Motorcycles In 1868 Ernest and Pierre Michaux of France, experimented with a steam-powered bicycle. This engine was to big and heavy to really do much other than be a good idea. In 1868, steam powered motors was all that they had. The idea of a motor-powered bicycle had not come around again until 1884 when the gas powered combustion engine was a fairly common thing. In 1884 a man from England named Edward Butler attached a motor to his sons tricycle. Then four months later he attached a larger motor to his own custom tricycle.

Every one thought that this idea was the best. Well the news got out to a German named Gottlieb Daimler. Daimler thought that he had to make one of the machines. But Daimlers machine was different. Daimlers machine had an ordinary bicycle for a frame instead of a tricycle.

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Daimler finally got his motor bicycle completed in1886. Soon after Daimler had finished his bike he lost interest in two wheels and went on to pioneer the automobile. These three machines were the birth of motorcycle. The first really successful motorcycle was built in 1901. The people who built it were Michael and Eugene Werner. They adopted the classic style of motorcycle that is used today with the motor between your legs and underneath the gas tank.

The word “motorcycle” wasnt really even used until the end of the twentieth century. Motorcycle meant and bicycle or tricycle with an engine. Some of the kinds of motorcycles were two-wheeled bikes, three-wheeled bikes, mini-bikes, mopeds, and motor scooters. The scooter was extremely popular in Italy. Motorcycle racing began in 1897. The first official race was in Richmond, Surrey, England.

Most of the racing back then was either city-to-city or informal road races. Starting at about 1905 closed-circuit racing was big among racers. First of all it was easier. All you had to do was turn one way, and go around a track for a certain number of times. Pretty much all of these bikes were twin cylinder bikes with about a 35 cubic inch motor, or 433 cubic centimeters. This changed in 1904 when Harley-Davidson made their first bike.

It had a 45 cubic inch (750 cubic centimeters) V-twin motor. Other people then soon adapted their bikes to have bigger engines. The exception to closed circuit racing is the Tourist Trophy race that originated on the Isle of Man in 1907. The Tourist Trophy was first set at 37? miles but was later changed to 38 miles. This race was the first sponsored race. It was sponsored by Triumph Bikes for a promotion.

This marked a major mile stone for motorcycle racing. In the early 1900s if you wanted a motor cycle you either had to make one your self or have someone with a good mechanic background make one. If you wanted to buy one, it was really expensive. If you wanted to make one, it would take you a lot of time. This problem was solved in 1904.

Two manufacturers, Harley-Davidson and Triumph, started to manufacture their bikes. These bikes were fairly expensive. There was a lot of labor to these bikes. They had to make each fit just right. Because of this reason they could only manufacture about 10 bikes a year. But the industry wanted, and needed these bikes.

It was a cheaper way of traveling from place to place. Even when the automobile many people still had scooters or motorcycles because they were cheaper and easier to operate. Many people who wanted to deliver things from town to town, that didnt like the speed of a horse and buggy, bought these bikes. The bike became a major part in our lives. In 1913, the Chicago police department started to experiment with motorcycles. There were now half-a-dozen different companies in the U.S.

and about a dozen internationally, including Norton, BSA, and Vincent. Motorcycles were becoming huge everywhere. Then the Great Depression came along and motorcycles were scarcer. Gas was hard to come by. The motorcycle was more commonly used than automobiles because they had way better gas mileage.

Once the Great Depression only three American brands remained, Harley-Davidson, Indian, and Triumph. Motorcycles were now commonly used for racing or for pleasure. Cars became more popular because they had a longer season to be used. Bikes gradually evolved until 1958 when the first four-cylinder motorcycle was made. Many people were going away from the classic look and buying Asian bike like Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki, and then later Yamaha.

These bikes had a noticeably higher sound because they ran at higher rpms. These bikes also generally went faster. Another very noticeable feature about these bikes was that they were shaft driven rather than belt or chain driven like they have been. They soon took over the racing market. Today there are many different kinds of motorcycle racing. One of the most popular forms of motorcycle racing is motocross.

In motocross you use dirtbikes. The two classes of motocross are 125cc and 250cc. Usually the 250cc races are more exciting to watch because of the faster speeds and larger jumps. Motocross is done on a dirt track. This track is usually indoors during colder seasons and outside during hotter seasons.

The dirt track has many different challenges. There are many jumps and bumps to watch out for. Usually if you can get further on a jump than a competitor you will have a faster run. There is usually about ten to twelve laps in these races. Another aspect of the course is the hairpin turn. The hair pin turn is a very sharp turn that if you go to fast you will wipe out and if you go to slow people will pass you.

The hairpin turn can make or break a race. Today motocross racing is probably the most watched form of motorcycle racing. Another way of racing is stock racing. In stock racing the racers have highly modified bikes that barley resemble bikes at all. The bike is much wider than most bikes.

The rear tire is about one and a half feet wide. There is also a wheelie-bar to stop the bike from going on just one wheel. The bike is about ten feet long. The track they use is a straight track. The key to winning this type of racing is reaction time.

This type of racing is the fastest type of racing also. Bikes can reach speeds of up to two hundred fifty. Because of these high speeds, in order to stop in a reasonable distance a parachute is released out the back. Bibliography Comptons Encyclopedia 1998 A-Z of Motorcycles by Roland Brown 1989 Harley Davidson: The Ultimate Machine by Todd Rafferty 1992.


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