Harley and the Davidsons is part of Discovery Communications chief Rich Ross’s campaign to widen Discovery Channel’s scope, and looks to be off to a good start with its trailer clocking 7M views in about a week, outstripping any trailer ever posted to plug the networks’ well-known Shark Week, Ross said at TCA this afternoon.
Harley Davidson company opened up its archives, and family members spoke to researchers about family member and gave them historical background that was used to form characters and key events for the miniseries, debuting next month. But producers had complete editorial independence, and the company had no financial arrangement with the project, Raw Television’s EP Dimitri Doganis told TV critics this afternoon at TCA.
All the motorcycles used were made from scratch working, from archival information provided by the company, according to the projects’ bike fabricator Alex Wheeler. Harley and the Davidsons tells the story of founders Walter and Arthur Davidson and their friend Bill Harley, and charts the birth of this iconic bike during a time of great social and technological change beginning at the turn of the 20th century.
The frames were steel, there were no shocks, and the clutch was a leather belt that would tightening around a wheel, according to cast member Gabe Luna.
At bike racing events in the early days of the company, the motorcycles, which had no brakes, no gears, and hit 100 MPH, spewed oil, turning banked wooden tracks around which they raced into ice rinks. Historical data shows they were not only hugely dangerous to the riders and but also massively dangerous to spectators, especially when a bike caught on fire. “It genuinely was incredibly dangerous,” Doganis added, redundantly.