Foundation and Engines


On September 17, 1907, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company of Milwaukee was established with a notary. President became Walter Davidson, secretary and sales manager Arthur Davidson, William Harley chief engineer and William Davidson vice president and production manager. The shares, with an invested capital of US $ 14,200, were divided as follows:

Walter Davidson: 50 shares
Arthur Davidson: 47 shares
William A. Davidson: 40 shares
William S. Harley: 5 Shares

Harley-Davidson Factory Hall 1911

Walter Davidson with model 4 (1908)
In the same year, a larger property on Chestnut Street was purchased for production. In 1908, Walter Davidson won a 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 model 4 (1908) Total consumption from about 1.2 liters to 100 kilometers. The success of Walter Davidson (by “Rush with Time”) was praised in full-page advertisements. This was followed by the first orders for the supply of motorcycles for the police and the Bell Telephone Company; The company employed 18 full-time employees, two years later already 149. In 1912, the new building was moved to Juneau Avenue in Milwaukee.

The motorcycle production started in 1905 with the model 1. The single-cylinder engine mounted in a bicycle-like frame was driving the rear wheel directly via a belt. The motorcycle had no clutch. The ignition was powered by a battery. The designers put great emphasis on stability and quality, which gave the machines the reputation of reliable everyday devices. Because of its gray paint finish from 1906 onwards, and the relatively good sound attenuation for the pioneering days, the 440 cm³ engine was soon given the nickname “Silent Gray Fellow” (a “silent gray comrade”), originally designated by the manufacturer for model 7D.

With the model 4 1908 for the first time the William Harley reworked Sager-Cushion-Gabel was used. J. H. Sagers Patent of the Front Suspension Fork Forked March 26, 1907, Harley-Davidson took taciturn.

William, Walter and Arthur Davidson, W. Harley (from left to right), 1920
1913, two years after the V engine, the single cylinder received a controlled, hanging intake valve in the cylinder head (see Inlet over Exhaust). This type of valve control remained unchanged until production was set up in 1918. It was not until 1926 that Harley-Davidson produced a new single-cylinder engine with a displacement of 346 cm³. It was available in two versions: the IOE and the OHV, the first of its kind for Harley-Davidson. The OHV model, which was mainly used in races, got the nickname “Peashooter” (blowpipe) because of its exhaust noise. From 1930 to 1934 the last single-cylinder model with 493 cm³ displacement and side valves (Flathead) was manufactured. In 1948, after the Second World War, Harley-Davidson began producing a single-cylinder motorbike with a two-stroke engine based on the DKW RT 125, 1960 with single-cylinder four-wheelers after the takeover of Aermacchi.