William S. Harley was a boy in Milwaukee who in 1901 got the notion that he would put an engine in a bicycle and he set about making it happen. Back then, young William Harley probably wasn’t really thinking in terms of starting a motorcycle manufacturing business, he just wanted to build a motorised bike. His friends Arthur, William and Walter Davidson were also interested so they came alongside on the project.
Arthur Davidson was the one most interested but his interest was mostly in getting a motorised bicycle so he could get to good fishing spots more effortlessly. He was a keen fisherman and he wanted a motorised bike, perhaps even with a side-car to carry all his fishing gear and the fish he caught. Many years later in 1919 Walter Davidson would confirm this when he said “The business had its origin, not through any particular idea on the part of the starters of it that there was a commercial future for the motorcycle, but through the desire to make a motorcycle for our personal use“.