Part 2 – The first production motorcycles
Less than a decade passed since Daimler had invented the first recognized motorcycle, when the world’s first production motorcycle was introduced by German brothers, Hildebrand and partner Wolfmuller in 1894.
The Hildebrand’s and Wolfmuller motorcycle had a steel frame that held a 1500cc twin-cylinder four-stroke water-cooled engine.
Their motorcycle was also fitted with John Boyd Dunlop’s newly invented pneumatic tyres (A tyre inflated with air).
The top speed; 40kph. It did only have a steel bar that dragged on the ground for a break, so that was probably a good speed.
After this, a few other inventors and firms – such as the New Werner brothers – tried their hand at building a production motorcycle. One of the stumbling blocks was; where would be the best place to fit the engine? One concept, was to have the engine above the front wheel. Imagine riding a modern motorcycle with a design like that – impossible.
The design was revised in 1901, placing the engine between the two wheels in the steel frame. The rear wheel would be driven by a leather belt.
The revised motorcycle was the concept of the New Werner brothers, and along with its saddle seat and wheel rim brakes, it would set the pattern for 20th Century motorcycle design.
From there on, the motorcycle industry grew quickly. Two new firms would join the motorcycles development, and would pioneer many aspects, as well as become great rivals.
In Part 3 we will look at the two rivals, and the development of the motorcycles, as it took the world by storm.