The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

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The history of Harley Davidson 1900-1909

The history of Harley Davidson 1910-1919

The history of Harley Davidson 1920-1929

The history of Harley Davidson 1930-1939

The history of Harley Davidson 1940-1949

The history of Harley Davidson 1950-1959

The history of Harley Davidson 1960-1969

 

 

A very abrupt change to assimilate

The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

 

In 1970, the United States is the economic champion of the world, its economy represents 22% of the world GDP and its 200 million inhabitants, of which a very important part lives a consumerist fever, is the internal engine that allows to achieve this feat.

Militarily and culturally it also dominates the whole West, becoming the great world governor, its area of influence covers such wide and disparate regions as South America, Europe, Africa and an important part of Asia. In all of them supporting dictatorships, wars and other domestic issues with a level of interference rarely seen in the history of the world.

Opositores a la guerra de Vietnam | La historia de Harley Davidson 1970-1979

Opponents of the Vietnam War | The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

In 1973, things started to get complicated, the military campaign in Vietnam demanded a lot of money and young American blood, the pacifist movement gained power step by step and this began to affect the government, finally it was decided to solve this problem and the troops return from that risky and absurd adventure. This war will leave very serious consequences to a generation that still lives today fighting against the demons of war.

The Watergate scandal will give the final blow to the government of Nixon, who will resign and give way to a change of model, called “soft power”, promoted in the first instance by his successor Gerald Ford and later by Jimmy Carter.

The great American automotive and related sectors, are about to reach the end. The government promotes anti-pollution and security laws, it is a hard obstacle to overcome and the final blow will be the first major oil crisis.

The great American automotive and related sectors, are about to reach the end. The government promotes anti-pollution and security laws, it is a hard obstacle to overcome and the final blow will be the first major oil crisis.

 

And the motorcycle market is revolutionized

The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

 

For Harley Davidson other problems are added, market is lost quickly, Japanese motorcycles seem unbeatable and their partnership with Aermacchi does not work as expected. In 1971, it was decided to expand production with a new factory in York, Pennsylvania, but the manufacturing quality is not adequate and the reputation for reliability is coming down, a process contributed by the small Harley-Aermacchi.

In 1974, problems continue to arrive, the factories of the brand go on strike for more than 100 days and the Los Angeles Police Department replaces the Electra model of Harley by Moto Guzzi V7, this leads the company to renovate its department technical with the intention of finding a way out of this problem as soon as possible. This new team, led by Bleunstein and Beals, will be key for the next 20 years.

A bit of hope still remains, the Sportster continues to win fans and the British brands are also beginning to suffer competition from Japanese motorcycles, which successfully enter the large displacement when the fame of the launch of the Honda 750 Four had not yet fallen.

Imagen del film Easy Rider | La historia de Harley Davidson 1970-1979

Image of the film Easy Rider | The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

The brands from Japan follow the European standards and this hits the waterline of the European brands that suffer strongly, Harley and the exception BMW keeps its mark on the vehicles, for this reason they suffer less. The Japanese make simple motorcycles, without great pretensions, even with obsolete European technology, but their manufacturing quality and reliability are unbeatable. They even win in the Trail Bike market and in the sport bike market.

European brands react by focusing on the power of the engines of their new launches. United States is dedicated to develop the Custom bike, thousands of workshops of all sizes throughout the country manufacture authentic wonders inspired by the “Captain America” that Peter Fonda rides in “Easy Rider”, a film that will be a new lifeguard for Harley, the two anti-hero protagonists, rebels and libertarians, do not ride an English motorcycle, they rides an American V-twin with a Harley-Davidson engine.

The Hippie movement and “Easy Rider” definitely save the brand, which understands the phenomenon and begins to take advantage of it intelligently.

In 1970, the Super Glide was launched, an authentic custom that meets the needs of the new “weekend” rebels. However, its sales are very discreet, but it is the guide to follow in the future. In 1977 another success confirms that the road is correct, the FXS Low Rider is launched, a motorcycle that climbs one more step in the “cruiser” concept.

Although the Super Glide and Low Rider give a good boost to the brand, the MoCo, unfortunately, does not make any money and in 1979, it represents only 20% of the market and loses money. The first thing that the owner group does is to sell Aermacchi to Cagiva in 1978. Then it starts to plan the sale of Harley-Davidson, but first, it contacts Porsche to develop a new Big Twin.

European brands react by focusing on the power of the engines of their new launches. United States is dedicated to develop the Custom bike, thousands of workshops of all sizes throughout the country manufacture authentic wonders inspired by the “Captain America” that Peter Fonda rides in “Easy Rider”, a film that will be a new lifeguard for Harley, the two anti-hero protagonists, rebels and libertarians, do not ride an English motorcycle, they rides an American V-twin with a Harley-Davidson engine.

 

Significates events of the decade:

The history of  Harley Davidson 1970-1979

 

  • 1970: In competition the XR loses all the races in front of the English and receives the nickname of Iron Maiden. Now Harley only stands out for his speed and acceleration records. The Pan-shovel disappears, replaced by the authentic Shovelhead, with alternator and platinum screws that is not much more reliable.
  • 1971: The AMF log appears in the Harley-Davidson fuel tanks.
  • 1972: Now the Sportster has 1000 cubics cm and is modernized. First brake disc in an Electra Glide.
  • 1973: All Harleys have disc brakes.

 

 

Harley Davidson L.A.P.D. | La historia de Harley Davidson 1970-1979

Harley Davidson L.A.P.D. | The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

 

  • 1974: 101 days of strike in the Harley factories and the LAPD buys Moto Guzzi.
  • 1975: Sales record: 75,403 units, including 11,000 Aermacchi, but the market share and profits fall. After the English, are the Harley that adopt the Japanese standard, brakes on the right, clutch and shift gears to the left.
  • 1977: Harley opens his first museum, in York.
  • 1978: Harley sells Aermacchi and abandons the small displacement.
  • 1979: The young engineer Erik Buell joins the company.

 

Source: “Harleymanía” of Jean Savary

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