THE HISTORY OF THE MOTORCYCLE:
This is the home page for the Mark Bayers Motorcycle History Pages:
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The Motorcycle began as a grand experiment in the development of mechanical things. The motorcycle continues to be a platform for serious innovation!
This study is intended to be an overview only. Please use these pages as an outline for additional research. Please check out some of my other web pages listed at the bottom of this page. Thanks for your interest!
Once finished with this page, click on the other pages which are accessed by clicking on the headings just under the main page heading!
From the end of the 18th. century to the the 20th. century, there grew an interest in all things mechanical. The belief that machines and technology could serve mankind grew from the development of simple machines and procedures to more complex ones. The development of the cotton gin in 1793, the development of powered baloon travel during the same time period, the telegraph by 1837, the steam locomative in 1826, electric vehicles in 1834, photography by 1839, the development of rubber in 1895, the development of the internal combustion engine from the 1870's, and the development of aviation after 1890, all fueled more experimentation. As metal was developed in ways to become much stronger and more usable after the 1860's (replacing wood as the desired material) through the Bessemer process in 1860 and the refining of fossel fuels maturing after 1859, the automobile and motorcycle became possibilities. It was the belief that man could advance by invention that fueled development and progress.
(A) For a little Indian Motorcycle history: www.markbayerindian.mysite.com
(B) For a pictorial view of how motorcycles have changed through the decades and a view of the basic model types, go to: www.vcme.mysite.com/photo3_5.html
(C) For Honda Motorcycle history: www.markbayersvintagehonda.mysite.com
THE MOTORCYCLE WAS PRECEDED BY THE BICYCLE!
The bicycle dates back to the 1820's whan two wheels were connected to a wooden bar allowing a person to ride down an incline on the device. The term bicycle comes from "Bi" = two (two wheels) and "cycle" = the wheels cycling around! The bicycle developed slowly till they they had pedals, a chain, handles to turn the front wheel, and a bracket to put pressure on the rear tire to stop the vehicle when needed. The bicycle was fairly well developed by mid century and popular by the 1880's. The bicycle was first used as a framework to attach an engine as early as 1869. The Roper steam "motor" cycle was the first self powered two wheeler. The machine usually called the first motorcycle was the 1885 Damalier-Benz internal combustion machine in 1885. This machine is pictured on the next page. From this development, many inventors in Europe and the US toyed with "powered" bicycles. By 1899, the first production motorcycle was available to the public. More details are in the next section. It must be noted, however, this machine had to be push started and was dangerous to stop (no clutch, no transmission, no kill switch, and no brakes).
The Roper Steam Cycle:
The "Roper", developed in 1869 was a steam powered motorcycle. Estimated power was around 1/4 to 1/2 horsepower depending on how well the coals were burning! Top speed would be in the 2-4 mph range. Not the racing version for sure!
THE FIRST MOTORCYCLES WERE SIMPLE BUT FILLED WITH POTENTIAL!
It must be understood that the earliest motorcycles were slow, dangerious, very unreliable, produced in low numbers, and ridden by only those looking for excitement and a thrill. One writer around 1905 noted that he needed to perform major maintenance around every 30 miles. Early automobiles and motorcycles were illegal in many areas because they scared the horses. The emergence of self powered vehicles created the need for speed limits, stop signs, and codefied driving rules.
The motorcycle developed somewhat differently in the US compared to Europe. In the US, the motorcycle has been primarly a hobby, a sport, or means of excitement for the mechanically inclined. In Europe, the motorcycle has been more utilitarian and much more a source of primary transportation than over on this side of the Atlantic.
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BASIC HISTORICAL PERIODS IN THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE MOTORCYCLE: each page below can be accessed by clicking on the icon just under the heading at the top of the page;
(I) FROM THE 1870'S TO 1905: THE BEGINNINGS OF MOTORCYCLE DEVELOPMENT
(II) FROM 1905 TO 1920: FROM EXPERIMENTATION TO FUNCTIONAL MACHINES (to the WWI time period)
(III) FROM WWI TO WWII (1920's TO THE 1940'S): THE MOTORCYCLE MATURES AND IS ESTABLISHED AS A VIABLE FORM OF TRANSPORTATION
(IV) FROM WWII (1945)TO 1962: THE RISE OF THE BRITISH MOTORCYCLE EMPIRE AND THE PLATEAU OF THE AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY
from here go to: www.markbayersmotorcyclehistoryII.mysite.com
(V) FROM 1962 TO 1980: THE RISE OF THE JAPANESE MOTORCYCLE, THE FALL OF THE BRITISH MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY, TO THE NEAR FAILURE OF AMERICAN MOTORCYCLE DEVELOPMENT
(VI) FROM 1980 TO 1999: THE INCREASE OF TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION IN THE FIELD OF MOTORCYCLE DEVELOPMENT
(VII) SINCE 2000: A RENAISSANCE IN THE WORLD OF MOTORCYCLE DEVELOPMENT
(VIII) MOTORCYCLES WHICH HAVE GREATLY INFLUENCED THE INDUSTRY