A motorcycle can mean so many things to so many people. There’s the freedom of the open road, the excitement of adventures just around the corner, or simply the feeling of the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you speed down a mountain highway. It’s no wonder that motorcyclists are such an intense and diverse group of people.
The first “motorcycles” were developed in the late 1880s. Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach invented a gasoline-powered engine that could be placed between two steerable front wheels of the bicycle-styled vehicle. The resulting Petroleum Reitwagen or “motor cycle” proved to be a great success. As a result, dozens of companies were formed to produce these new self-propelled vehicles.
While the inventors of these early machines often went on to develop automobiles and other types of transportation, some, including Indian Motorcycle founder George Hendee, devoted themselves solely to motorcycle production. These companies grew tremendously during the war years as they supplied bikes for military use and to boost domestic demand.
Today, there are a variety of different kinds of motorcycles for every kind of rider. There are street bikes designed for urban riding and tarmac roads, sport bikes for canyon carving, and even dirt bikes for those who prefer to ride off the beaten path.
Regardless of the type of motorcycle you choose to ride, be sure to take the time to learn your bike in a controlled environment before entering traffic. Also, remember that due to their small size, motorcycles are more likely to be hidden in a car’s blind spot and may appear to be traveling much faster than they actually are.