from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

legal form Corporation
ISIN US4128221086
founding 1903
Seat Milwaukee , United States
United StatesUnited States 
management Jochen Zeitz (Interim CEO )
Number of employees 5,000 (end of 2019)
sales 5.362 billion USD (2019)
Branch vehicle construction
Website harley-davidson.com
As of December 31, 2019

XL 1200 C
883 Iron

Harley-Davidson Inc., founded in 1903 as Harley-Davidson Motor Co., is a publicly traded company ( NYSE : HOG) based in Milwaukee , Wisconsin ( USA ). It is known for its typical motorcycles . The motorcycles and the Harley-Davidson brand enjoy cult status in many motorcycle circles .

Corporate structure

Ownership structure 2012
8.4% Capital Research Global Investors
5.57% The Vanguard Group, Inc.
86.3% Free float
Harley Davidson Showroom Door

Matthew Levatich was President and Chief Executive Officer of Harley-Davidson, Inc. until the end of February 2020. The company's external presentation is often done by the Senior Vice President and (until 2012) Chief Styling Officer Willie G. Davidson and the Vice President of Core Customer Marketing William "Bill" Davidson.

Brands and Business Areas

Harley-Davidson, Inc. is currently active in two areas of business. The Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces and markets Harley-Davidson brand motorcycles as well as spare parts, accessories (custom parts), clothing and merchandising items. The subsidiary Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc. provides financial services to wholesalers, retailers, insurance services for traders, motorcyclists and general financial products.

In addition, it holds the rights to the brand Buell and MotorClothes .

The current production facilities for Harley-Davidson motorcycles in the USA are:

In addition, Harley-Davidson has factories in Brazil and India for the local market.

The Buell Motorcycle Company produced the Buell branded motorcycles , parts and accessories, and marketed its own line of clothing and merchandising. The production of Buell motorcycles has been discontinued since the end of 2009.

While Harley-Davidson's market share in the American market for heavy motorcycles (over 651 cm³) is 57.2%, the market share in Europe in this segment is 13.3%. Harley-Davidson sold 247,625 motorcycles worldwide, the strongest market is still the USA with 160,477 units sold (as of 2012).


William S. Harley worked for the Meiselbach Bicycle Factory in North Milwaukee from 1896 . From 1901 to 1903 he worked with Arthur Davidson at Pawling & Harnischfeger in Milwaukee, an electric motor manufacturer, Harley as a draftsman and Davidson as a model maker . The appearance of actress Anna Held in 1901 is mentioned as a decisive experience for Harley and Davidson . She ran a De Dion Bouton motor tricycle through the streets of Milwaukee.

From 1901 onwards, Harley and Davidson used the premises of Henry Melk, a hardware dealer, for their first attempts . In 1903 they moved into their first workshop, a small shed behind the Davidson family home in Milwaukee. The space became scarce and the two inventors needed more space. Help came from Ole Evinrude . These business connections lasted until 1904. Later the brothers William and Walter Davidson joined the two.

Harley-Davidson (1903) - Bill Harley and Arthur Davidson's first motorcycle (after Stephen Wright)

Harley-Davidson founded

William, Walter and Arthur Davidson, W. Harley (left to right)
Harley-Davidson factory floor 1911

In 1907, on September 17th, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company of Milwaukee was founded by a notary public . The distribution of tasks was clearly regulated. Walter Davidson became president, Arthur Davidson became secretary and sales manager, William Harley became chief engineer, William Davidson became vice president and production manager. The shares, with a deposit of US $ 14,200, were divided as follows: Walter Davidson: 50 shares, Arthur Davidson: 47 shares, William A. Davidson: 40 shares and William S. Harley: 5 shares. The company justified this with the fact that Walter Davidson had a family to support while William Harley studied.

Walter Davidson with Model 4 (1908)

In 1908 Walter Davidson won a fuel consumption race in the displacement class up to 30.5  ci over 50  miles , in which he needed "one quart and one fluid ounce " (about 0.95  liters ) of fuel with the Model 4 (1908) - this corresponds to one Total consumption of around 1.2 liters per 100 kilometers. Walter Davidson's success (through "Rush with Time") was touted in full-page advertisements. This was followed by the first orders for the delivery of motorcycles for the police and the Bell Telephone Company. The company had 18 employees, two years later the number was 149. In the same year, a larger property on Chestnut Street was moved for production.

In 1912 the company moved into the new building on Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee.


The 1960s

At the end of the 1950s, the US models from Harley-Davidson were not up to date, which was reflected in numerous tests by the specialist press. The Panhead engine, which was built until 1965, was a side-controlled OHV engine with 2 valves per cylinder, which was simple at the time . The output of 55 hp from 1200 cm³ was not exhilarating with a converted liter output of 45.83 hp. The sales figures fell. In order to survive, Harley-Davidson was converted into a public company in 1965 to provide the company with fresh capital to continue to exist. The majority of the shares remained in the hands of the Davidson family. In 1966, however, the market capital was used up, while the Italian factories only made losses. Also, their outdated two-stroke engines could not stand up to the established European and blossoming Japanese competition. The preliminary low point was reached in 1968 with 26,748 motorcycles built and only 15,475 motorcycles sold.

The AMF Debacle (1969–1981)

The conglomerate AMF ( American Machine and Foundry Company ) promised rescue in an emergency in January 1969. Under their aegis, William H. Davidson initially remained executive president until September 30, 1973. He was followed by five managers until 1981 who, due to their lack of industry knowledge, despite considerable investments, were unable to lead Harley-Davidson permanently into profitability. Against this background, the shares in the Italian plants acquired in 1960 were sold to Cagiva in 1978 . This was done not least for reasons of image cultivation, because the chopper design had been a profitable fad in motorcycle construction since the 1970s . Even if the Japanese competition also included choppers in their range, Harley-Davidson was considered to be their origin. Small models with two-stroke engines did not fit into the picture. The fact that Harley-Davidson also offered 50 cm³ mopeds and mopeds up to 1978 is not popular among fans of the Harley-Davidson brand today. The workforce became increasingly dissatisfied in the face of questionable decisions by the management appointed by AMF, especially with regard to the model policy. As a result, the product quality decreased; First there were strolls , followed by extensive work stoppages . In return, AMF threatened to close.

The 1980s

Instead, there was a management buy-out in July 1981 by a group of thirteen former managers and management staff around Vaughn Beals, Willie G. Davidson and Charles Thompson. They managed to take over the Motor Company with the help of a $ 80 million Citigroup loan . At this point in time, the once flourishing company had developed into a restructuring case amid the booming motorcycle market. High production costs, an outdated product range that was not in line with the market and quality defects had led to a significant loss of image. In contrast, the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers recorded strong growth and achieved record profits, as they had designed the transformation of the motorcycle from the formerly inexpensive "means of transport for the little man" to a trendy lifestyle product. The renovation did not succeed overnight. It included, among other things, a reorganization of the entire management and the reduction of 43 percent of the jobs to only 2,000 employees. Many production methods have been reconsidered and strict quality controls have been introduced. The most extensive renovation measure consisted of the development of new, contemporary products, combined with a change in direction in marketing . Due to the time required to develop new engines and vehicle concepts , the Evolution engine (or Evo for short) did not replace the aged Shovelhead designs with their cast iron cylinders until 1984. Although this machine represented a clear advance in terms of quality, durability and reliability, it remained conceptually largely at the classic level. Thanks to the successful new marketing concept, this did not affect the sales success. In 1983 Harley-Davidson was also supported by the Reagan administration by temporarily increasing the import duty on motorcycles over 700  cubic inches from 4.4 percent by up to 45 percentage points.


In 1986 the company went public in order to bring about an economic upswing with new capital. In the following years, sales rose by an average of 18 percent annually, and dividends were paid on the basis of the profits.

Acquisitions and sales


Rickman Aermacchi Harley-Davidson Ala d'Oro 408 GP from the premier class (approx. 1968)

At the beginning of the 1960s, Harley-Davidson took a 50% stake in the Italian aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi . Aermacchi had already started building motorcycles in 1948. Harley-Davidson hoped that this would lead to advances in the processing of aluminum , which had already led to significant technical advances in the aerospace industry . The motorcycles that emerged from this collaboration are called Aermacchi Harley-Davidson . One of the highlights is the Rickmann-Aermacchi Harley-Davidson 408 GP - a racing motorcycle developed with the help of Rickman for the 500 cc class of the motorcycle world championship . In 1978 the shares in the Aermacchi factory were sold to Cagiva .


Buell M2

In 1993 Harley-Davidson took over 49% of the shares in the motorcycle manufacturer Buell , which further developed Harley engines in terms of performance and built them into their own sporty frames. The first joint motorcycle was 218 kg with relatively light Buell S2 with the 1200s Sportster engine, the 76 HP (56 kW) at 5200 min -1 made. In 1996, the Buell S1 followed with an output of 91 hp and a top speed of 209 km / h. In 1997 Harley took over another 49%, 2% remained with the company's founder Erik Buell until 2003. 1997 followed by the models S3 and M2 2002 XB9S , 2004 XB12S and 2007 Buell 1125R with one of Rotax developed water-cooled V-2 engine with DOHC valve timing and 1125 cc, the 146 hp (107 kW) at 10,200 min -1 performed. On October 30, 2009, Harley-Davidson unexpectedly closed Buell's motorcycle manufacturing facility.

KTM rumors

In 1998 there were indications of a takeover of the Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM by Harley-Davidson, but this was not confirmed.

MV Agusta

In July 2008, Harley-Davidson took over the Italian MV-Agusta Group with the brands MV Agusta and Cagiva for 70 million euros including bank debt. Claudio Castiglioni , former owner of MV Agusta, bought the brand back from Harley-Davidson on August 6, 2010, the price allegedly being 3 euros.


The Harley-Davidson range is divided into six model lines: Sportster, Dyna, Softail, V-Rod, Touring and CVO. These six series are driven by five basic motors which, among other things, result in several motor configurations due to different bore and stroke variants. A key difference between these series is the fact that they are each independent. Within the individual series, the models differ through different add-on parts such as handlebars, wheels, mudguards (fenders), tanks and seats, through different equipment with additional display instruments, additional headlights and a model-specific color palette. All models are standard (optionally the Sportster Iron 883) with an ABS of Brembo equipped. In addition, Harley-Davidson offers some special models under the Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) brand , which are based on selected series models and are replaced by other special models every year. They differ in their different attachments, additional equipment, special paintwork and mostly more powerful engines with increased displacement. To distinguish between the CVO special models, the letter combination SE for “Screamin 'Eagle” is added to the end of the standard type designation (e.g. FXSBSE = CVO Breakout).


Speedometer on a Softail

The Softail range includes the Sport Glide , Street Bob , Slim , Low Rider , Heritage Classic , Fat Boy , Fat Bob , Softail Deluxe and Breakout models . They are powered by a Milwaukee Eight engine .

In the early 1980s, chopper-style motorcycles became increasingly popular. A profitable craft industry had emerged in the United States during this period. This did not escape the management of Harley-Davidson. Customizers such as B. Arlen Ness already dealt with the individual redesign of series motorcycles. Many took and still use old rigid-frame chassis (hardtail) as a starting point for their work , as their unsprung rear allows straight lines and a low seat height. In 1984 Harley-Davidson used a new Softail frame in order to get closer to this shape without having to accept the technical disadvantages and loss of comfort of an unsprung rear wheel . With him, the rear wheel sits in a triangular swing arm made of tubular steel, with the two suspension struts being almost horizontally hidden under the transmission. Almost invisibly, they take over the work for a minimum of comfort. The landing gear was designed by Bill Davis, an engineer from St. Louis . He licensed his patented frame to Harley-Davidson.

In the Softail series, the engine is an integral part of the frame. HD has dispensed with the usual vibration dampers, mostly silent blocks. In combination with the lack of mass balancing of the Evolution engine , the driving experience on an Evo Softail was characterized by strong vibrations. This could lead to loosened screw connections, torn exhaust systems or broken welds. The 2000-2006 Softail models featured the twin-cam 88B engine. This has two balancer shafts (B for balancer ) to reduce the vibrations. The 2007 to 2011 Softail models were equipped with the larger-capacity Twin-Cam 96B engine with electronic fuel injection ESPFI, active intake and exhaust systems and a six-speed cruise-drive transmission. From the 2014 to 2017 model year, all Softail models have the Twin-Cam 103B engine with the displacement increased to 1690 cc. As of 2018, all Softail will be delivered with the Milwaukee Eight engine in 107 or 114 ci. Former Dyna models such as Street Bob were integrated into the Softail family by eliminating the frame.


The Dyna range includes the FXDC Dyna Super , Glide Custom , FXDB Dyna Street Bob , FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide , FXDF Dyna Fat Bob , FLD Switchback and Dyna Low Rider . They are powered by a twin cam 103 engine. The Dyna can be distinguished from the Softails by the rear suspension. With the Dyna, this emerges in the form of two clearly visible spring struts . The term “Dyna” is derived from the English term “dynamic” (German: dynamic ).

In 1991 the FXDB “Sturgis” debuted, the first model to have the letter suffix 'D' in the type code. A new frame was one of their innovations. Computer-aided drawing (CAD) opened up new possibilities for chassis construction. The driving stability could thus be increased significantly. Since 1999, the Dyna series has been powered by the then new, now with vibration-dampened suspended Twin-Cam 88 engine. It had a valve train with two camshafts. In 2006, Harley-Davidson revised the series, including an improved frame, a further developed front fork, the cruise-drive six-speed gearbox, a 160 millimeter wide rear tire and the twin-cam 96 engine .

Since 2006, the Dyna models have been the first Big Twin series to have the above-mentioned helical-toothed six-speed cassette transmission called Cruise Drive, the sixth gear of which is designed as a speed -reducing overdrive gear, i.e. is geared so long that it does not reach top speed. Obviously, there is a connection here with the constant tightening of noise limit values in numerous sales markets, since special conditions are often specified for model homologation - such as checking the driving noise emissions by driving a test route in second-highest gear. The more gears a motorcycle has, the lower the speed and thus the driving noise during the test drive.


The Touring range includes the Road King Classic (FLHRC), Street Glide (FLHX), Electra Glide Ultra Classic (FLHTCU), Ultra Classic Electra Glide (FLHTCUSE7) CVO, Electra Glide Ultra Limited (FLHTK), Road King (FLHRSE) CVO and Road Glide. They are powered by the Milwaukee Eight 107 or Milwaukee Eight 114 engine (CVO).

The origins of the Touring range are difficult to pin down. Harley-Davidson motorcycles have been used for long journeys in previous years. The Electra Glide should be one of the classics . It is a typical touring motorcycle . From 1965 it was the first Harley-Davidson with an electric starter. In 1993, the Road King models in a nostalgic design came onto the market for the first time. The names remained, while the technology of the machines was updated several times over the decades. From the 2012 model year, all touring models were supplied with the Twin-Cam 103 engine as standard . With the 2012 model year, the Touring series was again extensively revised. Under the marketing name Project Rushmore , there have been numerous detailed changes in the equipment, in the drive, in the chassis and in the infotainment. One of the most important innovations was the new twin-cam 103 engine. For the 2017 model year, the twin-cam engine in the touring models was replaced by the newly developed Milwaukee-Eight.

Depending on the model, the Touring types have new halogen twin headlights or new Daymaker LED headlights. New infotainment systems with a large color screen, Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, navigation system and intercom have also been introduced specifically for each model. The redesigned cladding was given a split-stream air duct designed to prevent turbulence in the head area. In addition, the luggage system, cast wheels, display instruments and handlebar fittings have been revised.


Evolution Sportster
HD Sportster 883

The Sportster range includes the 883 Super Low (8XL883L), 883 Roadster (XL883R), Iron 883 (XL883N), Forty-Eight (XL1200X9), Seventy-Two (XL1200V), 1200 Custom (XL1200C) and the Custom "Limited Edition " (XL1200CA) / (XL1200CB). They are powered by an Evolution Sportster engine . For the 2018 model year, the new and revised Sportster models Iron 1200 (XL1200N) and Forty-Eight Special (XL1200X) were presented.

Harley-Davidson presented the latest generation of Sportsters in the 2004 model year. Since then, all Sportsters have had a more powerful V2 engine that has been redesigned in major areas and is connected to the newly designed, stiffer frame with vibration dampening via silent blocks. The gearbox with helical toothed spur gears is still integrated into the crankcase. On its fiftieth birthday in 2007, the Sportster series received, among other things, electronic fuel injection. In the 2008 model year, the 1200 Nightster appeared in a dark custom look. In 2009 the Iron 883 was added, which combines the design features of the Nightster with the 883 cubic centimeter engine variant. In the 2010 model year, the Forty-Eight was presented, which, with 130 mm wide MT90B16 front tires, a peanut tank with a capacity of just 7.95 liters , single seat and flat handlebars, evokes the classic bobber look of the post-war era. Since the 2014 model year, all Sportster variants have been equipped with ABS as standard, with the exception of the Iron 883, for which ABS was initially only supplied at an additional cost, but also as standard from the 2015 model year.

In the 2008 model year, the XR1200 opened a second, more dynamically oriented Sportster portfolio alongside the XL models. Its emphasis is on styling closely based on the successful XR 750 dirt track racing machine in connection with comparatively high driving dynamics on winding roads. It is powered by a special Sportster engine variant with 1202 cubic centimeters displacement, downdraft fuel injection and an electronically controlled active intake system. The engine delivers equipped with various components of the Buell Cloudy powerplant, 67 kW (91 HP) at 7,000 min -1 and develops a maximum torque of 100 Nm at 3700 min -1 . The chassis is equipped with a voluminous light metal swing arm, an upside-down fork and Nissin four-piston fixed caliper brakes. For the 2010 model year, Harley-Davidson presented a version of the motorcycle, the XR1200X, with fully adjustable chassis components and floating brake discs. The production of the sportiest XL to date was discontinued in 2012 and the XR1200 has not been part of the XL portfolio since the 2013 model year.


The Street series includes the Street 750 and Street 500 models (not available in Germany).

Trike Tri Glide

Harley-Davidson offers the Tri Glide Ultra Classic with the 103 ci engine. The trike has a length of 2.68 meters, a wheelbase of 1.69 meters and a weight of 540 kilograms (with a full tank). 15-inch wheels (205/65 R15) on the rear axle, 16-inch wheels on the front axle as well as the equipment with reverse gear and cruise control make the Tri Glide reminiscent of a modern service car .

Current engines

Revolution X Evolution Sportster Milwaukee-Eight
Displacement 45.7 ci 53 ci 73 ci 107 ci 114 ci 117 ci
749 cc 883 cc 1202 cc 1745 cc 1868 cc 1923 cc
Bore × stroke 85 × 66 mm 76.2 x 96.8 mm 88.9 x 96.8 mm 100 x 111.1 mm 102 x 114.3 mm 103.5 x 114.3 mm
power 42 kW (57 hp)
at 8000 min -1
39 kW (53 hp)
at 5750 min -1
49 kW (67 hp)
at 5700 min -1
67 kW (91 hp)
at 5450 min -1
69 kW (94 hp)
at 5020 min -1
78 kW (106 hp)
at 5450 min -1
Torque 59 Nm
at 4000 min -1
70 Nm
at 3750 min -1
98 Nm
at 3200 min -1
153 Nm
at 3250 min -1
155 Nm
at 3000 min -1
166 Nm
at 3500 min -1
Valve control / number ohc / 4 ohv / 2 ohv / 2 ohv / 4 ohv / 4 ohv / 4
Cylinder angle 60 degrees 45 degrees 45 degrees 45 degrees 45 degrees 45 degrees
cooling water air air Air / oil Air Water

Air / oil

Air Water

Former model range

VRSC (2002 to 2017)

Harley-Davidson VRSCA V-Rod

In 2002, Harley-Davidson founded the VRSC model range with the newly introduced Revolution engine. The first model was called VRSCA V-Rod; later the models based on it such as Street Rod and Night Rod were added. The chassis, specially designed for the VRSC family, is based on a hydroforming frame made of steel . The elongated, flat shape of this series is based on the chassis of drag bikes . Characteristic for the V-Rod is the forward footrest system and the solid disc rear wheel made of 18 ″ aluminum . The front suspension / damping is done by a classic 49 mm telescopic fork , which is set very flat with a 56 ° steering head angle . For the 2008 model year, the V-Rod received the model abbreviation VRSCAW. The rear tire grew to a width of 240 mm, the disc wheels were provided with slots. The tank has been enlarged to a touring capacity of 18.9 liters. The VRSCR Street Rod , which was launched on the market in 2005 , differed significantly from its sister model VRSCA / VRSCB V-Rod. The steering head was steeper, the wheelbase a little shorter, and the ten-spoke wheels were made of cast aluminum. At the front, instead of a conventional telescopic fork, a 43 mm upside-down fork from SHOWA took over the suspension and damping, while a 300 mm Brembo double disc brake ensures exceptional deceleration values that are uncharacteristically Harley. The rear frame was set higher, the footrests farther back; the handlebars were flatter. This together resulted in a significantly sportier seating position. Another exhaust system called Straight Shot Dual gave the Street Rod a little more power. Harley-Davidson gave the VRSCR a 40 ° lean angle, an unusually high number for this manufacturer. In 2007 the Night Rod became the optically even more radical Night Rod Special with a dragster look and for 2009 Harley-Davidson added the V-Rod Muscle to the program. In 2017, the production of the VRSC models was stopped because the engines only met the old Euro 3 standard. The last VRSC models were V-Rod Muscle and Night Rod Special.

Motorcycle development

The first Harley Davidson model was Model 1 in 1903/1905.

Small displacement models

As early as 1948, Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles with single-cylinder two-stroke engines with the Model 125 . The model was offered under the name One-Twenty-Five or 48S . This small motorcycle had a displacement of 125 cm³, an output of 3 hp and was a copy of the DKW RT 125 . From 1953, the machines were equipped with larger 165 cm³ engines and built as the ST model in a further developed form until 1966. In the USA, the 125cc models were offered as Hummer from 1955 , and the 165 cc engine was built into the Topper scooter from 1960 to 1965 .

In 1960, Harley-Davidson took over the motorcycle division of Aermacchi (Aeronautica-Macchi) and thus expanded production to include small motorcycles, scooters and motorcycles with small single-cylinder two-stroke engines and four -stroke engines from 50 to 350 cm³ displacement, which were marketed under Aermacchi-Harley-Davidson . The smallest motorcycle model was the Harley-Davidson M-50 . The Leggero (65 cm³), the off-road motorcycle Baja (100 cm³), the street models Rapido (125 cm³) and Sprint (350 cm³) were imported to Germany, for the US market the M-50, M-65, Rapido, Baja and the Sprint (250-350 cc) manufactured. In addition, Harley-Davidson took over the manufacture of other products from Aermacchi, such as the three-wheeled van Aermacchi Diesel (comparable to the Ape ), which was built until 1964; a 973 cm³ single-cylinder diesel engine ensured a top speed of 60 km / h. From 1973 until the sale of the Italian plants to Cagiva (1978), all models with small displacement were offered under the Harley-Davidson brand .

Motorcycle teams

Model 26JD with sidecar (1926)

There are already photos of model 2 (1906) with a bolted-on sidecar. The 1915 model 11J with a three-speed transmission was offered as standard by Harley-Davidson with a sidecar. The motorcycle with sidecar was mainly used for commercial and military purposes, the sidecar initially manufactured by the Seaman Company in Milwaukee. For the English market, the sidecars were installed on the left. The photo of a Harley-Davidson with a sidecar, in which the sidecar was designed as a "rolling prison", became famous. In the second half of the 1920s was Charles Abresch Company in Milwaukee (Wisconsin) supplier for the sidecar. In 1936 Abresch introduced the all-steel sidecar and from 1942 supplemented it with a large and a smaller cargo box as a sidecar for transporting goods. Abresch also made van bodies on Harley-Davidson trikes. The collaboration lasted until 1966, after which Harley-Davidson manufactured its own sidecars made of GRP . Until the 1980s, Harley-Davidson had the CLE model with a sidecar in its sales program. In the evolution era , Harley offered the Ultra Classic Electra Glide (FLHTC-U) model with a sidecar. In 1990 it had a list price of 40,000 SFr in Switzerland. Various converters also offered and still offer sidecars and combinations based on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, including EML .

Military motorcycles

Model 16 / 17B (approx. 1918 on Java )

Models 16-17

1916, during the Mexican punitive expedition of the USA , Harley-Davidson motorcycles of the model 16J were used as military equipment for the first time. After the USA entered the First World War in 1917 , the motorcycles intended for the military were delivered in olive green. The single-cylinder model 16-17 A / B was built with a three-speed gearbox, the model 16-17J (for sidecar operation) with the well-known 989 cc V-engine received a revision. It received the four-cam valve control of the 8-valve racing machine, automatic lubrication, band brake on the rear wheel and electric light as standard. In 1917 alone, 9,180 units were delivered to the US Army, and by the end of 1918 26,486 motorcycles. Thousands of these machines remained in Europe as an army surplus, making Harley-Davidson famous around the world. The 17Js were used even during the Russian Revolution . Olive green became the standard Harley-Davidson color in the 1920s and remained in the range until 1932.


WLA (model 45)

As early as 1938, Harley-Davidson considered producing military machines against a political background. Before the official award, the US Army wanted a comparison of the existing designs and subjected them to an endurance test. Three companies were involved: DELCO, a brand name of General Motors with a BMW copy, Indian with a Scout and Harley-Davidson with the WL (Flathead) from 1938. The BMW copy was rejected and Indian was with the 500cc - Scout-741 inferior to the WL with 742 cm³. The tender from 1938, originally a maximum speed of 105 km / h and an engine with a maximum of 30.5  ci (500 cm³) displacement, was changed so that Harley-Davidson could do the "business".

In 1940 the US Army ordered the first 745 units of a military version of the WL, the WLA, with a revised front fork, aluminum cylinder heads, crash bars, saddle and rifle bags. The performance of the 250-kilogram machine was 23.5  hp at 4,600 min -1 . About 88,000 copies of this model were made between 1940 and 1945; this makes the WLA one of the most built models by Harley-Davidson.


XA with boxer engine (1941-1943)

During the Second World War , the US Army wanted a motorcycle with a cardan drive in order to eliminate the problem of chain lubrication, especially in desert areas. The XA won a comparison test by the US Army with the Harley-Davidson XA and the Indian 841. Moto Guzzi later became famous with this concept of the longitudinally installed V-2 engine (crankshaft longitudinal).

From 1941, Harley-Davidson built the exact copy of the BMW R 71 , which was delivered to the US Army as the Harley-Davidson XA from 1941 to 1943 in around 1,000 copies. In terms of production costs, the XA was far above the standard model of the US Army, the Harley-Davidson WLA, because German dimensions (cm) had to be transferred 1: 1 to US dimensions (inch) and new tools had to be designed for production. The boxer engine with 738 cm³, incorporated in contrast to the motor of the W-Sport longitudinally made 23 hp (17 kW) at 4,600 min -1 and helped the 244 kg heavy motorcycle to a maximum speed of 105 km / h. In 1942 a version with a sidecar (XS) was built. The XA motor including cardan drive was later used for a prototype of the Servi-Car .

MT 350

MT 350

The MT 500 was developed by the British manufacturer Armstrong for the army before the Falklands War . Equipped with a 481 cc single-cylinder Rotax engine with an output of 32  hp , this 170 kg light all-terrain motorcycle was offered to other armed forces. In 1987, Harley-Davidson took over the rights and production of the MT 500. In 1993, Harley-Davidson developed the MT 350 with a 348 cm³ Rotax engine and 30 hp; production ended in 2000 after around 1,700 units (MT 350) .

Other motor vehicles


From 1918 to 1924, Harley-Davidson manufactured bicycles for the Davis Sewing Machine Company . The bikes were delivered in the Harley color (olive green) that was common at the time.


From 1932 to 1973, Harley-Davidson manufactured a motor tricycle called the Servi-Car . The Servi-Car was powered by the Flathead's SV engine with 742 cm³ and was the longest built model by Harley-Davidson.

Golf carts

Harley-Davidson golf carts at Camp David (1978)

From 1963 to 1982, Harley-Davidson produced golf carts . The first models were three-wheeled, later four-wheeled variants were added. It was driven by an electric or gas engine. The US Presidential Camp David provided Harley-Davidson golf carts for the politicians.


From 1971 to 1975, Harley-Davidson manufactured snowmobiles . The snowmobiles were powered by a two-cylinder two-stroke engine manufactured by Harley-Davidson with a capacity of 398-440 cm³. The models with manual or electric starter were delivered with automatic gearbox and chain drive.


In 1966 Harley-Davidson developed a 1,000 cc four-cylinder machine. The transverse in-line engine had two overhead camshafts; The alternator was located behind the engine housing. The prototype was called X 1000 and could not hide a similarity to the MV Agusta 600 . The 750cc Honda , which was introduced shortly afterwards, thwarted further series production plans from Harley-Davidson.

In 1979/80, Harley-Davidson had Porsche develop a water-cooled V-4 engine under the Nova project . 30 engines and twelve complete motorcycles were subjected to long-distance tests. The project was canceled in favor of the new Evo engine.

In June 2014, Harley-Davidson presented the first electric motorcycle in its history under the model name Livewire . So far, 39 samples are said to have been built. The motorcycle is powered by a 55 kilowatt electric motor, the (limited) top speed is specified as 148 km / h. The range of the machine with a mass of 209 kilograms should be 85 kilometers.

Engine development

Motorcycle production began in 1905 with the Model 1 .

Single cylinder engines

The single-cylinder engine mounted in a bicycle-like frame drove the rear wheel directly via a belt . The motorcycle had no clutch . The ignition was fed by a battery , from 1909 magneto ignition was also used. The designers attached great importance to stability and quality, which earned the machines the reputation of reliable everyday devices. Because of its gray paintwork from 1906 and the relatively good soundproofing for those pioneering days , the 440 cm³ machine soon received the nickname "Silent Gray Fellow", a designation that was originally given by the manufacturer to the 7D model. The Sager Cushion fork, redesigned by William Harley, was used for the first time in 1908 with the Model 4 . Harley-Davidson tacitly took over J. H. Sagers patent of the spring-loaded front fork from March 26, 1907. In 1913, the single cylinder received a controlled, hanging inlet valve in the cylinder head (see Inlet over Exhaust ). This type of valve control remained until production was discontinued in 1918. It was not until 1926 that Harley-Davidson manufactured a new, slightly smaller single-cylinder engine with a displacement of 346 cm³. It was available in two versions, one with alternating control (IOE) and for sports riders as the first Harley-Davidson engine with overhead valves ( OHV ). The OHV model was mainly used in races. It was nicknamed "Peashooter" because of its exhaust noise. From 1930 to 1934 the last single-cylinder model with 493 cm³ displacement and side valves (flathead) was produced. It was only after the Second World War (1948) that Harley-Davidson began to produce a single-cylinder engine ( two-stroke engine ) based on the DKW RT 125 . In the 1960s, after Aermacchi's stake (50%) , Harley again had 4-stroke single-cylinder engines from their inventory.

Table of single cylinders from 1903 to 1934
prototype Model 0 Model 1 Model 2-3 Model 4 Model 5-7 Model 8 Model 9-18 Model 26A-34B Model 26AA-29BA Model 30C-34C
Years of production 1903 1904 1905-1906 1906-1907 1908 1909-1911 1912 1913-1918 1926-1934 1926-1929 1930-1934
Displacement 167 cc 405 cc 440 cc 440 cc 440 cc 494 cc 522 cc 565 cc 346 cc 346 cc 493 cc
Valve control Automatic inlet ,
controlled outlet
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Inlet automatically
outlet controlled
Standing outlet, hanging inlet Standing outlet, hanging inlet hanging valves standing valves
power 2 HP (1.5 kW) 3 HP (2.2 kW) 4 HP (3 kW) 4 HP (3 kW) 4.3 HP (3.2 kW) 4.3 HP (3.2 kW) 4.5 HP (3.3 kW) 8 HP (5.9 kW) 12 HP (8.8 kW) 10 HP (7.4 kW)
colour black "Renault gray" black and
"Renault gray"
"Renault gray" "Renault gray" "Renault gray" "Olive-green", white, cream red ("olive-green") "Olive-green", black, blue, gray, cream
Top speed 56 km / h 64 km / h 64 km / h 72 km / h 80 km / h 80 km / h 90 km / h 97 km / h 97 km / h
Built copies 1 2 8 (1905)
50 (1906)
150 (1907)
450 1149 545 1510 1128 524 1629

Two-cylinder engines

  • The prototype from 1903 and the two pre-production models from 1904 have not survived.
  • The first design drawings of his own 116 cm³ engine are known from William Harley from this time.
  • Emil Krüger (Emil Krueger), a German immigrant who worked at De-Dion-Bouton in France, is also said to have provided construction drawings of the De-Dion-Bouton engine .
  • A surviving sketch of a Harley-Davidson is dated April 1, 1905
  • The first action shot photo of a Harley-Davidson was taken at the end of April 1905 and shows the driver Perry E. Mack with the Model 1 .

Timeline of the two-cylinder engines

Timeline Harley-Davidson twin-cylinder engines
Engine designation 1900 1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 ...
SV ( sniffer valve ) 1909
F-Head ( IOE valve control ) 1911-29
W-Sport ( boxer engine ) 1919-23
Flathead ( SV valve control ) 1929-48
XA ( boxer engine ) 1941-43
Knucklehead ( OHV valve control ) 1936-47
Panhead 1948-65
K engine 1952-56
Ironhead ( Sportster ) 1957-84
Shovelhead 1966-84
evolution 1984-99
Evolution Sportster from 1986
Twin cam 1999-2017
revolution 2002-2017
Revolution X since 2014
Milwaukee-Eight from 2017
Bassella PM 091910 E.

Model 5D

Schematic representation of the forked connecting rods (Autocar Handbook, 13th ed, 1935)

In 1909, Harley-Davidson first introduced the 5D model with a newly developed two-cylinder V-engine. The engine had a cylinder angle of 45 degrees without lateral offset and was installed upright in the frame. This characteristic design is still the epitome of a Harley-Davidson engine.

5D model 50 ci engine
Years of production 1909
Displacement 49.5 ci
811 cc
Top speed 72 km / h
built specimens 27
50 ci engine on models 7D – 8D
Years of production 1911-1912
Displacement 49.5 ci
811 cc
power 6.5 PS (4.8 kW) (1911)
Top speed 88 km / h
built specimens 3500
60 ci engine on models 8E – 29J
Years of production 1912-1929
Displacement 60.3 ci
989 cc
power 17 hp (12.5 kW) (1929)
Top speed 105 km / h (1918)
74 ci engine on models 21D – 29D
Years of production 1921-1929
Displacement 73.7 ci
1207 cc
power 18-29 hp (13-21 kW) (1929)
Top speed 137 km / h (1929)
Model 29 JDL from 1929; on the left of the tank is the manual gearshift lever, below the clutch pedal

In order to be able to use the same frame as in the single-cylinder models, a compact design was required. That is why the 2-cylinder V-engine was built as an inline V (without lateral offset of the cylinders), the cylinder angle was 45 degrees. The peculiarity of this construction makes it necessary to design the connecting rod eye like a fork . The main connecting rod has two bearings with a groove in between. The connecting rod sits in a crank pin bearing within this groove.

Its construction leads to an irregular firing order of 315: 405 degrees. The cylinders fire after the combustion cycle, offset by ± 45 degrees. This leads to the typical sound of an inline V-Twin, which is often described onomatopoeically as "Potato-Potato". The engine housing and the crankshaft bearings of the 2-cylinder engine have been reinforced compared to the single-cylinder. However, the engine still had one automatic intake valve (poppet valve ) per cylinder. However, this no longer works reliably because of the changed pressure conditions in a V2 engine with only one carburetor. The 811 cc engine started poorly and ran unclean. After 27 motorcycles, the 5D model was discontinued because the problems could not be mastered.

Models 7D – 16J

The 1911 model 7D would mark the breakthrough for Harley-Davidson. The alternately controlled (IOE) engine with 811 cm³ received an intake valve controlled by an underneath camshaft. It hangs in the cylinder head, opens downwards and is operated via the tappet , bumper and rocker arm . In addition, the 7D model had a reinforced frame, an improved belt tensioner and an inner band brake instead of the coaster brake on the rear wheel. In 1912 Harley-Davidson increased the displacement to 989 cc in the X8E model and used a roller chain for rear-wheel drive. In the X8 models (494, 811 and 989 cm³), a clutch was installed for the first time as well as a saddle suspension integrated into the frame . In 1914, the 10F model was the first with a two-speed transmission . From this year all models had a kick starter . In 1915, a three-speed gearbox and electric lighting were introduced in the 11F model.

In 1916, Harley-Davidson changed the name of its models. So far the beginning year 1904 was designated with the model zero, 1905 with model 1, ..., 1915 with model 11 , from 1916 the models were aligned with the year. E.g. Model 16B (single), Model 16J (V-engine, 3-speed gearbox). The Harley-Davidson model series 12 to 15 does not exist.

The American manufacturer AMC (Allied Motor Corporation) produced copies of Harley-Davidson from 1912 to 1915. AMC is said to have purchased at least motorcycle parts directly from Harley-Davidson.


W-Sport with a boxer engine

After the First World War there were no more army orders. In order to offer private customers a light sports motorcycle (120 kilograms), Harley-Davidson developed a transversely installed boxer engine (crankshaft transverse) in 1919 , which with 584 cm³ and 6 HP (4.4 kW) provided a top speed of 80 km / h. The British Douglas was obviously the inspiration for the Harley-Davidson development department. The engine is said to have been the smoothest-running Harley-Davidson engine of its time and was used successfully in long-distance races. Nevertheless, the USA was not a market for boxer engines, the customer wanted V-engines, so that after 9883 units were built, production was discontinued in 1923.

Models 21J – 29J

In 1921, Harley-Davidson presented the "74 engine" for the first time in the 21JD model series, a V2 with 1207 cm³ displacement (73.7 ci). The equipped with a 6-volt battery ignition, and 32-mm-Schebler petrol engine made initially 18 HP (13 kW) at 3000 min -1 , the last model year ( "two cam") 29 hp at 4000 min -1 . 4526 units had been built by 1929. The 74 engine of the model 21JD (with 18 hp) was also used in the Mummert-Mini-Plane aircraft from 1923 to 1924 . In the 28J (1928) model, Harley-Davidson installed a front brake ( drum brake ) for the first time , while the band brake that had been tried and tested since 1909 was retained at the rear.


Flathead engine (1929-51)
Rikuo VL

In 1929, Harley-Davidson introduced the Model D, a newly designed motorcycle. The tuning fork (Sager cushion fork) offered by Harley-Davidson since Model 4 (1908) was replaced by the Springer fork and drum brakes were installed at the front and rear for the first time . The V-engine, known as the Flathead , was a side-steered variant that Harley-Davidson produced in different variations, later in large numbers for the military until 1948:

From 1937 to 1941 the WLDR (R stands for Racing) was equipped with the 45-ci Flathead; only 171 pieces of this version were built. From 1940 to 1941 it was available in the rare color variant Squadron Gray. The engine with a higher compression, larger valves, cooling fins, intake ducts, carburetor and "sharper" camshafts made 38 hp. The WDLR has a 3-speed manual gearbox as well as a rigid frame and a suspension fork.

Years of production 1929–1951/1973 1929-1948 1936-1940
Displacement 45.3 ci 73.7 ci 78.9 ci
742 cc 1207 cc 1293 cc
power 15-29 hp (11-21 kW) 28–36 hp (21–26 kW) 38 HP (28 kW)
rotational speed 3800-5000 min -1 3800-4600 min -1 4500 min −1

The 742 engine was offered in motorcycles until 1951 and in the servi-car until 1973 . The Flathead was offered longer than its technical successor, the Knucklehead motor, as an alternative for customers who did not want to get used to the concept of overhead valves, which at that time was still complex and prone to failure. When you first look at the cylinder head, the Flathead looks like a two-stroke engine. The Flathead model was manufactured under license by the Japanese manufacturer Koto Trading Company, a subsidiary of Sankyo , from 1935. Rikuo, the brand name, was the first motorcycle manufacturer in Japan. After the termination of the business relationship (1936) and the Japanese invasion of China (1937), the Flathead was independently produced under the brand Rikuo (King of the Road) as Model 97 for the Japanese army. 18,000 copies were made by the end of the Second World War . Production resumed in 1947 and ended in 1958.


Knucklehead engine (1936-47)
Years of production 1936-1947 1941-1947
Displacement 989 cm³ (60.3 ci) 1207 cm³ (73.7 ci)
Bore × stroke 84 x 88.9 mm 87.3 x 100.8 mm
power 40 hp (29 kW) 48 hp (35 kW)
rotational speed 4800 min -1 5000 min −1

In 1936, the aging Flathead engine was experimentally revised, an OHV valve control with 2 hanging valves in the cylinder head was to be installed. Initially, it remained with the tests, as the armed forces had ordered large numbers after the entry of the USA into the Second World War . They did not want to supply these orders with an engine that was still in the testing stage. Instead, the received military model of the WLA the albeit weaker, but reliable and proven 742-cc engine.

The Knucklehead E (61E), however, received the new 989 cc OHV engine, which made 40 hp at 4800 revolutions. With a cylinder bore of 84 mm and a piston stroke of 88.9 mm, the engine had a stroke ratio of 1: 1.06 and thus belongs to the long stroke range . The Knucklehead E had a four-speed manual transmission (hand lever on the left, foot clutch on the right), 18-inch wheels, a wheelbase of 1511 millimeters and weighed 256 kilograms. This resulted in a power-to-weight ratio of 0.156 hp per kilogram. The models with only one driver's seat have the suffix Solo. The new OHV engine series was built from 1936 to 1947 parallel to the old side valves of the Flathead series. This engine is based on its characteristic contours of the rocker arm on cylinder head as Knucklehead known ( "knuckle head"). In 1937, racing driver Joe Petrali set a record for motorcycles with production engines over a mile with a streamlined Knucklehead. It reached a speed of 218.87 km / h (136.183  mph ) on Daytona Beach .

Motorcycles with these engines are among the most sought-after Harley-Davidson classic cars today , for which prices over 30,000 euros can be achieved (as of 2012).


Panhead engine (1948-65)
Overview of the Panhead engines
Years of production 1948-1952 1948-1965
Displacement 60.3 ci (989 cm³) 73.7 ci (1207 cm³)
Bore × stroke 84 x 88.9 mm 87.3 x 100.8 mm
power 40 hp (29 kW) 48–55 hp (35–40 kW)
rotational speed 4800 min -1 5000 min −1


In 1948 the Knucklehead engine underwent a major overhaul. The cast iron cylinders of the Knucklehead were retained, but the cylinder heads were made of light metal. The main problem with Knucklehead engines was oil circulation and consumption, so the new oil lines were moved inward to keep the engine cleaner. From then on, there were chrome-plated, smooth-surfaced covers on the cylinder heads, which wrote the name Panhead ("pan head") into history for this generation of engines .

technical features

From 1952 this drive was optionally available with a contemporary hand clutch and foot switch. From the start of construction in 1948, maintenance-free hydraulic valve lifters ensured automatic valve clearance compensation. In 1953, the hydro elements migrated from the cylinder head to the lower actuation of the push rods on the camshafts . In 1949, the Hydra-Glide first used a hydraulic telescopic fork at Harley-Davidson. The previously common knight fork , a pushed short swing arm, remained in the range of other models until 1953. In the 1990s, the Springer fork was offered for a surcharge on retro models; When customizing, the spring fork is still installed today. In 1958, Harley-Davidson first introduced rear suspension on the Duo-Glide , a year earlier on the Sportster models.

K engine

K engine (1952–56)

In 1952, Harley-Davidson presented a new sporty model. The first K engines were flathead engines with a displacement of 742 cm³ (45.3 ci), a bore of 69.8 mm and a stroke of 96.8 mm, as well as a revised cylinder head. The power of the side-controlled engine was given as 30 HP (22 kW). In 1954 (model KH) Harley-Davidson increased the displacement to 888 cm³ (54.2 ci) by drilling to 115.8 mm. This increased the output to 38 hp (28 kW) and helped the 182 kilogram motorcycle to a top speed of 161 km / h. The K models remained in the program until 1956, of which 1,250 were manufactured. K engines served as the basis for racing engines of the KK series and are regarded as the forerunners of the Sportster engines.

Sportster engine

Sportster engine (1957-84)
Sportster engines
Years of production 1957-1971 1972-1984
Displacement 53.9 ci (883 cm³) 60.9 ci (997 cm³)
Bore × stroke 76.2 x 96.8 mm 81 x 96.8 mm
power 40–56 hp
(29–41 kW)
61–68 hp
(45–50 kW)
rotational speed 5500-6800 min -1 6200 min -1

In 1957, a new, modern and smaller engine with a sporty character was developed to compete with British manufacturers such as Norton , BSA and Triumph : the Sportster engine, again as a 45 ° OHV -V2, but with four underneath, driven by a spur gear Camshafts. The first version with 883 cm³ still had cast iron cylinders and cylinder heads, which is why this generation is called Ironhead . In contrast to the Big Twin , the crank mechanism and the gearbox are housed in the same housing. The secondary drive is on the right. The new engine served to drive the newly introduced Sportster series, which was actually designed to be very sporty for the conditions at the time - not least because at 218 kilograms it was lighter than the FL with 270 kilograms and the 355 kilogram FLH. From then on, the Sportster dominated above all American rail sports (flat track, dirt track). Against this background, the design of the valve train with four camshafts should be seen, which makes it possible to vary the control times of each individual valve without great effort. The Sportster was considered the first American superbike at the time. It was the first Harley that had a full horsepower per cubic inch .

The Sportster XL (61-ci engine) was the first Harley-Davidson model to be equipped with a front disc brake in 1972 ; in 1973, Harley-Davidson offered front and rear disc brakes for all other models, which replaced the simplex drum brake with a diameter of 200 mm . The double disc brake (front) was first introduced on the Sportster model in 1978.

Shovelhead engine

Year of production 1966-1979 1978-1984
Displacement 73.7 ci 81.8 ci
1207 cc 1340 cc
Bore × stroke 87.3 x 100.8 mm 88.9 x 108 mm
power 60 hp (44 kW) 65 hp (48 kW)

1966 was the year of birth of the Shovelhead engine, a panhead engine that was only revised in the area of ​​the cylinder head and valve train. The name went back to the shape of the cylinder head cover: this time it was reminiscent of the underside of a typical American coal shovel. During the construction period of this engine, a distinction is essentially made between the so-called Early Shovel ("formerly Shovel") with 1200 cm³ displacement (recognizable by the kidney-shaped right engine housing, the timer (interrupter housing) sitting on the camshaft housing and the generator sitting in front of the crankcase ) and the Late Shovel ("later Shovel", generator behind the primary drive) with a displacement of 1207 cm³, which was delivered from 1969/1970 . From 1965 onwards, Harley riders were able to enjoy an electric starter with the first Electra Glide (still with a Pan motor). In the 1970s, a popular tuning measure consisted of bringing existing pan engines with the more efficient shovel cylinder heads up to the technical standard of an original early shovel (pan shovel). Harley-Davidson brought the Early Shovel onto the market as an intermediate step from the Panhead to the Late Shovel , in order to use up numerous stored Panhead crankcases before the new release. The Shovelhead engine suffered from frequent engine failures from bearing damage caused by sloppy workmanship and obsolete manufacturing machines in 1966–73. The alternator and transmission had an average service life of 37,000 kilometers, and oil consumption of one liter per 400 to 700 kilometers could also occur. Oil ingress in the clutch housing of the dry clutch was "a problem throughout the life of this design".


Evolution engine (1984-99)
Evo engine (1984)
Displacement 81.6 ci
1338 cc
Bore × stroke 88.8 x 108 mm
power 46 kW (63 hp) at 5200 min -1
Torque 103 Nm at 3600 min -1

In 1984 Harley-Davidson presented the Evolution engine (Evo for short) for the first time, a drive made entirely of light metal that had been developed by Porsche in Weissach . The Evolution engine was the first Harley-Davidson engine to be constructed from contemporary materials for a long time. It can be considered the first fully gas-proof engine in the house. For the air-cooled two-cylinder V-engine with 1338 cm³, Harley-Davidson kept the fork connecting rod, and it was otherwise designed conservatively with two valves per cylinder, an underlying camshaft and separately flanged gearbox. At most, the automatic valve clearance compensation via hydraulic valve lifters , which has existed since the first Panhead engines, was and is still uncommon in the motorcycle sector . At the beginning, the first motorcycles with Evolution engines were delivered with a chain as a secondary drive. The chain was later replaced by a toothed belt .

Evolution Sportster

Sportster Evolution engine
Displacement 883 cc 1101 cc 1198 cc 1202 cc
Years of production since 1986 1986-1988 1988-2007 since 2007
Bore × stroke 76.2 x 96.8 mm 85.1 x 96.8 mm 88.8 x 96.8 mm 88.9 x 96.8 mm
power 46–53 hp (34 kW) 54 hp (40 kW) 61–67 hp (45–49 kW) 67 hp (49 kW)

In 1986, the Sportster engine benefited from contemporary materials and, in addition to other facelift measures, now also received cylinder heads made of light alloy. This is the engine that drives all models in the Sportster family to this day . All Buell models, with the exception of the water-cooled 1125R / CR introduced in 2008 and the early Buell RW 750, are powered exclusively by performance-enhanced, continuously facelifted derivatives of the Evo Sportster engine. In the 2007 model year, an electronic manifold injection replaced the Keihin CV carburettor used up until then . In view of the much more racing-oriented competition from Japan, England and Italy, the Sportster models have long ceased to be considered sports motorcycles, even though they are much more agile than the Big Twins due to the 100 kg lower vehicle weight with almost the same engine power . Rather, they are positioned as inexpensive entry-level models.

Twin cam

Twin Cam engine (since 1999)

In 1999, the Evo engine of the "Big Twins" was replaced by the new Twin Cam 88 engine generation . This had become necessary because once again emission and noise limits and the subsequent modifications continued to reduce the performance of the previous engines. Late Evo Harleys only had around 50 HP (37 kW) ex works, a drawback, especially given the average weight of over 300 kilograms when ready to drive. The Twin Cam 88 is also an air-cooled 45 ° V2 engine, but with two lower camshafts, with 1449 cm³ displacement (bore: 95.3 mm, stroke: 101.6 mm), initially as a carburettor version and later with one electronically controlled sequential manifold injection (ESPFI). The first part of the engine designation goes back to the design with two cam shafts , while the number 88 refers to the cubic inch (ci) commonly used in the USA. Similar to the Sportster engine, the Twin Cam 88 transmission case is one unit with the crankcase, but flanged instead of integrated. Harley-Davidson initially only introduced the Twin Cam 88 in the Dyna and Touring ranges , while the Softail family was not converted until 2000. In the Dyna and Touring models, the engine is bolted to the frame in a vibration- decoupled manner via silent blocks . The models of the Softail series, on the other hand, in which the engine is rigidly bolted to the frame, have been equipped with a further developed variant called the Twin Cam 88B . They have two balancer shafts to reduce vibration. The B stands for the English term "balanced".

Twin cam 96

For the 2007 model year, Harley-Davidson launched a heavily revised version of the Twin Cam 88 engine, the Twin Cam 96, in the Dyna and Touring series. While the engine in these two series is connected to the frame in a vibration-insulated manner, the Softail models have the Twin Cam 96B version, which is rigidly connected to the frame and which uses two balance shafts to reduce vibrations. Thanks to the increased stroke compared to the Twin Cam 88 from 101.6 mm to 111.1 mm with unchanged bore of 95.3 mm, the engine has a displacement of 1584 cm³ (96 ci). The use of new camshafts promises longer durability and quieter running thanks to new drive chains and roller bearings. The speed-dependent variable intake and exhaust control is also new. The new engine is the first “Big Twin” to meet the emission requirements of the Euro 3 standard. At the same time, all “Big Twins” received the six-speed CruiseDrive transmission , a helical-toothed cassette transmission with overdrive from second gear , the first version of which was introduced in 2006 in the models of the Dyna series. The benefit is in the homologated for Europe versions up to 60 kW (82  hp ) at 5250 min -1 ; the maximum torque is 121 to 127 Nm depending on the type and is already available at 3125 min −1 depending on the model .

Twin cam 103

In July 2011, Harley-Davidson announced that the 2012 Softail model series and the new Dyna Switchback will be equipped with the Twin-Cam 103 engine (exception: Softail Blackline). The 98.4 mm bore, which is larger than that of the Twin Cam 96, results in a 6.6% larger displacement of 1690 cm³. The torque is between 126 Nm (Switch Back) and 134 Nm (Street Glide) at 3500 min -1 . This switch to the enlarged engine was continued in the 2013 model year so that, with a few exceptions, the Twin Cam 103 engine in Germany became the standard engine for the Dyna, Softail and Touring model series (exceptions: Street Bob, Super Glide Custom, Blackline and the CVO models). With the 2014 model year, the conversion from the Twin Cam 96 to the Twin Cam 103 was completed in Germany.

Twin cam 110

Since the 2009 model year, the CVO models have been delivered with the new Twin Cam 110. The enlarged bore to 101.6 mm with only slightly increased stroke of 111.3 mm results in a displacement of 1802 cm³ (~ 110 ci). According Euro standard EC95 / 1, a torque of 149 Nm at 3000 min -1 to. The "S" models have also been available with the Twin Cam 110 since 2016. These are the Fat Boy S, the Softail Slim S and the Low Rider S.


VRSC engine (since 2002)

2002 Harley-Davidson established with the newly introduced Revolution- engine, the VRSC model ( VR acing S treet C ustom); the VRSC engine was developed by Porsche . Harley-Davidson and Porsche founded a joint venture to manufacture engines , in which Porsche received 49 percent of the shares. The development of this engine was characterized by extreme testing requirements with regard to durability. In the so-called Düsseldorf test, the German autobahns, which connect the research and development center in Weissach / BW with the state capital Düsseldorf in North Rhine-Westphalia, were simulated in countless test runs until a machine survived a non-stop drive of 500 hours. It is also a V2 engine, but unlike the classic Harley concept, it is liquid-cooled and has a cylinder angle of 60 degrees. The engine with an initial displacement of 1130 cm³ (bore: 100 mm × stroke: 72 mm) has four overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and electronically controlled sequential injection in a downdraft arrangement. For this reason, the tank is located under the seat, while the light metal hood between the steering head and seat covers the airbox as a dummy tank . The power was in the first homologated for Version Europe 85 kW (115  hp ) at 9000 min -1 and 100 nm, later versions brought it to up to 88 kW (120 hp) and 108 Nm. In some special models, a Screamin'-Eagle variant, drilled out to 1250 cm³, with flow-optimized cylinder heads has already been used. This has an output of 92 kW (125 PS) and 117 Nm. For the 2008 model year, the original 1130 cm³ engine was removed from the range in favor of the 1247 cm³ variant (bore: 105 mm × stroke: 72 mm). The larger motor produces a nominal output of up to 92 kW (125 PS) and a maximum torque of 115 Nm. It was most recently installed in the V-Rod, Night Rod Special and the V-Rod Muscle, which was presented in 2009, until 2017.

Revolution X

Harley-Davidson launched a completely newly developed engine series built in India under the name Revolution X in 2014. A 500 cc version is offered specifically in Asia, the 750 cc version is supplied in Germany in the Harley-Davidson Street 750 model .


With the 2017 model year, Harley-Davidson is introducing a new series of Big Twin V2 engines with two displacement sizes and a cylinder angle of 45 ° in the Touring series . In contrast to their predecessors, these engines have four-valve cylinder heads with a single camshaft that actuates the valves with hydraulic valve clearance compensation via bumpers, two spark plugs per cylinder as well as new balance shafts and knock sensors . The name "Milwaukee-Eight" comes from the total number of now eight valves. The 114 cubic inch engine (1,868 cm³) with 163 Nm and 66 kW (90 hp) at 5020 rpm has, in addition to air cooling, water cooling in the area of ​​the exhaust ducts, the 107 cubic inch engine (1,745 cm³) with 150 Nm and also 66 kW (90 PS) but at 5450 rpm, depending on the engine variant, it is either oil or water cooling. Since 2018, the Milwaukee-Eight engine with 107 ci (1,745 cm³) with 64 kW (87 PS) at 5020 / min and 145 Nm or as 114 ci with 69 kW (94 PS) at 5250 / min and 155 Nm is also available in all Softail models installed. The new 117 cubic inch engine (1,923 cm³) with 78 kW (106 hp) at 5450 rpm and 166 Nm is reserved exclusively for the CVO Touring models.


8-valve racing machine (1923)

Rail sports

Harley-Davidson had its first successes in racing with the 8-valve racing machine in board track racing. The 988 cm³ large and 6: 1 compression V2 engine with hanging valves and hemispherical combustion chamber, presented in 1916, had eight valves and initially made 16 and later 20 hp. The driver needed two to three helpers to push the machine. With a mass of 125 kilograms, the racing machine reached over 160 km / h. For private riders, the racing motorcycle, which was delivered without a brake, was available for the astronomical price of 1,500  US dollars . However, there are no documents about private acquisition. It is estimated that 30 to 50 units were built by the time the racing team was dissolved in 1928. The then famous racing driver Otto Walker achieved several victories in 300-mile races. A revised IOE model of the 8-valve was offered as a hill climber from 1925 . In 1940 a racing version of the Flathead appeared, which was offered until 1951. From 1952 to 1969, Harley-Davidson offered the KR model, which was to continue the era on oval slopes in track races.

Hill climbing

From 1929 to 1937 Harley-Davidson was involved in hillclimbing with the factory racing machine Harley-Davidson DAH . Joe Petrali won the American Championships in 1932, 1933, 1935 and 1936 held by the American Motorcyclist Association at the DAH .

Harley records

  • On March 13, 1937, racing driver Joe Petrali achieved a record for production engines over the mile of 136.183 mph (218.87 km / h) in Daytona Beach with a streamlined Knucklehead  .
  • On October 16, 1970, Cal Rayborn set a new world speed record for motorcycles with the Harley-Davidson Streamliner . The Streamliner was powered by a modified Sportster engine with a displacement of 1480 cm³, which ran on fuel made from 70 percent nitromethane . It reached 427.18 km / h (265.43 mph) on the Bonneville Salt Flats , a value that was only surpassed five years later.
  • On July 19, 1990, Dave Campos set a speed record of 518.449 km / h (322.149 mph) over the flying mile in the class up to 3000 cc displacement with Harley-Davidson engines, a record that was only surpassed in 2006.
  • On March 11th and 12th, 2020 the Swiss Michel von Tell managed to set an unofficial world record in distance driving with the Harley LiveWire. The world record was not included in the Guinness Book of Records because no company officials were present.

Street sports

XR 750

The KRTT, a road version of the KR, was offered to private drivers from 1952 to 1969. Tuners elicited up to 48 HP (35 kW) from the old side-controlled flathead motor with 742 cm³. 1970–1980 followed the XR models with 750 cm³ and up to 90 hp. Most of these racing machines were only used for racing in the US championships; on the international stage, they were inferior to Japanese models in terms of performance.

In 1994 Harley-Davidson developed the VR1000 racing machine. The specially designed water-cooled 1000 cc large degree V2-60 engine with DOHC valve control and four valves per combustion chamber made 135  horsepower (99 kW) at 10,000 min -1 . The machine, which weighs 177 kilograms, was used in superbike races in the USA. 50 copies were built, which private drivers could purchase for $ 49,490  .

Motorcycle world championship

Walter Villa on a 250cc Harley-Davidson

From 1973 to 1978 Harley-Davidson developed racing motorcycles for the motorcycle world championship . This was made possible by the purchase of the Italian company Aermacchi and its racing department, which had been developing racing machines for the Italian road championship since 1965 . In 1971 Aermacchi competed in world championships with motorcycles. Racing motorcycles in the classes of 250, 350 and 500 cm³ were prepared. The 250 mm with a hole of 56 mm and a stroke of 50, made with two 34 mm Mikuni carburetors 54-58 HP (40-43 kW) at 12,000 min -1 . The water-cooled, diaphragm - controlled two-cylinder two-stroke twin with 1:20 mixture lubrication and contactless Dansi thyristor ignition enabled a top speed of 250 km / h with a six-speed gearbox. The 350 cc with a hole of 64 mm and a stroke of 54 mm made 70 hp (51 kW) at 11,400 min -1 and reached a maximum speed of 270 km / h.

Harley-Davidson won 28 Grand Prix victories from 1973 to 1978, 24 in the class up to 250 cm³ and 4 in the class up to 350 cm³. In the class up to 500 cm³ there was an unsuccessful mission in 1976. The Italian Walter Villa was world champion on Harley-Davidson in the class up to 250 cm³ in the 1974 , 1975 and 1976 seasons and in the class up to 350 cm³ in the 1976 season , teammate Michel Rougerie became 1975 vice world champion in the 250cc class.

Cult brand

Harley-Davidson Store in Germany
Harley-Davidson Store in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Instead of competing with the Japanese in the field of technological advances in the 1980s , Harley-Davidson's new advertising strategy primarily focused on the character and experience of the products. From a psychological point of view, the myth of the American dream of freedom and adventure and belonging to the large Harley-Davidson family was sought , also through the establishment of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) in 1983. The strategy includes product expansion to include motorcycle and leisure clothing, home and gift items and, above all, the individualism of the brand, which is specifically addressed through customizing .

"We sell a lifestyle - the motorcycle comes for free."

- Bernhard Gneithing (Marketing Director of Harley-Davidson GmbH)

The differentiation from rocker groups such as Hells Angels and other outlaw motorcycle gangs , who more or less require Harley-Davidson motorcycles as their identity and membership, was and is problematic .

Harley-Davidson finally became a cult brand precisely because the manufacturer offers retro motorcycles with the technology of the 1940s and positions its products in the (price) premium sector. For Harley buyers, whose average age is 47 years (2006), it's not just motorcycles, but works of art. For Harley-Davidson critics, due to the mass of some models, the brand is rated as an “inefficient relic” of a bygone era, which is confirmed by product recalls.

"On the eighth day, God created the Harley."

- Willie G. Davidson (founder's grandson)


100 years of Harley-Davidson (2003)
European Bike Week 2007
  • Internationally, the Daytona Beach Bike Week and Sturgis Motorcycle Rally are the most famous events, at which motorcycles from other brands are represented to a small extent.
  • In 2003 the company and its supporters celebrated their 100th anniversary at various events around the world. In that year the Hamburg Harley Days, the largest German Harley-Davidson event, were held for the first time.
  • The super rally takes place every year on Whitsun . Their organizers are the European Harley-Davidson clubs. The event is held annually in a different European country and its size varies between 5,000 and 12,000 visitors depending on the host country. Only Harley-Davidson, Buell and other US-American motorcycles will be allowed onto the event site itself.
  • At the custom bike show in Bad Salzuflen, the best conversions and parts developments in the scene have been presented and awarded since 2005. Although the fair is aimed specifically at Harley-Davidson owners, motorcycles from other brands or completely in-house developments by the customizers will also be presented.
  • The members of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) meet for the European HOG Rally, which takes place every year in a different country.
  • Harley-Davidson dealers organize so-called Open House events around the world, some of which have developed into large events. In the USA in particular, thousands of visitors often come to these meetings, but some large dealers such as Thunderbike in Germany have already recorded thousands of visitors. The dates of these events are announced by Harley-Davidson at the beginning of the season and are also based on regional conditions such as public holidays.
  • Further events are the Berlin Harley Days (so far only in 2009), the Vienna Harley Days and the Friendship Ride Germany on the Wasserkuppe in the Rhön , all of which took place for the first time in 2009, the Magic Bike Rüdesheim , the International Edersee Meeting, the Harley-Event Plön and, as the largest European event, the European Bike Week in Faak, Austria. A Swiss Harleys Days event has also been held in Switzerland every year since 2009 , the last time in 2013 in Lugano .

Harley-Davidson in the media

Captain America replica, 1987 in the Neckarsulm Two- Wheel

As early as the 1930s, Harley-Davidson motorcycles can be recognized in Hollywood films. B. in the film State Trooper (1933). During the cinematic work up the Hollister Bash by the movie The Wild One (1953), although Harley-Davidson motorcycles can be seen, the main actor Marlon Brando , however, drives a Triumph Thunderbird . James Stewart rides a Harley-Davidson in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957).

The brand achieved cult status through the film Easy Rider (1969) with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper . The two chopper conversions that can be seen there - the long-forked Captain America with its paint scheme based on the US flag and the more compact, flame-adorned Billy Bike - created a new motorcycle culture. The influence of the film on the motorcycle industry was so formative that as a result, especially by Japanese manufacturers, both customizing was taken up and the chopper was produced as a motorcycle type.


Company history

  • David K. Wright: The Harley-Davidson Motor Company . An Official Eighty-Year History. Motorbooks International, Osceola, Wisconsin 1987, ISBN 978-0-87938-103-5 , pp. 288 .

Model development

  • Carsten Heil, Dr. Heinrich Christmann : Myth Harley-Davidson Sportster . History, models, technology, modifications. 6th edition. Huber Verlag , 2018, ISBN 978-3-927896-80-2 , pp. 359 . Note: Amazon No. 29 in the category: Motorcycles (as of 2018)
  • Dr. Heinrich Christmann, Carsten Heil: Harley-Davidson Softail . History, models, technology, modifications. 3. Edition. Huber Verlag, Mannheim 2015, ISBN 978-3-927896-62-8 , pp. 304 .
  • Jerry Hatfield: Standard Catalog of American Motorcycles 1898-1981 . The Only Book to Fully Chronicle Every Bike Ever Built. Ed .: Krause Publications. 2006, ISBN 978-0-89689-949-0 , pp. 448 .
  • Herbert Wagner: At The Creation . Myth, Reality, and the Origin of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, 1901-1909. Ed .: Wisconsin Historical Society Press. 2003, ISBN 0-87020-351-7 , pp. 228 .

Myth and cult of the brand

  • Klaus Schmeh: The cult factor: From marketing to myth . 42 success stories from Rolex to Jägermeister. Ed .: Redline Economy. 1st edition. Frankfurt 2004, ISBN 978-3-636-01082-7 , pp. 268 .
  • Oluf Zierl, Dieter Rebmann: Harley-Davidson . History and myth. Ed .: Ullmann Publishing, Peter Feierabend. 2nd Edition. tape 1 . Könemann Verlag, Cologne 2000, ISBN 978-3-89508-296-2 , p. 682 .

further reading

Motorbuch Verlag

  • Matthias Gerst: Harley Davidson, all models since 1903. Motorbuch Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-613-02504-3 .
  • Rafferty death: Harley-Davidson - 100 years. Motorbuch Verlag, 2006, ISBN 3-613-02361-X .
  • Matthias Gerst: Harley-Davidson and Buell motorcycles with V2 engines. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-613-02542-6 .
  • Death Rafferty: Harley-Davidson. 1st edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-613-01796-2 .
  • Wolfgang Wiesner: Harley Davidson. 2nd Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-613-01097-6 .

Other publishers

Web links

Commons : Harley-Davidson  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Commons : Aermacchi Harley-Davidson  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. According to Wagner, p. 117, the company began at the end of 1904, initially as an "Indefinite Partnership" and from 1907 on was the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
  2. Wagner doubts the year 1903 and gives the date September 1904 for the first functional prototype (Wagner, p. 22). Deliberate backdating in order to extend the history of the manufacturer was determined by Wagner for the Milwaukee Journal (1917) and Motorcycle Illustrated (1916), among others , where Harley-Davidson production begins as early as 1901, for MotorCycling magazine (1910) as early as 1902. Walter Davidson himself speaks of two or three models that were not made until 1904. → See Wagner, p. 220.
  3. 30 in 1906.
  4. The type presented here as the first Harley-Davidson (1903) comes from the 1905/1906 First Harley Davidson model series (picture). ( Memento from October 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ).
  5. File: mack.jpg. ( Memento of December 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). The photo is dated June 1905.
  6. In Germany due to exhaust gas regulations 49 hp (36 kW) at 6000 min -1
  7. In Germany due to exhaust gas regulations 49 hp (36 kW) at 6000 min -1

Individual evidence

  1. a b Annual Report 2019. (PDF) Harley-Davidson, accessed on June 9, 2020 (English).
  2. Page no longer available , search in web archives: key figures according to Postbank on June 24, 2012.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / www.postbank.de
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  4. ^ Vehicle & Powertrain Operations Kansas City, Missouri. ( Memento of October 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). On: harley-davidson.com.
  5. ^ Powertrain Operations Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. ( Memento of October 10, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). On: harley-davidson.com.
  6. 10K Annual Report 2012. Retrieved April 2, 2013.
  7. ^ Herbert Wagner: At The Creation . Myth, Reality, and the Origin of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, 1901-1909. Ed .: Wisconsin Historical Society Press. 2003, ISBN 0-87020-351-7 , pp. 26 .
  8. ^ At the corner of 38th St. Highland Avenue, "Shed". Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  9. ^ Herbert Wagner: At The Creation . Myth, Reality, and the Origin of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, 1901-1909. Ed .: Wisconsin Historical Society Press. 2003, ISBN 0-87020-351-7 , pp. 119 .
  10. Wolfgang Wiesner: Harley Davidson. 2nd Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-613-01097-6 , p. 24.
  11. ^ David K. Wright: The Harley-Davidson Motor Company . An Official Eighty-Year History. Motorbooks International, Osceola, Wisconsin 1987, ISBN 978-0-87938-103-5 , pp. 16 .
  12. ^ Herbert Wagner: At The Creation . Myth, Reality, and the Origin of the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, 1901-1909. Ed .: Wisconsin Historical Society Press. 2003, ISBN 0-87020-351-7 , pp. 139 .
  13. Rafferty, p. 14.
  14. Rafferty, p. 18.
  15. Chestnut Street production facility, 1907. ( Memento from June 30, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ). Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  16. Juneau Avenue. ( Memento of October 10, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved March 17, 2013.
  17. ^ David K. Wright: The Harley-Davidson Motor Company . An Official Eighty-Year History. Motorbooks International, Osceola, Wisconsin 1987, ISBN 978-0-87938-103-5 , pp. 248 .
  18. Wolfgang Wiesner: Harley Davidson. 2nd Edition. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-613-01097-6 , p. 156.
  19. US RAISES TARIFF FOR MOTORCYCLES. In: New York Times. April 2, 1983, accessed April 14, 2016 .
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  38. coachbuilt.com: Abresch.
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  40. a b Wiesner, p. 52.
  41. Jerry Hatfield: Standard Catalog of American Motorcycles 1898-1981 . The Only Book to Fully Chronicle Every Bike Ever Built. Ed .: Krause Publications. 2006, ISBN 978-0-89689-949-0 , pp. 352 .
  42. ^ Rafferty, p. 56.
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  50. HD brochure. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
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  53. vintagegolfcartparts.com. ( Memento from March 19, 2015 in the Internet Archive ). Retrieved April 4, 2013.
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  59. photobucket.com: Image of the X 1000. Retrieved March 20, 2013.
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  61. Harley-Davidson project Nova V-4 1979–1980. ( Memento of April 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive ). At: youtube.com. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  62. Milwaukee on the electric trip. At: faz.net. April 26, 2014, accessed June 24, 2014.
  63. The Model 1 is incorrectly referred to in some reports as the "Silent Gray Fellow" despite its black color. → planet-wissen.de.
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  65. Rafferty, pp. 10-23.
  66. ^ Hatfield, p. 116.
  67. ^ Wright, p. 279.
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  70. Rafferty, p. 10.
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  87. Girdler, p. 38.
  88. Girdler, p. 100.
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  94. ^ Discovery Channel - Birth of V-Rod, min. 32:50.
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  97. ^ Wright, p. 161.
  98. A comparable Indian track racing machine was offered for $ 350.
  99. Otto Walker on the oval track. → See: Otto Walker. ( Memento of November 2, 2012 in the Internet Archive ).
  100. Rafferty, pp. 28-29.
  101. In terms of performance , the Indian track racing machine was superior to the Harley-Davidson Cyclone track racing machine over shorter distances .
  102. Girdler, p. 141.
  103. ^ Wright, p. 166.
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