Timeline of Motorcycles

Ever since from early bicycles, scientist searched the way to make transport on public roads more automated and faster. With that goal in mind, in last one and a half century many inventors tried to make their version of the motorcycle. Here are some most important events regarding their discoveries:

Picture Of Butler's Patent Velocycle
  • 1867 – First steam-powered motorcycle was made during 1867, in the factory of famous bicycle inventor Pierre Michaux. His son Ernest who also invented the bicycle pedals attached small steam engine to one of his bicycle designs.
  • 1868 - American, Sylvester H. Roper presented his twin cylinder steam velocipede with a coal burn furnace. He died in 1896 while performing a demonstration of one of his steam motorcycles.
  • 1871 – French engineer Louis-Guillaume Perreaux developed steam one cylinder motorcycle with an alcohol burner.
  • 1881 – American inventor Lucius Copeland strapped small boiler engine on a rear wheel of “farthing-penny” bicycle. This configuration enabled him to reach the speed of 12mhp.
  • 1885 – German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach produced first motorcycle with diesel-based engine in 1885. They managed to equip a wooden bicycle with a small 264cc engine. This device, which carried the name of “Daimler Reitwagen” (riding wagon) is today regarded as the first motorcycle. It kick-started huge way of future innovation and were precursor to all other forms of transport devices that uses gasoline internal combustion engine.
  • 1894 – “Hildebrand & Wolfmüller” was the first mass-produced motorcycle in the world. Sadly, only several hundred units were produced. After that year, many more motorcycle makers started building their designs around the world.
  • 1895 – First motorcycle came to USA via the French circus group. In the same year, American inventor E.J. Pennington demonstrated his first version of motorcycle that had top speed of 58mph.
  • 1900 – Werner Brothers submitted first motorcycle patent.
  • 1901-1903 – Several big manufacturing plants started their production of motorcycles, most notably English Royal Enfield, Triumph, American Harley-Davidson and Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company. During that time begun the first organized motorcycle races, which in return increased demand for faster and powerful engines and designs.
  • 1928 – German company DKW managed to become largest motorcycle maker in the world, surpassing American builders Indian and Harley-Davidson.
  • 1930s – Before the start of Second World War, there were over 30 models of motorcycles in England.
  • the 1950s – After the end of Second World War, American War veterans started gathering themselves into loosely organized motorcycle clubs. They become very famous after their portrayal in Marlon Brando’s 1954 film “The Wild One”.
  • 1959 – Japanese company Honda became the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world, surpassing German NSU.
  • the 1960s – British motorcycle dominance faded away during 1960s with the appearance of several large Japanese manufacturers - Suzuki, Kawasaki and the Yamaha.
  • 1990 – Japanese supreme dominance lasted all up to 1990s when several American and Italian companies begun expanding their markets.
  • Present day – Today beside Japanese companies several other manufacturers hold sizable piece of the market. Most notably there are BMW, Ducati, Victory and Harley-Davidson.
Picture Of Green Veteran Motorcycle
Picture Of Old Motorbike
Picture Of Old Motorcycle
Picture Of World War 2 Motorcycle