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Everything To Know About Harley-Davidson’s First Motorcycle

The company that would become Harley-Davidson was founded at the turn of the 1900s by a pair of young men named William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson. Both of these gentlemen had an interest in the automotive field, with Harley working in a bicycle factory and Davidson working as a draftsman, and the two struck up a friendship over their mutual interest. One night, in 1901, the pair visited the local vaudeville theater to take in some entertainment, where they witnessed a performer ride across a stage on an engine-powered tricycle.
Inspired by the unusual prop, Harley and Davidson attempted to apply the concept to a traditional two-wheeler. Their first prototype, the Model 0, utilized a single-cylinder engine and a belt drive. That didn’t quite get them the muscle they were looking for, so they iterated further, building a new body from scratch to fit a larger engine. The result was their new company’s first official product, the Model 1.
Fun fact: The Model 1 was completed in 1905. The vehicle commonly regarded as the first motorcycle was created in 1885 by German engineers Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. So while the Model 1 wasn’t the first motorcycle ever made, Harley and Davidson only missed the proverbial start line by a couple of decades.
[Image by Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled]

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