Motorcycle history

A motorcycle is typically a single-track motor vehicle with two wheels and one or two seats. Motorcycles are characterized by a lower power-to-weight ratio compared to a passenger car. The engine power has to accelerate less mass and the vehicle has a lower rolling resistance, so that powerful production motorcycles can accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in 2.7 seconds. The drag coefficient of motorcycles, on the other hand, is relatively high, so that only aerodynamically perfected models can reach speeds of over 300 km / h. On January 1, 2021, a total of 4.66 million motorcycles were registered in Germany, and 720,381 motorcycles in Switzerland (as of September 30, 2016).

In Germany, motorcycles belong to the motorcycle category (short form: Krad), in Switzerland the corresponding designation is motorcycle, unless they are motorcycles, i.e. motorcycles. H. Mopeds, acts ( Art. 14 VTS). A historical term in Germany is motor bike or motorized bicycle.

History of technology

The history of the motorcycle is first of all the history of the bicycle.It began in 1817 with Karl Drais' “walking machine”. The crank was invented in the 1860s. Pierre Michaux developed the steam wheel in 1869, which is considered the forerunner of the motorcycle; Steam wheels were manufactured in the United States until the 1890s.

In 1885 Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach designed the riding car, a test vehicle for the high-speed petrol-powered petrol engine. This vehicle is considered the first motorcycle - despite its side, non-springy support wheels.The first motorcycle with a gasoline engine that could actually be driven like a motorcycle and was also produced in series is the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller from 1894. This manufacturer used the word "motorcycle" for the first time and had it patented.In 1897 the De Dion Bouton motor tricycle went into production, the most successful motor vehicle before the turn of the century. In the same year, the Werner brothers in France developed a front-wheel drive motorcycle. With the technical innovation of the spray nozzle carburetor, a patent from Wilhelm Maybach from 1893, and the magneto ignition, a patent from Robert Bosch from 1901, the motorcycle became much easier to use.

1900 to 1918

Until the First World War, the development of motorcycle technology was only shaped by European and American manufacturers: in 1902 Griffon manufactured a motorcycle with a V-engine. In 1904 FN built the first motorcycles with four-cylinder engines and cardan shafts, while Indian introduced the throttle grip. In 1905 the first motorcycles with sprung front suspension appeared, from 1909 Scott offered two-stroke engines and kick starters. In 1913 Adalberto Garelli developed the double-piston engine, a special design of the two-stroke engine. In 1914 Indian offered an electric starter and electric lighting as standard.

The military was also interested in the motorcycle. Motorcycles were used as a means of transport as early as the Boer War and later in the Balkan War. The motorcycle was used in large numbers in the First World War. Wanderer and NSU were the main suppliers to the imperial military. Triumph, Douglas and Phelon & Moore were responsible for military production on the British, Indian and Harley-Davidson on the American side. The main use was the transmission of messages by reporting drivers as well as ambulance transports with sidecars.The first company to manufacture motorcycles on an industrial scale in the United States was Indian - the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world from 1913 to 1917.

1918 to 1945

In the period after the First World War, Harley-Davidson developed into the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world; Numerous companies in Germany started to manufacture motorcycles; including well-known names such as DKW (1922) and BMW (1923). In the 1920s, the non-military spread of motorcycles with sidecars began. In 1928 DKW became the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world due to the changed tax laws and the introduction of reverse scavenging in two-stroke engines. The two-stroke boom ensured that more small motorcycles than motorcycles were registered in Germany as early as 1932. In 1934 Gilera first used a transverse four-cylinder four-stroke engine in the “Rondine” racing machine. BMW introduced the telescopic fork in 1935, and in the same year the Japanese manufacturer Koto Trading Company, a subsidiary of Sankyo, built the Harley-Davidson Flathead under license for the first time. Koto Trading was the first Japanese motorcycle manufacturer. Honda (1948), Suzuki (1952), Yamaha (1954) and Kawasaki (1961) only built motorcycles after the Second World War.

In 1920 Ernest Walker set the first FICM recognized world speed record on an Indian in Daytona with 167.67 km / h. By 1937, the speed record was inter alia. increased to over 279.5 km / h (by Ernst Jakob Henne) by supercharging the engine.Two-stroke engines also received an increase in performance via the piston charge pump, for example at DKW.

The motorcycle was used extensively during World War II. All warring nations switched their production to military two-wheelers. The American motorcycle industry, represented by Harley-Davidson and Indian, produced over 300,000 motorcycles, the British industry 425,000 motorcycles for the Allies. On the German side, special sidecar motorcycles with powered sidecar wheels such as the Zündapp KS 750 and the BMW R 75 were developed.

1945 to 1969

The most copied motorcycle in the world: a DKW RT 125, 1939–1965; in the picture model 1949/50

In the post-war period, the motorcycle served as an “affordable car replacement”. The motorcycles should be as robust, reliable and simply constructed as possible. The journalist Ernst Leverkus called corresponding models “Westerwald motorcycles” and cited the Ardie B 250, BMW R 24, NSU 251 OSL, Triumph BDG, Victoria KR 25 and Zündapp DB 201 as examples.In the GDR, the MZ machines corresponded to this profile of a functional motorcycle until 1990. The displacement class of 125 cm³ introduced by DKW in 1938 quickly established itself as the standard for smaller motorcycles. In the post-war period, machines of this class were often overloaded due to the limited possibilities, used for heavy transports or longer vacation trips. In Germany after 1945 Maico first brought out a 150 cm³ machine in 1949, soon afterwards other manufacturers such as Riedel, Adler, Ilo, Fichtel & Sachs and Dürkopp followed suit.With increasing prosperity, even larger displacement motorcycles became affordable; the NSU Max, built from 1952 onwards, became one of the most popular motorcycles of the 250cc class. At the same time, the small motorcycle distinguished itself as a small motorcycle with 50 cm³. In 1955, with an annual production of 70,214 motorcycles, 228,369 mopeds and 45,747 bicycles, NSU became the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer at the time.

Until 1957 in the (Federal Republic of Germany) and 1989 in the (GDR) there were more motorcycles than cars in Germany. In this preference, the German conditions differed significantly from those in the USA and neighboring Western European countries.In 1958 Ducati introduced a variant of the desmodromic valve control. This automatic control, which is still in production today, was designed by the Italian Fabio Taglioni.

In the 1960s, the demand for and production of motorcycles in the Federal Republic of Germany fell steadily in the age of the economic miracle; the motorcycle as a pure means of transport had largely been replaced by the now affordable full-fledged car. Around 1969 the lowest production and registration numbers of motorcycles were recorded. The German motorcycle industry was on the ground, many manufacturers no longer existed. Only BMW still made large-displacement motorcycles - with four-digit production figures.

In the GDR, the motorcycle sector developed differently. As a result of an inadequate supply of cars and, at the same time, quite attractive and more readily available two-wheeled models, this sector continued to grow; MZ grew to become the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer, and Simson to the largest manufacturer of small motorcycles in Germany. The market conditions of 50, 125/150 and 250 cubic capacity classes that dominated the beginning of the 1950s were retained until 1990. The production of four-stroke machines, which could have been upgraded for larger displacement, was ended in 1961 for political reasons.

1969 until today

The Japanese motorcycle industry produced over 3.5 million motorcycles annually in 1972, while in the same year Germany had a low of only 198,221 registered motorcycles. Honda became world market leader; the Honda Super Cub small motorcycle was the most popular motor vehicle in the world. The Japanese manufacturers succeeded in giving the two-wheeler a new meaning as "sports, hobby and leisure equipment".

In 1969, Honda introduced the CB750 Four, a trend-setting motorcycle with a transverse four-cylinder four-stroke engine and hydraulically operated disc brake on the front wheel, followed in 1972 by the Kawasaki 900 as the first modern superbike.

In 1976 Van Veen supplied the first electronic ignition for the OCR 1000.

1980 Kawasaki offered the Z1000 Fuel Injection, the first electronically controlled intake manifold injection in a production motorcycle.

In the same year, Harley-Davidson introduced the first toothed belt drive on the primary and secondary side.

In 1981 Honda presented the CX 500 Turbo , the first series motorcycle with an exhaust gas turbocharger.

In 1985, Suzuki introduced the GSX-R 750, the first uncompromising series motorcycle derived from racing, thereby defining the super sports class.

In 1988 BMW offered the first anti-lock braking system for motorcycles as an option, and in 1992 traction control for the first time on the Honda Pan European.

In 1999 the first series motorcycle with a speed of over 300 km / h appeared, the Suzuki Hayabusa 1300, and in 2006 the first three-wheeler with a swivel mechanism (Leaning Multi Wheeler), the Piaggio MP3. In 2007 Honda brought a motorcycle airbag to its Gold Wing and in 2014 KTM AG brought the Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC), an electronic stability control from Bosch, to its 1190 Adventure.

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