The Basics of Motorcycles


Motorcycles are two-wheeled vehicles that combine agility, maneuverability, and power to provide a thrilling ride experience. Motorcycles are used for transportation, sport (including racing), and a unique culture that promotes freedom and camaraderie. The culture around motorcycling is reflected in gatherings like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and in popular culture through biker films such as Easy Rider.

Motorcycle design varies widely to suit a variety of purposes. The basic components are engine, transmission, chassis, and brakes. The engine, typically a two- or four-stroke, provides power. The transmission, usually a chain or belt, converts this power to forward and rear-wheel motion. The chassis, often made of lightweight, high-strength materials, provides structural integrity and shapes the motorcycle’s appearance. The brakes, which may be disc or drum, control forward and rear-wheel motion and are usually controlled by levers mounted near the handgrips.

The term motorcycle can apply to any type of powered two-wheeled vehicle. However, for statistical and safety reasons it is generally regarded as being appropriate only for motorcycles and mopeds. This classification is a result of a concern that some motorcycles were being reported incorrectly as other types of two-wheeled vehicles in accident data to the Federal Highway Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

Although motorcycles have the potential to be exciting and thrilling, they also pose risks. As such, it is important that every rider understand and follow the rules of the road. For example, riders should always wear a helmet, and they should obey traffic signals, signs, speed limits, and lane markings. Also, it is important that riders always stay alert and look far enough ahead to see what other drivers are doing, as most multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles occur because other motorists fail to notice the motorcyclist.