Is It Really The World’s First Motorcycle?

daimlerridingcarIn 1885 the German inventors Wilhelm Maybach and Gottlieb Daimler called it the “Reitwagen” or “Riding Car”.

So, does the machine qualify as the 1st ever motorcycle? Notice the helping small wheels. At least we know that the motorcycle was born from a motorized bicycle. The Daimler “Riding Car” is the 1st petroleum-powered vehicle in this category. Comfort was not the objective…

Zipper's

8 Responses to “Is It Really The World’s First Motorcycle?”


  1. 1 Zed Dec 23rd, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    If anyone considers this not a motorcycle based on the “helping small wheels”, then HD’s fugly Trike is not a motorcycle using the same logic.

  2. 2 Dave Blevins Dec 23rd, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I love seeing these old machines and marvel at the abilities of their creators… these were folks with real challenges: such as the design and manufacture of basically every single part, access to raw materials like sheet or tube steel, not much existing IC engine data to draw from except for personal experience, finding suitable fuels (most commonly alcohol), decent ignition sources and related electronics, a truly gigantic feat in every aspect.
    All these problems and a doubting public to overcome in an era without a highway system or fuel availabilty during travel… the passion of these engineers is hard to genuinely appreciate in our time.

  3. 3 fuji Dec 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    My understanding is that a gentleman from California invented a motorized bike in California in 1884 that would obtain a speed of 24 miles per hr, unfortunately he fell into the La Brea Tar Pits and was never seen again. THE BIKE HAD NO BRAKES ! He went by the name of lucky.

  4. 4 fuji Dec 23rd, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I was fortunate to see this bike at the ” Art of the Motorcycle ” at Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Florida this motorcycle was on display a couple years back along with other impressive bikes, The fact that it is made mostly of wood is impressive in itself, standing along side of it one wonders how anyone could ride it.

    “The Art of the Motorcycle” set attendance records for the Guggenheim Museum , New York.

  5. 5 Jared Dec 24th, 2009 at 11:00 am

    This is NOT the first motorcycle. The honor of the first “motorcycle” (a self-propelled, steam-powered, two-wheeled vehicle) is the American Roper, which was invented a couple decades prior in 1869. The H&W is generally regarded as the first gas-powered motorcycle and the first factory produced motorcycle.

    While this fact is not widely known, even among Americans, it has been explained at the Art of the Motorcycle exhibit, the Legend of the Motorcycle concours and at the AMA Hall of Fame museum. See this link for more info: http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi1286.htm

    By the way, Bonhams is supposed to be auctioning an original H&W from 1895 at one of their upcoming European sales.

  6. 6 Len Hanger Dec 25th, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Cool to see the vintage photos of the machines we love. ‘Thanks Cyril!

  7. 7 maroco Dec 26th, 2009 at 6:39 am

    Great Motorcycle, no doubt! First one or not, this is part of History off all motorcycles, and they have a true historycle value.The small wheels it`s only a detail.

  8. 8 nelu banica Jan 6th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    As you see, those footrests are close to the ground, to mantain a low center of mass and to stop this vehicle. Maybe today you’ll be able to ride without help of small wheels, bu in those days even ride a bicycle was considered a great adventure.
    See close: no suspension, no brakes, no rubber tire. Just a live demonstration of “It’s possible!”

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