Harley Davidson Motorcycles Survival Mode

Travels with Harley

Last week Travels with Harley shared the history of Harley ending with Harley Davidson Motorcycles having some difficulties thanks to the Model T and the slight depression that hit American in the 1920’s, and as you will see in this week’s blog, the troubles with Harley Davidson were only going to get worse, for the time being anyway…

Travels with Harley

Always thinking ahead, part of the Harley Davidson Motorcycles survival plan was to convince American Police Departments that Harley Davidson Motorcycles were ideal for law enforcement and by the middle of the 1920’s Harley Davidson Motorcycles were being used by over 2,900 state patrols and sheriffs.

Travels with Harley

Harley Davidson Motorcycles soon began to captivate the public with law enforcement cops taking on a Wild West image complete with saddlebags, boots, and britches. Always looking to branch out and expand the Harley Davidson Motorcycles brand, Walter soon recognized the motorcycle look launching a successful campaign to sell clothing and accessories. It was this inventive marketing ploy that helped Harley Davidson Motorcycles survive the 1920s creating a booming market that remains successful today.

Travels with Harley

Thanks to Harley Davidson Motorcycles marketing and additional improvements, which included front brakes and a larger engine, Harley Davidson saw its sales increase with over 22,000 motorcycles produced in 1928. The optimistic attitude of Harley Davidson Motorcycles returned with a vengeance, but proved premature with the Great Depression.

Travels with Harley

When the stock market crashed in 1929, Harley Davidson Motorcycles sales began to plummet with only 4,000 Harley Davidson Motorcycles produced by the year 1933. To help with declining sales, Harley replaced the old block letter logo with a new and improved tank design that featured a stylized and graceful eagle. Harley Davidson Motorcycles also started making bikes in a variety of color schemes.

Travels with Harley

With Harley Davidson Motorcycles development continuing, the EL model was released in 1936. The EL boasted a new engine that could provide riders with double the power, a new suspension, new tank design, and a new frame. When the new EL Harley Davidson Motorcycles hit the pavement, sales started to increase with production climbing to nearly 10,000 annually. That figure would remain until the end of the 1930’s.

Travels with Harley

World War II would also see an increase in Harley Davidson Motorcycles sales and production with Harley Davidson building and shipping over 90,000 Harley Davidson military versions overseas for American allies.

Travels with Harley

After the war, Americans began to return to Harley Davidson riding exploding the demand for Harley Davidson Motorcycles. To meet the huge demand, Harley Davidson purchased more manufacturing facilities in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb, in 1947. When the last of the Harley Davidson Motorcycles original founders, Arthur Davidson passed away in 1950, Harley Davidson Motorcycles were indeed the King of the Road.

Next week Travels with Harley will share what happened to the company when the second generation of Harley Davidson management took over from the founding fathers.