10 Fun Facts About Motorcycles That Will Blow Your Mind
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When were motorcycles first made? What’s the longest journey ever taken on a motorbike? And which Hollywood star owns a motorcycle manufacturing company? Whether you’re a novice motorcycle rider or a pro that’s been riding for many years, we guarantee that some of these motorcycle facts will surprise you!
From historical info to record-breaking trivia about motorcycles, we’ve listed 10 interesting motorcycle facts to share at your next riders club gathering. We bet there are a few that will stump even the best of motorcycle historians out there. So, let’s go through the list to find out what they are!
1. Motorcycles have been around since the 1800s!
Yes, motorcycles have been around for over 100 years. The first internal combustion, petroleum-fueled motorcycle was the Daimler Reitwagen designed in 1885. It was built by two German inventors; Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.
2. The term “motorcycle” was first used in 1894
Did you know that the motorcycle was first referred to as a ‘Petrol Bicycle’? It was only in 1894 when a German company called Hildebrand & Wolfmuller became the first to commercially manufacture the two-wheeler. The company referred to the vehicle as ‘motorrad’ (in German), which directly translates to motorcycle.
3. Helmet use for motorcycle riders was mandated after Colonel T.E. Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident
The story goes that Colonel Lawrence – immortalised as Lawrence of Arabia – was riding his motorcycle, a Brough Superior SS100, near his home, when he almost hit two boys on bicycles. He maneuvered to avoid them, but unfortunately got thrown off his bike. He succumbed to serious head injuries a few days later.
Realising that his death could have been avoided, one of Britain’s very first neurosurgeons, Hugh Cairns, started researching the importance of crash helmets. His work was published in Britain’s Medical Journal, titled: “Head Injuries in Motorcyclists – The Importance of the Crash Helmet”. It was through his research and findings that the use of motorcycle helmets have become a requirement by law globally.
4. The first-ever Harley Davidson motorcycle only went 40km/h
Invented by William S. Harley, Arthur Davidson, the first “real” Harley-Davidson motorcycle was completed in 1904. At that time, the duo immediately took part in a motorcycle race with their prototype model, finishing in fourth place.
Although not as fast as it can go now, another interesting fact is that the very first Harley Davidson had a single-cylinder engine that actually used a tomato can as its carburetor.
5. The smallest functional motorcycle in the world is called ‘Smalltoe’
Tom Wiberg, from Sweden, built ‘Smalltoe’ – the world’s smallest motorcycle – standing 2.55 inches tall and weighing a mere 2.4 pounds. The Guinness World Records certified Wiberg as a record holder in 2003 for making the smallest functional motorcycle in the world.
Smalltoe has an engine that can produce an output of 0.3 horsepower with a speed of 1.24 mph. The record was set when Wiberg rode his motorcycle as far as 32.8 feet, proving that it is a rideable motorcycle.
6. The longest journey ever made with the use of a motorcycle took over 10 years to complete
Emilio Scotto is an Argentine adventurer, photojournalist, and writer. As of 2009, he holds the Guinness record for the world’s longest motorcycle ride, spanning 10 years, 232 countries and a total distance of 457,000 miles (735,000 km). He rode on the “Black Princess” a 1980 Honda GoldWing GL1100 motorcycle.
This was considered a single journey because he didn’t return to his country of departure until the end, which was 10 years later.
7. The record for the longest-ever backwards motorcycle ride was almost 5 hours
Doing it a little differently in India, Havildar Pradeep set the world record for the longest ride backwards on a motorcycle. Yes, on 10 November 2020, Havildar actually rode 204.4 km in 4 hours 47 minutes, facing the other way as his motorcycle roared forwards.
Of course, we have to mention that riding a motorcycle without holding the handlebars is very dangerous. It is an action that we’d never recommend as riding safety should always be your top priority.
8. The world’s most expensive motorcycle costs $11 million!
Most of us would think of brands like Harley Davidson, Ducati or BMW when thinking of luxury motorcycles. But do you know the world’s most expensive bike was manufactured by a company that designs high-end fashion?
Yes, the Neiman Marcus Limited edition Fighter, holds the title for most expensive motorcycle ever sold. Believe it or not, it was auctioned for a whopping $11 million in 2012!
9. The most popular motorcycle companies also manufactures other kinds of products
Did you know that most of the popular motorcycle manufacturers we know, produce so much more than just motorcycles? For example:
- Kawasaki also manufactures space rockets, ships, trains, personal water crafts, jet engines, electronics, helicopters, equipment tractors, and even missiles.
- Suzuki presently makes wheelchairs, cars, and marine engines.
- Yamaha started as a piano manufacturer. It still makes musical instruments today, besides other products like golf carts, car engines, industrial robots, boats, electronics, and wheelchairs.
10. Keanu Reeves has his own motorcycle manufacturing company
Lastly, do you know which Hollywood celeb designs and makes his own motorcycles?
The Matrix star, Keanu Reeves, was a motorcycle enthusiast before he rode them in movies. After surviving a motorcycle accident in the ‘80s, mixed with his deep passion for motorcycles, he founded his own motorcycle company; Arch Motorcycle Company in 2011.