There are few iconic brands born in America that have changed the world we live in. We, as Americans, can be proud of the fact that our forefathers were first to invent the Twinkie, first to design a machine that can fly, first to discover how to split the atom, and first to discover how to make just about every person on the planet need a personal computer. Yes, long before windows were actually a tangible object that allowed sunlight and fresh air into our homes rather then a compilation of foreign secret binary codes embedded in our computers designed to crash its hard drive, there was Will Harley and Arthur Davidson. During the turn of the century Mr. Harley and Mr. Davidson were hell-bent on making the ordinary bicycle a motorized vehicle for the masses that evolved into what motorcycles are today. Little did Will and Arthur know that their names would turn into one of the most successfully branded names in American history.
The real story about Harley-Davidson is not so much its tumultuous history as a leading motorcycle company, many times barely surviving, but how it turned its named into an iconic brand. Harley-Davidson was synonymous with evil men wearing jackets and tattoos brazened with the words “Hells Angels”parading around on motorcycles terrorizing small towns, women and children. Now days, Harley-Davidson is not only selling very expensive motorcycles to doctors and lawyers but has sold these folks into a whole lifestyle. If you own a Harley-Davidson you certainly can’t ride it if you don’t look the part. You have to buy Harley-Davidson leather boots and jackets, Harley-Davidson glasses, and Harley-Davidson jeans and tee shirts. I bet they even have Harley-Davidson underwear! Of course there is the Harley-Davidson bandana thingy that is really a cap that you must wear under your helmet so you don’t get “helmet hair”. The list goes on and on what Harley has branded which even includes a Harley-Davidson Edition Ford F150 truck and a patent for the sound a Harley-Davidson motorcycle engine makes which is potato-potato Harley-Davidson has sold the world not on a quality motorcycle product but on an image of what their idea of what cool is and charging a premium for it. They have made billions on selling this “life-style”with a product that has less technology than a Sears riding mower. Kind of reminds me of buying something on TV with the announcer yelling, but wait there’s more, act now and you can buy this Harley-Davidson motorcycle for four easy payments of six thousand dollars and we’ll include a whole lifestyle-change kit for FREE! When it comes to motorcycles I am a purist snob.
This gem caught on digital memory right here in Ashland is what I believe to be a mid 90’s Harley-Davidson Sportster 883. It has a custom exhaust, plenty of chrome and a nicely done green paint job with gold pinstripe accents. I’m sure the engine makes the patented “potato-potato” sound and gets the bike moving in a hurry. If you are a Harley-Davidson purist you have enjoyed beers and wet tee shirts with your brethren at Sturgis and have been to Milwaukee to visit the Harley-Davidson museum. I have been to the latter and it truly is an amazing place and a must see when your in the area. Don’t forget your bandana thingy.