Motorcycles are two-wheeled machines of freedom that embody a sense of adventure, speed and maneuverability while offering a unique blend of practicality and style. But they also pose some risks, and riders must adopt a number of safety measures in order to protect themselves.
The first motorcycles likely consisted of bicycle-style vehicles powered by steam in the 1800s, including the Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede in Europe and Sylvester Roper’s steam cycle in Roxbury, MA. But it wasn’t until Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach and Nicolaus Otto developed the petroleum-powered Reitwagen that the motorcycle really came to be.
Among the most popular categories of motorcycles today are the custom/cruiser variants, which feature long low-slung frames, large V-twin engines and lashings of chrome plate and other high-end metal. These evoke an image of masculine power and rebellion, as evidenced by Marlon Brando’s role in the 1954 movie The Wild One and the continuing influence of outlaw biker culture throughout the decades that followed.
Whether you’re riding a Harley or a Honda, the key to safety is being alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. The biggest factor in most motorcycle accidents is other drivers failing to see the rider, so always ride defensively. Wear a good-quality helmet that fits well and check your bike’s lights before every ride, making sure nothing is leaking or cracked. Also, never operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as they impair judgment, coordination, balance and throttle control.