Motorcycles are two-wheeled motor vehicles steered by handlebars from a saddle-style seat. They use an internal combustion engine to propel themselves. Many inventors put engines on bicycles, and the first motorcycles were steam-powered or had gasoline engines. Many of these early inventors then went on to develop automobiles.
Today, motorcycles are mostly powered by internal combustion. A wide variety of types and models are produced. They are commonly used as a form of transportation, especially in poor countries where cars are not affordable. In developed countries, they are often used for recreation or sport.
There are a number of factors that affect the riding experience of a motorcycle. Some are related to performance, while others are more about the rider. For example, an aerodynamic windshield or fairing reduces drag by separating the rider from the airflow. The rider’s position on the bike also has a significant effect.
In addition, a tyre’s contact patch with the road influences handling, acceleration, and braking. A short wheelbase contributes to agility, while a longer one increases stability and comfort. A high centre of gravity increases the load on the front wheel and can cause the rider to lose control under some conditions.
A motorcycle’s engine can generate enough torque at the rear wheel to lift it off the road or, if performed on purpose, stop it (a wheelie). The ridership of motorcycles has long been associated with subcultures, such as the cafe racers in 1950s Britain and the mods and rockers in the 1960s.