The first thing that comes to your mind( or rather anybody’s mind) when it come to Motor cycles are mean machines trying to rev hard where ever possible but very few people realize that this has been a wonderful creation by man and a giant leap in the history of mankind.


THE EMERGENCE OF MOTORCYCLES
In order to discuss the present day scenario, we need to know few bits and pieces of Motorcycling History. Present day Motor cycles are descendents of the cycles, was even termed as the “ safest” cycles by few Automobile historians. The inspiration for the earliest dirt bike, and arguably the first motorcycle, was designed and built by the German inventors Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Bad Cannstatt (since 1905 a city district of Stuttgart) in 1885. The first petroleum-powered vehicle, it was essentially a motorized bicycle, although the inventors called their invention the Reitwagen ("riding carriage"). They had not set out to create a vehicle form but to build a simple carriage for the engine, which was the focus of their endeavors.
However, if one counts two wheels with steam propulsion as being a motorcycle, then the first one may have been American. One such machine was demonstrated at fairs and circuses in the eastern United States in 1867, built by Sylvester Howard Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts.[1] There exists an example of a Roper machine dating from 1869, but there is no patent existing and nothing proves it was a working model. It was powered by a charcoal-fired two-cylinder engine, whose connecting rods directly drive a crank on the rear wheel.


THE NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT
By early 1900 the World War had its greater impact on the science and technology sector with every country pouring in millions of dollars towards development of bigger and meaner machines. Once they found out that when this big machines could not be useful in difficult terrains, they were restricted to use smaller machines to ferry men and ammunition. That is when Companies like the ROYAL ENFIELD,TRIUMPH and HARLEY DAVIDSON came into picture.
In 1901 English quadricycle and bicycle maker Royal Enfield introduced its first motorcycle, with a 239 cc engine mounted in the front and driving the rear wheel through a belt. In 1898, English bicycle maker Triumph decided to extend its focus to include motorcycles, and by 1902, the company had produced its first motorcycle—a bicycle fitted with a Belgian-built engine. In 1903, as Triumph's motorcycle sales topped 500, the American company Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles.This period was very critical in the development of motorcycles. The demand for such machines to be used in wars shot up to an all time high. There were around 80 different motorcycle manufacturers in Britain alone during the late 1920’s and early 30’s. One of the greatest innovations were the 125cc motor cycles manufactured by Royal Enfield which could be dropped by a fast flying aircraft to the ground using a parachute fitted tube cage. BY now the automobile companies started catering not only to the armed forces but also civilian population.


MOTORCYCE FOR THE COMMON MAN
The motorcycle market was timed spot on for the baby boomer generation. In 1944-46, servicemen (and women) were returning from World War II and has a thirst for life and living and wanted to do more than settle down. Motorcycles were popular in WWII and people wanted to try them, and they did and they sold in good numbers. But it was not untill the 1960's when their kids grew up that motorcycling took off like a rocket. 1962 argueably the most famous and successful motorcycle campaign was launched on earth from Honda and it changed everything. The “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” ads took North America by storm! In just 3 years (1965), the number of registered motorcycle doubled, 5 years later (1970) doubled again, and 5 more years in 1975 doubled again! From 646,000 to 5 million in just over 10 years, thank you Honda!
So to fully understand the BUST you need to understand the BOOM. For argument sake the average motorcycle buyer in 1962 was 16-18 years old, they were happy with the cheap 50-450cc motorcycles of the time. Roads were being expanded on a massive scale across the world as years propressed. They gained riding experience and wanted to go faster and futher than the small bikes would let them. So they moved up to larger motorcycles as they grew older such as the 1969 Honda CB750K (750cc) and thus sales increased again. As the 1970's were here, even larger and more specialized motorcycles were produced and again they bought. Standard motorcycled ruled the earth.


MOTORCYCLING AS A SPORT 
With the competition for building faster, stronger and reliable machines, lead to a new clan of motorcycle enthusiasts, developing a new sport of “Motorcycle Racing”. Post World War II, it gained immense popularity among the American crowd. On the other hand European companies concentrated on economical, reliable and practical means of two wheeler transportation. The term used for such sports was “Rallying”. A road rally is a navigation event on public roads whereby competitors must visit a number of checkpoints in diverse geographical locations while still obeying road traffic laws .The sport gained more forms over a passage of time, which are more evident to this present day.
In a other part of the world, just recovering from the fury of Atomic explosions, made its mark on the two wheeler arena. Japanese automobile manufacturer, HONDA,Yamaha and Kawasaki made a dominant entry against the European and American rivals. The concept of making powerful machines with a lower cost was an immediate success. The Japanese manufacturers became a house hold name around the world.


THE DECLINE AND ASCENT OF MOTORCYCLESUnfortunately, as the 1970's grew to a close the motorcycle industry was suffering as sales dropped drastically. Those 16-18 year olds in 1962 were now wanting to start families, settle down and raise their own kids. Their spirit of adventure was put on the back burner. They stopped buying and Motorcycle manufacturers started to panic. Motorcycle magazines from the time (1979-1983) and manufacturers didn't know the cause (we do today) and it was spelling DOOM for the motorcycle industry. The manufacturers even tried new designs such as the Cruiser, Tourer and Sport Bike, but few were listening. New motorcycles sat on the sales floor for years, dealerships didn't want to order more because they couldn't sell what they had already (even with very steep discounts). The manufacturers needed to sell what they had too many of and discounted new motorcyles lower than the previous year(s) models. It was bad...
That is why it is hard to find a good used 1980-1988 motorcycle.


THE DARK SIDE OF MOTORCYCLING
With the Harleys, Hondas, Yamahas etc …. Ruling the motorcycle arena was a great contribution to criminal activities. Brands like Harley(mainly in the US) and Yamaha(of the RD fame here in India) became synonymous with criminal activities. There were a lot of incidents like drug trafficking, Robbery, Murders and the like involving motorcycles. The law enforcement agencies had a tough time tracking these Biker gangs. There came a stage where many biking groups were termed as an anti social group.


THE PRESENT DAY MOTORCYCYCLISTS AND MOTORCYCLE.
Motorcycles and motorcyclists have come a long way. The present day motorcyclists, more knowledgeable, more responsible sees motorcycles more than just a mode of transportation. Also, the manufacturers have started analyzing the customers priorities and preferences which would help them design the vehicle accordingly. The motorcycle arena worldwide has been instrumental in breaking the socio economic barriers worldwide.Now we have Doctors,engineers,Teachers,Artists who share their passion for motorcycling, unlike the criminal biking gangs of yesteryears.


THE FUTURE
With the decline in availability of conventional fuel, manufacturers are looking out for alternative sources like bio fuel, solar powered, Electricity etc….But the widespread usage of such inputs might be a distant future, though developments are on the way. The near future can witness motorcycle operating on a hybrid system. With the present scene, it would be very difficult to imagine how would be scene around 20years from now.


With factual inputs from
Wikipedia
www.totalmotorcycle.com