The first internal combustion, petroleum fueled motorcycle was the Petroleum Reitwagen. It was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt, Germany in 1885.
This vehicle was unlike either the safety bicycles or the boneshaker bicycles of the era in that it had zero degrees of steering axis angle and no fork offset, and thus did not use the principles of bicycle and motorcycle dynamics developed nearly 70 years earlier. Instead, it relied on two outrigger wheels to remain upright while turning. The inventors called their invention the Reitwagen ("riding car"). It was designed as an expedient testbed for their new engine, rather than a true prototype vehicle. Many authorities who exclude steam powered, electric or diesel two-wheelers from the definition of a motorcycle, credit the Daimler Reitwagen as the world's first motorcycle.
If a two-wheeled vehicle with steam propulsion is considered a motorcycle, then the first was the French Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede of 1868. This was followed by the American Roper steam velocipede of 1869, built by Sylvester H. Roper Roxbury, Massachusetts. Roper demonstrated his machine at fairs and circuses in the eastern U.S. in 1867, and built a total of 10 examples.
In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmüller became the first series production motorcycle, and the first to be called a motorcycle (German: Motorrad).
In the early period of motorcycle history, many producers of bicycles adapted their designs to accommodate the new internal combustion engine. As the engines became more powerful and designs outgrew the bicycle origins, the number of motorcycle producers increased.
Until World War I, the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world was Indian,producing over 20,000 bikes per year. By 1920, this honour went to Harley-Davidson, with their motorcycles being sold by dealers in 67 countries.By the late 1920s or early 1930s, DKW took over as the largest manufacturer.
After World War II, the BSA Group became the largest producer of motorcycles in the world, producing up to 75,000 bikes per year in the 1950s. The German company NSU held the position of largest manufacturer from 1955 until the 1970s
“Was he a gentleman?”
The term gentleman (from Latin gentilis, belonging to a race or gens, and man, cognate with the French word gentilhomme, the Spanish gentilhombre, the Italian gentil uomo or gentiluomo and the Portuguese gentil-homem), in its original and strict signification, denoted a well-educated man of good family and distinction, analogous to the Latin generosus (its invariable translation in English-Latin documents). In this sense, the word equates with the French gentilhomme ("nobleman"), which latter term was, in Great Britain, long confined to the peerage. The word gentry derives from the old term Adel, but without the strict technical requirements of those traditions, such as quarters of nobility.[vague] This was what the rebels under John Ball in the 14th century meant when they repeated:
When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?
John Selden, in Titles of Honour (1614), discussing the title gentleman, speaks of "our English use of it" as "convertible with nobilis" (an ambiguous word, like noble meaning elevated either by rank or by personal qualities) and describes in connection with it the forms of ennobling in various European countries.
To a degree, gentleman signified a man with an income derived from property, a legacy or some other source, and was thus independently wealthy and did not need to work. The term was particularly used of those who could not claim nobility or even the rank of esquire.
That a distinct order of landed gentry existed in England very early has, indeed, been often assumed and is supported by weighty authorities. Thus, the late Professor Freeman (in Encyclopædia Britannica xvii. page 540 b, 9th edition) said: "Early in the 11th century the order of 'gentlemen' as a separate class seems to be forming as something new. By the time of the conquest of England the distinction seems to have been fully established." Stubbs (Const. Hist., ed. 1878, iii. 544, 548) takes the same view. Sir George Sitwell, however, has suggested that this opinion is based on a wrong conception of the conditions of medieval society and that it is wholly opposed to the documentary evidence.
The fundamental social cleavage in the Middle Ages was between the nobiles, i.e., the tenants in chivalry, whether earls, barons, knights, esquires or franklins, and the ignobiles, i.e., the villeins, citizens and burgesses; and between the most powerful noble and the humblest franklin there was, until the 15th century, no "separate class of gentlemen". Even as late as 1400, the word gentleman still only had the sense of generosus and could not be used as a personal description denoting rank or quality, or as the title of a class. Yet after 1413, we find it increasingly so used, and the list of landowners in 1431, printed in Feudal Aids, contains, besides knights, esquires, yeomen and husbandmen (i.e. householders), a fair number who are classed as "gentilman".
Mrs. Hardraw hesitated, and Mr. Parker mentally classed the stranger as “Not quite quite.”
“Not quite quite.”
A phrase signifying that the person in question came across as a gentleman, but with something subtly wrong about him.
“You didn't happen to notice the number of the bicycle?”
Mrs. Hardraw had not. “But it had a side-car,” she added.
Lord Peter's gesticulations were becoming quite violent, and Mr. Parker hastened to rejoin him.
“Come on, gossiping old thing,” said Lord Peter unreasonably. “This is a beautiful ditch.
From such a ditch as this,
When the soft wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, from such a ditch
Our friend, methinks, mounted the Troyan walls,
And wiped his soles upon the greasy mud.
This is a rephrasing of Lorenzo’s speech from Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare:
The moon shines bright. In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise- in such a night,
Troilus methinks mounted the Troyan walls,
And sigh'd his soul toward the Grecian tents,
Where Cressid lay that night.
Look at my trousers!”
“It's a bit of a climb from this side,” said Parker.
“It is. He stood here in the ditch, and put one foot into this place where the paling's broken away and one hand on the top, and hauled himself up. No. 10 must have been a man of exceptional height, strength, and agility. I couldn't get my foot up, let alone reaching the top with my hand. I'm five foot nine. Could you?”
Parker was six foot, and could just touch the top of the wall with his hand.
“I might do it—on one of my best days,” he said, “for an adequate object, or after adequate stimulant.”
“Just so,” said Lord Peter. “Hence we deduce No. 10's exceptional height and strength.”
“Yes,” said Parker. “It's a bit unfortunate that we had to deduce his exceptional shortness and weakness just now, isn't it?”
“Oh!” said Peter. “Well—well, as you so rightly say, that is a bit unfortunate.”