What Is a Motorcycle?

A motorcycle is a motorized two-wheeled vehicle with a seat or saddle for the rider and a system of controls that includes a clutch, transmission and rear brake. Some motorcycles may have a sidecar to carry a passenger. Motorcycles are commonly used as a means of transportation, particularly in poor countries where they can be much cheaper than automobiles. Many countries have laws governing the operation of motorcycles.

The first motorcycles were developed in the 1800s by putting engines on bicycles. Some inventors experimented with steam, electric, and internal combustion engines. Gottlieb Daimler, who built the first successful four-stroke gasoline engine on a motorcycle (Daimler Reitwagen), went on to establish the automobile manufacturing company that became Mercedes-Benz.

Most modern motorcycles are made in Asia, with Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki dominating the global market. In the US, Harley Davidson is a popular brand.

Motorcycles have a much higher power-to-weight ratio than cars, and thus require less energy to accelerate. This allows them to have a lower center of gravity and be more maneuverable. This makes them more fun to ride, and can also help with fuel economy. The high amount of torque produced by motorcycle engines also helps with acceleration, although it can lead to wheelies if the bike is not controlled properly.

Due to their distinctive appearance, chopper-style motorcycles have become a staple of American pop culture. These bikes typically have a low set height, dramatic fork rake and limited rear suspension. They are not as comfortable or practical for long rides as other types of motorcycles, and can be difficult to handle at high speeds.