A motorcycle is a two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle that is steered by handlebars from a saddle-style seat. The modern motorcycle has an engine that is driven by cranks and chains or belts, or, in some cases, an electric drive system. Its frame is usually constructed from steel tubes or sheets, and the wheels are commonly made of aluminum or steel spokes (although cast, forged, or even graphite wheel rims are sometimes used). The gyroscopic effect created by motorcycle tires allows leaning to lower the center of gravity, improve stability and traction, and help the rider maneuver the bike through turns.
Motorcycles first appeared in the late 1800s, when inventors began putting engines into bicycles. Some of the earliest examples were steam-powered and were called velocipedes, while others had gasoline-fueled engines. Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and Nicolaus Otto are often credited with creating the first gasoline-powered motorcycle in 1885, although several companies started making motorized bicycles before then.
The popularity of motorcycles grew quickly, as they offered riders affordable and fast transport. Racing became a major industry and pushed mechanics, designers and riders to new heights of performance. Meanwhile, family-friendly models like the Honda Super Cub were selling in millions and establishing a global market for small, low-cc motorcycles that could nimbly navigate traffic and save on fuel costs.
As riders got more comfortable with their bikes, they started forming clubs and competitions, including groups for under-represented bikers like women and African Americans. The Internet opened up new channels for connection and collaboration between riders. Motovlogging and social media sites enable riders to share their passion for their motorcycles, while forums allow users to discuss topics ranging from maintenance to safety issues.