The history of the motorcycle can be first dated back to the 1860s. The motorcycle was nowhere as advanced as it is during these years. But all great things had to start somewhere right?

19th Century

Ernest Michaux

In 1867 gas-powered motorcycles was something that was unthinkable. Steam was the main source of propulsion. Pierre Michaux’s son Ernest invented the first steam-powered motorcycle. In his father’s notorious bicycle factory. This wondrous idea was by combining a small steam engine. To one of their early “boneshaker” bicycle designs. The production created a domino effect amongst other inventors. This was when American inventor Sylvester H. Roper premiered his twin-cylinder steam engine with a coal furnace in 1868.

Ernest MichauxFig: Ernest Michaux

Lucius Copeland

In 1867 gas-powered motorcycles were something that was unthinkable. Steam was the main source of propulsion. Pierre Michaux’s son Ernest invented the first steam-powered motorcycle. In his father’s notorious bicycle factory. This wondrous idea was by combining a small steam engine. To one of their early “boneshaker” bicycle designs. The production created a domino effect amongst other inventors. This was when American inventor Sylvester H. Roper premiered his twin-cylinder steam engine with a coal furnace in 1868.

Lucius CopelandFig: Lucius Copeland

Gottlieb Daimler & Wilhelm Maybach, " Daimler Reitwagen"

Steam engines didn’t just use coal in 1871. Louis-Guillaume Perreaux developed an alcohol-burning engine. The American inventor Lucius Copeland strapped a small steam engine. To the rear of a Penny-Farthing bicycle in 1881. That went to the highs of 12 mph, which was miraculous for the ages.

Gottlieb Daimler & Wilhelm Maybach, " Daimler Reitwagen"Fig: Gottlieb Daimler & Wilhelm Maybach, " Daimler Reitwagen"

Hildebrand & Wolfmüller

Hildebrand & WolfmüllerFig: Hildebrand & Wolfmüller

Only a couple years past and in 1885. Was when the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. Produced the first motorcycle that has a gas-based combustion engine. This was a key point in motorcycle history. For being an advanced engine for its time it was only a small 264cc. This wooden frame “Daimler Reitwagen” was the kickstart of a revolution.

In 1894 Hildebrand and Wolfmüller began the first mass-produced motorcycle in the world. This wasn’t able to sustain itself. Only several hundred units were produced. American and British manufacturers were beginning to rise. E.g. Excelsior Motor Company, Royal Enfield, and the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. In 1895 The American inventor E.J. Pennington. Demonstrated his first version of a motorcycle that reached 58 mph.

20th Century

The beginning of the 20th century was the rise of big manufacturers. E.g. The English Royal Enfield, Triumph, American Harley-Davidson, and The Indian Manufacturing Company. Throughout the years 1901-1903, the demand for motorcycles increased. The first organized races began.

First World War Motorcycle

First World War MotorcycleFig: First World War Motorcycle
During the First World War, motorcycles were used to communicate. Through their speeds and efficiency. Telegrams were sent and received quickly. Harley-Davidson became hugely successful in the First World War. They had an immense dedication to the war effort. By devoting 50% of its output.

Brough Superior Bike

Brough Superior BikeFig: Brough Superior Bike

By the Second World War, motorcycles improved. Being able to reach speeds of 100 mph. This was the Brough Superior bike that was produced in Nottingham, England. Motorcycles were seen being used in combat again.

1953 Suzuki Diamond Free

1953 Suzuki Diamond FreeFig: 1953 Suzuki Diamond Free

Post-War American and European manufacturers dominated the market. Japan was beginning to gain its mark on the industry. Kawasaki and Suzuki were some notable names. This was all due to their low costs and high-performance models. American manufacturers suffered from this. Soldiers were coming back from the war with a new passion. This began the start of many clubs and brotherhoods. This began the use of them becoming more recreational. By 1959 Honda became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. Resulting in the British Motorcycle dominance fading away.

In 1970 there were 5 million registered motorcycles in the United States. Honda and Kawasaki were the first for electronic fuel injection systems. In 1980 this became a norm all around the world.

1991-92 Ducati 750 Supersport

1991-92 Ducati 750 SupersportFig: 1991-92 Ducati 750 Supersport

The Japanese dominance of the market lasted up to the 1990s. Due to several American and Italian companies expanding their markets. During this decade there was a slight dip in the market. But thanks to Baby Boomers the industry experienced a surge in sales. Which resulted in BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, and Triumph making a comeback.

21st Century / Present Day

Honda Africa Twin 2020

Honda Africa Twin 2020Fig: Honda Africa Twin 2020

Motorcycles are one of the most affordable modes of motorized transportation. They are over 200 million registered motorcycles in use. These leading countries are India (37 million motorcycle/mopeds). With China (34 million motorcycle/mopeds). Japanese manufacturers still hold a sizable piece of the market. BMW, Ducati, Victory, and Harley-Davidson are popular in the present market too.