1936 Indian Chief

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When it comes to who invented the first motorcycle, historians differ. However, it is known that in 1867 Sylvester Howard Roper invented the first steam powered motorcycle. Roper's machine was powered by a charcoal-fired two-cylinder engine with connecting rods that drove a crank on the rear wheel. This was not a smooth ride. The motorcycle lacked springs, which are essential in motorcycle riding. Springs were not the only issue for the Roper Machine. The engine was mounted directly under the operator. This made for a very hot seat, no pun intended. Riders of this early motorcycle wore thick protective pants. The next innovation in motorcycle construction was made by the Hildebrand&Wolfmueller Company, of Munich. The motorcycle, which shares the same name as the company, had a frame resembling a women's bicycle. There was no horizontal bar running between the riders legs. Instead, the seat was mounted on the rear fender of the machine. The engine was a parallel twin, mounted low on the frame. The engine was water-cooled, fed by a radiator on top of the front fender. This motorcycle looks more like a bicycle than the motorcycles of today. Unfortunately, due to copyright issues, I can't provide a picture. Just imagine your mom's bike when you were little. Now put a tiny little engine right in front of the foot pedals. If that doesn't help I'm sorry. Motorcycles pretty much stayed this way until around 1895. A French firm DeDion-Buton built an engine that allowed for the mass production of motorcycles. The engine was light, had a four-stroke-single head and used battery-and-coil ignition. This innovation dripped oil to the crankcase using a metering valve. This allowed the engine to be cooled and lubricated. The excess oil was then spit out through a breather tube on the exterior of the engine. The DeDion-Buton Company used the engine for trikes. Trikes are three-wheeled machines. Like those bikes grandma and grandpas' ride. However, both Harley-Davidson and Indian copied the engine and used it for the mass-production of motorcycles. That leads us to the motorcycles of today. I skipped some time periods but I think you get the picture. Plus I don't have enough time left in my life to tell you every piece. So there you have it, motorcycle history 101.
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