An overview of the motorcycle


The motorcycle developed as a continuation of the bicycle. The first bicycles were two-wheeled novelties, essentially, without any gear or chains. Riding early bicycles was quite dangerous as they had very little means of controlling them. The ‘safety bike’ was developed, which was the first bicycle with chains and gears as we know them today. From there the safety bike evolved into today’s bicycles in one direction and today’d motorcycles in the other.
The early 1860s and France are the time and place of the first motorcycles, although they bear little resemblance to the ones we have today. Parisian blacksmith Pierre Michaux developed a steam-powered motorcycle. His invention was steam-powered and had one wheel nearly twice the size of the other, as was customary at the time. This technology was primitive by our standards but cutting-edge at the time. The size of the engines meant that motorcycles went from being two-wheeled vehicles to three-wheeled ones very rapidly to accommodate advances in steam power. It wasn’t until 1885 in Germany that an internal combustion, petrol-fuelled engine was first attached to a two-wheeled vehicle that, while not quite looking like the modern motorbike, is essentially recognisable to the modern day rider.
One might be surprised to learn that this early motorbike industry was developing separately from the automotive industry which was in its nascent phase in the last quarter of the 19th century. Motorcycle manufacturers we more or less bicycle makers who decided to start equipping their bikes with motors. Most of this development and experimental was being conducted in Germany and England, though it spread to America where it was enthusiastically welcomed.
By 1900 the industry was a booming, vibrant one has new methods of production meant that higher and higher volumes of motorcycles could be produced. In late 1895 the first motorcycle race was run. It was and exciting new spectacle that enthralled many and that trend has only continued. Having a look at websites dedicated to sports betting show how the popularity of motorcycle racing has increased over the years to become the extremely popular sport that it is today.
Like so much manufacturing sectors, it was the First World War that gave the industry a massive boost that, with very few and circumstantial blips, has been on the increase ever since. On both sides of the war in Europe former bicycle manufacturers who had the whim to stick motors on their bikes were now an integral part of the production of machines that were being used it war.
Nowadays were fortunate that the majority of motorcycles are used for peaceful purposes, but one wonders how things might have been different without the bumps in production the World Wars added. We will never know, but at least we can all go for a day-long ride on a hot summer afternoon!