The motorbike, one of the symbols of freedom, has been fascinating many people for decades. It does so without distinction between the young and the ‘seasoned’, the rich and the poor, and knows no ethnic or geographical boundaries. On the contrary, the motorbike has often been, and still is, a way of breaking down borders and making new friends.
Who among us has never found himself talking to perfect strangers just because they were riding a motorbike, and exchanged experiences, opinions and told each other about their adventures with the feeling that they have known each other for a long time?
So let’s go and see how this strange thing came into being!
As always, when it comes to history, it is difficult to say exactly what the truth is, as there are different versions of the same story. So let’s try to simply rely on chronological order. The first sign of something similar to a motorbike takes us to France, in 1869, where engineer Louis-Guillaume Perreaux added a single-cylinder steam engine to the Michaux velocipede and inserted an alcohol burner under the seat. Thanks to two drive belts, the so-called ‘Vélocipede à Grande Vitesse’ reached a speed of no less than 16 km/h. Louis-Guillaume continued to perfect his invention until 1885.
Meanwhile in Italy, in 1879, Ing. Murnigotti, originally from Martinengo in the province of Bergamo, submitted his new invention to the patent office: the two-stroke gas combustion motorbike. This was only a draft because no prototype had ever been built, only a model that was then entrusted to the Museum of Science and Technology in Milan.
And now we move on to Germany, where the decisive contribution to the development of this magnificent vehicle came from: in fact, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach, two German inventors, connected an internal combustion engine to a wooden bicycle for the first time. The result was a rather difficult vehicle to ride, the engine was heavy and therefore it was extremely tiring to maintain balance. For this reason, the first ‘motorbikes’, if we want to call them that, mounted two additional wheels, as small as those used on children’s bicycles.
Finally, we must also mention the origins of the motorbike in the United States.
Here we find Edward Joel Pennington, originally from Indiana, who built the first two prototype motorbikes in 1895, but, unable to find local investors, took the project to England the following year, and he was not particularly successful. The design of the model was very primitive and many wondered whether such a vehicle could even run on the road. In fact, Pennington abandoned the project to devote himself to creating a car bearing his name, but again this did not end very well, with some orders (and payments) collected, but cars never produced and delivered.
Staying in England, however, we find the oldest motorbike manufacturer, Royal Enfield, a historic company that has been making bikes since 1886. Just think that Royal Enfield produced its first motorbike models as early as 1901, beating out the likes of Harley and Davidson who only came to serve the US market two years later.
As we know, the two manufacturers had very different paths, with H&D becoming a worldwide myth. But Royal Enfield also remained known for its simple, old-fashioned motorbikes at very affordable prices, with the first market in India where the bikes are particularly popular and where the company has a market share of almost 8%.
In short, we are grateful to the various inventors for their contributions. It is obviously thanks to them that we can ride the wonderful vehicle called a motorbike today. Whether it is a road, enduro, motocross or travel motorbike, it is still a vehicle that gives us the joy and sense of adventure.
However, in this historical excursus we cannot miss to thank another character! We are talking about Luciano di Lello, the shoemaker from Abruzzo who created ballet shoes for the Opera House in Paris. Luciano, in fact, invented the helmet and even though the invention had to do with a tragic event, the death of his son in a car accident, Luciano managed to save many lives with his idea.
Today, we can’t even imagine riding a motorbike without a helmet and other protective gear, although it is true that here in Croatia, and especially in the countryside, you can still find elderly farmers riding their mopeds without proper clothing and, of course, without a helmet.
We at Enduro Experience Croatia, as you know, love all motorbikes, but we are particularly fond of enduro riding and we don’t go out without proper protection even in summer.
So we are waiting for you to take a ride with us. And if you should forget Luciano’s invention or some other protection, know that we have a large stock of all pieces and all sizes that we will be happy to provide you with so that you can ride safely.
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