When was motorbike invented? When the motorcycle was first introduced, its creators couldn’t have possibly predicted its future popularity or the culture it would create. They couldn’t know their invention would cultivate a brotherhood, sisterhood, or a family that other social groups wouldn’t be able to emulate.
When was motorbike invented?
The first motorbike as we would understand it today appeared in 1885 in Germany.
Built by Gottlieb Daimler, and Wilhelm Maybach, both later to become famous for their car brands, the Daimler Reitwagen was a very basic experimental prototype rather than a full-fledged useful transport solution. It did use a petrol-powered engine though.
The first production motorcycle was the Hildebrand and Wolfmüller, produced between 1894 and 1897.
History of the motorbike
Perhaps surprisingly, motorbikes were invented at almost exactly the same time as cars. The Daimler Reitwagen, built by Gottlieb Daimler, first appeared in 1885, the same year as Karl Benz built his Patent Motorwagen – the first petrol-powered motor car.
Now, the Reitwagen might look pretty crude to our eyes, but it was the first effective two-wheeled vehicle powered by a petrol engine.
That engine was a four-stroke 264cc single, making a heady 0.5bhp, and the ‘bike’ itself used a pair of stabiliser wheels to help it go round corners.
Inventors and engineers quickly worked out that they needed better chassis tech though, and borrowing innovation from the world of bicycles, they began to develop frames with better steering geometry and more powerful engines.
Arguably the first ‘proper’ motorbike, rather than Daimler’s rather impractical prototype machine was the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller ‘motorrad’ of 1894.
It went into full series production, with more than 800 produced in Germany over three years.
It used a weirdly primitive engine design – like a steam train, the twin cylinder motor’s con-rods were joined directly to the driving (rear) wheel, so the ‘crankshaft’ was simply the back wheel – there was no clutch or gearbox at all.
It weighed a skinny 55kg and the 1,488cc water-cooled engine produced a wild 2.5bhp – meaning it could almost touch 30mph.
The Hildebrand & Wolfmüller (H&W) was a bit of a dead end thanks to that archaic engine layout, but it had broken new ground for the motorcycle – and before we knew it, we were all riding Fireblades and ZX-10Rs.
Okay, it took a wee bit longer than that – but it’s fair to say that without the Daimler Reitwagen and the H&W, bikes might well not have appeared until much later.
Who invented the motorbike?
Germany was the home of many early automotive developments, including the motorcycle.
The Daimler Reitwagen, produced by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885, is generally accepted as the first petrol-powered motorbike, though there were various experimental steam-powered machines around at the time.
Why was the motorbike invented?
The motorbike came about as a simple way to produce motorised transport cheaper than a four-wheeled car.
The basic technology behind early models – the pedal-powered bicycle – was an obvious foundation to start with, and early pioneers quickly worked out how to mount engines in the frame to replace human-powered pedal drive.
This allowed higher speeds and longer range at a lower cost than a motor car – which meant many more people were able to afford to buy them.
The progression of motorcycles
Even though the first gas motorcycle plan came to life in 1885, it took several years for the successful commercialization of bikes. To be exact, the first commercialized motorcycle was created by two Germans, Hildebrand, and Wolfmuller, in 1894. They in fact beat some big names like Royal Enfield and Indian Motorcycles in doing so.
Once bikes went the commercial route, there was no stopping the industry from growing and constant evolution kept the ball rolling. Various kinds of engines (inline-four, inline-six, L-twin, and more) took shape.
The types of materials employed in the construction got better, reliability improved, and the list keeps on going, ultimately bringing us to today when motorcycles are entering an all-new era of electrification.
The future of motorcycles
Like it or hate it, the future of motorcycles is electric. Just like ICE bikes were refined and got better over time, electric motorcycles too are evolving fast and will soon be accessible. It’s just a matter of if not when they’ll take over. However, we’re pretty sure even if EVs take over, ICE motorcycles will forever hold a special place in the world, at least for true blue motorcyclists.
Which motorbike should I buy?
The answer to the question ‘which bike should I buy’ depends totally on what you need from it. And at the most pragmatic level, the more tightly-defined your requirements… the easier the choice is.
If you need a cheap commuter, then a small-capacity scooter like a Honda SH125, a naked bike like Kawasaki’s Z300 or even a single cylinder middleweight dirt bike like a Yamaha XT660 will do a great job.
Want to tour Europe two-up with a load of luggage? Consider a big adventure bike like the BMW R1250GS or a dedicated tourer like the Honda Gold Wing or Yamaha FJR1300. Fancy learning how to ride fast on track?
A used 600 or 750 supersports bike like a Kawasaki ZX-6R or a Suzuki GSX-R 750 will ease you in far better than a full litre superbike. Working out exactly what you’ll need from a bike is key – then calculate how much you want to spend.
Don’t forget things like insurance – you might not be able to get a policy for a high-power machine if you’re inexperienced, and theft cover may be tricky and expensive if you don’t have a garage and live in a big city, for example.
Once you’ve worked out the basics, get onto the bike firms’ websites and see what fits the bill. Staff at bike dealers are mines of useful information – and joining up on relevant social media groups will also provide loads of tips.
Bike magazines and websites (like this one!) also run tests and other features which can help you decide what’s best for your needs.
Was Harley-Davidson the first motorcycle?
Harley-Davidson was not the first motorcycle. The first motorcycle was built in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. However, Harley-Davidson is the oldest surviving motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
What is the oldest known motorcycle?
The oldest known motorcycle is the 1885 Daimler Reitwagen. Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach invented the first motorcycle in 1885.
Who were the original owners of Harley-Davidson?
The original owners of Harley-Davidson were William S. Harley and Arthur Davidson.
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