Those, who really like motorcycles can’t be indifferent to their history, which goes back to 19-th century, when the first motorcycle with a steam-engine was assembled. But honestly, it is hard to call it a motorcycle, because a true motorcycle is a two-wheeled motor vehicle with combustion engine.
This is the first motorcycle in the world equipped with combustion engine, invented by Gottlieb Daimler. He patented his invention in 1805 under name “Reitwagen”.
This motorcycle had wooden chassis and only one cylinder, which developed power of 0.5 hp. The engine volume was 264 ccm. The tire rim was metallic, and the spokes were made of wood. This technological wonder of that time had a weight of 50 kg and could speed up to 12 km/h.
Second motorcycle in history Hildebrand & Wolfmuller
The second motorcycle of the world didn’t keep waiting and in 1895 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller was assembled. This motorcycle was equipped with 2-cylinder engine and had a volume of 1498 ccm. This engine developed power of 2.5 hp. And its maximum speed was almost 4 times higher in comparison to Reitwagen – 45 km/h. Though, they were produced just for a couple of years, because they weren’t very popular.
And here’s the first year of 20-th century and the world saw the third motorcycle in history produced by NSU.
This vehicle could speed up to 40 km/h, and had a weight of 38 kg. The engine of this motorcycle had 1.25 hp and was installed under bicycle frame. The belt-drive was connected with rear wheel. Also pedals were used as drive gear.
Fourth motorcycle of the world
Then a small revolution happens in motorcycle history, the first motorcycle in USA and the fourth in the world appears. It was “Indian”.
And the revolution was in using of big diameter frame instead of bicycle one. On this frame was placed an ignition battery. Also chain drive was used instead of belt, despite of assurance of engineers that the chain can breakdown on a start.
Engine was installed right under the seat. Its volume was 260 ccm. Such engine could develop power of 1.75 hp. It used an automatically operated valve, had one cylinder, but worked in 4 strokes. The fuel tank was also installed in an unusual place – on rear fender. In 1905 the motorcycle was equipped with 310 ccm and 2.25 hp engine.
The next 2 years was some kind of lull before the storm for motorcycle history. Many tried to make motorcycles fort this period of time, but all of them failed.
Joseph Merkel put an end to this by making a Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle with loop-shaped frame, one-cylinder engine and belt-drive. He made this motorcycle in 1902, but used a rhombic frame, which was inconvenient for installation of engine, that’s why the appearance of fifth motorcycle is dated by 1903.
2 guys from Milwaukee came to look at this motorcycle, who tried to make one before. Their names were Harley and Davidson. Well, they looked at it and decided they could do better.
That’s how in 1904 appeared sixth motorcycle in the world named Harley-Davidson.
First motorcycle produced by Harley-Davidson
Engine of this motorcycle had a volume of 405 ccm, there was also a 23.5 cm fly wheel, which weighted 12.7 kg.
The seventh motorcycle, which left a mark in history, was also built by Joseph Merkel. He developed a racing motorcycle, which was called Flying Merkel. It was the first motorcycle equipped with 2-speed transmission, 1000 ccm engine. These motorcycles were produced for 12 years. After that their production was ceased.
Eighth motorcycle in the world
In 1907 the “Indian” company takes a turn and makes a motorcycle with 2-cylinder V-twin engine, with volume 633 ccm and 3.5 hp. Next year the company offered sporting variant of this motorcycle with 1000 ccm engine.
In 1912 appeared 2 motorcycles: Yale and Excelsior 20 R.
Though, these two companies were forgotten in 1920. But this happened in 1920, and in 1912 Yale motorcycle was produced in California and was equipped with air-cooled engine. There were horizontal fins for cooling with mass air flow.
As for Excelsior 20 R, it was equipped with 4-stroke 1000 ccm engine with 20 hp. The cooling was also air. The motorcycle was equipped with 4-speed gearbox. It was the first motorcycle in the world, which could speed up to 160 km/h. The weight of this motorcycle was 227 kg.
And №10 is first motorcycle produced by BMW!
If we don’t take into account various upgrades of models mentioned above, then BMW R 32 is 10-th motorcycle, which appeared in 1923. In general, BMW company produced aircraft engines, but after the WW I, the company started assembling motorcycles.
And they were successful with it, I might say. Thanks to this motorcycle, European manufacturers became leaders in assembling of two-wheeled vehicles again. This model was equipped with 486 ccm air-cooled engine BMW M2B33. This engine had 8.5 hp, which provided speeding up to 95 km/h.
This motorcycle had 3-speed gearbox, drum front brakes and block rear brakes. The motorcycle weighted 122 kg.
So, our short excursus to the motorcycle history has come to an end. We hope that this was not just interesting, but also informative.