A motorcycle is a two or three-wheeled motor vehicle. Design varies greatly to suit a range of different purposes: long distance travel, commuting, cruising, sport including racing, and off-road riding. Motorcycling is riding and related social activity such as joining a club and attending rallies.
In 1894, Hildebrand & Wolfmuller became the first series production, and the first to be called a motorcycle.
In developing countries, they are overwhelmingly utilitarian due to lower prices and greater fuel economy. Of all the models in the world, 58% are in the Asia-Pacific and Southern and Eastern Asia regions, excluding car-centric Japan.
According to the United States Department of Transportation the number of fatalities per vehicle mile traveled was 37 times higher for bikes than for cars.
There are three major types of bikes: street, off-road, and dual purpose. Within these types, there are many sub-types for different purposes. There is often a racing counterpart to each type, such as road racing and street bikes, or motocross and dirt bikes.
Street bikes include cruisers, sportbikes, scooters and mopeds, and many other types. Off-road bikes include many types designed for dirt-oriented racing classes such as motocross and are not street legal in most areas. Dual purpose machines like the dual-sport style are made to go off-road but include features to make them legal and comfortable on the street as well.
Each configuration offers either specialised advantage or broad capability, and each design creates a different riding posture.
Different types of motorcycles have different dynamics and these play a role in how it performs in given conditions. For example, one with a longer wheelbase provides the feeling of more stability by responding less to disturbances. Bike tires have a large influence over handling.
They must be leaned in order to make turns. This lean is induced by the method known as countersteering, in which the rider momentarily steers the handlebars in the direction opposite of the desired turn. This practice is counterintuitive and therefore often confusing to novices and even many experienced riders.
Motorcycle construction is the engineering, manufacturing, and assembly of components and systems for a bikes which results in the performance, cost, and aesthetics desired by the designer. With some exceptions, construction of modern mass-produced bikes has standardised on a steel or aluminium frame, telescopic forks holding the front wheel, and disc brakes. Some other body parts, designed for either aesthetic or performance reasons may be added. A petrol powered engine typically consisting of between one and four cylinders (and less commonly, up to eight cylinders) coupled to a manual five or six-speed sequential transmission drives the swingarm-mounted rear wheel by a chain, driveshaft or belt.