What Is a Motorcycle?


The term “motorcycle” covers a wide range of machines, but at the most basic level it implies some sort of engine, two wheels, steering and a place to sit. The earliest bikes had steam engines, but by the 1800s many inventors had tried to put gasoline engines on bicycles. These early motorcycles were quite crude, but they soon ramped up in performance as inventors developed better designs and improved the engines.

Modern motorbikes are much cheaper than cars, both to buy and run at the most basic level – they take up a fraction of the space and need very little maintenance. They also have excellent acceleration – most middleweight and big bore bikes will out accelerate all but the fastest cars on the road. They are, however, not very aerodynamic – having the rider sat out in the breeze and exposed wheels, along with a messy engine and suspension design, creates a lot of drag that takes proportionally more power to overcome at high speeds.

As well as being great fun, riding a motorcycle is a very involving and dynamic experience. The rider is not simply operating a machine; they are an integral part of it, and their body movements affect how the bike reacts – for example, leaning left or right changes the direction the bike turns in. As a result, riders develop a real attachment to their bikes and will often spend a lot of time polishing them or trying out different equipment. Experienced riders respect the safety limitations of their machines and know how to ride them safely – in fact, the majority of multi-vehicle crashes that involve motorcyclists are caused by drivers who don’t see them or fail to anticipate their actions.