The first appearance of the motorcycle came in the middle of the 19th century and it emerged from the safety bicycle. The appearance of the motorcycle around Europe happened at the same time, with all inventors coming up with the same idea. It was basically to take a safety bicycle and get an engine to power the wheels, instead of pedals. The first motorcycle appeared in France with the creation of the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede. It was designed by Ernest Michaux in 1867. The bike was powered by a small steam engine, and when the plans went over to America, the idea remained the same, only with the small boiler being fired by coal.
The first cycle to have an engine that was fired by petrol was the Butler Petrol Cycle that ran on three wheels. The four stroke engine was liquid cooled, with the installation of a radiator over the rear driving wheel and there was carburetor to feed the petrol into the engine. This machine was soon followed by the German-designed Petrol Reitwagon, and from this point forward, using petrol to fuel the motorcycle became the norm.
The idea of a fuel powered engine was catching on quickly and large numbers of manufacturers appeared trying win orders of their own motorcycle. As the 20th century emerged, so did manufacturers that would later be famed for the bikes they were selling. In England Triumph, Norton and Royal Enfield were established. The First World War saw the motorcycle being used by the troops. They quickly replaced horses as a quick way of sending a message to other areas of the battle lines, and the military police used the motorbike to keep order. During the war, the Triumph “Type H model” appeared and the 499-cc driven engine sold more than 30,000 units.
At the end of the war, Harley Davidson motorcycles were created, and they designed their bikes after the customers around the world. By 1920, the Americans were selling their bikes in 67 different countries and, although there were only two companies in the country, Britain boasted over 80 different companies that produced bikes during the 1930s.
As the bike was being developed and it was becoming faster and faster, there was the creation of races around the world and its positive image resulted in more bikes being sold. It played a pivotal role in the Second World War and BSA supplied the British troops with 126,000 motorcycles.
As the bike flourished, so did car transport, and the greater safety record of the car resulted in more cars being produced and less motorcycles being wanted. However, the lost sales were soon replaced by the popularity of motor bikes in the developing World. The majority of people in the developing nations wanted to get around quickly but could not afford to purchase a car. The motorcycle is easy to learn how to ride and is cheaper when compared to the car.
The popularity of the motor bike has seen new manufacturers open in Asia, such as Honda, Yamaha and Hero MotorCorp, and now they are the biggest sellers of bikes in the world. Of all motorcycles to be bought, 58% are purchased in South East Asia and the Pacific regions. The motorcycle started in the 19th century as a simple design and, despite much development over the years, it still remains a fairly simple piece of machinery – and that only adds to its popularity.