It's been called the motorcycle that saved Harley-Davidson. The Sportster was introduced in 1957 and is the longest continuously produced model in Harley-Davidson history, and one of the longest in the world. Only the Royal Enfield Bullet, first manufactured in 1948, has a longer production history.
The roots of the Harley-Davidson Hummer can be traced back to pre-World War II Germany and the auto and motorcycle manufacturer DKW. Through the 1920s and 1930s DKW was one of the largest motorcycle companies in the world. DKW introduced the RT 125, a single-cylinder, two-stroke, 125 cc, air-cooled motorcycle in 1939.
The origin of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy, and the entire Softail line, goes back to a garage in St. Louis in 1974. Bill Davis was a bike customizer who preferred the look of the single piece hardtail frames, but he also enjoyed long distance riding. The lack of rear suspension on the hardtail motorcycles made long rides on them uncomfortable.
The Harley-Davidson V-Rod is a direct descendant of Harley's VR-1000, ridden by the Superbike Race Team. The VR-1000 featured a liquid-cooled, dual overhead cam, fuel injected engine that had been developed in partnership with Porsche.
The Harley-Davidson Road King is the direct descendant, and the replacement of, the Electra-Glide Sport. Each Harley has a model name and a multi-letter model designation. While those letter designations are often confusing, they can be helpful in tracing the lineage of a given model.
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