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The First Harley-Davidson V-Twin

  The trademark Harley-Davidson v-twin debuts in 1909

The first Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine

1909 The trademark 45 degree Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine, introduced in 1909, displaced 49.5 cu in and produced seven horsepower, doubling that of their previous engines. Top speed: 60 mph. 1909 production: 1,149 motorcycles. By 1911 there were over 150 other brands of motorcycles competing for their share of the market.

1913 The original 28′ x 80′ factory had grown to 297,110 square feet. The Harley-Davidson v-twin began to dominate racing events. 1913 production: 12,904 motorcycles.

1916-18 A new use for motorcycles appeared on the battlefield. Already popular for police use, Harley-Davidson motorcycles supported the military in border skirmishes with Pancho Villa in the early 1900s. As motorcycles became more reliable, the United States called upon motorcycle manufacturers to support the infantry in World War I. By the end of the war, 20,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycles had been called into action.

1920 Harley-Davidson became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world, boasting dealers in 67 countries. 1920 production: 28,189 motorcycles.

hiram1921 In February 1921, on a Fresno, Calif., board track, a Harley-Davidson became the first motorcycle ever to win a race with an average speed over 100 mph. Boardtracks were old converted bicycle velodromes (banked oval tracks made with wooden slats). Now imagine in the beginning 10 or so years previous, you had these loud open pipe motorcycles that needed some traction on these round slatted tracks. Hence, the development of motorcycle tires.


1922-28 The Twenties were a decade of innovation for Harley-Davidson, following World War I there were major advancements in motorcycle design and leading the way was the 74 cu in. Harley-Davidson v-twin (1922), the Teardrop gas tank (1925) and the front brake (1928).

By 1911 There Were Over 150 Brands of Motorcycles

FACTOID In the early days of motorcycles, tires were seldom black. The rubber from which they were made was naturally colored off-white or tan. Today’s black tires owe their color to an accidental discovery. In 1885, the rubber tire company B.F. Goodrich decided to try black tires, thinking that they might not show the dirt as much. They added carbon black pigment to the rubber mixture. To their surprise, they discovered that the carbon-colored rubber tires were five times more durable than the uncolored ones.




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