The first motorcycles were invented in the 1800s when inventors like Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach put engines on bicycles. Their invention was called the Reitwagen, or “riding car.” While it did not look much like a bike, it could move at up to 12 mph.
After the world wars and depression, more people started to love riding motorcycles. They loved the freedom and independence that the bikes gave them. They started forming clubs and competing in events. The love of motorcycles grew, and new manufacturers started coming to market. Some of these companies went on to become titans of the industry, such as Metz, Indian Motorcycle (originally named the Hendee Manufacturing Company) and Harley-Davidson.
Around the world, there are many different motorcycle subcultures. Some are loose-knit social groups, such as the Cafe Racers of 1950s Britain and the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s. Others, such as the Hells Angels, are believed to be criminal gangs. A popular television show, The Wild Ones, cemented the image of the “bad biker.” The 1969 road film Easy Rider starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper fueled that image even more.
To safely ride a motorcycle, you should always be sober. Alcohol and drugs impair your judgment, balance, coordination, throttle control, and ability to shift gears. They also slow your reaction time and make it difficult to predict what other drivers will do. Avoid lane splitting if possible, and only do so if it is legal in your state.