Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak just wanted to make cool computers for themselves. Then their friends wanted them. The two young Steves built naked circuit boards in Jobs’ garage that cost $20 and sold for $40. Things scaled nicely from there.
In 1903, Bill Harley and the Davidson boys were just young guys that wanted to make their own motorcycles. I’m typing this on an Apple MacBook a few blocks from the Harley Davidson Museum where the iconic brand’s huge 110th anniversary party is just reving up. Success happens.
The shed’s dimensions are cleverly represented with floor lighting around this display of the original 1903 motorcycle. Three Davidsons and a Harley, dressed in ill-fitting business suits, gaze at the object of their desire.
The engine was the critical new technology. HD’s founders got help from fellow Milwaukee resident Ole Evinrude. Ironically, early Harley Davidsons were very quiet in operation. They had to be…so as to not scare the horses.
In 1937, Joe Petrali set the motorcycle land speed record at Daytona beach on this early knucklehead. He reached an average speed just over 136 mph. Join me in me further appreciating what Glenn Curtis did–thirty years earlier.
Snowmobiles and golf carts bombed, but Americans continued to fall in love with Harley Davidson motorcycles through the brand’s dominance in flat track racing, off-road racing (20 times the Jack Pine winner), hill climb competitions and the stunts of Evel Knieval.
In 1981 a courageous management team bought Harley back from AMF, the start of an era heralded, “The Eagle Flies Alone”.
I like this Harley XR1200. It’s a good all-around motorcycle that alludes to HD’s flat track racing history. Yet, apparently, HD management considered it too different from the company’s current core identity–and discontinued it.
Many take issue with HD’s product management (ask Erik Buell), but its leaders may be smart. Harley is holding its own at home and is an increasingly hot brand in much of the world.
Following its colossal failure when it tinkered with its recipe, Coca Cola now sticks with its original formula–and dominates the global soft drink market.