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Inventors Motorcycle
Gottllieb Daimler's 1885 motorcycle
Right: Gottllieb Daimler's 1885 Motorcycle

American, Sylvester Howard Roper (1823-1896) invented a two-cylinder, steam-engine motorcycle (powered by coal) in 1867.  This can be considered the first motorcycle, if you allow your description of a motorcycle to include a steam engine. Howard Roper also invented a steam engine car.

German, Gottlieb Daimler invented the first gas-engined motorcycle in 1885, which was an engine attached to a wooden bike. That marked the moment in history when the dual development of a viable gas-powered engine and the modern bicycle collided.
Gottlieb Daimler used a new engine invented by engineer, Nicolaus August Otto. Otto invented the first "Four-Stroke Internal-Combustion Engine" in 1876. He called it the "Otto Cycle Engine" As soon as he completed his engine, Daimler (a former Otto employee) built it into a motorcycle. 

History of the Harley Davidson Motorcycle
early harley davidson motorcycleMany of the nineteenth century inventors who worked on early motorcycles often moved on to other inventions. Daimler and Roper, for example, both went on to develop automobiles. However, inventors Harley and the Davidsons developed motorcycles and their business competitors were other new start-up companies such as Excelsior, Indian, Pierce, Merkel, Schickel and Thor.

In 1903, William Harley and his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson launched the Harley-Davidson Motor Company. The bike had a quality engine, so it could prove itself in races, however, the company planned to manufacture it as a transport vehicle. Merchant, C. H. Lange, sold the first officially distributed Harley-Davidson in Chicago.

Hog Heaven
Celebrating 100 years of the Harley Davidson motorcycle.
The First Motorcycle?
A few early attempts at two-wheeled locomotion - Gottlieb Daimler is thought to have invented the real gas-powered motorcycle in 1885.
The History of the Motorcycle
Nicholaus August Otto, who invented the Otto Cycle, had an assistant, Gottlieb Daimler. Daimler left Otto to develop his own engine. In 1885 he made a wooden bike. He drove it with his engine instead of with a pedal arrangement.
Motorcycle Online
Features on motorcycle history: Adventures of the Wild Turkeys - The Rise and Fall of the NSU Empire - The Sammy Miller Museum - A Brief History of Indian Motocycles.
Motorcycles @ About
Find out about motorcycles today with guide Walter Kern, also read his section on the history behind different models of motorcycles and the motorcycle gangs.

Related Innovations
Nicolaus August Otto

~Mary Bellis
photos provided by LOC

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