Who Owns Harley-Davidson?

Who Owns Harley-Davidson
Photo by Mikes-Photography

Harley Davidson is one of the most popular motorcycle brands in the world, but who owns Harley-Davidson?


Some of you might be surprised to find out that most of the company is owned by stockholders.

In addition, the business has persevered through several ownership arrangements, subsidiary agreements, periods of weak economic health and product quality, and fierce global competition to become one of the biggest motorcycle manufacturers in the world and an iconic brand well known for its devoted following.

For a better understanding, let’s continue with this article on who owns Harley-Davidson.

The Early Years

In 1901, Arthur James bought a bike company that made bicycles, and shortly after, he changed the name to Harley-Davidson.

In 1903, with the invention of the motorized bike, James and his partner William A. Davidson designed their prototype: a motor attached to the frame of a bicycle.

Their story went from bikes to big bikes as they quickly became synonymous with motorcycle riding in America. 

In 1919, when production ended during World War I and after hearing some discouraging financial reports in 1920, James decided to sell 51% of his shares in what is now Harley-Davidson Incorporated on the open market and focused on controlling distribution channels instead.

The Sale to AMF

The company was sold to AMF in 1969, and the year after bankrupt again. In 1982, a leveraged buyout led by an investor group of thirteen under the banner A-Team took control of the company.

With extensive financing from Merrill Lynch, the A-Team purchased most of Harley-Davidson’s stock with largely borrowed funds and removed themselves from day-to-day operations.

However, they had severely misjudged demand in the struggling U.S. motorcycle market. They had bought at too high a price relative to cash flow projections.

They eventually had to infuse additional equity investment into their ownership stakes and reduce production capacity while paying down debt over time to remain solvent.

The Sale from AMF to Vaughn Beals

In 1987, Vaughn Beals, the founder of Amerco, purchased the failing American Machine and Foundry Company from its employees. He became the one who owns Harley-Davidson in 1987.

Soon after, he re-branded it as AMF, Inc. AMF began creating bicycles and golf equipment under their new ownership.

Later, in 1998, AMF ended up selling off its bicycle division to create a company called Dorel Industries which is still family-owned.

Who Owns Harley-Davidson in the Present Time?

Harley-Davidson has had a storied history of change over the years. Harley-Davidson is currently a public company A public company is a kind of corporation. This year, Harley will release an electric motorcycle called LiveWire.

We’ll have to wait and see how it does with Harley fans, but there are many concerns about the new addition.

However, some worry that LiveWire will be too expensive for most customers or lack innovation compared to competitors like Zero Motorcycles or Energica Motors.

Others say it doesn’t make sense for a company like Harley-Davidson, which relies on large engines and traditional motorcycle designs, to enter into an electric market now dominated by tech companies like Tesla Motors Inc., Nissan Motor Co., and Yamaha Corporation, which are more experienced in battery technology than traditional vehicle makers.

In other words, Harley-Davidson has a large number of stockholders, which results in a large number of owners. It should go without saying that when it comes to corporations, some stockholders are more significant than others.

After all, having more shares gives you more influence over a range of crucial decisions, even though most shareholders will stay uninvolved in the day-to-day management of organizations. 

In any case, who owns Harley-Davidson at present? The largest Harley-Davidson shareholders are well-recognized.

Boston Partners Global Investors, the Vanguard Group, BlackRock Fund Advisors, H Partners Management, and Beutel, Goodman & Co. are the top five shareholders as of November 24, 2021.

With 4.54 percent of the outstanding shares, Beutel, Goodman & Co. has the least ownership compared to the other companies, each controlling between 7 and 9 percent.

Nevertheless, each of these organizations owns shares of Harley-Davidson worth hundreds of millions of dollars. This makes sense, given that the business has a nearly $6 billion market value.


Harley Davidson, the iconic motorcycle manufacturer, sells its bikes as American as apple pie and baseball in advertisements.

But to many people who buy Harley Davidsons, it turns out that the company isn’t as American as you might think.

In other words, our answer to the question “who owns Harley-Davidson?” is Harley-Davidson has many stockholders.

This results in a large number of owners. It should go without saying that when it comes to corporations, some stockholders are more significant than others.

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