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The World’s First Motorcycles

Posted by James Skinner on 20th Jun 2017

The World’s First Motorcycles

Article Written By Chicago Web Guy

To this day, it is unknown who exactly invented the world’s first motorcycle. There are three claims on this title, the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede, the Roper steam velocipede, and the Daimler Reitwagen. The debate stands that none of these motorcycles was the first true motorcycle, as they were not mass produced and sold. These three were prototypes, and the first motorcycle that could be bought was the liquid cooled four-stroke Hildebrand & Wolfmuller.

The Michaux-Perreaux Steam Velocipede

The Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede was quite similar to a tricycle being that it has three wheels and uses pedals. It was created from the combination of a ‘bonemaker’, the first widely sold pedal bicycle that was invented by Michaux, and a single cylinder Perreaux engine that was fueled by alcohol. The engine used leather straps as belts, and there was a pressure gauge which the driver could see and use to channel steam to the cylinder via a hand control.

The Roper Steam Velocipede

Sylvester Roper was an American inventor that is credited with the creation of the Roper steam velocipede among many other things. Roper build the steam machine used in his velocipede himself. The frame was made of forged iron, the wheels were wooden with steel tires, the water for the engine was held in the saddle, and the engine had two pistons. This invention is also regarded as the first twist grip throttle, which when the handlebars were pushed forward, water was fed into the engine. Unfortunately Roper was killed by his own invention after an accident. It is still unknown whether he had an accident due to heart failure, or if his heart failed due to an accident.

The Daimler Reitwagen

Gottlieb Daimler is the inventor of the Daimler Reitwagen, even though his invention came many years after the first two, he is credited as inventing the first ‘true’ motorcycle because it was the first successful internal combustion engine operated motorcycle. In other words, it was a gasoline powered steam engine. Some of its notable features are the ‘grandfather clock engine’, a float-metered carburetor, mushroom intake valves, hot tube ignition, and it could also run on coal gas.

Each of these inventions is no doubt incredible. These men were all pioneers of their time and depending on the definition of ‘motorcycle’, are all the inventors of the first motorcycles. It is amazing to think about the fact that these were all built in the late 1800’s, over 130 years ago. This is the basis of automobiles as we know them. Next time you see a motorcycle driving by, think about how much the engine has advanced in such a short time.

Sources:

1) http://thevintagent.blogspot.com/2011/04/roper-steam-velocipedes.html

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimler_Reitwagen

3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michaux-Perreaux_steam_velocipede

4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roper_steam_velocipede