Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles that are powered by an engine and are used for everyday travel as well as off-road activities. In some parts of the world motorcycles are the least expensive automobile to purchase and are the most widespread form of transport. Motorcycles are extremely popular throughout Europe. Motorcycles are also used in racing, long distance travel, cruising and weaving in and out of congested areas. Motorcycles are small enough to drive them in between two lanes of cars without clipping any of them and small enough to drive them down narrow alleyways.
The very first motorcycle was invented in 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, two German inventors. The first motorcycle built in the United States came in 1867 by Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts. The first motorcycle available for purchase was the Hildebrand and Wolfmuller in 1894. Prior to 1920, the largest manufacturer of motorcycles was an Indian company, producing over 20,000 bikes per year. But in 1920 Harley-Davidson took over the top spot and began selling motorcycles in 67 countries worldwide. The leaders in manufacturing motorcycles today are the Japanese companies of Kawasaki, Suzuki, Honda and Yamaha.
As mentioned earlier, motorcycles are popular throughout Europe and are most known as scooters. The world’s largest manufacturer of scooters is an Italian company called The Piaggio Group.
Motorcycles, like an ATV, have safety concerns. Motorcycles have a higher rate of fatal accidents than regular automobiles do. Motorcycles are prone to tipping and rolling over, which leads to serious injury and sometimes even death. The main cause of motorcycle accidents, aside from the roll over aspect, is that other automobiles tend to ignore motorcycles and their rights as members of the driving force. To reduce the number of motorcycle accidents in the United States, there are motorcycle safety classes offered by non-profit organizations and state agencies. These courses are designed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. These courses include a basic rider course, an intermediate rider course and an advanced rider course.
There are four types of off-road motorcycles in production today. They are the motocross, supermotos, trials motorcycles and track racing machines. These bikes are used for off-road competitions and even indoor racing on smaller tracks. Other motocross bicycles are known as ‘dirt bikes.’ ‘Dirt bikes’ are used to ride through the woods in muddy conditions so the tires have more traction.
Most states within the United States require motorcycle drivers to pass not only written tests but also driving tests as well. Most states do accept a rider passing one of the courses offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in lieu of a written test and another test driving the vehicle. Aside from the scooter, other types of motorcycles are the moped, the vespa, motorized tricycles and sidecar motorcycles. Motorcycles are known for good fuel efficiency but have been criticized for the amount of pollution they send into the air. For every mile driven a motorcycle produces 10 to 20 times more pollution than a new car.