Essay, Research Paper: Harley Davidson Development
Nearly a century ago, the first motorized bike was invented. The idea came from
two ambitious young men, William J. Harley and Ben Davidson. Upon completion of
their first successful prototype in a backyard shed, they were ready to show the
world their newest creation. They could have never imagined the fame and fortune
that was waiting just ahead of them. The invention of this unique machine
sparked a revolution in the transportation industry. It could cover ground that
was considered to be too treacherous for a four-wheeled vehicle to attempt. The
narrow, two-wheeled design and the massive power made this possible and grabbed
the attention of people everywhere. By the time World War I had begun, the
United States Army had incorporated them into their ranks. However, the demand
was not just from the Army. Civilians were finding the freedom of the wind in
their faces and the sun on their backs completely addictive when they straddled
one of these powerful machines. Although the first motorcycles looked nothing
like the ones we see today, they were still considered to be the “American
Dream” to many free-spirited young men. The flashy paint jobs and chromed-out
motors with their loud mufflers expressed the “born to be wild” attitude of
the daredevil riders. The low, road-hugging frame was constructed of a one-piece
steel tubular design that had no rear shocks of any kind. Hence came the
nickname “Hard-tail”. It was a stiff, spine-crunching ride that left even
the most dedicated biker tired and hurting after a couple of hours of hard
riding. The power train was a forty-five cubic inch, V-twin flathead motor with
a four speed transmission that was shifted by hand on the side of the gas tank.
The clutch was operated with the left foot, which made it extremely awkward when
stopping at a red light or a stop sign. It did not take long to see the need for
a more practical, comfortable ride. Thus, the inventors created the
“swing-arm” frame. The “swing-arm” frame was built for comfort and
tighter handling capabilities, which exploded onto the market. The design
constituted two shocks on the rear of the frame, one on either side of the tire.
The seat was also made of thicker foam than before. Harley Davidson also
introduced the five-gallon “Fat Bob” gas tanks, which enabled the rider to
take longer trips without having to stop for gas as often. The new frame design
could also house a bigger engine. Therefore, the manufacturers increased the
engine size to an eighty cubic inch, 1340 c.c. (Cubic centimeter) V-twin with a
four-speed transmission and a foot shifter, using a hand-operated clutch. By
this time, other motorcycle manufacturing companies had emerged everywhere.
Japan, England, and Germany started building motorcycles that were basically all
alike, other than the name. Dedicated Harley owners considered these foreign
bikes “disposable,” since it was cheaper to throw them away and buy a new
one rather than to repair them. They could not incorporate the quality that kept
the Harley Davidson on top of the consumer’s best-buys list since their
existence. Even today, the best selling motorcycle in the world, Harley
Davidson, also happens to be the oldest motorcycle company in the world.
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