History Of Motorcycles
The first motorcycle in history was made during 1885 by German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach
It was called a riding car.
However, history shows us that in 1967, Sylvester Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts built a steam propulsion motorcycle.
In 1876, Otto produced the first "Four-Stroke Internal-Combustion Engine".
The first motorcycle that went on sale was the Hildebrand & Wolfmuller in 1894.
The "Indian" wad the largest motorcycle manufacturer prior to World War 1.
Over time different motorcycle manufacturers would dominate the market from Harley Davidson to BSA Group to the powerful Japanese manufacturers that mostly dominate the market these days.
Soichiro Honda started the Honda Technical Research Institute during 1946.
The first Honda motorcycle was manufactured during 1947.
The Ducati Family along with investors started the Societa Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna.
At first they started out by making industrial components for radio transmissions.
Then it was during 1946 that Ducati introduced a 4-stroke 48cc clip-on engine for bicycles. And in 1952, the futuristic Cruiser 175cc, with automatic transmission and electric starter.
Torakusu Yamaha started Yamaha in 1888 and called it Yamaha Musical Instrument Company.
Yamaha moved into Motorcycle production after the war.
Their first motorcycle was a 125cc, single cylinder two-stroke YA-1.
1902: First Triumph motorcycle is produced. It uses a single-cylinder Belgian Minerva engine. It is fitted onto a bicycle frame.
The Cushman company started operations in 1903 manufacturing engines. They started production of motor scooters in 1936.
The Cushman was used by the military in World War 2. From 1951 to 1961, Sears sold them as Allstate. Cushman ended production of their scooters in 1965.
Motobi was founded by Giovanni Benelli in Italy in 1950.
Motobi was acquired by the Benelli family in 1962.
Benelli continued to manufacture the same engine in assorted sizes till 1972.
Sanglas was founded in Spain in 1952. Sanglas manufactured motorcycles for the Spanish police.
Sanglas motorcycles were imported into Ireland in the 1970's for the Army.
The last Sanglas motorcycle was manufactured in 1981.
Yamaha took over the company in 1981.
Founded in 1995.
Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn. Bhd (National Motorcycle and Engine Company), or known as Modenas for short is a Malaysian national motorcycle company producing various small motorcycle models below 200cc targeted for local market and export.
After the success of Malaysian automotive manufacturer Proton, the government looked forward to launch a national motorcycle project.
In 1996, the first model, the "Modenas Kriss", was launched.
Modenas achieved it's 1,000,000th unit production in June 2007.
Yankee Motor Company
Founded in 1969.
The Yankee motorcycle is a motorcycle which was produced in Schenectady, New York by the Yankee Motor Company. This company was started by John Taylor, a long-time resident of that area.
There had previously been two other producers that had used the Yankee name.
The bikes were produced in New York.
The bike used an engine from the OSSA motorcycle firm in Spain.
The Yankee frame and running gear were produced in the US, and the entire motorcycle was assembled in the Yankee plant in Schenectady.
Established in 1963.
The company was founded in 1963 to make parts for Honda.
Kymco Taiwan manufactured their first bike in 1970.
Kymco manufacturer Scooters and Motorcycles.
Kymco are also assembled and sold under license in Argentina as "ISMA".
In Australia Kymco scooters are branded as Bug and Zoot Scooters.
The Kymco slogan is "Better Than Best".
Founded in 1955 by Nikos Gorgolis in Greece.
Mego was a Greek light vehicle manufacturer, based in Trikala.
It started business producing light three-wheeler utility vehicles with 50-100cc engines and an unconventional layout (the single wheel placed in the back).
Mego mostly produced 50cc moped and motorcycle models.
The company eventually stopped production of its own in 1992 and was forced to move into importation and distribution of other manufacturers of motorcycles.
MuZ or MZ
Located in Zschopau, Germany.
By 1929, MZ was producing 60,000 motorcycles to become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
In 1970, the Number One Million motorcycle rolls off the conveyor belt.
In 1990, MZ is privatised but by 1993 MuZ has gone bankrupt.
The MuZ company is formed from the leftovers.
Malaysian Corporation "Hong Leong" buys MuZ in 1996.
Finally, in 1999, the "u" is dropped from the name MuZ.
MV Agusta History
Started out as a manufacturer of Aircraft.
After the Second World War they branched into motorcycle manufacturing.
MV Agusta had great success on the world racing circuit with numerous world championships.
Some of their racing models fetch over a million dollars.
The Brutale series of motorcycles are manfactured by MV Agusta of Italy.
Its style is classified as a naked bike and the series consists of several models powered by either 749.5 cc or 909.1 cc inline4-dohc-engines.
An Italian motorcycle company that was founded by Bianchi, Morri and Tamburini.
The company name is a portmanteau derived from the first two letters of each of the three founders' surnames, i.e. BIanchi MOrri TAmburini.
Each Bimota motorcycle is hand assembled by a single person.
Bimota set a land speed record on September 26, 1998, at 202.247 mph.
The 200 mile per hour barrier was broken for the first time by a gasoline powered, normally aspirated motorcycle.
Bimota has won 44 Grand Prix.
Beta Motorcycle History
An Italian motorcycle manufacturer, specialising in off-road motorcycles.
Beta are best known for their popular trials bikes.
In 2005, they launched a range of enduro motorcycles using KTM engines.
Beta Motorcycles was established in Florence in 1904.
At that time its name was "Societa Giuseppe Bianchi".
During the 1970`s, Beta built a new factory in Rignano on the Arno.
Beta builds its own engines and other basic components.
Beta has won world trials championships in 87, 89, 90, 91, 97, 98, and 99.
Boss Hoss Cycles, Inc.
Founded in 1990 by Monte Warne.
Boss Hoss is a motorcycle company, founded by Monte Warne in 1990 and based in Dyersburg, Tennessee, that distinguishes itself for making motorcycles and trikes equipped with General Motors V8 engines and semi-automatic transmissions.
By the mid-90's, Boss Hoss was selling 300 vehicles per year.
They also offer a number of accessories for their bikes and trikes.
From fairly early in their history, Boss Hoss has sold trikes with rear ends designed to look like smaller facsimiles of Chevrolet Corvettes, 57 Chevys, 32 Low-boy hot rods, or other distinctive cars.
At some point, the Corvette rear end was discontinued and replaced with a 2000 Sierra truck rear end.
As of 2006, the trikes have a new three-speed transmission that takes advantage of the extra stability and rear axle of a trike configuration.
CCM Motorcycle History
Founded by Alan Clews in 1971 in Blackburn, England.
He built the first CCM motorcycle in his garage.
CCM mostly make competition motocross, trail and supermoto bikes.
For most of the 1980s Armstrong-CCM was producing about 3,500 trails and motocross bikes, as well as the military off-road machines.
Electric start models were built for the Jordanian and Canadian armed forces.
In 1983, the Canadian company Bombardier Recreational Products licensed the brand and outsourced development and production of the Can-Am motorcycles to Armstrong-CCM who produced Can-Am’s until closure in 1987 when Armstrong sold sold the military motorcycle business to Harley Davidson and CCM back to Clews.
Was acquired by the Robson family in 1998.
CCM released a street version of their 604 in 2000.
Founded in 1922 by Simeon Rabasa Singla.
It started out as a bicycle repair shop.
Started manufacturing the moped, "Derbi SRS" after world war 2.
In 1987 Derbi starts selling Kawasaki products.
In 1992 Derbi launches the scooter "Vamos".
Derbi successfully met the challenges that followed the Spanish transition to democracy and Spain's entry into the European Community.
Simeo Rabasa i Signla passed away in 1988 but the company remained independent until 2001, when it was bought out by the Piaggio group.
The name Derbi is an acknowledgement of the companies history and is an acronym for DERivados de BIcicletas (derivatives of bicycles).
Britains first motorcycle manufacturer.
Started out producing penny-farthings in 1874, then motorcycles in 1896.
In 1910, the name of the company was changed to Excelsior Motor Co.
The Walker family took control of Excelsior after World War 1.
In 1964, Excelsior produced its last motorcycle.
In 1965 it closed.
During the 1970`s, Britax, bought the name and produced a limited numbers of Britax-Excelsior machines.
A Spanish motorcycle manufacturer, specialising in off-road motorbikes.
Gas Gas are best known for their extremely popular trials bikes, although they also make successful enduro and quad bikes.
Gas Gas emerged from the financial demise of Bultaco when two agents, Narcis Casas and Josep Piebernat found themselves with a shop but no product to sell.
So they embarked on a program to manufacture trials bikes for sale in their shop.
Gas Gas motorcycles was founded in 1974.
It had a start up capitol of 100,000 Spanish Pesetas.
The name Gas Gas literally means "to gas it". (To accelerate, give it the gas, turn the throttle - to go faster.).
The slogan "Gas Gas = Fast Fast" was used by the US importer, Gas Gas North America, from 1999-2002 to try and help people understand the unique name.
Founded by Carl Marschütz in April 1886, in Neumarkt.
It is the world's oldest motorcycle manufacturer.
In 1904 they manufactured their first motorcycle.
Sachs Germany takes over Victoria, Express and DKW in the 1960`s.
Supply motorcycles for the German Federal Armed Forces in 1992.
After facing a series of financial problems, stemming from pensions issues relating to the Hercules bicycle works, the company went into insolvency proceedings and ultimately saw a management buyout.
The insolvency administrator not only enabled continued trading, but also put the company in a position to develop new models, such as the new XTC125, unveiled at the 'Intermot' fair in Cologne in October 2006.
Honda Motorcycle History
In 1946, Soichiro Honda founds the Honda Technical Research Insitute in Hamamatsu, Japan.
Then by 1947, Honda has manufactured the A-type bicycle engine.
In 1949, Honda manufactures the 98cc, 2-cycle Dream.
In 1960, Honda will start motorcycle production at its Suzuka factory.
Then in 1963, American Honda launches the "You meet the nicest people on a Honda" advertisment.
In 1982, Honda opens its "Honda of America" Manufacturing.
In 1991, the founder of Honda: "Soichiro Honda", passes away.
A Russian manufacturer of Motorcycles based in Izhevsk, Russia.
It also produces automobiles and weapons.
In 1928, IZh produced its first motorcycle.
IZh was the biggest motorcycle manufacturer during the Soviet Union.
Upwards of 11 million motorcycles have been produced by the IZh.
Between 1973 and 1979 IZh was one of the makes marketed by SATRA in the United Kingdom under the Cossack Motorcycles brand; the Planeta and Jupiter models.
They are most known in the West for their production of the Kalashnikov assault rifles.
A Czech Republic manufacturer of Motorcycles.
Founded by Frantisek Janecek, who in 1929, bought out the motorcycle production of Wanderer.
The name "Jawa", comes from the first two letters of Janecek and Wanderer.
The first model was introduced on October 23, 1929.
This was a 500 cc 4-cycle engine with 12 kW of power (18 hp) and fuel consumption of 6 liters per 100 km.
Although priced highly, through the first years (and several constructional fixes) this motorcycle was successful and was considered reliable.
At one stage the company also prodeuced Cars.
After WW2, Jawa was nationalized by the communist government.
Founded in 1988 by a group of former Husqvarna engineers.
Husaberg is a Swedish manufacturer of off-road and supermoto four-stroke motorcycles.
Husaberg motorcycles are known for their larger displacement engines and for their race-oriented philosophy.
By 1989 they had produced their first bike.
Husaberg manufacture off-road and enduro four stroke racers.
The name Husaberg was only made official by Gustavsson when entering an enduro race at Skillingaryd, as he was forced to declare the make of his motorcycle.
The Swedish military uses Husaberg motorcycles, notably for the demonstration team.
The roots of the Laverda Motorcycle company go back to 1873, when Pietro Laverda (1845-1930) decided to start an agricultural engines enterprise in the small rural village of Breganze.
Almost exactly three quarters of a century later, with a spirit of enterprise and feeling the need to improve the situation of an economically underdeveloped region which had suffered badly from two world wars, in October 1949, Pietro's grandson Francesco founded, Moto Laverda S.A.S - Dottore Francesco Laverda e fratelli.
Laverda made motorbikes from 75 to 200ccs between 1949 to 1969.
Later, it produced the 750 LAVERDA which sold well across Europe and the U.S.
The Laverda brand was absorbed by Piaggio, when in 2004, Piaggio absorbed Aprilia.
Established by the Maisch brothers in 1926 in Germany.
But is was after World War 2 that production became serious as sales boomed.
Maico made a brief foray into the automobile business with their own line of microcars in the late 1950s.
Maico have also made Go kart engines.
The Maicowerk AG company closed in the 1983.
A Dutch company took control of the assets.
There is a small amount of Maicos being produced in Holland.
Founded in Italy in 1930 by Antonino Malaguti.
The company is privately owned and operated by the Malaguti family.
Antonino Malaguti was himself an Italian bicycle distance race champion.
Until the end of War World II Malaguti had to stop production while Italy was invaded and later on when its owners were hiding in the mountains from the retreating Germans.
During the Vietnam War, Malaguti exported over 80% of production to Saigon.
Malaguti is regarded as a world leader in motor scooters.
Founded in 1960 in Athens.
Its initials stand for Messogiakai Epiheiriseis Biomihanias, Emporiou kai Antiprosopeion (Mediterranean Enterprises for Industry, Commerce and Representations).
It grew to be a significant Greek company with two factories in the north of Athens.
Its most successful products were light three-wheeler thucks with 50 cc Zundapp engines, that became a common sight all over the country for almost three decades and were exported (in commercial and passenger variants) to Asian markets.
Aside from manufacturing Motorcycles, Mebea also produced automobiles and bicycles.
Its motorcycles were used by the Greek elecommunications Organization and the Postal Service.
MEBEA also produced motorbike engines mostly for export.
The company ceased doing business during the 1980`s.
were hand built road racing motorcycles made by Jean Nougier from France.
Production lasted from 1937 to 1972.
Entirely hand-built, the engines were dual overhead camshaft unit with hairpin valve springs, which remained popular on racing engines since due to their ease of replacement.
The motorcycles had maximum power at 10,000rpms, rear suspension (rare for the time), and a forward mounted rear brake.
A collection of Nougier motorcycles are on display in the Marseilles Motorcycle Museum.
Jean Nougier died in 1999.
Were built in Copenhagen, Denmark by Fisker and Nielsen from 1920 to 1957.
The company was founded by Peder Fisker.
Two models of the Nimbus were produced.
Two basic models were produced, both with a 750 cc four cylinder engine.
The first was the "The Stovepipe", and the later model was the "The bumblebee".
In the 1950s some further prototypes were built, like a four cylinder with a rotary valve and carbon seals as well as a two cylinder model with rear suspension, neither of which reached production.
Several prototypes with rear suspension and an earles front fork were also built.
Puch was founded by Johann Puch in Austria.
Puch built their first bike in 1903.
In 1952, Puch manufactured their first Puch motor scooter.
The legendary Puch 500 is launched in 1957.
Bikes were exported to the U.S. and sold under the names Allstate and Sears.
The factory closed in 1987 after being bought by Piaggio.
A manufacturer of mopeds and motorcycles from Spain.
Founded in 1934 by Mr. Luis Riera and Mr. Jaime Juanola.
Rieju started as a factory for bicycle accessories.
The first Rieju with a internal combustion engine was produced in 1947.
In 1956 Reiju started work on a scooter.
By 1990, Rieju was manufacturing 15,000 motorcycles.
Founded in 1963 in by Orla Larsen in Vermont.
Aquired the manufacturing rights to the Trail-Breaker in 1964.
Later, they relocated to New Hampshire.
Rokon have gained fame for their 2-wheel-drive motorcycles.
Collector interest in these very unusual motorcycles has risen considerably.
Scott Motorcycle Company
was a motorcycle manufacturer in the United Kingdom.
The company was founded by Alfred A. Scott.
They were builders of street bikes and racers.
There bikes won the Isle of Man in 1912 and 1913.
During the first world war, production of civilian Scott motorcycles was halted, but resumed after with success.
The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1950.
During the 1970`s, a reproduction Scott, called a Silk Scott, was produced.
A Slovenian manufacturer of Motorcycles as well as boats and cars.
The Tomos moped is also produced in the Netherlands.
The company was founded in 1954 establishing a Factory in Sezana.
However Tomos soon shifted to Koper, and produced its first motor vehicle, the Tomos Puch SG 250.
During the years, Tomos has been activley involved in Motorcycle racing.
based in Pontedera, Italy encompasses seven brands producing scooters and motorcycles.
As the fourth largest producer of scooters and motorcycles in the world, Piaggio produces more than 600,000 vehicles annually, with five Research and development centers, more than 6,700 employees and operations in over 50 countries.
Piaggio was founded by Rinaldo Piaggio, in Genoa, Italy, in 1884.
Piaggio started off by manufacturing: luxury ship fittings, coaches, truck bodies and trains.
After the War, Piaggio moved into scooter production, manufacturing the now World Famous "Vespa".
During the 1950`s, Vespa was manufactured around in Belgium, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Spain.
Over 16 million Vespa have been manufactured.
The Piaggio Museum opened in 2000.
Established in 1995 in France.
Although Voxan has a short history, it has been troubled by financial problems.
Originally initiated by Jacques Gardette, the project involved different partners, including Alain Chevallier, who designed the chassis part, and societe Sodemo, established in Magny-Cours, France, who designed the engine.
The first prototype was delivered in 1997.
The first 50 Roadster models were delivered in 1999 to dealerships. The Cafe Racer models were added to the lineup in 2000, and the Scrambler model was released in 2001.
In 2002, the company was bought by Didier Cazeaux and Societe de Developpement et de Participation.
Aeronautica Macchi History
(later "Aermacchi") was founded in 1912.
Aermacchi started off by manufacturing Seacraft.
Manufacturing Motorcycles started later.
The bikes produced by Aermacchi were quite successful in the postwar Italian market, also thanks to their repeated placements on the race tracks.
The firm designed and produced models incorporating the Italian word "Ala" (wing) in its names, such as "Ala Verde", "Ala Blu" and "Ala d'Oro" (respectively "green wing", "blue wing" and "golden wing").
Harley Davidson purchased 50% of the Aermacchi cycle division and then later sells them under the Harley-Davidson name.
Later, Harley sold its share to Aermacchi to Cagiva.
AJP Motorcycles History
In 1981 Antonio Pinto, only 22 years old, opened a motorcycle workshop.
Later, in 1985, AJP was founded.
AJP created its first motorcycle in 1987: the Ariana 125, based on the Casal k 276 and named after Antonio Pinto's daughter born in that same year.
Only 25 units were made. 5 In 1995 a prototype called AJP Galp 50 was developed.
First, Antonio Pinto tried to sell this project to Casal, without success. When he finally got money to start the production, the Portuguese market of 50cc had a huge breakdown.
AJP Motorcycles started in 1988.
They produce mainly off-roaders and super motards.
AJP manufacture motocross bikes with Casal engines.
AJS Motorcycle History
Founded by A. J. Stevens Ltd in Wolverhampton, England.
They made both motorcycles, cars and buses.
AJS was the name used for cars and motorcycles made by the Wolverhampton, England company A. J. Stevens & Co. Ltd, from 1909 to 1931, by then holding 117 motorcycle world records, and after the firm was sold the name continued to be used by Matchless, Associated Motorcycles and Norton-Villiers on four-stroke motorcycles till 1969, and since the names resale in 1974, on light weight, two stroke scramblers and today on small capacity roadsters and cruisers.
A. J. Stevens went bankrupt in 1931 and the motorcycle assets were taken over by Matchless.
In 1931 A. J. Stevens & Co went bankrupt. The motorcycle assets were bought by the Collier brothers London company Matchless and the car manufacturer Crossley Motors. Crossley incorporated some improvements such as a four speed gearbox and using parts acquired from AJS built about 300 cars between December 1931 and May 1932. Assembly took place in the Stockport factory used by Willys Overland Crossley. Motorcycle production moved to Plumstead.
A One and a half litre model was planned, but failed to materialize except to appear on the Willys-Overland-Crossley stand at the 1932 London Motor Show.
In 1938 AJS became part of a group called Associated Motorcycles, formed by the Colliers as a management company for its various interests. After this Matchless and AJS shared models using different badging.
Alta Motorcycle History
Alta was a Greek manufacturer of motorcycles that was established in 1962 in Athens and released its first motorcycle the 50S model.
Alta also produced cars and three-wheeler trucks.
The '50S' motorcycle model was known for its reliability (some survive to date in good working condition).
In 1967 it designed and developed model 'A700', a heavier three-wheeler truck with 2-cylinder BMW 35hp engine and a payload of 800 kg.
The truck, featuring a pleasant design and high reliability became one of the most successful vehicles of its kind in Greece. In 1968 Alta introduced a three-wheeler passenger car, model 'A200' (three wheelers were classified differently according to Greek law).
Powered by a Heinkel 200cc engine, the car was based on the German Fuldamobil (also produced by Attica in Greece under licence), but with Alta's own body design. The company moved production to a new, larger factory in Elefsis where it operated until 1978.
Aprilia Motorcycle History
Was founded by Cavaliere Alberto Beggio.
It was originally a bicycle production factory at Noale, Italy.
In 1968, Alberto’s son, Ivano Beggio took over the leadership of the company.
The first Aprilia motorcycles were made by hand.
The first production Aprilia mopeds were named Colibrì, Daniela and Packi.
Ivan Alborghetti won the Italian 125 and 250 cc motorcross championships on Aprilias in 1977.
The first Aprilia four-stroke, the "ETX 350", was launched in 1985.
The first Aprilias were exported to the United States in 1988.
Aprilia finally won its first world championship title in 1992.
It was the first of many.
In 1996, the Leonardo maxi-scooter was launched.
Aprilia has become Europe’s second largest producer of motorcycles and scooters.
Ariel Motorcycle History
Although Ariel dates back to 1947, they did not start to make motorcycles till 1902.
Before this, Ariel had produced bicycles and sewing machines.
The company dates back to 1847 when Ariel made an early pneumatic-tyred wheel for horse drawn carriages. The name was revived by James Starley and William Hillman in 1870 when they invented the wire-spoke wheel which allowed them to build a lighter weight bicycle and named it Ariel (the spirit of the air).
They put the name on the factory where they made penny-farthing bicycles and sewing machines. In 1885 Starley invented the Rover Safety Bicycle - a rear-wheel-drive, chain-driven bicycle with two similar-sized wheels, which is essentially the design still used on bicycles today.
Use of the name lapsed but in 1896 it appeared again, this time on motorised transport.
The first Ariel vehicle was a Tricycle that used a 2.25 hp De Dion engine mounted at the rear. More tricycles were produced and quadricycles were added in 1901 as Ariel then moved into car production.
Over the years, the company had financial difficulties including going into receivership in 1911 for a period.
During 1900 to 1915, and 1922 to 1925, they were also involved in producing cars.
The most well known bike produced by Ariel was the "Square Four", with production a run from 1937 to 1958.
The BSA group took control of Ariel in 1944.
Bajaj Motorcycle History
A large Indian manufacturer of auto rickshaw, motor scooters and motorcycles.
Founded in 1945, its first venture was in selling two and three wheelers that were imported.
By 1959, they had obtained a license to start manufacturing their own product.
In 1960, the company was floated to the public.
In 1995, Bajaj produced its ten millionth vehicle.
Bajaj Auto came into existence on November 29, 1945 as M/s Bachraj Trading Corporation Private Limited.
It started off by selling imported two- and three-wheelers in India.
In 1959, it obtained license from the Government of India to manufacture two- and three-wheelers and it went public in 1960.
In 1970, it rolled out its 100,000th vehicle.
In 1977, it managed to produce and sell 100,000 vehicles in a single financial year.
In 1985, it started producing at Waluj in Aurangabad.
In 1986, it managed to produce and sell 500,000 vehicles in a single financial year.
In 1995, it rolled out its ten millionth vehicle and produced and sold 1 million vehicles in a year.
Beardmore Precision Motorcycle History
William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish engineering and shipbuilding company in Glasgow.
It was involved in the production of ships, tanks, cars, engines and other manufacturing activities.
From 1921 to 1924 Beardmore was involved in the production of motorcycles.
They had taken over the production of the Precision range of Motorcycles.
The motorcycles were sold as Beardmore Precision.
Beardmores various other businesses were wound down over the next few years until Bearmore's retirement and death in 1936.
The remnants of the company persisted, under Sir James Lithgow of shipbuilding giant Lithgows, Limited. The final remnants of the company were wound up in 1975.
The archives of William Beardmore and Company are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow (GUAS).
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Benelli Motorcycle History
Founded in 1911, in Pesaro, Italy.
It was started by Teresa Benelli, who invested all the families money into the business in order to gain employment for her six sons.
In the beginning, it was called "Benelli Garage", which repaired cars and motorcycles.
In 1920, Benelli built its first complete engine.
And in 1921, Benelli built its first motorcycle.
Benelli won Italian championship titles in 1927, 1928, 1930 and 1931.
Before the start of World War Two, Benelli were strong in manufacturing streetbikes.
However, after the war, moved towards small two stroke bikes.
In 1962, the "Motobi" factory was acquired by Benelli.
In 1971, the Benelli factory was sold out to Alesandro de Tomaso.
Then, in 1989, frim Selci took over the business.
Again in 1996, the factory was sold this time to Andrea Merloni.
Britten Motorcycles History
Was founded in 1992 by New Zealander John Britten.
John was a mechanical engineer who had designed a world record setting motorcycle.
One of his bikes is on display in the Museum of New Zealand.
His bike designs were considered years ahead of his time.
The Britten motorcycles were unusual for their heavy use of carbon fiber for the fairing, wheels and swingarm.
Britten motorcycles had no chassis in the traditional sense.
Instead, the engine behaved as a stressed member of the chassis and each end of the motorcycle was bolted to it.
John Britten passed away in 1995.
BSA Motorcycle History
BSA England was originally a small arms company.
It built weapons till around 1910.
However, in 1903 BSA produced an experimental 233cc motorcycle.
At this time they moved into motorcycle production.
BSA Models included: Firebird, Gold Star, Royal Star, Thunderbolt, Rocket and Victor.
In the late 1930`s they purchased Sunbeam.
In 1944, they purchased Ariel.
BSA went on to purchase Triumph, which eventually merged with Norton - Villiers.
Buell Motorcycle History
Founded by Erik Buell.
Worked as a trainee mechanic, then eventually became the service manager.
In 1978, Buell recorded the fastest newcomer qualifying time for the Daytona 200 race.
Later, he attained his engineering degree.
Buell worked for Harley-Davidson as a chassis engineer.
Later, Buell left to manufacture his own race bike.
Harley-Davidson supplied the engines.
By 1994, Harley-Davidson owned 49% of the business, and went on to to purchase another 49% of the company in 4 years.
Buell now assemble over 10,000 bikes a year.
Bultaco Motorcycles History
Founded in 1958 in Spain by Francisco Bulto.
Bultaco had a reputation for competition bikes.
The Bultaco factory was closed December 22, 1979 after a long strike.
The origin of the Bultaco motorcycle company dates back to May of 1958.
Francisco "Paco" Bulto was a director of the Montesa motorcycle company founded in 1944.
After several years of steady growth and road racing success, in 1957 Montesa moved to larger facilities.
The move was protracted, disrupting production and was followed by a downturn in the Spanish economy.
This slump bought to a head disagreements between Bulto and the other senior director Pedro Permanyer.
As an economy measure, Permanyer (the majority shareholder) felt that the company should withdraw from racing.
Bultó, the driving force behind the racing program and responsible for much of the companies technical expertise was violently opposed. Failing to reach a compromise, Bulto decided to leave Montesa to concentrate on his other business interests.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of Montesa's racing department left shortly afterwards as well.
The suggestion to form a new company is said to have come a few days later when Sr. Bulto was invited to a meeting by several of the former staff of Montesa's racing department.
Keen to return to racing, they persuaded him that their greatest hope lay in forming a new company.
Setting up shop in very primitive conditions at an old farm owned by Bulto, things developed quickly and in February 1959 Bultaco held a press day, launching their first bike, the road-going 125cc Bultaco Trala 101.
Although the factory did re-open, it was eventually merged with Montesa and Ossa, but in the end only Montesa survived.
Cagiva Motorcycle History
An Italian motorcycle manufacturer.
It was founded in 1950 by Giovanni Castiglioni in Varese, originally producing small metal components. It went into the motorcycle industry in 1978.
The name is a portmanteau derived from the founder and the founding location, i.e. CAstiglioni GIovanni VArese.
In 1999 for strategic purposes, the company got restructured. MV Agusta Motor became the main brand comprising Cagiva and Husqvarna.
Moved into the motorcycle business in 1978 after purchasing the Aermacchi factory from AMF-Harley Davidson, Italy.
In 1986, Cagiva purchased Husqvarna Motorcycles.
Cagiva also purchased Ducati.
Cagiva is owned by brothers Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni.
Confederate Motorcycle History
Founded by Matthew Chambers in 1991.
By 1994, Confederate had manufactured its first motorcycle.
In 2005, the business suffered severe damage from Hurricane Katrina causing a temporary halt in production.
The Confederate Motorcycles have deveolped a good reputation on the back of precise hand craftsmanship.
In 2007, the B120 Wraith and F131 Hellcat took first and second place respectively in the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building show in Sturgis, South Dakota in the production manufacturer category.
After the severe factory damage in August 2005 by Hurricane Katrina interrupted production, Confederate Motors moved its corporate headquarters and assembly operations to a warehouse in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.
Production resumed after the reoganization and move in early 2006, with an announcement in May of their $5 million expansion plans for production of a third, more affordable, model.
CZ Motorcycle History
CZ was founded 1919 in Strakonice.
Although it originally started out manufacturing weapons, in 1932 CZ produced its first Motorcycle.
During the 1950s, CZ joined forces with the "Jawa".
During the 1960s and 1970s, CZ mainly manufactured bikes based on two Models: The 125/175 single-cylinder, and the 250 twin-cylinder.
CZ launched the 350 "Typ-860" GP in 1969.
CZ signed for Cagiva to produce the new CZ and Jawa motorcycles in 1991.
By 1997, the agreement with Cagiva failed.
Dnepr Motorcycle History
Official name "KMZ", "Kiev Motorzykly Zavod".
Dnepr was founded in 1946.
Dnepr is the brand name of heavy motorcycles produced in Kiev, Ukraine.
It has been in use since 1967.
Motorcycles have been produced in Kiev since 1946 at the Kiev Motorcycle Plant.
Initial production was of a 98cc 2-stroke model that was confiscated from the German firm Wanderer as reparations. The original design for KMZ heavy motorcycles, and their cousin the IMZ, is taken from the pre-WWII German BMW motorcycle R71, which the Soviet Union licensed in 1940.
The two-stroke 98 cc, Kievlyanin, was the first bike manufactured.
Dnepr went on to manufacture only sidecar bikes till the 1990`s.
The Dnepr 750 were used for Presidential escort during the Soviet Period.
They were used by President Vladimir Putins escort.
Ducati Motorcycle History
The Ducati Family with investors founded the Societa Radio Brevetti Ducati in Bologna.
Originally they manufactured industrial components for radio transmissions.
By 1946, Ducati introduced a 4-stroke 48cc clip-on engine for bicycles.
And in 1952, the futuristic Cruiser 175cc, with automatic transmission and electric starter.
Then in 1983 Ducati was purchased by Claudio and Gianfranco Castiglioni.
In 1996, Ducati was purchased by the Texas Pacific Group.
Gilera Motorcycle History
Founded in Italy in 1909, by Giuseppe Gilera.
Gilera`s first bike was a 317cc overhead-valve engine which had a belt drive.
In 1935 Gilera acquired rights to the Rondine four-cylinder engine. This formed the basis for Gileras racing machines nearly forty years. From the mid-thirties Gilera developed a range of four-stroke engine machines.
The engines ranged from 100 to 500cc. The most famous of which was the 1939 Saturno.
After World War II, Gilera dominated Grand Prix motorcycle racing, winning the 500cc road racing world championship 6 times in 8 years
The Piaggio Group bought Gilera in 1969.
Then in 1993, Piaggio closed the Gilera factory at Arcore.
However, they still make motorcycles and scooters using the Gilera badge.
Haden Motorcycle History
Founded in Birmingham, England.
The company had originally started out as a bicycle factory before moving into motorcycle production.
A.H. Haden Motorcycles was a British motorcycle marque from Birmingham, England.
The Haden marque was best known from 1912-1924.
Haden was originally a bicycle-making business in Hockley, Birmingham, a business first listed in Kelly's Directory in 1882, shortly before the safety bicycle was introduced in 1885. The business passed from G.J. Haden to his son A.H. Haden, who continued making bicycles from 1902-1912.
The business had introduced motorcycles alongside its bicycle range from around 1906, and went into more extensive motorcycle production shortly before World War I following A.H. Haden's 1913 purchase of the Regal motorcycle company. Production for the consumer market began again in 1919, after the war had ended.
In 1913, they purchased the the Regal Motorcycle Company.
Haden is best known for producing the "New Comet" motorcycle.
The company closed in 2002.
One fully-restored New Comet is known to exist, as of 2005.
Harley-Davidson Motorcycle History
In 1903 Harley Davidson is founded In Milwaukee.
By 1903, Bill Harley and Arthur Walter Davidson had developed the first Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
In 1908, they produced 154 motorcycles in a wooden barn build by Davidson's father.
By 1909, they introduced the 45-degree V-Twin engine.
In 1910 the legendary "Bar and Shield" logo was placed on the motorcycle.
The Harley-Davidson Company in 1912 began construction on a new factory and exported to Japan.
There were now 200 dealerships in the United States.
A sidecar was added to the Harley-Davidson in 1914.
Then in 1915 the three-speed sliding-gear transmission was introduced by Harley-Davidson.
By 1917 Harley-Davidson had become the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world.
In 1932, the three-wheel Servi-Car was introduced.
The "Eagle" started to appear on all Harley-Davidson gas tanks.
Then in 1937, William A. Davidson dies.
Walter Davidson died in 1942, and Bill Harley dies in 1943.
During the 1940's, Harley-Davidson sent its motorcycles overseas to aid the war effort and Harley-Davidson went on to receive the Army-Navy "E" award.
In 1965, George Roeder, on a modified Harley-Davidson Sprint, sets a world land speed record of 177.225 m.p.h. for 250cc motorcycles .
In 1969, Harley-Davidson merged with the American Machine and Foudry Company.
Eventually, Harley Davidson bought itself out.
In 1987, Harley-Davidson obtains a place on the New York Stock Exchange.
In 1993, the "90Th Anniversary" homecoming was celebrated.
Hercules Motorcycle History
Nürnberger Hercules-Werke started producing bicycles in 1886.
Hercules started producing Motorcycles in Germany 1905.
Hercules was taken over by Fichtel & Sachs in 1966, then merged with Zweirad Union.
Sachs continued to sell bikes under the Hercules name until around 1996.
In 1974 Hercules became the first company in the World to offer a Wankel-engined motorcycle for sale to the general public. The W-2000 had a single-rotor air-cooled engine of 294cc that produced 25 bhp, later increased to 27 bhp (20 kW).
Engine lubrication was by manually adding oil to the fuel in the tank.
In 1976 Hercules launched the W-2000 Injection in which engine lubcrication was from a separate oil tank via a pump. In some countries the W-2000 was sold as a DKW
Indian Motorcycle History
Indian Motorcycle Company of Springfield, Mass.
Oscar Hedstrom and George Hendee formed a partnership to produce the first Indian Motorcyclers in 1902.
In 1903 a V-Twin was introduced.
Then in 1913, the Hendee Special was released.
The Indian Motorcycle Company became the biggest motorcycle manufacturer in the world with production over 20,000 bikes per year.
Hedstrom and Hendee eventually left the company.
Poor management followed that had the company treading the line.
Only Indian and Harley-Davidson survived the Great Depression.
During World War II, the Indian Motorcycle Company supplied over 40,000 motorcycles for the war.
Management were eventually forced to borrow from Brockhouse Ltd. in England.
After a number of management mistakes, Brockhouse Ltd. called in the debt.
Indian was divided up and sold to to Associated Motorcycles Ltd.
AMC dispensed with the Indian marquee in the late 1950's, then closed its own doors in the late 1960's.
In 1998, there was an attempt to revive the Indian Motorcycle by a series of investor groups.
The attempt eventually failed.
On July 26, 2004, Stellican Limited, a London-based private equity firm, announced the acquisition of the trademarks and related intellectual property of the "Indian".
Kawasaki Motorcycle History
Kawasaki's Aircraft Company began the development of a motorcycle engine in 1949. The development was completed in 1952 and mass production started in 1953.
Kawasaki are the smallest of the Big-4 motorcycle manufactures.
In 1963, Meguro merged with Kawasaki.
Kawasaki first exported their motorcycles to the USA in 1965.
In 1972, Kawasaki released the Z1 to the U.S.a. market.
The Kawasaki racing colour is green.
Kawasaki's first title was with Dave Simmonds in 1969 when they won the 125cc World Championship.
Kawasaki dominated the 250cc and 350cc grand prix classes from 1978 to 1982 winning 4 titles in each category.
Kawasaki has also won several superbike racing championships. They won the rider's Superbike World Championship in 1993 with Scott Russell and several AMA Superbike Championships with riders such as Eddie Lawson and Wayne Rainey.
During the 1990s they also dominated the Endurance World Championship.
KTM Motorcycle History
In 1934 Hans Trunkenpolz opened a repair workshop in Mattighofen.
Started off by selling DKW motorcycles.
In 1953 the first production series of KTM motorcycles stated.
By 1957, the range included a sports motorcycle "Trophy 125 cc" and scooter "Mirabell".
Throughout KTM's history, they have been on the leading edge of motorcycle technology.
They were the first manufacturer to produce a liquid-cooled four-stroke motorcycle engine for an off road motorcycle, a design which has since been replicated by all other manufacturers (KTM even supplied radiators to Suzuki in their early water-cooling days).
In 1986 KTM became the first motorcycle manufacturer to include both front and rear disc brakes on an off road motorcycle. In 1998, they offered a linkless rear suspension, dramatically reducing the un-sprung weight of the bike (KTM was the first major manufacturer to do so, although ATK, a small market, niche brand did so as early as 1987).
They were also the first to offer hydraulic clutch mechanisms on all models of motorcycles, and were the first to offer a competition-ready supermoto bike.
Megola Motorcycle History
Were produced in Germany from 1921 to 1925.
The name is a portmanteau derived loosely from the names of its designers Meixner, Cockerell, and Landgraf.
In its brief history the Megola motorcycle gained wide coverage through its unique and inovative design.
The Megola had a unique design, it boasted a Monosoupape rotary engine mounted within the front wheel.
The engine contained five cylinders with side-mounted valves and it displaced 640 cc (39 cu in), a total size equivalent to many modern bikes.
The crankshaft was the front axle, which remained stationary while the cylinders rotated with the wheel.
A total of 2000 Megola Motorcycles were built.
The Megola was the first to locate the engine in the wheel.
In 1935 there was an attempt by a group of engineers to make an improved version, the Killinger and Freund Motorcycle, but World War II put an end to their plans.
Moto Guzzi Motorcycle History
Founded in 1921 at Mandello del Lario, Italy.
In 1920, Carlo Guzzi designed the first bike called the Normale.
It was a 500cc.
It went into production in 1922 and Mote Guzzi dominated Motorcycle Production in Italy for the next fourty years.
The Eagle Logo was a tribute to Giovanni Ravelli.
Guzzi made its racing debut in May, 1921.
Moto Guzzi was acquired by SEIMM.
The Guzzi V7, launched in 1967.
The De Tomaso Inc. group took over Guzzi in 1973.
Moto Guzzi is now a part of the Aprilia group.
Moto Guzzi won 3,329 official races, 14 World Championships and 11 times the Tourist Trophy.
More then 50 models have been produced with much of Moto Guzzi's production sold to the Italian police and military.
Moto Morini Motorcycle History
Was founded in Italy in 1946 by Alfonso Morini.
Alfonso Morini was born on January 22 1898.
Before he was 16 he was repairing motorcycles, and at the age of sixteen, opened a workshop.
In 1937 Morini went into the production of 350 cc and 500 cc three wheelers, under the Moto Morini name.
The government regulations favoured these lighter fuel efficient machines, and the successful Moto Morini M610 had advanced features, like cardan driveshafts.
This was interrupted by World War II, and Moto Morini was converted to produce aeronautical components. In 1943 the factory was bombed.
After Moto Morini died, the factory was inherated by his daughter Gabriella.
In 1972, the Moto Morini 3 1/2 was launched.
In 1987, Moto Morini was acquired by the Cagiva Group.
In 1999, Moto Morini was acquired by Franco Morini,
Norton Motorcycle History
Was founded in 1898, by James Norton in Birmingham.
The first Norton motorcycle was manufactured in 1902.
By 1907, Norton had won the twin-cylinder class in the first Isle of Man TT race.
By 1909, Norton Motorcycles were for sale at Harrods.
In 1916 the Norton logo appears.
In 1925, James Norton died.
As part of the War effort, over 100,000 Nortons are manufactured for the military.
In 1953, Norton was sold to Associated Motorcycles (AMC).
In 1962, the Birmingham factory closed and production shifed to London.
In 1966, AMC collapses and is reformed as Norton-Villiers part of Manganese Bronze.
The Commando appears in 1967.
In 1971 the Street Scrambler and Hi Rider make their appearance.
In 1973, Norton-Villiers-Triumph (NVT) is formed.
The last Commando rolls off the manufacturing line in 1976.
In 1988, Norton re-emerged as Norton Motors International.
Royal Enfield Motorcycle History
Founded in the United Kingdom under the name "Enfield Cycle Company".
Royal Enfield manufactured their first motorcycle in 1900.
In 1910, they manufactured a 425cc V-twin (2.25 hp).
Royal Enfield made bikes for the Army during World War 2.
In the 1930`s, a four-valve, single-cylinder was introduced, and called the "Bullet".
Then between 1956 and 1960, the Bullet was released in several models.
From 1955 to 1959, Royal Enfield sold bikes in the U.S. under the Indian name.
The U.K. company was sold in 1962.
By 1967 the Redditch factory was closed.
Royal Enfield closed in 1970.
Enfield India however continued to manufacture Bullets.
The Enfield factory, located in India, is owned by Eicher Limited.
Triumph Motorcycle History
In 1884, S. Bettmann & Co. Import Export Agency of London started selling bicycles.
By 1986 the name Bettmann had been replaced with the name Triumph.
The company is called "The Triumph Cycle Company".
In 1888, Triumph aquire a factory in Coventry to manufacture its own bicycles.
By 1902 the first Triumph motorcycle is manufactured.
Then by 1905 the first all-Triumph is produced.
It is also the first all British motorcycle.
It goes on the market for 45 pounds.
Production of the Triumph motorcycle had reached up to 3,000 per annum by 1909.
Triumph was manufacturing 4,000 unites by By 1914.
During 1915 to 18, Triumph manufacturing was focused on the war effort.
About 30,000 Model H bikes were supplied to the Allied Forces.
In 1920 an enlarged version of the Junior is built under license in Germany and the USA.
By 1925 Triumph employs over 3,000 people and is manufacturing up to 30,000 motorcycle units a year.
In 1937 the 500cc Speed Twinis introducd and sells at 75 pounds.
After the war, Civilian manufacturing resumes at Meriden.
In 1948 Triumph will release its first trail bike.
Triumph celebrates its 21st birthday at the Hotel Leofric in Coventry in 1957.
By 1967 28,700 Triumphs are sold in the USA.
To commemorate Queen Elizabeths 25 years on the Throne, the limited edition Silver Jubilee T140V is released.e
In 1984 the Meriden factory is torn down.
Then by 1990, six new Triumph motorcycle models are shown in the Cologne Motor Cycle Show.
In 1994 Triumph motorcycle has re-entered the competition ring.
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