Riding a motorcycle is one of the most liberating experiences in the world because it’s just you against the wind on a clear highway. And if you’re looking to find out more about bikes, our recent post is full of interesting things, including the fact that the famous Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, Yamaha, started out as a company selling pianos.
Riding a motorcycle doesn’t necessarily make you a cool guy but it does put you on an exclusive list of the “bad boys” and opens new doors for you. You might not be riding alongside Hell’s Angels members just yet but you will still be able to commute faster and travel lighter if you own a good motorbike.
There are a million reasons why you should swap your old car for a two-wheeler but if you’re not ready to change your lifestyle, you might as well stick to your boring minivan or sedan. For those of you who are truly passionate about fast engines and all-leather ensembles, here are the most interesting facts you might not know about motorcycles.
Motorcycles have only been around for a little over a century but some of the most popular manufacturers in the world have a long history. For instance, Yamaha was founded in 1887 and started as a piano manufacturer.
Today, the Japanese conglomerate remains a widely-known musical instrument producer but, apart from that, it has diversified its business to include anything from car engines, boats, industrial robots, swimming pools, golf carts, electronics, motorcycles, and even RVs. Honda, Yamaha, and Hero MotoCorp are the three leading motorcycle manufacturers in the world.
Similarly, Suzuki originally began as being part of the silk industry in the early years of the 20th century. It released its first motorcycle in 1952 and, since then, has also entered the manufacturing industries of cars, wheelchairs, marine engines, and trucks.
Kawasaki, the third most important Japanese motorcycle manufacturer is also known for making personal watercraft, electronics, trains, tractors, construction equipment, and even space rockets, missiles, and helicopters.
Another example is the Ducati company. The family-owned business opened its gates in 1935 in Bologna, Italy, and was known for making radio parts. It wasn’t until years later that it entered the motorcycle manufacturing business and became one of the leading brands worldwide.
Those who own a motorcycle require plenty of anti-theft systems and alarms as these vehicles look more appealing to thieves due to their small dimensions and lightweight constructions.
According to official records, the riskiest months for motorcycle theft are July, August, and September, which comes as no surprise since these are the main months of the year when bikers can enjoy longer journeys on their two-wheeler.
December, February, and March are considered the months when the least motorbikes are stolen, mainly because they are well-locked in garages and storage units, waiting for the next season.
Unfortunately, less than a third of the total number of stolen motorcycles are recovered, as opposed to approximately 60% of the cars. Thus, we recommend adding tracking devices and alarms to keep your bike safe, especially if we’re talking about an expensive model.
Believe it or not, of the top motorcycle brands in the world, Hondas were the most stolen in the United States. Harley Davidson bikes ranked five on the list.
Modern bikes and rubber
Modern motorcycles don’t contain any real rubber in them. Instead, synthetic rubber is used because it represents a better compromise for traction and durability.
Popular TV shows
Throughout the years, motorcycles have inspired dozens of TV shows and movies. One popular TV cop series from the 1970s, named CHIPS, was one of them. What is interesting about this series is that the leading actor, Erik Estrada, didn’t have an existing motorcycle license during the shootings. He only had an 8-week intensive course on how to ride bikes.
“Sons of Anarchy” is probably the most famous TV show involving motorcycles, airing between 2008 and 2014. In the making of the series, the producer was inspired by the infamous Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which now counts for over 2,000 members worldwide, and has branches in various countries.
The California-based charter was considered a criminal organization due to its close ties to drug cartels and weapons traffickers in the United States.
Thanks to the TV show’s success, the producers called for a spin-off which was launched in 2018 and follows the lives of another famous motorcycle club, near the Mexican border.
In real life, most of the original cast from SoA, including star Charlie Hunnam (Jax) are really fond of their motorcycles, with many opting for the iconic American brand, Harley-Davidson. In fact, the actor who portrays Happy, David Labrava, took his passion for motorcycles even further, becoming a real-life member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club even before being starred in the TV show.
Celebrities and bikes
Many celebrities are motorbike enthusiasts, with some even starting their own businesses. ARCH Motorcycles, the company formed by Hollywood A-list celebrity Keanu Reeves claims to create “custom production motorcycles with a unique blend of performance, customization, and attention to detail”. Their products are ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing, with most of the parts being made locally, in California.
Other famous people who love riding fast and powerful motorcycles include Steve Tyler, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Bob Dylan, George Clooney, Pink, and Ewan McGregor.
Malcolm Forbes, the founder of the famous Forbes Magazine, owned no less than 50 Harley-Davidson motorbikes.
However, bikes are not amongst the preferred means of transportation for some actors, even though they had close contact with them for years. Ron Perlman, the famous actor behind the iconic character of Clay Morrow in FX Networks’ show “Sons of Anarchy” claims he never really enjoyed riding a motorcycle.
Most motorcycles are still powered by gas while the second most popular option counts for electric vehicles. Although the latter still have a long way until they reach the speed and autonomy of gas-fueled two-wheelers, they represent a better choice for the environment, reducing pollution.
But did you know that there are other types of fuels? Japanese scientists created a motorcycle that is powered by human waste, named Toilet Bike Neo. The prototype was created by a high-end toilet manufacturer, Toto, and promises to deliver a total autonomy of up to 300 km.
The bad part is that you have to fuel it yourself with human waste to be able to use it further, and we’re still concerned about some hygiene aspects.
Motorcycles have increased in popularity in the past decade because of the bad traffic suffocating big cities. With millions of cars and not enough parking spots, it comes as no surprise that more people are opting for a bike instead of a regular four-wheeler. Up to eight motorcycles can be parked in a single parking spot dedicated to cars.
Motorcycles can also serve various purposes. Based on your choice and needs, you can opt for one designed for long-distance travel, racing, commuting, and even off-road experiences. According to official data, commuting with a motorcycle instead of a regular car takes up to 30% less time daily. Not to mention the cool factor.
It took motorcycles around a century to look the way they do in our days. The initial phase of motorcycle manufacturing imposed the installation of a motor on an existing bike, hence the name.
After they spent years perfecting the concept, manufacturers came up with bulkier prototypes of vehicles that hardly resemble a bicycle anymore. The engines became bigger and faster, while the frames are sturdier and bulkier.
Bikers and fashion
The fashion industry for bikers has evolved in the past decades to become more inclusive and luxurious. Nowadays, the famous American manufacturer, Harley-Davidson, gains up to 40% of its annual profits from selling bike accessories, including clothes, shoes, and brand helmets.
In 2016, the French luxury fashion house Givenchy released the most expensive motorcycle jacket on the market. The women’s Hooded Biker Jacket was listed at $9,100 and was made of lambskin and lamb fur.
Another fashionable item from the 2019’s Fall/Winter collection of Moschino, named the Mythological Creatures Leather Biker jacket, is currently on sale for $5,695. The product is made of 100% sheepskin and is considered one of the priciest jackets designed for motorcycle enthusiasts.