8. Harley Didn’t Immediately Dominate the Motorcycle Market

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In the first decade of the 20th century, there were well more than 100 motorcycle manufacturers in America. Indian had nearly a five-year head start in terms of production bikes. Springfield’s George Hendee was a former bicycle racer and astute marketer; his partner Oscar Hedstrom was a brilliant engineer.

Milwaukee was barely sniffing Indian’s exhaust during the first five years. By 1910, H-D was producing about 3,000 machines a year, while Indian figures were double that. Indian’s successful racing endeavors and subsequent sales success were the motivating factors forcing Harley to abandon its policy of no factory-supported competition. An internal race department was formed in 1914, and the legendary Wrecking Crew went on to win countless races and bring needed notoriety to The Motor Company. Harley became the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer by 1920.

  • http://www.aclu.org i1n1f1o1m1a1n1i1a1c1

    “…Harley’s bicycles were stout and stylish, but they were expensive in a quite crowded market….”

    And thus a tradition was born.

  • Shistang

    I wont buy a Harley-Davison they ignore the needsof the Black Communnity.

    • Bull

      Your a fuckin idiot!!!

      • Alvin White

        That would be “you’re a fuckin idiot” ….. but your sentiment is dead on ..

        • J Schtulmann

          LOL. and Shistang, what are the needs of the “black” community…..racist prick

        • Bull

          Lol, yes Alvin I know this. It was an intentional grammar stab at his use of the word “needsof”. Lol, but hey at least you were paying attention! 10 points for you and a gold star!

    • Dennis

      LOL ya go that to the All the black riders I see

      • Shistang

        What you said there dont make any sense, but Harley-Davison need to offer insentives to African-American customers with special discounts on bikes and then become known as a progressive company witch will help sells in the long run.

        • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

          Wait. Are you suggesting HD offer discounts to black (potential) customers simply because they’re… (wait for it) black?

        • Dennis

          Are you kidding me …… go in and get the best deal you can like any other person…….

        • Dennis

          I don’t see a problem with ANY minorities not being able to afford a Harley

        • Doc

          It is unbelievable to me that you would even think that a company should for any reason give anybody a discount based on race, creed or color. You are such a racist piece of crap. A disgrace to the black community.

    • methamphetasaur

      Is that why the Road Glide and the Hayabusa have a 90+% lock on the black community?

    • Randy Kruger

      Harley-Davidson was the first manufacturer of motorcycles to grant a dealership to anyone of African-American heritage. Johnson did not need to pretend to be of African-Indian descent to achieve this – he had proven his skills in riding and repairing Harleys for several years.

      His exclusive dealership came under threat in 1969 when a competitor, Pat Cramer, was granted a dealership only five miles away from his shop. Many people saw this as an attempt to force him out of business in increasingly racist times, and Johnson not only resisted attempts by Cramer to buy him out but also (with help from the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) put pressure on Harley-Davidson to resolve the competitive issue by forcing Cramer to cooperate under threat of having his (Cramer’s) dealership status revoked.

      This all worked out rather well. Cramer agreed to drop the heavy-handed competition and instead resolved to cooperate with Johnson, and the two men not only began to work together but also became friends.

      William ‘Wild Bill’ Johnson died in 1985 and is commemorated at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee.

  • http://dbakeca.com Dbakeca Italia

    this is nice

  • Dennis

    “unfortunately ,I didn’t snap a picture of it”…….. how many times I heard that…….

  • miike

    I bought a new HD about 7 years ago…but HD wouldn’t stand behind their warranty. So I traded it for a VW powered sand rail, and kept my Honda V-twin, which now has 50K miles on it, and only routine maintenance & tires. The value of my new HD dropped to 1/2 the minute I drove it home. Never again! Maybe a used one? No hurry to make another mistake!

  • Mark Boese

    #11…They’re “Assembled” in America, but there are lots of overseas parts in ’em?

  • Doug Erickson

    #11 harley-davidson has a specific arm of their marketing department that specializes in excuses for not riding bikes that require actual ability. these excuses eventually become the basis of their most popular merchandise.