When, in 1903, William Harley and Arthur Davidson put their names on the fuel tank of their first motorcycle neither could have possibly envisaged the impact that their new creation would have.
Harley-Davidson isn' t just the world's oldest motorcycle manufacturer, it's one of the most famous brand names in the world, anyone and everyone knows the name Harley-Davidson. Ever since its first motorcycle Harley has ruled the cruiser market, leaving other manufacturers to fight for the scraps. You don't buy a cruiser, you buy a Harley, it's an aspirational model for young riders and mid-life crisis accountants the world over desperate to buy into the Harley-Davidson lifestyle.
In America alone Harley-Davidson has a 57 percent stake in the cruiser market, the next closest is Yamaha with 17 percent. But that is just a fraction of the story. Harley-Davidson has been fast to capitalize on its strong brand name and created a huge revenue stream in licensed gear including aftershave, clothing, bolt-on extras, cleaning products, lighters, basically if it's a lifestyle product you can buy it with the Harley-Davidson brand on it. From a shed in Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson has expended to become the most famous motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
Not a bad achievement considering their first motorcycle used a converted tin can as a carburettor, although some will argue that Harley-Davidson's technology hasn't developed that much since then...