Harley motorcycles as well as the riders are informally called hogs.
And nope, it’s not because Harleys sound like hogs! It’s for a completely different reason.
So why are Harley motorcycles called hogs? Harley motorcycles and Harley riders alike are nicknamed hogs. The name originated when Ray Weishaar, a Harley Davidson racer, took a small pig for a victory lap, giving him and his team the name hogs.
Over time, the name hogs became synonymous with Harley Davidson racers. And soon, it was used for all Harley motorcycle riders alike.
That’s the gist. There are some interesting tidbits on how the nickname originated, how it grew popular, and how the Harley-Davidson company itself adopted the hog term.
Let’s dive into it.
Hogs is a nickname for Harley Davidson Riders
Harley Davison riders are called Hogs. The nickname Hogs came from the motorcycle racing days in the early 1900s.
In the early decades of the 1900s, motorcycle racing championships were more common and frequent in the US.
And when in 1920, the Harley Davidson racers won the championship, the tradition among them was to carry a piglet and go for a victory ride.
As the media caught on, the Harley racers were soon called the Hogs. In reference to the piglet.
The Hog nickname caught on fast. And soon enough, all Harley Davison riders were (and still are) called by the nickname – hogs.
Origin of Hogs
How did the tradition start though? Why a piglet? And how a piglet came to be associated with Harley motorcycles?
Let’s deep dive into that. The story starts with the motorcycle legend – Ray Weishaar.
Ray Weishaar was a motorcycle racer who rode for Harley Davidson in the 1910s and the 1920s.
In his early days, he was dubbed as the “Kansas Cyclone” for his racing on Kansas county fair circuits. He won numerous state and national circuit motorcycle races.
By 1916, Weishaar was part of the Harley Davidson factory team. He won several championships along the way. The most notable of them was of course – The Cornfield Classic Road Race in 1920. Not only did Weishaar along with winning the race, also lowered the race record by nearly 18 minutes!
For the race, the motorcycle riders would arrive days in advance for practice. On one such practice day, Weishaar brought a piglet to the race track. The piglet became a regular member and was named Johnny.
And when he won the Cornfield Classic of 1920 in Marion, Indiana, he took the small pig for a victory lap.
Soon the entire Harley team followed suit and took the small pig for their victory laps.
This was the start of the famous Hog.
The Mascot for Harley Riders
In no time, the piglet Johnny became famous. The photograph of Weishaar holding the piglet Johnny was all over the papers.
The piglet was a part of Weishaar’s team, the wrecking crew‘s victories.
People took a liking to the small pig. Harley Davidson took a liking.
It’s not sure which was the first. But people associated the piglet with the Harley Davidson racing team, and Harley Davison wrecking crew took the piglet as their mascot.
As a result, Ray Weishaar and his team – the Harley Davidson wrecking crew – were called hogs. Referring to the pig as well as the racing team’s hogging victories after victories.
‘Harley hogs‘ was the nickname.
Through the mid-1900s, Harley Davidson continued to win several motorcycle racing championships.
The Harley Davison racers were still referred as hogs by the moto enthusiasts. Even after Weishaar’s team was not part of the racing circuit.
(Weishaar died in 1924 after a fatal crash on the racing track due to a high-speed wobble.)
Slowly the term hogs used for Harley Davidson racers spread to all Harley riders.
And in no time, Harley riders – racers and enthusiasts alike – were referred to as hogs.
HOG (Harley Owners Group)
Since Harley riders were nicknamed hogs, Harley Davidson management decided to leverage the name in an effort to build a motorcycle community.
In 1983, the Harley-Davidson company started a membership group called HOG, short for Harley Owners Group.
HOG is a community of Harley riders across the globe. Although the community runs on its own, it is backed by the motorcycle manufacturer.
Harley Davidson also provides several membership benefits for HOG members.
Over the years, HOG has become one of the most popular communities in the motorcycle world. Its presence is immense and has footprints all over the world.
Since we have ventured into hogs and HOG membership, let’s look into its membership benefits.
By the way, we are not an affiliate member of HOG. We are providing the information solely for the benefit of the reader.
HOG membership comes in 2 forms – 1) full membership available for Harley owners; and 2) associate membership for family and friends of Harley owners.
The membership benefits include merchandise, invites to rallies and events, magazine subscriptions, shipping, insurance, exclusive service centers, and roadside assistance.
You can check the full benefits listed on their website here.
One key thing, as far as I know, the membership benefits vary from country to country. So check the HOG membership perks applicable to your region.
Other Hogs trivia
We are digressing from the hogs nickname to HOG membership to other Harley Davidson hog trivia.
But I assure you, these trivia are quite fun. And yes, they have everything to do with hogs and Harleys.
Owing to the popularity of Harley hogs and the HOG membership, Harley Davidson tried to trademark the name hog in 1999.
Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t trademark. The hog name was apparently too general a term to trademark.
Plus, there were some legal concerns with many businesses – using hog in their names – disputing the trademark legitimacy.
Anyhow, the hog is not a trademarked name.
Stock Market Symbol
Do you know what’s the stock market symbol of Harley Davidson on the stock exchange?
Go on. Take a guess.
Yup. It’s HOG!
The stock market symbol of Harley Davidson on the New York stock exchange is HOG.
And it’s not a coincidence.
Harley Davidson company changed its ticker symbol to HOG in 2006. Needless to say, the change was deliberate.
Before you go…
Just like the hog story, there are several stories and traditions associated with Harleys and all motorcycles alike.
Here are a few that might interest you: