The Basics of Motorcycles
Motorcycles are a fun, economical and exciting way to get around. With proper safety gear and training, they can be just as safe as cars or trucks. But they do require a unique skill set and a different mindset to operate safely on the road.
A bike’s front wheel steers and handles through a fork that connects the handlebars to the frame via steel or aluminium fork tubes. The forks are also a pivot point for the suspension system, which uses hydraulic shock absorbers to cushion impacts from the road. The rear wheel doesn’t steer, so the body of the bike is held rigidly by a swingarm that has one or more shock absorbers to soak up impacts from the rear axle.
The first internal combustion, petroleum fueled motorcycle was created by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Germany in 1885. This early design was very similar to the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede of the 1800s and the boneshaker bicycles of the time, but differed in that it had zero degrees of steering axis angle.
Motorcycles today are more popular than ever before, as the economy continues to boom and new riders are looking for a cost-effective way to get around town. Many small-displacement bikes (like the Kawasaki Ninja 400, KTM Duke 200 or BMW G310GS) can be ridden with a lower-tier license and are a great option for new riders. Before every ride, it’s a good idea to conduct a pre-ride inspection that includes a visual check of tire health and air pressure, the condition of mirrors and signals, as well as a test of the clutch and throttle.