Like our other inventions, even bike design has its own invention story. Although the basic design has been retained, many developments have taken place over these years. In today’s world, everyone loves to ride. People are crazier for bikes than cars. But despite their passion, they aren’t familiar with its origin. Earlier there were bicycles, people needed something which is fast and is two-wheeler too, thus bike came into the picture. They never thought it would gain such popularity. They didn’t know their invention would cultivate a sense of brotherhood, sisterhood, or a family that other social groups wouldn’t be able to imitate. It was just considered a mode of transport at that time. Over the time it has undergone lots of changes. The motorcycle has made a lasting impression since the past 150 years.. Let’s take a look at its timeline.

Evolution of Bike Design 

Ever since early bicycles were invented, scientists started searching for a way to make transport on public roads more motorised and speedy. With that concept in mind, many inventors tried to make their version of the motorcycles in the past one and a half centuries. Listed below are some of the most important events based on their discoveries.

The timeline of motorcycles began in the second half of the 19th century. Motorcycles came down from the “safety bicycle,” a bicycle with front and rear wheels of similar size and a pedal crank mechanism to drive the rear wheel. Despite some of its early spotlights in its development, the motorcycle lacks a firm heritage that can be tracked down to a single solution or machine. Instead, the idea seems to have emerged in the minds of several engineers and inventors spread across Europe at around the same time.

Past of Bike Design
Past, Present and Future: Bike Design - Sheet1
Past of Bike Design_©

With the invention of steam engines and bicycles, 19th-century scientists suddenly realized that combining these two technologies could substantially improve the transport system on public roads.

Only a few short years after the premiere of Pierre Michaux’s famous bicycle pedal bike that lasted until the mid-1880s, the first wave of motorized bicycles started appearing. Pierre Michaux’s son Ernest designed the first motorcycle in his Paris workspace by combining a small steam engine to one of their older “boneshaker” bicycle designs. That product encouraged the production of many other models, with many other inventors performing similar techniques using various types of steam engines (Sylvester H. Roper used a coal burn furnace in 1868, Louis-Guillaume Perreaux used an alcohol burner chamber in 1871, Lucius Copeland attached a steam engine to an English “farthing-penny” high wheel bicycle in 1881).

The true revolution among the motorcycle technology occured in 1885 when two German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach succeeded in producing the first motorcycle with a gasoline internal combustion engine. This machine called “Daimler Reitwagen” (riding wagon) is now known as the first example of a modern motorcycle that we are familiar with and use today. Since its invention, several other inventors and engineers started designing their versions of engine-equipped bicycles.

After the Second World War, inexpensive prices, efficient engineering modifications, and better road networks enabled the extensive success of motorcycles all over the world. Motorcycles became one of the primary sources of transport in Asia (especially in big cities) and the American “motorbike club” movement (combined with their portrayals in the 50s and 60s films) evoked the imagination of the entire world population. During the 1960s, the dominance of American and English manufacturers began to decline with the emergence of several Japanese brands – Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Yamaha. They concentrated their production on smaller, cheaper, and more efficient motorcycle designs, which helped them to gain the majority of the world’s market.

Present of Bike Design

Past, Present and Future: Bike Design - Sheet2
Harley Davidson Bike_©

Today besides Japanese companies many other manufacturers hold a substantial portion of the market. Most strikingly there are BMW, Ducati, Victory, and Harley-Davidson. In 2021 Harley-Davidson spins its LiveWire electric bike into a standalone brand with its own brand identity that is separate from HD. 

Today, motorcycles are one of the most affordable forms of motorized transport system on public roads. Daily over 200 million motorcycles are being used all across the world (amidst 590 million cars). India (37 million motorcycles/mopeds) and China (34 million motorcycles/mopeds) are the leading countries with the greatest motorcycle in use.

The Future of Bike Design

Topgear.com_©Future Bike Design

With lots of technological developments, we will sure be able to design better versions. These would be safer and functional. The design maybe more stylish than present. Various energy efficient smart features might be added.

The history of the motorcycle and biker culture has been a long ride. But this history is rich in innovation and dedication. And for that, we are grateful, because without all of these individual milestones we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Bibliography 2021. Motorcycle Timeline – Evolution of Motorcycles. 2021. History of Motorcycles- Development of Motorcycling.


Manali is a fresher in the world of architecture. Holding a strong passion for writing and profession of architecture, she has a vision to combine them both along with her skills of research and analysis to make this world a better place for all.

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