Motorcycles are 2-wheel vehicles patterned after bicycles
but with much heavier frames. Early motorcycles were actually
bicycles fitted with small internal combustion engines. There
was a gradual evolution as numerous motorcycle manufacturers
entered the market and competed against each other. How a
motorcycle works is mystifying to many wanting to ride. Motorcycles
have complex controls that are operated by both hands and
feet and require coordination and skill not required to drive
an automobile. In fact, people starting to learn to ride a
motorcycle without ever having ridden a bicycle or driven
a stick-shift car, may be at a disadvantage when trying to
learn to ride.
Motorcycles have been a part of transportation for a very
long time. They were once much more prevalent than automobiles
until such pioneers as Henry Ford found out how to mass produce
cars at a price below that of motorcycles. Over the years,
motorcycles have come to fit a variety of needs beyond basic
transportation. Today's rider may use a motorcycle for commuting
or everyday use. Some riders use their motorcycle for basic
transportation and don't own a car. Some ride a motorcycle
as part of their lifestyle. Some ride motorcycles only on
weekends. Some ride on lengthy cross-country tours. Some even
travel around the world on adventures.
Motorcycles have evolved to include 3-wheel vehicles called
trikes. Motorcycles are sometimes fitted with a sidecar to
allow whole families to enjoy motorcycling.
In the United States, only one company, Harley-Davidson, has
been able to survive, producing models every year since its
first model in 1903. In fact, to most non-motorcyclists, the
words "motorcycle" and "Harley-Davidson" are used interchangeably.
Although many brands exist, the most prominent besides Harley
are Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, BMW, and recently Victory
and a revitalized Indian. Unfortunately, Indian closed its
factory in Gilroy, CA on September 19, 2003. The 380 Indian
employees at the plant were told that a deal with a new investor
had fallen through.
Who rides motorcycles?
A motorcyclist can be created at any time. It's often a matter
of timing. Some learn when they're young and grow up with
it. Others get the urge later in life. The bug bites them
and they can't get rid of it. They're hooked. Some want to
learn but are constrained by family members who declare: "Motorcycles
are dangerous. I know somebody who almost got killed on one."
Maybe it's your wife or husband who doesn't want to see you
get hurt. More likely, it might be that you now have kids
to care for and your spouse decries: "Motorcycles will just
have to wait."
Everyone has a story why they can't ride but wish they could.
The truth is that if you have the bug within you to ride a
motorcycle, you will find the right time to take up motorcycling.
No amount of pressure from friends, family, or society will
deter you from participating in motorcycling. Look for the
right time and "Go for it!"
There are many different styles of motorcycles out there but
generally, here are the main types:
- Touring/Sport Touring