When motorcyclists ride, they occupy a space that is unique among motorized vehicles. They straddle the line between a car and a bicycle, creating a sense of freedom that is augmented by an exhilarating sensory experience. Whether it is the pleasure of a brisk afternoon errand run, camaraderie on a group ride, or the vistas enjoyed by an off-road excursion, motorcycling engages all of the senses to create a unique feeling of control and liberation that is not available to drivers of any other machine.
Motorcycles have come a long way since the first bicycle-styled vehicles were created in the 1890s. Sylvester Roper’s steam velocipede, Michaux-Perreaux velocipede and other early bikes had a single front wheel that was controlled by hand levers to move the vehicle forward or backward. The invention of Nicolaus Otto’s four-stroke internal combustion engine in 1876 and Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach’s gasoline powered Reitwagen in 1885 opened the doors for true motorcycles to enter the market.
Today’s mass produced motorcycles use a frame made of steel or aluminum to hold the handlebars, front fork that supports the front wheel and controls movement of it, and a chassis that holds the rest of the vehicle. A gas engine with one to eight cylinders powers the rear wheels and controls movement through a drive shaft or transmission system. Graphite, composite, and magnesium parts are used to increase strength and reduce weight. The type of motorcycle purchased is a personal decision that depends on the rider’s preferences, budget and riding style.