William S. Harley, a draughtsman was employed from 1896 on in a bicycle factory in Milwakee. His friend Arthur Davidson worked at that time in a company for electric motors. Already in 1901, they had the plan to build a motorized bicycle and Harley had the first technical drawings for the motor atready in the drawer. For their first prototype developments they had taken lodgings located it in the workshop rooms of a hardware store. Owner was Henry Melk. They got help from Ole Evinrude and Emil Krüger, a German who worked at DeDion-Bouton and probably gave them some construction drawings of the motor. Three years later Harley and Davidson moved in their own workshop, a shed behind the House of the Davidsons. Already in 1903 the first prototype of a Harley Davidson motorcycle has been build, but this unfortunately does no longer exists and there are no photos or records. Meanwhile the two brothers William and Walter Davidson joined the company and the Harley-Davidson Company of Milwakee was officially founded in September 1907. In the same year, the new company already moved to the new premises on Chestnut Street. Finally in1905 the first model, the Harley Davidson Model 1 was ready for sales. A motorcycle with a single cylinder engine, powering the rear wheel via a belt. It had no clutch. The ignition was powered by a battery.
1908 Walter Davidson won a 50 mile race in the 500 cc class with a Harley Davidson model 4. This gave Harley and the Davidson BB´s the opportunity to advertise for themselves. They received their first orders to build some motorcycles for the police and the Bell telephone company. Thus began the successful company history of Harley Davidson.
The story of William S. Harley and the Davidson brothers has been taken up now in a three-part Discovery Channel series, which starts this week in the United States. It is not known yet when it comes to Germany / Europe. Michael Huismann (actor from games of Thrones) plays William Harley. Arthur Davidson is played by bug Hall. Also the rare replicas of the very early models from the Harley Davidson Museum were used for the filming, in addition to original motorcycles. The images are spectacular and reflect the atmosphere of the former motorcycle races. A must for every lover of these legendary motorcycles.