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The World's Motorcycle.Photo albums of the great Harley reunion rides, and parades in Milwaukee.
Harley Birthday Celibrations
(Click below to visit)
Arguably, the world's greatest motorcycle. If you doubt this, imply that
they aren't, and the argument is certain to come. There is a real love and
devotion among Harley owners, and non owners alike. Harleys are expensive.
Your average used Harley costs more than your average used car. A new Harley
is a major expense, and often a long wait as well. Here is a 100 year old
company, which invented the motorcycle, and was started by a couple of backyard
tinkerers. It's products served in two world wars, and a number of lesser
conflicts, as well as on police departments all over the world.
Harley Davidson motorcycles are celebrated on their own merits all over the world, in user groups, clubs, rides, and even literature. The bikes are an icon and an institution. A whole industry has grown up around Harley, including clothing, aftermarket parts, and customization, not to mention it's contribution to the booming tourist trade.
All of this, from a company who's very survival was in doubt a couple of decades ago, and who's product, and product line, was becoming somewhat of a joke. Under AMF, Harley even had some 250cc bikes in it's line. Here was a company which was on top of the world, in the fifties, and through the sixties. By the seventies, and into the eighties, there seemed to be nowhere to go but down. These were the AMF years. They are not fondly remembered by the Harley faithful.
AMF was started in 1900, three years previous to the beginning of Harley Davidson. They made, and continue to make, bowling equipment. In the sixties, AMF desired to add a bit of versatility to it's line, and began to expand by purchasing other companies. For a time, AMF produced (or owned companies which produced) everything from tennis balls to large yachts. The company slowly divested itself, as it found itself involved in many industries it did not understand, and was eventually the victim of a hostile takeover. Once taken over, all other assets were sold, taking the company, more or less, back to it's beginnings. AMF now does more than just manufacture bowling equipment, it is the owner of many bowling centers.
Though there are many who would like to point the finger at AMF for the decline of Harley, they were not completely to blame. In the late sixties, when Harley was at it's peak, they were producing a forty year old design, which had not had significant improvements made to it for almost twenty years. In 1969, Honda introduced a large version of it's four cylinder Overhead cam motorcycle; introductions of similar models were made by other companies. Thus began the era of the so called Universal Japanese Motorcycle. Suddenly, the mighty Harley began to look large, cumbersome, slow, and old. Much of this can be blamed on the management of Harley itself. Certainly they and their engineering staff were aware of developments in other parts of the industry, but chose not to respond, relying upon their reputation and the loyalty of their customers, and allowed others to pass them by. Interestingly, the Universal Japanese Motorcycle is now forty years old, and has a mechanical design which has not changed in at least twenty years.....Hmmm.
The Magnificent 100th birthday (2003)
One of the little ones (2002)
|The 95th (1998)
The first of the big ones (1993)