First Gas-Engine Motorcycle
The first gas-engined motorcycle was produced in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler (if the name sounds familiar it’s the same Daimler from Mercedes-Benz).
The first motorcycle had a wood chassis and the engine was invented by Nicolaus August Otto in 1876.
Otto was the inventor of the car and motorcycle engine as we know today. The engine was a 4 stroke internal combustion. What Daimler did was he assembled the Otto engine to a motorcycle and hence this was the first motorcycle.
First Steps For Major Motorcycle Companies
- 1902: Triumph
- 1903: Harley Davidson
- 1946: Honda
- 1952: Suzuki
- 1954: Kawasaki
- 1955: Yamaha
- 1902: First Triumph motorcycle is produced. It uses a single-cylinder Belgian Minerva engine. It is fitted onto a bicycle frame.
1903: The first Harley-Davidson Motor Company was launched by William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson. launch the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.
In 1946, Soichiro Honda founds the Honda Technical Research Insitute. By 1947, Honda has produced its first motorcycle, the 98cc, 2-cycle Dream.
The Ducati Family with investors founded the Society Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna. Originally they manufactured industrial components for radio transmissions. By 1946, Ducati introduced a 4-stroke 48cc clip-on engine for bicycles. And in 1952, the futuristic Cruiser 175cc, with automatic transmission and electric starter.
Yamaha: Founded by Torakusu Yamaha in 1888 originally as Yamaha Musical Instrument Company. After the war, Yamaha expanded into Motorcycles. The first was the 125cc, single-cylinder two-stroke YA-1 Motorcycle.
The Harley Davidson Sportster was first to appear in 1957. A 55 cubic inch, 2 pistons, V-twin light motorcycle with sport capability. This Sportster was also called Iron head and is in production even today with the new twin-cam engine.
The first superbike as we know today is the CB 750 Honda 67 Horsepower from the mid-’70s. It was the first 4 cylinder motorcycle that was reliable and that had disc breaks. The chassis was typically Japanese for those days, and it did not hold the road very well.
The American and British Motorcycles were very much in charge of the Motorcycle market during the 1950s. The downside to this was that in order to drive a Motorcycle at this time, one had to have a knowledge of how a Motorcycle worked not only on the outside but on the inside as well. Thus making life very difficult for those who wanted to own a motorcycle especially if you were not knowledgable of Motorcycle mechanics. – Just to get the motorcycle started was mission impossible.
Advancements in designs of motorcycles were coming to a standstill because there were still no new designs coming into the market thus no competition – until the Japanese that is.
Like every other country that was involved in the war, Japan was also suffering. – The only difference with Japan is that their manufacturing infrastructure had been destroyed – Which in one way was a blessing in disguise because instead of rebuilding it as it was, they decided to look to the future and build accordingly.
As was the trend with most countries the main priority was to build cheap transportation for their citizens. Japanese motorcycles were not very popular in the USA as no one really had any use for a bicycle with an engine on it.
With the arrival of the late 1950s and early ’60s, Japanese motorcycles began getting bigger and better and were slowly trickling into the European markets and very soon after that into the USA. – The motorcycles were changing from small slow mopeds to big reliable, attractive, fast and most importantly reasonably priced motorcycles.
The major motorcycle manufacturers around the world did not really take Japan seriously as the Japanese at this time were only concerned with making small motorcycles and they did not feel that Japan was a threat to them and therefore no competition, however, this became a mistake. In the 1960’s Japanese made motorcycles were getting bigger and faster and no one was paying any attention to this until Honda introduced their CD450. – The bike was awesome, not only was it good to look at and completely affordable it could outrun any Harley Davidson as it had more than twice the engine size and did not break down frequently as the Harley was known to do.
All the other motorcycle companies stood up and took notice of Japan thus the competition started with Japanese bikes. Various companies added new technology to their classic line but this proved to be not enough and unfortunately too late. – When the Honda came out with its new four-cylinder CB750 there was no doubt about it that the Japanese bikes were in for good.
It did not matter how hard companies tried they could not find fault in the Honda – it was on par with a new car that could perform as well as a Mercedez with the low cost of a Hyundai.
As we know that all good things must come to an end, The baby-boomers arrived, and by then everyone that wanted one had more or less purchased a motorcycle. This generation wanted speed and reliability and they found it in Japanese motorcycles. However, during the 1970s when baby boomers were concentrating on starting families and getting 9-5 jobs, Motorcycles were slowly starting to lose their appeal. The American distributors found themselves with an overload of Japanese Motorcycles that no one wanted to buy and were forced to sell stocks at half the cost price. Thus driving many companies out of business.
After the fallout of the last motorcycle disaster, there was a need of something to revive the motorcycle from the dead. Harley Davidson is the most unlikely candidate stepped in to save the day, although Harley Davidson had a reputation of not being very reliable mainly because to own a Harley you had to have mechanical skills so it was not something the vast public wanted to own.
in 1981 Harley Davison opened its own company and started to develop a new engine that bought forth the Evolution engine and opening up a totally new market for themselves.
This new enginer turned Harley into the most reliable motorcycle that the public had been looking for. – It was now possible to own a classic Harley and not worry about it breaking down in the middle of the night in a dark road.
Today Harley Davidson is the top motorbike seller in the USA, each and every Harley that is made is sold before it even leaves the factory, whoever is and was a Harley Davidson fan will probably not settle for anything less.
However, there are now quite a few other companies that make good and reliable motorcycles and it is possible to find in the market today a bike that is suitable for just about anyone.