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Vintage motorcycles, the history of their development

In the modern world, a motorcycle is a very popular and most optimal means of transportation. Today, there are many varieties of motorcycles designed for specific purposes. From all this diversity, there is the opportunity to choose a suitable model for a beginner, so a biker with experience.

However, they all have something in common, namely the history of their creation, which goes back to the 60s of the XIX century. It was in those days that self-propelled cars on two wheels began to appear. The steam engine, which at that time served as the only power plant, has already acquired rather small dimensions that allow it to be installed on a light two-wheeled crew. The basis for such two-wheeled self-propelled cars were ordinary metal or wooden bikes. However, they were rather bulky, had a pedal drive to the front wheel, which made them far from the most comfortable transport.

Vintage motorcycles
True motorcycle enthusiasts do not remain indifferent to their history and appreciate the old motorcycles that are the forerunners of modern iron horses. So, the very first motorcycle equipped with an internal combustion engine appeared in the second half of the XIX century – in 1885. It was a Daimler Reitwagen, designed by two engineers from Germany – Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. It was these two personalities that marked the beginning of the famous automobile brands. It is worth noting that mankind got acquainted with a classic motorcycle much earlier than with the first classic car.

Daimler motorcycle

The serial production of motorcycles began nine years later – in 1894. Hildebrand & Wolfmuller took up this business. Motorcycles coming off the assembly line of this company had characteristics similar to those of a modern moped. They installed a one and a half liter two-cylinder long-stroke water-cooled motor with ignition ignition. The production of this model lasted three years. During this time, about two thousand copies were produced. The Hildebrand & Wolfmuller was the second motorcycle in history to be introduced to humanity.

The third oldest motorcycle, released by NSU in the twentieth century. Its maximum speed was 40 km / h, while its weight was 38 kg. This motorcycle was equipped with an engine manufactured by Zedel, which was mounted under a bicycle frame.

The appearance of the next motorcycle radically changed the history of the vehicle. The main point is the replacement of the bicycle frame with a large diameter pipe, on which the ignition system battery was located. Another cardinal change in the design of the motorcycle was the use of a chain drive instead of a belt drive. The motorcycle that carried out a real revolution in the motorcycle industry was American Indian. He had a single-cylinder engine with a volume of 260 cm3, located directly under the seat. However, some time later, they began to equip it with a large volume engine – 310 cm3.

The next motorcycle legend came about thanks to Joseph Merkel, who created the Milwaukee Merkel motorcycle. A characteristic feature of this motorcycle was the loop-shaped frame on which the engine was mounted.


The iron horse attracted two guys who were also trying to construct their motorcycle, the names of which are known to everyone – Harley and Davidson. Looking at the Milwaukee Merkel, they decided that they could create something better. And they were not mistaken. In 1904, another legend appeared – a motorcycle with the famous name Harley-Davidson, which has a 405 cm3 engine.

However, Joseph Merkel did not stop there, and decided to build another car. It happened in 1905. It was then that the Flying Merkel racing motorcycle was born, equipped with an engine with a volume of 1000 cm3. This motorcycle was produced for twelve years! And then their production simply ceased to exist.


A few years later, another Indian appears to the attention of people, which was released in 1907. This iron horse was distinguished by its V-shaped engine, which has two cylinders and a total volume of 633 cm3. A year later, the company released this motorcycle in a sports modification, equipped with an engine of 1000 cubic meters.

1912 – the year of birth of two real legends at the same time – the motorcycle Yale and Excelior 20 R. However, their production was short-lived and in 1920 no one remembered their existence.

In 1923, a trace in the history of motorcycles was left by a model released by BMW – BMW R32. It is worth saying that the company was engaged in the production of engines for aircraft, however, at the end of the First World War, it was decided to retrain for the production of motorcycles. This decision was a success. The company’s first motorcycle allowed European manufacturers to once again occupy a leading position in the production of two-wheeled vehicles. The motorcycle was capable of speeds up to 95 km / h.

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