Little Bits of History

Have You Hugged Your Hog Today?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2010

Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler's motorcycle

August 29, 1885: Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler, industrialist and engineer, gains a patent for an internal combustion engine two-wheeled vehicle, the first motorcycle. Unless you count the steam engine driven motorcycle that was powered by coal and available in 1867, developed by Howard Roper. The steam powered bike, like the steam powered car that Roper developed, never quite caught on.

Daimler’s motorcycle had a wooden chassis and an engine developed by Nicolaus August Otto. It was a 4-stroke combustion engine and wheels made of metal without any tires on them. The motorcycle was not for sale, but was a method for propulsion proving the engine was a viable power source.

The first motorcycle for sale was produced in 1894 by Hildebrand & Wolfmüller with weight of 60 km [132 lb] and a top speed of 40 km/h [25 mph]. In 1901, Indian motorcycles was founded in the US and became the largest manufacturer until after World War I. Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 and was the next leading motorcycle manufacturer. Then in 1928 DKW took the lead. BMW motorcycles began production in 1923 and enclosed an opposed-twin engine along with the transmission into a single aluminum casing.

After World War II, the BSA Group led the pack. In the late 1960s and early 1970s Japan’s manufacturers – Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha took the lead. Today’s bikes are fuel efficient but not as safe as enclosed vehicles. The rate of fatalities from crashes is three times higher than for standard cars but has not kept entire subcultures from being built around motorcycles.

“That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel.” – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

“Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle.” –  Unknown

“Bikes don’t leak oil, they mark their territory.” –  Unknown

“What do you call a cyclist who doesn’t wear a helmet?  An organ donor.” – David Perry

Also on this day, in 1911 Ishi, last of the Yahi People, was found.
Bonus Link: In 1882, The Ashes
rivalry begins.

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  1. The Ashes « Little Bits of History said, on August 29, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    […] 1911 Ishi, last of the Yahi People, was found. Bonus Link: In 1885, Daimler receives a patent for a motorcycle. Leave a […]


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