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Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Fans

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Fans

Sherry Tingley
May 29, 2011

How did the Harley Davidson company originate? Why do so many diverse people love Harleys, and why are Harley Davidson motorcycles are a staple in pop culture?

Two Men With a Vision

The Harley Davidson story goes all the way back to the turn of the last century. In 1901, a young man by the name of William S. Harley completed the first blueprint for an engine designed to fit in a bicycle. Harley joined up with Arthur Davidson to make his vision of a motorized bicycle come true. In 1903 Harley and Davidson made available to the public the first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The first bike was built to be a racer; the "factory" that the team worked out of was a 10 x 15 foot wooden shed that had the words "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" scrawled across the door. Later, Davidson's brother Walter joined their team efforts. A year later the first Harley-Davidson dealer, C.H. Lang (of Chicago) opened for business. In 1905 the first full-time employee was hired to work for the company in Milwaukee.

In 1906 a new 28 x 80 foot factory was constructed, and six full-time employees were hired. The same year the first motorcycle catalogue was produced by the company; within the next year, a third Davidson brother, William, joined the Harley-Davidson team. By the end of the decade, the infamous "Bar and Shield" logo was trademarked and patented exclusively for the Harley-Davidson company.

Over the next two decades, Harley-Davidson had blossomed into the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world and remains so nearly an entire century later.

What Makes H-D Motorcycles Unique

The thing that makes H-D motorcycles so unique is that they are a piece of Americana that has been a staple in pop culture for nearly a century. The Harley-Davidson motorcycle was a revolutionary piece of technology when it originated, and has continuously kept up to speed with each and every one of its non-American competitors.

Men and women who own and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles are considered their own, special breed of person. Motorcycle gangs revolve around the H-D bike, as well as life-style. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are not merely a motorized bike, they are a way of life.

Harley Davidson in Hollywood and Beyond

Many celebrities are active Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners. The list of celebrities who are Harley-Davidson fans include Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Bruce Willis, Burt Reynolds, Dan Aykroyd, David Hasselhoff, Gary Busey, George Clooney, Harrison Ford, James Belushi, Jay Leno, Jim Carrey, Kate Hudson, Judd Nelson, Keanu Reeves, Liam Neeson, Mickey Rourke, Pamela Anderson, Russell Crowe, Shannen Doherty, Stephen Baldwin and Tom Cruise all own and ride H-D motorcycles. Singer/musicians Anthony Kiedis, Axl Rose, Billy Idol, Billy Joel, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bruce Springsteen, Cher, Dick Dale, Dwight Yoakam, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Travis Tritt are also proud owners of H-D motorcycles. Hollywood legends Clark Gable, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean, Peter Fonda, and Brigitte Bardot also were Harley owners. Musical legends Elvis Presley, Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, John Denver and Willie Nelson also owned (or own) Harley's. Even best-selling author Stephen King is a Harley-Davidson lover!

Harley-Davidson motorcycles have appeared in many movies over the years. Some of the H-D big screen appearances include: I Am Number Four, The Hit List, A Place in the Sun, They Were Expendable, Mad Max 2, Letters to Juliet, The Whole Ten Yards, Last Man Standing, and Stand By Me.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles can be found on personal bank checks. Order your Harley-Davidson checks and enjoy your riding year round. Live The Legend, by ordering your personalized bank checks online.

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