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


1901

William S. Harley, age 21, completes a blueprint drawing of an engine designed to fit into a bicycle.


1903

William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson make available to the public the first production Harley-Davidson® motorcycle. The bike was built to be a racer, with a 3-1/8 inch bore and 3-1/2 inch stroke. The factory in which they worked was a 10 x 15-foot wooden shed with the words "Harley-Davidson Motor Company" crudely scrawled on the door. Arthur's brother Walter later joins their efforts.


Henry Meyer of Milwaukee, a schoolyard pal of William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson, buys one of the 1903 models directly from the founders.


1904

The first Harley-Davidson Dealer, C.H. Lang of Chicago, IL, opens for business and sells one of the first three production Harley-Davidson motorcycles ever made.


1905

On July 4th, a H-D motorcycle wins a 15 mile race in Chicago with a time of 19:02. In Milwaukee, the first full-time employee is hired.


1906

A new factory, measuring 28 x 80 feet, is built on the Chestnut St. site, later renamed Juneau Avenue. Staff size is increased to six full-time employees. Also, the first motorcycle catalog is produced by the Company and the nickname "Silent Gray Fellow" is used for the first time.


1907

William A. Davidson, brother to Arthur and Walter Davidson, quits his job as tool foreman for the Milwaukee Road railroad and joins the Motor Company.


Harley-Davidson Motor Company is incorporated on September 17th. The stock is split four ways among the four founders, and staff size has more than doubled from the previous year to eighteen employees. Factory size is doubled as well. Dealer recruitment begins, targeting the New England region.


1908

Walter Davidson scores a perfect 1,000 points at the 7th Annual Federation of American Motorcyclists Endurance and Reliability Contest. Three days after the contest, Walter sets the FAM economy record at 188.234 miles per gallon. Word of Harley-Davidson's extremely tough motorcycle spreads rapidly.


The first motorcycle sold for police duty is delivered to the Detroit, MI Police Department.


1909

The six-year-old Harley-Davidson Motor Company introduces its first V-twin powered motorcycle. With a displacement of 49.5 cubic inches, the bike produces seven horsepower. The image of two cylinders in a 45-degree configuration would fast become one of the most enduring icons of Harley-Davidson history. Also available for the first time from the Motor Company are spare parts for motorcycles.

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