What Are Motorcycles?


Motorcycles are powered by internal-combustion engines that burn gasoline. They use two tires attached to the front and rear of their steel frames and have a handlebar and cushioned seat for the rider. The engine turns the reciprocating motion of its pistons into rotary motion that spins the rear wheel, propelling the bike forward. The driver controls the bike by using a pair of hand levers to operate the clutch and throttle. The rider also leans the bike to turn it and uses a foot pedal to control the brakes.

There are many types of motorcycles, ranging from small, low-powered designs to large machines built for highway riding and hauling lots of cargo. The largest models have big engines that generate plenty of peak horsepower to get them up to highway speeds and handle the extra weight of gear and passengers. These larger bikes are called baggers, and they are generally not the best choice for first-time riders.

The smallest designs, commonly known as mopeds, have small, usually air-cooled engines that provide only enough power to keep the bike moving under slow speed conditions. They are typically not permitted on public roads without a special permit.

As you might imagine, the motorcycle industry has had quite a few twists and turns over the years. The 2020s have been especially tumultuous, with companies struggling at times to even stay solvent and others experiencing brisk double-digit growth.