As the wires were still warm with the news that the Great War had ended, telegrams poured into factory offices at Harley-Davidson, Excelsior, Indian, and the other American motorcycle manufacturers from dealers anxious to get as many machines as they could. The war effort had meant diverting all efforts available in both manufacturing and public conservation, but now the companies, the dealers, and the American people were eager to get back to business as usual. In a series of national two-page advertisements run just days after the official ceasefire on November 11, 1918, the Harley-Davidson Motor Company proclaimed their own victory and that of their motorcycles in the war, as well as assured the waiting public and clamoring dealer network that civilian machines were now back on the menu. At this time 100 years ago, American was just entering the second great age of the motorcycle.
From the Harley-Davidson Advertising Department,
Nov. 14, 1918:
Right now, during the wind-up of this world conflict greater efforts should be made to increase the already unusual activities of having carried on.
Join us in telling the world of the stupendous tasks performed by the motorcycle during the war. Plan a fitting reception for the boys who are coming home. It make take a year or two before they have all drifted back, but keep up your enthusiasm and dig down deep into your jeans.
And the courageous motorcycle dare-devils, show them the kind of stuff you are made of. They are better men now than they were before they left; big men-all of them-men who will help to perpetuate the industry.
You will have our liberal and hearty co-operation in giving motorcycles the publicity that they deserve. We have already begun our national advertising on a large scale, and newspapers all over the country will tell the public, through our advertisements, all about the indispensable motorcycle.
All this is done for your benefit, and for the benefit of the industry. Bigger and better business will be the reward. Come on! Let’s go!
Nov. 21, 1918:
Beginning December 1, we will divide our production between the Government and our dealers. At that time deliveries can be made of the magneto model sidecars and parcel cars.
Limited deliveries of the electric model will be made only on special orders, such as police departments, etc. Our greatly increased production facilities will enable us to meet the demands of the dealers with reasonable promptness.
After having served Uncle Sam exclusively for many months, the Harley-Davidson, being released for civilian use, will be back on the old familiar American city streets and country roads with greater honors than ever before.
For the stupendous task that it has helped to perform on the battlefield the Harley-Davidson will be idolized by the loyal dealers who carried on so faithfully during the Great War.