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The History Of The Hog Essay, Research Paper

The History of The Hog

The rhythmic throb of a low-idling engine and the teeth-chattering vibration of the entire

machine consume the rider. He is seated in a low-slung saddle, swathed in leather, anticipating

the road ahead. Gingerly he twists the throttle backward. The thumpety-thump-thumpump

becomes a steady thud-thud-thud. The rider tenderly balances the throttle and clutch, and

crisscrossing the pressures on each, roars away in a thunder of rubber and chrome.

Harley-Davidson motorcycles are a symbol of the United States. The brawn and power they

possess, as well as a long history, give them the character that something needs to be a classic.

Harleys have been around for almost 95 years, and in that time the typical rider has undergone a

great change in persona. First, he was a working man with a limited transportation budget. Later

he was a rebellious street-fighter. Later still, he was an apathetic veteran in an apathetic country.

Today, he or she is someone with enough money to enjoy the sport of motorcycling on a Harley.

According to the internet site harleydavidson.com, the Harley Davidson got its start in 1901

when William Harley and Arthur Davidson decided they would “take the effort out of bicycling.”

Two years later they produced their first three motorcycles and were on their way. In 1906 their

fist factory was built. The modern day facility sits on the same site on Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee,

Wisconsin.

The first few hundred motorcycles were for private use, but the allied leaders of World War

One saw the military applications of the Harley-Davidson. So, in 1916 swift production began on

the army version of the bike. By the end of the war, Harley-Davidson would manufacture more

than 20,000 motorcycles for the allies in Europe.

By the start of the roaring twenties, Harley-Davidson was the largest manufacturer of

motorcycles in the United States and the world. The Harley was drafted again in 1941,

immediately after Pearl Harbor was attacked. This time, 90,000 motorcycles were needed.

In 1965, the world land speed record was set on a Harley-Davidson dirt bike. Harley was

becoming very popular and recognizable. In 1969, harley joined with American Manufacturing

and Foundry (which was actually a Japanese company) which, according to one dealer, was a sad

day for Harley Performance. He says the mixture of American and Japanese parts made for an

unreliable breed of bikes from 1969 to 1981.

It was in 1981 that Harley-Davidson became independent from AMF. Using the slogan “The

Eagle Soars Alone” the company crawled back to the top of the market. Along with the soaring

of the eagle came soaring of prices. The world of Harley-Davidson was about to see a shift. The

bikes were no longer something everyone could have. At prices of over $15,000 they were not

available to someone with a low income. The days of the “biker” had vanished. Harleys could only

be enjoyed by the upper-middle crust, and even then only on terms of an extremely good credit

rating.

This year, for the first time in 16 years, the prices of at least some Harleys have dropped below

10,000. According to a pamphlet published by Harley, the price of a Sportster 883 is $5,135. Will

we see a return of the working-man biker? Will women be just as likely to ride? The answers to

these question will surely be answered as Harley celebrates its first century. A symbol of United

States heritage, that changes and metamorphoses with its country, is recognizable worldwide, and

cheap enough for the working class, this is a Harley-Davidson.


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