Harley-Davidson turns 120 – and is celebrating
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DAMN LONG TIME AGO 

Harley-Davidson turns 120 – and is celebrating

FRANKFURT (02/09/2023) - Everyone has probably heard it before, the story of the backyard woodshed where the first three Harley-Davidson motorcycles were built. That was in 1903 in Milwaukee, USA. But could William Harley and the three Davidson brothers have known that their company would stand the test of time?  

At the beginning of the 20th century there were a large number of motorcycle manufacturers in the USA. They came and they went, Harley-Davidson stayed - and is now turning 120. The company is the only manufacturer in the world to have manufactured motorcycles independently for 120 years without interruption.  

As early as 1909, the single-cylinder models of the early years became more powerful, compact 45° V-twins. In the vast United States, huge distances had to be covered with ease, even on better dirt roads, and Harley-Davidson earned a first-class reputation for the reliability of its machines. Since the mid-1910s, the factory racing team, called the Wrecking Crew, has been driving bikes like the 180 km/h eight-valve racer to the ground - which underlines the performance of the motorcycles from Milwaukee.

Within 17 years, Harley-Davidson grew into the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world and could boast of its monumental factory, which was built not far from the woodshed on what is now Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee. In 1936, the ancestor of modern Harleys was launched here: the 145 km/h Model E/EL with its head-controlled V2, known as the Knucklehead.  

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Harley-Davidson turns 120 – and is celebrating
Harley-Davidson turns 120 – and is celebrating

The historic factory is now the headquarters of the US company. Today, Harley-Davidson is still at home in Milwaukee, where it all began, and today the company is still loyal to the four-stroke V2 - even though it has tried everything from the 50s two-stroke engine to the large-displacement boxer.

Even though it looks like some of its ancestors, it has been adapted to the needs of the times decade after decade and is extremely modern. With the Milwaukee-Eight and the Revolution Max, America's most traditional motorcycle manufacturer is currently producing two different engine concepts: an air-cooled 45° V2 with a liquid-cooled exhaust area and a liquid-cooled 60° V2. The cubatures range from 975 to 1,923 cubic centimeters, and the engines produce up to 112 kW (152 hp).

And modern features such as electronic assistance systems, practical Bluetooth cell phone connectivity and state-of-the-art infotainment have long since found their way into machines from Milwaukee. But what has remained and will never change is the special aura of a Harley-Davidson: its look, its sound and the feeling it conveys are unique. It stands for an attitude to life that goes hand in hand with values ​​such as freedom, individuality and non-conformism. Their fans and drivers form a large, global family that has not forgotten how to celebrate.  

And there will be celebrations in 2023 - for example at the European 120th Anniversary Party, which will take place in Budapest from June 22nd to 25th, and of course wherever the friends of the US brand meet, party and talk about petrol. For more information, visit Harley-Davidson.com.  

Text & image credit: Harley-Davidson February 9, 2023


DAMN LONG Harley-Davidson turns 120 – and celebrates 1st

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