The History of Motorcycles

The world of motorcycles has evolved to become an amazing form of transportation. They are fun, fast, and provide an excellent form of exercise. As such, they are enjoyed by millions of people across the globe. However, motorcycles are also dangerous. Many crashes involving motorcycles are caused by other motorists who are not paying attention or failing to check behind them before changing lanes. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent motorcycle accidents. Obey traffic laws; always wear a helmet; and take extra care to signal, check mirrors, and watch for other drivers.

The first motorcycles were created to replace horse-drawn carriages for short trips in town or country. The earliest designs were steam-powered. The Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede of 1868 was an early example, as was the American Roper steam velocipede built by Sylvester H. Roper Roxbury, MA in 1864-65.

By the turn of the 20th century, the production motorcycle started to grow rapidly. Known brands like Royal Enfield, Triumph, and Indian Motorcycle began producing bikes, while the company that changed the industry forever – Harley-Davidson – launched in 1903.

The mid-1940’s saw the motorcycle industry explode again as WWII ended and soldiers came home with their own bikes. Motorcycle clubs sprang up to give men purpose and belonging, as well as an opportunity for socialization. The biker image was further cemented by Marlon Brando’s portrayal of a biker gang leader in the 1954 film, The Wild One.

In the 1950’s, Honda and Yamaha became major players in the motorcycle market, proving that they could create vehicles that rivaled the top American brands. Custom motorcycles with varying colors, paint jobs, and stylings became very popular. The 1969 road film Easy Rider starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda further fueled the image of rebellion and independence that is associated with motorcycle culture to this day.