July 21, 2022

The Origin of the Motorcycle

The Origin of the Motorcycle

The origins of the motorcycle--two wheels and a motor go wheee-was invented somewhere between the invention of bicycles and engines, but the story is not as straightforward as you might think. Bicycles were invented as early as 1418 and the combustion engine came along in 1860. But credit for the combination goes to a variety of different people and the motorcycle as we know it developed over a period of time. 

Sylvester Roper, 1869

Sylvester Roper

A mechanical engineer who invented a host of things (most famously around steam powered engines), Sylvester invented a bicycle and steam powered engine combination in 1869. It was capable of at least 40mph and weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. The rider needed to carry coal with them, for fuel, but it was possible to carry enough coal for 25 miles at a time. 

 Edward Butler, 1884

Edward Butler

Butler developed a bicycle and engine combination, but the bicycle was a three-wheeled version called the "Butler Petrol Cycle" and was powered by a flat twin, four stroke engine. One gallon took the bike 40 miles, at a speed of up to 10mph. Because of legislation requiring three people to operate on the road and a speed limit of only 4mph, he abounded development. 

Gottlieb Daimler, Nicolaus Otto & Wilhelm Mayback, 1885 

 Gottlieb Daimler, Nicolaus Otto & Wilhelm Mayback,

Daimler is widely credited with having invented the world's first internal combustion engine, but it was with Otto and Mayback that he combined the engine with the bicycle to create the first gasoline powered bicycle. The motorcycle they invented utilized a wooden bicycle frame with the wheels taken off and a one cylinder engine. It could go only about 7mph and up to 7 miles. In 1885, Daimler received a patent for the Motorcycle. 

Hildebrand & Wolfmuller, 1895 

Hildebrand & Wolfmuller

The first motorcycle manufacturer came ten years after the Maybeck patent. While this factory didn't last long, it (and important safety developments) paved the way for the next wave of motorcycle manufacturers: English Royal Enfield, Triumph, American Harley Davidson, Indian Motorcycle Company and DKW. It was now official: the motorcycle had been born.  

Indian Motorcycle Company

 

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