In the late 1800’s the pedal bike had rising to be the one of the most popular and easily affordable ways of transport in the UK. It had come as a replacement for the more expensive and unpredictable Horse. In fact, the bike as we know it knew several forms. One was the famous Penny Farthing used for racing and speed but there were also the larger velocipedes which were designed for touring and leisure. Whilst this was fine in the urban settings of London and Manchester or the flatlands of Lincolnshire and East Anglia it was not so much fun in the Peak District or the rolling hills of the South Downs. With the upper classes moving away from the bicycle to the motor car and the horse option off the table for most working people it was time to think about adding a motor to the bike for help over those hills and take the strain off.
It was in Germany that the first use of an internal combustion a bike was develop by Daimler and Maybach in 1885 but this did not power a chain it just moved a set of rear fixed wheels to display the engine’s ability. However, it did inspire the idea of adding an engine to a bike to aid its movement or compliment the pedalling of the rider. The first UK built motorbike was the Butler Petrol Cycle in 1894. This was a three-wheeler to give the engine the support it needed to power the trike but it never received the backing it needed to be produced. However, it was the French who had the first proper two wheeled bike version or at least the patent in 1868. Again, there was little backing for the idea. It seemed that the engine powered bike would just be a curiosity.
It was the German’s Hildebrand & Wolfmüller in 1894 who produced the first proper wheeled engine powered chain motorcycle to commercial success as we would recognise it. This was the catalyst for motorcycle production. Two years later the Excelsior Motor Company set up their production by adding a petrol engine into their existing bikes frames. They saw that the future lay in this design and it did not take much to change their existing bike design to incorporate the petrol engine to power the bike. Many other producers of bikes also cottoned on to idea and unlike many other industries they did not take the view that this would be a short-term fad. The public had found away to get places quicker and easier and at a much more affordable price.
So, this was the start of the motorbike revolution and bikers have never looked back. Clubs were formed, associations made and whole community of users that is still going strong today. It’s also the accessorises like Hot weather motorbike clothing, helmets and boots that make motorbiking the fun it is.