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August 29, 1885 – The first motorcylce?

On this day in 1885, what is often referred to as the first motorcycle, is patented by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. The Daimler Reitwagen, as it is known, is rather controversial, as some do not believe it is actually the first motorcycle. Rightfully so, however, as at least two documented creations had been built prior, each of which featured motorcycle like characteristics.

The Montrice Pia, a child’s tricycle had been fitted with an internal combustion engine in 1882 by Enrico Bernardi. It has also been considered the forerunner of the modern motorcycle and is often acknowledged as the first successful internal combustion powered vehicle ever. Another challenger to the first motorcycle claim is the  Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede. 

Above: Blueprints of the Daimler Reitwagen. Top: Replica of the Daimler Reitwagen. By Wladyslaw, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The Daimler Reitwagen initially featured a wood beam frame, rear drum brakes, no front brakes and a 264 cc four stroke, single cylinder engine with a single speed transmission and no suspension. It also had auxiliary stabilizers, similar to training wheels on children’s bikes. Over the next few years it received updates to its mechanicals. The original bike was destroyed in a  fire in 1903, but several replicas exist. Pics:Daimler Reitwagen replica at Mercedes Benz museumPlans for the Reitwagen

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