The history of motorcycles reaches back more than 150 years. Each year, the number of riders and fans grow, and kids represent some of the most significant growth in the trend. If you like motorcycles, here are some fun facts that will let you appreciate just how special these vehicles are.
First, biggest, and littlest motorcycles
- The first motorcycle was powered by steam and made in the factory of bicycle inventor Pierre Michaux in 1867.
- The first modern motorcycle was the Daimler Petroleum Reitwagen, or riding car, built by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in 1885. Daimler is known as the ‘father of the motorcycle.’
3. The longest motorcycle in the world belongs to Bharat Sinh Parmar from Gujarat, India. It measures 86 feet, 3 inches (26.29 meters) long!
4. How tiny do you think a real motorcycle could possibly be? How about ‘Smalltoe’ that is only 2.55 inches high and weighs a mere 2.4 pounds? Tom Wiberg of Sweden built this tiny ride that boasts 0.3 horsepower capable of a 1.24 mph speed. He set the Guinness World Record when he drove Smalltoe 32.8 feet.
5. The most expensive motorcycle in the world is the Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter. This one-of-a- kind diamond was auctioned off for a mere $11 million, 100 times more than the starting bid. It is called ‘The Evolution of Machine’ for its clockwork-like design.
6. The fastest production motorcycle is the Dodge Tomahawk. The maker says its hypothetical top speed is 420 mph (420 kp/h). The Tomahawk can go from start to 60 mph in only 1.5 seconds. Presented in 2003, only nine bikes were produced, each selling for about $550,000.
7. For a look at how inventors have built motorcycles to serve unusual purposes, check out this site on the history of some very weird and beautiful vehicles.
- Historians believe that the very first motorcycle race was held in 1897. The course was about a mile long, and the winner stood at the finish line in just a little more than two minutes.
- How far do you think you could ride backward? The world’s record for the longest backward ride took place in Dipayan Choudhury in Jabalpur, India in 2014 and lasted for 125.52 miles or 202 kilometers.
- The world’s record for the fastest motorcycle ride is held by Rocky Robinson. He used a streamlined bike named TOP 1 Ack Attack at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats in 2010’s Cook Motorsports Top Speed Shootout to set the record at a bit more than 376 mph. It was the third time the Ack Attack broke the record in just four years.
- The longest distance ridden by a motorcycle in 24 hours was 2,019.4 miles by Russell ‘Rusty’ Vaughn at the Continental Tire Test Track in 2011. He rode his own Harley-Davidson FLHTK Electra Glide Limited 2010.
- The Race of Gentlemen shows off vintage motorcycles and cars. More than just walking around a parking lot looking at cool vehicles, this event holds real races on the shore in New Jersey.
- Like to do wheelies on your motorcycle? Robert Gull from Sweden achieved the fastest motorcycle wheelie on the ice at Arsunda in 2015. The overall speed of 183.8 km/h over 100 meters.
- In India, the army’s Daredevil Team built the largest motorcycle pyramid in the world. They used 10 bikes crewed by 201 men to make the one-of-a-kind structure. The pyramid didn’t just stay static. It traveled 424 feet in 2001 at the Gowri Shankar Parade Ground in Jabalpur.
- Many celebrities love to ride their personal motorcycles. The list includes Tom Cruise, Justin Timberlake, George Clooney, Pink, Brad Pitt, and David Beckham.
- What a great guy! Actor Keanu Reeves thanked the stuntmen who worked on his firm “The Matrix” by purchasing a Harley-Davidson motorcycle for each of them.
Unusual motorcycle business beginnings
Ever wonder how some of the biggest corporate names in the motorcycle business got their starts? See if you are surprised.
- Suzuki began in the early 1900s by making weaving looms for Japan’s silk industry.
- Ducati started in 1935 in Bologna, Italy making radio parts.
- Honda first made push bikes in 1946.
- Arai helmets were manufactured after the company was well-known for making hats.
- In 1887, Yamaha was formed to build pianos which the conglomerate still manufactures.
- Kawasaki not only builds great motorcycles; they now build spaceships.
- Triumph makes golf balls in addition to motorcycles.