The History of Motorcycles
Motorcycles offer the rider freedom. The open road stretches in front of you. They offer freedom from the rest of the world; you are not going to be bothered by your ringing cell phone or the everyday stress of life. They give you the chance to feel like the wind is pulling you through the universe. There is nothing in this world that gives you the same feeling of the elements of skin, the road beneath your feet, and the freedom to go wherever your heart desires. Motorcycles are addictive. They are not a mode of transportation; they are a way of life.
In The Beginning…
The Motorcycle Concept. In 1967 the concept of a motorcycle was born. It was not a typical motorcycle that we have now days. It was powered by steam that came from coal. It was the first of the steam engines. They were a little bulky, and did not go very fast. Although it was bulky, it still holds the same basic concepts of a motorcycle.
There is a moment in history where the bicycle collided with the gas engine. This moment was in 1885. A German man by the name of Gottlieb Daimler (see image) placed a gas powered engine, created by Nicolaus Otto, onto a wooden frame. This first cycle was not built for the speed like the models available to us, but you can imagine that they still offered quite a bit of freedom for the rider. It still would have had the feeling of the open road, a concept that was completely new to humans.
The term “motor cycle” actually came from an English print that promoted the machines that were being created by a man named Pennington. Hildebrand & Wolfmuller is given the title of the first to produce a series of motorcycles, but in actuality they never created more than a few hundred models, and Pennington did not make it out of the prototype stage.
The year 1896 saw the Excelsior Motor Company out of Coventry England produce motorcycles that could be bought by the everyday person. The United States saw Charles Mett in 1898 set up his factory out of Waltham Massachusetts. The concept for all of these were still pretty much a base that consisted of an everyday pedal bicycle combined with the most basic of engines.
Ideally, inventing motorcycle really were not a priority. Many of the first inventions moved on with inventing other things, such as cars. The engine itself opened so many more doors. However there was one company that carried on, Harley Davidson motorcycles were one of these companies. Originally they were just William Harley and the Davidson brothers, but in 1903 they opened up in Chicago with quality engines that could hold its own in any race. They legacy that they created is still alive today.
A fascinating company by the name of Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company was created by two former bicycle riders. By 1913 they were producing 20,000 bikes in a single year. This number is astounding when you think about the amount of work it took to create the machines without the modern technology.
Surprisingly, before the First World War, motorcycles began to really take all over the world. Motorcycle racing propelled the market to create faster and more reliable machines. By the time this time they were no longer the simple engines with the bicycle base, they had their own technology. Police Departments in California even had police forces that were utilizing motorcycles in their patrols.
Motorcycles: During Times of War
The First World War and Motorcycles
The motorcycle was essential is providing support to the troops on the front line. In former wars the horse and riders were used. They were replaced with dispatched riders that could perform reconnaissance missions more quickly and get messages back faster than ever before. The front lines could receive vital information faster with more accuracy than ever before.
Harley Davidson gave over half of their production to the military efforts. Triumph Motorcycles out of Britain sold 30,000 of their Triumph Type H models to allied forces. This model was the first true motorcycle to come out of Triumph. They were not fitted with pedal and had a four stroke single cylinder engine. It was so reliable that it was given the nickname of Trusty Triumph.
Post War Motorcycles
Harley-Davidson ruled the market and by 1921 they sold motorcycles in 67 countries. However by the 1930’s DKW in Germany was the largest manufacturer. There were over 80 different makes and models that could be found in Britain by this time. BSA in Britain supplied the military with over 100,000 M20s in preparation of World War II.
It was after World War II that motorcycles became less about the economical choice and became more about the biker image. This is when it became more of a way of life. Honda was founded in Japan and immediately became a hit. To this day Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha are known worldwide. They hold their own against Harley-Davidson. They bring in two completely different riders.
Today’s Motorcycle: Sport-bikes
A sport-bike is for the enthusiast that thrives on speed, fast acceleration, quick braking, and easy maneuverability. The high foot pegs and lower hand controls place the rider’s weight right over the tank. The engines are more of a high performance engine. The material is typically more expensive because they need to be lighter to reduce weight and increase speed.
When you first look at a sport-bike, the plastic parts stick out the most. The reasons for plastic parts are many. Not only do they add to the look and feel of a bike, but they also decrease wind resistance. They are added to keep the wind out of the riders face as well as keep debris from flying up over the handlebars when used as part of the windscreen. The plastic parts of a sport-bike add to the ease of repairs. There are times when it is sculpted in pieces so that not every piece has to be removed if one gets damaged.
The feel of the bike is different for each person. Whether the feel of a sport-bike is for you or not, is a personal choice. Overall, motorbikes are for a certain type of person, no matter the type of bike. They are for a person who loves the open road, the feel of freedom, and the certain amount of alone time that comes with riding.