In 1977, the Harley-Davidson Owners Association was founded in sunny California as a civic initiative. The purpose of the association was to bring together Harley owners of all types. The organisation’s newsletter openly criticised the motorcycles’ weaknesses. This angered the company, but instead of rejection, it wanted to provoke a reaction that would bring Harley owners closer together. The result was the formation in 1983 of the Harley Owners Group (HOG), a group of Harley owners (hog means pig). Since then, fanatical Harley enthusiasts have been known as the pig. It became the largest factory-sponsored motorcycle club in the world. By 2000, HOG had over half a million members worldwide.
The company covered up its initial bad experiences with motorcycle organisations over time. The FXB Sturgis model was introduced, named after one of the most notorious motorcycle meeting places (Sturgis). The company openly acknowledged its roots in motorcycle culture.
In 1985 the Evolution takes over and in 1986 a new engine is introduced in the Sportster. The majority of models use the ribbed belt drive, although just for nostalgia the FXR Super Glide gets chain drive, but the following year this model is also replaced with a ribbed belt drive. In the spirit of evoking the past, the FLST Heritage Softail series will be released, recalling the look of the old Hydra Glide. The company was listed on the American Stock Exchange that year, becoming a publicly traded company in its own right after being merged into AMF in 1969.
In 1987, it becomes the market leader in the large engine market in its home country. Also in that year, the Sportster celebrates its 30th birthday with the XLH 1100, and in 1988 the model is updated with the 1000cc engine replaced by the larger 1200cc. Harley-Davidson’s 85th birthday was celebrated with a Homecoming in Milwaukee with more than 60,000 enthusiasts. The Harley-Davidson Traveling Museum was launched, showing visitors classic models.

In 1990, the company launched the FLSTF Fat Boy, a model that has become legendary. In 1991, the FXDB Dyna Glide Sturgis model, produced only that year, introduced a new type of so-called Dyna chassis, incorporating a large central main body and a vibration-isolating rubber engine bed. All models this year have a five-speed gearbox.
In 2003, the brand celebrated its 100th birthday. In that year, the company’s revenue was $4.6 billion and profits rose to $760.9 million, with 291,147 motorcycles sold in the year. Compared to the previous year, sales in Europe increased by 6.7% and in the United States by 8.8%. In our country, 199 units were sold this year, reflecting the dynamic growth of the in 1999, 26 in 2000, 45 in 2000, 99 in 2001 and 145 in 2002. In 2004, the company’s turnover rose to $5 billion. Harley-Davidson sold 317,289 motorcycles, of which 24,594 were sold in Europe. The company had planned to sell 339,000 motorcycles this year, but reduced this figure to 329,000 at the end of the first quarter. At mid-year, the company forecast a 4 percent drop in profits compared to 2004. However, its reputation and glory remain unbroken today.

Ádám Gubán

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