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World’s First Motorcycle


Today motorcycles are part of some people’s daily lives, even in South Africa. I was wondering how the world’s first motorcycle looked like, so I did a little research. The world’s first known motorcycle was constructed in 1885 by German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach near Stuttgart, Germany. 1 year later they actually built the world’s first automobile as well. The “Reitwagen” or riding-car was actually a motorized wooden bicycle. This was the first petroleum-powered transportation device ever built. On August 29, 1885 it was patented as the “Reitrad” and registered. This created a whole new way to travel.

On November 10, 1885 the first public test ride occurred. Adolf Daimler, Gottlieb Daimler’s younger son was in the saddle. This design was very basic, but luckily this has developed over the years. If this was not invented back then, we probably would not have motorcycles as a mode of transport today. If a 2-wheeled vehicle with steam propulsion is considered to be a motorcycle, then the 1st motorcycle might have been American built. In the Eastern U.S in 1867 such a vehicle was demonstrated at fairs and circusses. This vehicle was built by Sylvester Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts. One will not find the “Reitwagen” or “Reitrad” motorcycle for sale anywhere. A motorcycle like this belongs in a museum for feature generations and motorcycle enthusiasts to admire. And besides, today’s motorcycles are much stronger and faster. The “Reitwagen” only had a top speed of 12 km/h (7.4 mph).

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