The History of the Motorcycle – Part 3

Part 3 – The rivalry that set the tone

In part two, we discovered the beginnings of motorcycle production, and by 1901 the levels of interest had spread through America and Europe.

It was in 1901 that George Hendee and Oskar Hedstrom, built the first ‘Indian’ motorcycle in America. Not long after, they would gain a new rival in Harley – Davidson. This rivalry would go on for decades. From what I have seen, in numerous places, where people ride either a Harley or Indian, the rivalry continues today.

1901 Indian Motorcycle.

Indian pioneered the twist grip throttle in the years Harley – Davidson began to appear on the scene. In the 10 years that followed, both companies – as well as a few other big names at the time – went on to use the V-Twin engine, that is still a favorite among the American companies today.

Harley Davidson 1905.png
1905 Harley – Davidson.

During the First World War, the American motorcycle industry took a massive hit and suffered in the years that came after. It was not helped by Henry Ford’s creation – the Ford Model T car. It was cheap and offered more in the way of luxuries than the motorcycle (I say luxuries – it had seats to fit your family and a roof to cover your head).

In Europe however, the motorcycle industry performed brilliantly. The 1920’s saw companies like; Matchless, Triumph, Velocette, BMW, Benelli and Motto Guzzi produce many motorcycles of different varieties.

1920's BMW.jpeg
1920’s BMW.

The 1930’s saw even more development for the motorcycle. They were truly beginning to take shape, becoming faster, more reliable and easier to ride.

1930's Triumph.jpg
1930’s Triumph.

Eventually, both America and Europe’s motorcycle industries began to flourish. It had hardly been 50 years since the first motorcycle ride on the Reitwagen (Einspur), and here these companies were, taking the motorcycle to the masses. The motorcycle was well and truly here!

In part 4 we will look further into what is known as the ‘Golden Age’ of motorcycle’s.




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