H-D Motorcycle History
Harley-Davidson Serial Number One, which currently resides in the H-D lobby at Juneau Avenue, dates to the 1903-04 era. Company founders built at least one prototype before it and, of course, production machines after it that differed both in the power of the engine and in general configuration.
H-D Factory History
After William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson started development of single cylinder engines and bicycle frames, they began to use the shed originally constructed by Arthur’s father, William C. Davidson. William was a cabinetmaker for the Milwaukee Road Railway shops and commonly used the 10×15-foot woodshed as his personal shop. However, by 1903, Arthur and William took the shed over as their new and first motorcycle factory.
In the midst of all the well-deserved praise given to decades of Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines, it can be easy to forget the many single-cylinder motorcycles that helped put Harley-Davidson on the map.
The very first Harley-Davidson motorcycle (on display in the Juneau Avenue main lobby) was a single-cylinder motorcycle with an atmospheric valve control and a leather belt drive. Single-cylinder motorcycles were the only motorcycles H-D produced until 1909 when the V-twin motorcycles hit the market.