Best Harley-Davidson Bikes That Changed the Industry
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Best Harley-Davidson Bikes That Changed the Industry

Best Harley-Davidson Bikes That Changed the Industry

When you think about companies that changed their industries, brands like Coca-Cola or Walmart might come to mind. Very few businesses can create their own initiative and maintain dominance for more than a century, but that’s what Harley-Davidson has done with their motorcycles.
How has H-D stayed on top for so long? When you think about Harleys, you are considering the innovation that goes into each design update. This company knows how to innovate, especially when you look across the 110+ years of development.

When you review Harley-Davidson’s history, these are the motorcycles that stand out for their ability to change the industry.

List of the Best Harley-Davidson Bikes That Changed the Industry

1. 1919 Model W Twin Sport

One of the earliest H-D models out there is still one of the best. Although you can see the clear bicycle influences in the frame, there is no denying the founders’ innovative approach to produce a usable vehicle. It was the Wild West era for bikes and cars at the time, with dozens of companies fighting for supremacy. If you’ve ever had the privilege to see this model in person, you’ll understand why it was popular.

2. 1936 EL Knucklehead

When the Great Depression arrived, sales plummeted for Harley-Davidson. After selling 24,000 motorcycles in 1929, they had just 3,700 units moved in 1933. Since no one knew how bad things might get, H-D went to the drawing table to see if they could update their design. With this bike, the company released its first V-twin overhead valve engine.

If you see this bike, it looks like almost anything you’d find on the showroom floor today because of its modern appearance. When the company sold 20,000 bikes again in 1947, over half of them were this motorcycle.

3. 1957 Sportster XL

During the 1950s, British motorcycles were invading American shores. You could find BSA, Norton, and Triumph designs getting stored in garages across the country. When Harley-Davidson released the Sportster XL with an 883cc OHV V-twin engine, it could match anything that the English were brought across the pond. It would dominate for more than a decade, even being the biggest seller in 1970 for the brand.

4. 1971 FX Super Glide

Before Harley-Davidson released this motorcycle to the public, you could purchase a small or a touring bike from the brand. There wasn’t anything in-between for the casual rider. That’s why this innovative design became quite popular. Although the visual design might not be everyone’s first choice, it still dazzles when you see it. This original idea would eventually lead to every new design that isn’t a Sportster or a touring bike.

5. 1978 MX250

Harley-Davidson and Aermacchi started working together in 1960, with the Italian bike maker enjoying a nice run with a bunch of MX bikes. They were pretty popular with kids in the 1970s, so H-D decided to use this partnership to develop one of their own. It was a short-lived effort, with less than 1,000 getting built before Harley pulled the plug on the idea. Most of them weren’t even shipped from Italy.

What are some of your favorite bikes that Harley-Davidson has released over the years?

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