Harley-Davidson is Turning 115 This Year. You Know What That Means…

Milwaukee’s baddest bike company is gearing up for its 115th anniversary

Picture a stereotypical Harley owner. Odds are you’re envisioning a baby boomer, his thinning gray hair pulled back in a feeble ponytail, donning some logo-emblazoned leather.

Photo by Kat Schleicher, courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

To be sure, there will be a whole lot of bikers congregating in Milwaukee to celebrate Harley-Davidson’s 115th anniversary this month who look as if they wandered off the set of a “Sons of Anarchy” reboot. But there will be plenty of others who don’t, according to Heather Malenshek, vice president of marketing for the company.

Harley appeals to a wider demographic than the general public realizes, Malenshek says. And she hopes the company’s 115th anniversary party will set the record straight. “It’s the amplification of what this community is all about, which is people coming together regardless of socioeconomic background, age or nationality,” she says. “We get people from all around the world, coming together under this banner of freedom.”

See for yourself. The festivities kick off on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 2.

Memorable Motors

Photos courtesy of Harley-Davidson, Julien’s Auctions

Serial No. 1

As its name implies, Serial No. 1 (1903-04), is considered Harley’s first production-ready bike.

1969 FLH Electra-Glide

After his star turn in The Wild One in 1953, Marlon Brando remained a motorcycle enthusiast. He rode this 1969 FLH Electra-Glide around the Hollywood Hills.

Captain America

It’s easy to see how this bike – a custom version of which made its big-screen debut in the 1969 biker flick and Peter Fonda vehicle Easy Rider – got its name.

2018 Heritage Classic

A lot’s changed since Harley was founded. But the company’s limited-edition anniversary bikes still feature the meticulous detailing that made it famous.


“Matt Hintz: The Spirit of the Open Road”

Aug. 8-Oct. 20
Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

MIAD alum Matt Hintz, one of only a handful of licensed Harley-Davidson artists whose work was sold at the company’s dealerships, died unexpectedly in 2017. Proceeds from this exhibition, which features many of his colorful, impressionistic motorcycle paintings, will support his family.

Factory Tours — Aug. 29-31, Harley-Davidson Powertrain Operations, Menomonee Falls

Beach Brawl — Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 Bradford Beach

Run What You Brung — Aug. 31, Great Lakes Dragaway, Union Grove

Flat Out Friday — Aug. 31, Panther Arena

Hillclimb — Sept. 1, Little Switzerland, Slinger

Parade — Sept. 2, Downtown Milwaukee

“Revved Up” appears in the August 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning July 30, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.