8. Harley Didn’t Immediately Dominate the Motorcycle Market
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.