The History of Motorcycles


As the name suggests, motorcycles are a type of motor vehicle that utilizes two or three wheels for propulsion. The first motorcycles were built around the 1860s and included the French Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede and the American Sylvester Roper steam velocipede that both used steam as their source of power. While neither Roper’s nor Michaux-Perreaux’ designs were ever mass produced, they were successful in demonstrating the feasibility of these self-propelled cycles.

Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach’s 1885 invention of the gasoline engine allowed dozens of companies to begin producing bicycle-styled vehicles with engines, which became known as motorcycles. By the end of the decade, these machines were in widespread use throughout Europe and America.

The modern motorcycle has several components that work together to increase performance and safety. These include a chassis, engine, transmission and brakes, all of which are meticulously designed to enhance both riding and handling. The chassis is typically constructed of lightweight, high-strength materials, such as aluminum or steel tubes with spoked wheels. Graphite, magnesium, and composite parts are also utilized in many models.

With their low-cost and fuel efficient designs, motorcycles have become a popular form of transportation around the world. The rise of sport bike racing and their depictions in popular 50s and 60s films helped propel the popularity of these vehicles into mainstream culture. The emergence of Japanese manufacturers, such as Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha, brought a new level of engineering and design to the motorcycle industry.