The Harley-Davidson Story

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Nov 2018

Member Reviews

This is a book that shows you the complete history of the company, from the men who started it. Through the bikes and the many different changes over the years. To the color additions, through WWII and then some lean times after the war and the foreign competition that they have been up against and how they have had to overcome and change with the times. Who bringing in clothing was one way, but also by being the first motorcycle company with electric starter when they were competing with Honda, for a bigger road motorcycle. There are many photographs from the museum and they coincide with the different time periods that the author is discussing along with advertisements also from that era. A very through history of the company form the original owners to when they were taken over and when they were bought back from AMF. Also a section with new designs and what is being looked at for the future of the company. A through and excellent book about the history of Harley- Davidson. Very much a must for anyone’s collection of the history of motor cycles or American companies.
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I married a biker and have always been interested in motorcycles. i absolutely love the feel of the freedom of being on the back of a bike. We took a trip to Pennsylvania a few years ago on our Harley and it was so amazing. You honestly do not know how much of the beauty of the world you are missing by being surrounded by box while going down the road. At one point in Virginia I looked up where the south bound lane was and was literally able to see the driveshaft of a semi spinning around as it passed by us, yes that was scary but also unbelievable. If I had not been on the back of a motorcycle that would of been something I would of never seen from a car. 

We own a Harley and have actually been to the Harley Plant in York PA a couple of times and taken their tours. On the tour you get to see in an essence a Harley made from start to finish. There is also a area of the plant that is all History. It is actually kind of brief so when I saw this book on Net Galley I knew I needed it. so I could get more of the story. 

My husband and I both very much enjoyed this book. There is so much information crammed into the pages of this book it is almost to the point of being overwhelming. And I do say overwhelming ina good way. The photo's included int he book are amazing as well. The books take you on the journey of Harley Davidson from just the idea to today. The ups and downs of the company and so much more. You learn about the men who gave birth to one of today's most well known brands, their struggles and their wins along the way. 

This truly is a great book and if you have a biker in your life this would make an amazing and cherished gift for them. 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com and chose to leave this review.
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This was a great collector book full of history and roots of one of the greatest motorcycle companies out there.
I found it quite charming and educational. As much as we enthusiasts shudder about a certain period of Harley history, I'm so glad to see the company is back on track.
This is a great book, and I know three people in my family who'll be getting their own copies just as soon as possible!
It's a wonderful gift for any Harley-Davidson fan!
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I really liked this company biography, told through shorter, digestible essays accompanied by tons of photos, rather than a dry, dull wall-of-text. From the first motorized bicycles built in a Milwaukee shed in the early 1900s to the as-yet-unreleased full electric motorcycle and everything in between, the story of iconic American company Harley-Davidson is laid out here using artifacts and motorcycles from their museum and archives. Makes me want to hop on my bike, hit the road, and ride it like I stole it!
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The Harley Davidson story, tales from the archives by author Aaron Frank is a rich and intriguing story of Harley-Davidson. My husband and I both enjoyed reading this one. 
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of The Harley-Davidson story in exchange for an honest review.
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The Harley-Davidson Story: Tales from the Archives by Aaron Frank is a history of Harley-Davidson inspired by the companies museum. Frank is a Milwaukee-based writer and former staffer at Motorcyclist magazine. He is known for his insightful and clear writing. He has ridden--and written about--everything from 200-horsepower superbikes to 200-plus-mph land-speed racers to 12-foot-long choppers to century-old antique bikes.

Harley-Davidson is a company built on mystique, legend, and lore. It is the machine of choice for motorcycle clubs, outlaws, and Hollywood badasses. It is a company that went from shops in the wrong part of town to modern designed retail establishments. South East Harley-Davidson used to be in my neighborhood in Cleveland. Everything in the area let you know that this is where bikers lived, and I felt pretty cool having them as a customer on my paper route. The shop has since moved to the suburbs and into a neighborhood, unlike its previous one. In Texas, I worked the parts counter and later became a mechanic at the local shop that was transitioning to its new image. It was a great experience and helped pay my way through grad school.

Frank covers quite a bit of ground from the search for the mythical serial number 1 Harley through Toppers, rockets (yes rockets), and the latest Serengeti and Live Wire models. There is the cycling culture that grew from the Wrecking Crew, early women riders, and 1%ers. Harley-Davidson is about evolution and dealer networks. The slow and progressive change in engines -- Flathead, Knucklehead, Panhead, Shovelhead, and Evolution engines is being met by fast-changing designs of foreign motorcycle companies. Harley evolves only when it needs to and not just to create new models. The modern-day "tractor engine" jokes, however, do go against the racing history of the company.

The Harley-Davidson Story is different than most histories because it is based on the company's own records and museum.   Richly illustrated with old photographs and relics of the company's past this book brings the history alive. Harley Davidson itself is also responsible for the detailed documentation of its own history by keeping complete bikes as well as notebooks, dealer and Enthusiast magazines, and its lifestyle promotions.  The Motor Company has a century of success and is a brand known around the world.  It is also a brand that people want to be associated with even if one does not ride motorcycles.  T-Shirts, bumper stickers, jackets, and other branded paraphernalia remain in high demand.  It is not only consumers but also manufacturers that desire part of the image.  All four major Japanese brands sell V-Twin cruisers made to mimic Harley-Davidson. 

Today, Harley-Davidson faces a new challenge.  The middle age professional customers of the 1990s are dwindling.  The Millennial crowd is not interested in tradition, or perhaps it is more attracted to new and different motorcycles than traditional American bikes.   The last two chapters cover vehicles that are not even on the market yet.  The Harley-Davidson Story is not only the history of the brand but also the doorstep to its next evolution.
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