The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

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The history of Harley Davidson 1910-1919

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The history of Harley Davidson 1950-1959

The history of Harley Davidson 1960-1969

The history of Harley Davidson 1970-1979

 

 

Ronald Reagan and the fall of the iron curtain.

The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

 

The arrival of Ronald Reagan changes things radically, in addition the world lives its own revolution, in 1989 the iron curtain falls and the whole communist bloc dissolves, it is the most important event of the decade in the history of the world. The capitalist bloc of the West with the US at its head wins after a few decades and a fierce arms race, the Communist bloc of the Soviet Union falls defeated, nothing will be equal in the balance of world power.

The neoliberal policy developed by Reagan gives an important boost to the economy, the role of the state in economic life of the country is reduced, and the laws of the market prevail. The economy becomes much more competitive but more vulnerable at the same time, the country embarks on a period of expansion and progress, however, destroys the welfare state created by Franklin Roosevelt in the 30s and attacks the middle class and the most vulnerable, inequality increases rapidly.

La historia de Harley Davidson 1980-1989

Image of Ronald Reagan | The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

The population is launched to a new consumer wave, products such as the personal computer, the microwave and the video surprise for their technological advancement.

The sale of motorcycles remains constant and the Custom phenomenon entrenched in the past decade, goes from being a countercultural phenomenon to something already established, many people become addicted to the “Cruiser”.

Japanese brands quickly recognize the potential of the segment and start to compete seriously. They have already destroyed the British brands and left the other European brands in a bad position, they want the whole cake. Yamaha Virago, Honda Shadow, Suzuki Intruder. They are very powerful competitors, they are reliable, very cheap and easy to maintain.

The followers of Harley begin to leave the mark, what need there is to have a motorcycle that looks old, has electrical problems, vibrates disproportionately, to the point of loosening the screws and has lost oil ?.

The Japanese, thanks to their balance shafts and displaced crankshafts, manage to end the vibrations

However, there is something that still keeps Harley Davidson alive, the disposition of his engine at 45º, makes the sound of the engine is something unmatched and although they look like old motorcycles, also his carelessness and extravagance give him a unique personality.

The dealer network also makes its contribution to keep the ship afloat, patiently bearing the returns in warranty, they remain loyal to the brand.

However, there is something that still keeps Harley Davidson alive, the disposition of his engine at 45º, makes the sound of the engine is something unmatched and although they look like old motorcycles, also his carelessness and extravagance give him a unique personality.

 

The resurrection

The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

 

Even in low hours, the company manages to recover a bit of its technological backwardness and in 1980 launched two models that will be very important, especially because some of its features are still used in current motorcycles.

The FXWG, with its wide fork and length, its large front wheel, its seat with backrest and molded fenders, will set the codes of the current choppers.

And the FLT Tour Glide, with its fairing, silentsblocs to filter the vibrations, and its rigid frame with central tube, reinvents the Tourer with innovations that are used today.

La historia de Harley Davidson 1980-1989

Harley Davidson FXWG | The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

It is also the year that the belt drive returns, the adoption of electronic ignition, double front disc and 5-speed gearbox.

Although it has taken a step forward in technology with these new releases, the company continues to lose money.

In 1980, AMF, the owner of the brand, tired of losing money, decides to get rid of Harley Davidson and sells it to a group of managers of the company for 80 million dollars.

Only in 1986, after a series of innovations started in the AMF period, the company starts to take off. The first of them is in 1984, it is manufactured in collaboration with Porsche, a motor entirely of aluminum, a V-Twin that keeps the type of valves at the head, but whose stock is of high compression.

This engine called Evolution is a revolution as it is the most important modernization in the history of the brand since the 1936 Knucklehead. Thanks to the Evolution, at last, Harley Davidson enjoys good reliability and performance.

The same year, the suspension is hidden under the seat in the new Softail frame, returning a more retro aesthetic, which purists like most.

In 1987 the company is listed on the stock exchange and in 1988 it recovers 50% market share in the large motor segment.

Finally, the road is the right one again.

Only in 1986, after a series of innovations started in the AMF period, the company starts to take off. The first of them is in 1984, it is manufactured in collaboration with Porsche, a motor entirely of aluminum, a V-Twin that keeps the type of valves at the head, but whose stock is of high compression.

 

Significates events of the decade:

The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

 

    • 1980: In addition to the Wide Glide and Tour Glide, there is another Harley that is very popular, the FXB Sturgis, fully painted and chromed in black.
    • 1981:Vaughn Beals, of AMF, is named executive president of the brand, which has just become independent from AMF.
    • 1983: Establishment, for 7 years, of a tariff for the importation of Japanese motorcycles of more than 700 cubic centimeters. Honda manufactures its Goldwing in the US and the Japanese will release models of 650 cubic centimeters.
    • 1984: Softail frame and Evolution engine.

 

La historia de Harley Davidson 1980-1989

Harley Davidson Heritage Softail Classic | The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989

  • 1986: The Big Twins give up the starter pedal and adopt the profiled belt. The Evolution modernizes the 883 and 1,100 cubic centimeters Sportster. Harley Davison diversifies by buying Rambler, manufacturer of motorhomes.
  • 1987: The Hugger Sportster, the Heritage Softail Classic and the Low Rider Custom come on the market.
  • 1988: Reappearance of the Springer fork. 60,000 fans in Milwaukee for the 85th anniversary of the brand.

 
 

Source: “Harleymanía” of Jean Savary

Klauer & Iannuzzi | 2018 | The history of Harley Davidson 1980-1989