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1960s Honda CB350

A Visual History of Motorcycle Design

Like most modern inventions, the development and history of the motorcycle has come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Although the basic design remains the same, its appearances, function and the way it’s used has changed dramatically. To indicate this development in this blog post, we look at a brief visual history of motorcycle design.

Let’s start with the 1890s…

Butler Petro Cycle

The Butler Petrol Cycle was built by Edward Bulter in the UK, and was the first design to be shown at the 1885 International Inventions Exhibition in London.

In 1894 the Hildebrand and Wolfmuller was the first design to be called a ‘motorcycle,’ and although only a few hundred were ever built, it can be classed at the world’s first commercially available motorcycle.

Hildebrand and Wolfmuller Motorcycle

Next up: Take a walk through the 1920s and 1930s and first world war motorcycles.


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  1. “Japanese makers such as Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha put together modern designs that became best sellers around the world.”
    How can that sentence NOT include the name Honda? (I know there are two pictures of Honda’s, but to not include them in the text is a slight.)
    What IS that title-page model, by the way? Looks suspiciously like the 2nd ride I ever bought new…a CB160.

  2. crazy to see the evolution of the motorcycle. The bikes from the 20’s are pretty impressive for that time.

  3. Bike service center @Southwestcycle

    It is called perfect evolution, from 18’s to till date there are many changes in the motorcycle design , engine and in many things.

  4. Chop Shop Customs

    Loved seeing the time line. Thanks for putting the post together and sharing!

  5. It’s amazing to see where we came from and exciting to see where we are going! Thanks for posting these photos and article! I found it interesting and informative!

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