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August 03, 2013
History of the Motorcycle
Summer riding season is in full swing, but do you know how the iconic image of the motorcycle came to be?
Let’s take a brief look at the history of the motorcycle:
A 2-wheeled contraption looking like a bicycle called the “Steam Velocipede” is unveiled. This design did not catch on with the public.
The first “true” motorcycle is introduced, consisting of a single-cylinder internal combustion engine mounted on a wooden frame with iron and wooden wheels.
The first air-inflated, pressurized tire is invented.
A French automobile manufacturer introduces a lightweight, 4-stroke engine that makes mass-production of the motorcycle possible.
Bicycle maker Charles Metz creates the first production motorcycle. Metz is also given credit for coining the word “motorcycle.”
Indian Motorcycle Company begins production of their motorcycle, becoming the world’s best-seller up until WWI.
The Harley-Davidson brand is launched and starts producing bikes with their signature V-Twin engine.
The US military relies on motorbikes to gather reconnaissance and deliver messages during World War I.
Americans and Europeans embrace the motorcycle, creating a boom in the 1920s; however the Great Depression forces many manufacturers out of business.
The motorcycle becomes a symbol of rebellion due to the motorcycle gang in the classic biker movie “The Wild One.”
Yamaha begins selling bikes in America.
Baby boomers take up motorcycling, creating the biggest sales boom in motorcycle history.
The first full-face motorcycle helmet is introduced.
Honda unveils a revolutionary 4-cylinder, single overhead cam engine, and is considered the first “superbike.”
EMB, Inc. introduces the world’s first commercial electric motorbike, the Lectra.
The world’s first production hybrid motorcycle, the Eko ET-120, goes on sale in India.