Published By: Sohini

Lesser known facts about first Harley Davidson bike

Having started its journey around 119 years ago, Harley Davidson bikes are legendary for a number of reasons!

Founded in 1903, Harley Davidson has a long history behind its name and glory before becoming one of the largest motorcycle brands in the world. With its first motorcycle, the “Harley Davidson Model No. 1”, the company roared its very first strength in the market which resonated to several potential bike lovers of that era and created a history which is still praised by people around the world, making the very name “Harley Davidson”, one of the most successful brands in US and other 100+ countries it presently operates in. This article presents some of the unknown facts about the first Harley Davidson bike, which is not just an intriguing story but a joyful journey as well.

Creation of “Harley Davidson Model No. 1”

At the age of just 21, William S Harley dreamed about making their first bike along with his friends Arthur Davidson and Henry Melk. The labor intensive dream kicked off after William S Harley developed a small capacity engine of 7.07 cubic inches. Along with his friends, Arthur and Melk, Henry started working on the very first prototype in the year 1903 which triggered the interest of quite a many investors in the market that finally led to the production of “Harley Davidson Model No. 1” in the year 1905 in Wisconsin, USA.

Features of the first Harley Davidson Bike

Produced on the first prototype that was made in 1903, the 1905 “Harley Davidson Model No. 1” was made in a similar structure to the cycle like bikes built during early 1903 abd 1904. Regarding its engine, an “inlet-over- exhaust single” with a capacity of 24.74 cubic inches (that is around 405.41CC) was developed for Harley Davidson’s first bike. While the bike’s top speed was highly appealing as well, ranging 40mph considering its weight which was around 84 kilograms.

First advertisements of “Harley Davidson Model No. 1” and other interesting facts

The advertisement and promotional journey of “Harley Davidson Model No. 1” started with minimal to extraordinary efforts, with an aim of resonating the bike’s roar to several joy ride seekers. Small scale advertisements through pamphlets and hoardings were arranged near the “Automobile and Cycle Trade Journal”, which also created a DIY type trade game. Within a few months of first promotional efforts, Harley Davidson sold 3 bikes from its 10/15 ft wooden shed in its backyard. Quickly after 1 year, the company produced nearly 50 bikes alone in a single year with minimal staff capabilities. For some people, the journey of Harley Davidson and its glamour to those people of yesteryear might have missed out, had Edward Hildebrand not finished the State Fair Park race competition at No. 4 with just a prototype of “Harley Davidson Model No. 1” in the year 1904.


Harley Davidson, today is regarded as one of the biggest cruiser motorcycle brands in the world, which may not have happened today, if the 21 year old William S Harley did not dream about it!