The Basics of Motorcycles
Motorcycles are motorized two-wheeled vehicles that are steered by a handlebar from a saddle-style seat. While they offer the thrill of speed, a rider must remain focused and calm to prevent serious injury or death. In addition, they are often a target for road rage and other accidents.
The motorcycle industry has expanded rapidly since World War II. During this time, many GIs returning home to civilian life began purchasing Harley Davidson motorcycles. These brash, masculine bikes became a symbol of counterculture cool and rebellion. Marlon Brando’s iconic performance as a gang leader in the film The Wild One further fueled this image of the outlaw biker.
Today, there are over 200 million motorcycles in use worldwide. They are a popular mode of transportation for many people because they can be less expensive to purchase and operate than automobiles. Additionally, a motorcycle provides an intimate connection to the road and can be a lot of fun to drive.
While a variety of different motorcycle types are available, most models have the same basic layout. The frame of a motorcycle holds the engine, a rear wheel driven by a chain or belt, and a front wheel supported by telescopic forks.
A gasoline engine powers the motorcycle’s rear wheels by using reciprocating pistons to turn a crankshaft. This power is transferred to the rear wheel via a transmission system, which also transfers motion to the front wheel. The rider steers the motorcycle by turning the front wheel through a handlebar and leaning to one side or the other.