Friday, April 1, 2016

The first motorcycle was built in 1885 and it was called Reitwagen or “Riding Car“

The Daimler Reitwagen (“riding wagon”) or Einspur (“single track”) was a motor vehicle made by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885 and is widely recognized as the first motorcycle. Daimler is often called “the father of the motorcycle” because of this invention. Even when the three steam powered two wheelers that preceded the Reitwagen, the Michaux-Perreaux and Roper of 1867–1869, and the 1884 Copeland, are considered motorcycles, it remains nonetheless the first gasoline internal combustion motorcycle, and the forerunner of all vehicles, land, sea and air, that use this common engine type.

The Reitwagen’s status as the first motorcycle rests on whether the definition of motorcycle includes having an internal combustion engine. The Oxford English Dictionary uses this criterion. Even by that definition, the use of four wheels instead of two raises doubts. If the outriggers are accepted as auxiliary stabilizers, they point to a deeper issue in bicycle and motorcycle dynamics, in that Daimler’s invention needed the training wheels because it did not employ the then well-understood principles of rake and trail. For this and other reasons motoring author David Burgess-Wise called the Daimler-Maybach “a crude makeshift”, saying that “as a bicycle, it was 20 years out of date.” Cycle World’s Technical Editor Kevin Cameron, however, maintains that steam power was a dead end and the Reitwagen was the first motorcycle because it hit upon the successful engine type, saying, “History follows things that succeed, not things that fail.”

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