Get the rest of the story

Even Harley-Davidson can’t fit one hundred-plus years of history into a single museum. Experience more here – including an interactive timeline.

 

H-D Timeline


1980

Harley-Davidson debuts the FLT with its vibration dampening, rubber-isolated drivetrain and unique trailing front fork. The FLT also debuts an engine and five-speed transmission that are hard bolted together.


A kevlar belt replaces the chain as the final drive. The belt is cleaner running, and needs less adjustments and maintenance. It isn't long before belt final drive is standard on all Harley-Davidson® motorcycles.


The AMA Grand National Championship in dirt track racing goes to yet another Harley-Davidson racer, Randy Goss.


In honor of the historic Sturgis motorcycle rally, Harley-Davidson releases the FXB Sturgis model, employing belt drive, black chrome appointments and 80 cubic inch engine.


The FXWG Wide Glide is introduced for the 1980 model year.

1981

On February 26, thirteen Harley-Davidson senior executives sign a letter of intent to purchase Harley-Davidson Motor Company from AMF. By mid-June, the buyback is official, and the phrase "The Eagle Soars Alone" becomes a rallying cry.


Scott Parker begins racing for team Harley-Davidson on the AMA dirt track circuit. He will become the most successful racer in Harley-Davidson history, accumulating 93 career victories and, more incredibly, winning 9 Grand National Champion titles in a 10-year period.

1982

More innovations demonstrate a new commitment to quality, such as the FXR/FXRS Super Glide® II with its rubber-isolated, five-speed powertrain and the welded and stamped frame for the new Sportster® models.


The top three finishers in the AMA Grand National Championship are Ricky Graham, Jay Springsteen and Randy Goss. This begins a two year run of dirt track Championship wins for Harley-Davidson. Goss takes the Championship in 1983.


The Materials As Needed (MAN) application is introduced to production. Generally, this means that parts and raw materials are purchased and built only as they are required. This dramatically lowers production costs and improves quality.

1983

Harley-Davidson successfully petitions the International Trade Commission (ITC) for tariff relief, which is granted April 1, 1983. The tariff, scheduled to end five years later, is placed on all imported Japanese motorcycles 700cc or larger as a response to Japanese motorcycle manufacturers stockpiling inventories of unsold motorcycles in the United States.


One of Harley-Davidson's most unique endeavors begins: Harley Owners Group®. Fondly referred to as H.O.G.®, the Group immediately becomes the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world. Within six years, H.O.G. membership soars to more than 90,000. By the year 2000, it exceeds 500,000 members.


Dirt track racer Randy Goss wins the AMA Grand National Championship this year.

1984

Harley-Davidson unveils the 1340cc V²® Evolution® engine on five models including the all-new Softail®. The result of seven years of development, the Evolution engine produces more power at every speed, runs cooler, cleaner and is oil-tight. Also witnessed is the debut of the Softail design and its trend-setting method of "hiding" the motorcycle's rear shock absorbers.

1986

In another bold styling and engineering move, Harley-Davidson releases the Heritage Softail®.


The Motor Company is listed on the American Stock Exchange, the first time Harley-Davidson is publicly traded since 1969, the year of the AMF merger.


The Sportster® motorcycle line receives the Evolution V-twin engine.


To diversify its holdings, Harley-Davidson purchases Holiday Rambler Corporation, producer of quality motor homes.

1987

Harley-Davidson is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.


Harley-Davidson makes both business and American history. H-D petitions the International Trade Commission for early termination of the five-year tariffs on heavyweight motorcycles. In effect, the move demonstrated confidence in H-D's ability to compete in the marketplace.


Harley-Davidson begins the "Buy Back Program," for the XLH 883 Sportster, which offers full trade-in value within two years on either a model FL or FX.

1988

The springer front end returns in the FXSTS Springer® Softail®. Also introduced is the Sportster 1200. Harley-Davidson celebrates its 85th Anniversary with a Homecoming in Milwaukee, attended by over 60,000 enthusiasts.


The Harley-Davidson Traveling Museum hits the road, displaying memorabilia, classic Harley-Davidson motorcycles and the rich history of the Harley-Davidson rider.


Scott Parker wins the first of his nine AMA Grand National Championships. His total domination is unprecedented in the history of the sport of dirt track motorcycle racing.