Auto Questions: How Harley-Davidson Works

Long cylinders, a unique crankshaft and a large frame distinguish a Harley-Davidson from the essential motorcycle mechanism of engine, transmission and wheels.

The first Harley-Davidson was made more than a century ago. This motorcycle brand has grown well beyond its tangible dimensions in to a symbol of a cult. Large numbers of people travel over long distances on their Harley-Davidsons for get-togethers on regular annual occasions. The sound of a Harley-Davidson engine running is distinctive and contributes in large measure to the culture that surrounds enthusiasts and proud owners.

The major part of a Harley-Davidson's functioning is the same as with any other motorcycle. The basics of a motorcycle are an engine that generates power, a transmission that transfers the engine power to wheels for motion and a frame to hold the engine and to seat the driver and a rider.

A motorcycle engine has 2 cylinders in a V shape. Each cylinder has an exhaust. The transmission is through manual gears and uses a chain for a drive. Motorcycle engines do not have mufflers to reduce noise or catalytic converters to reduce emission. Power is transmitted from the engine to the back wheel. Disc brakes are mounted on the wheels. Suspension is provided for the front of the motorcycle. The frame includes handlebars and a light. A motorcycle has the essential structure of a bicycle with an engine to substitute pedals. The frame is much stronger since it must carry the engine transmission and fuel tank weight and the tires are wider to allow the vehicle to move at speed with safety.



A Harley-Davidson differs in physical features from other motorcycles in the length of its cylinders and the structure of the crankshaft. These design features give a Harley-Davidson high power at low speeds and its distinctive sound. Harley-Davidson has recently developed a new engine in which the 2 cylinders are set at a wider angle to each other. This new engine is water cooled as opposed to air-cooling conventionally used in motorcycles and has overhead camshafts. These features give the engine more power and a higher RPM capability. Harley-Davidsons are generally bigger and heavier than most other motorcycles. This new engine will add concrete evidence to the image that a Harley-Davidson conjures. However Harley-Davidson continues to set itself apart from its competitors by working to develop its intangible advantages more than introducing new models, as has been the norm in the automotive industry.

A Harley-Davidson is a sturdy, large and powerful motorcycle that is meant to be a treasured possession and a statement of values and style, rather than a simple means of transportation. However it does offer specific and concrete benefits of speed, power and comfortable rides over long distances. It is one of the most enduring and well-loved brands in any product category in the world. Many owners invest in adding custom features to their Harley-Davidsons. The exhaust system and the frame are common objects of adding a personal touch to a Harley-Davidson. Its large size lends itself to the use of imaginative color combinations to make a Harley-Davidson stand out in a crowd, even if among others of its kind.

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