’s, causing Harley Davidson sales to slip, not to mention the release of Henry Ford’s cheaper and more practical Model T.

Next week comes the trials and tribulations of the greatest motorcycle story ever told in Travels with Harley.