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Why Do Motorcycle Parts Look Like That?

Did you ever wonder why motorcycle parts evolved the way they have? Our Procycles BMW, KTM, Triumph, and Suzuki Motorcycles all have crossbars and frames supporting their engines, front and rear forks attached to their wheels, and handlebars.

Perhaps you think we asked a silly question in the first place. You may be thinking the design of motorcycle parts is so obvious they were always like that. Well, although that may be true, the history of motorbikes and motorcycle parts was a gradual evolution.

How Motorcycle Parts and Designs Evolved Since 1867

Our story begins in 1867, when a Paris blacksmith fitted a small steam engine to a velocipede bicycle. The main motorcycle parts of this strange contraption were a seat, a frame attached to a small wheel at the front, and a large one at the back, plus the steam engine attached to the handlebar. In 1868, an American fitted a two-cylinder steam engine inside a bicycle frame under the seat.

In 1885, Germans Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach produced a wooden bicycle with a petrol engine. The front forks were vertical and it needed outrigger wheels so it did not fall over on bends. The first commercial motorcycle with angled steering axis and offset forks took ten more years to materialise.

The First Motorbikes for Sale with ‘Modern’ Motorcycle Parts

By the start of World War 1, Excelsior, Royal Enfield, BSA, Matchless, Norton, Triumph, Indian, and FN were churning out motorbikes with petrol tanks attached to crossbar, mudguards on wheels and all the other motorcycle parts on the new and used motorcycles we sell today. This is not to say the designs have not changed, however from then on the design principles were in place.

Motorbikes continued to evolve though both World Wars. Signature curved petrol tanks adorned with iconic badges became their trademarks. The suspension remained primitive with nothing at the back, and only wind-up springs at the front. About the only positive thing to emerge at the end of World War 2 was shock absorbing suspension.

The Short-Lived Rule of Classic British Bikes 

British brands like Ariel, AJS, BSA, Matchless, Norton, and Triumph flourished through the 1960’s. The designs looked good, although the engines dated back forty years. There was no real competition. Europe and Asia were too busy rebuilding their economies.

At the end of the classic period the design of motorcycle parts settled down and never really changed. The positions of seats and tanks are still the same. The exhausts continue to sweep back from the front of the engine, and the gearboxes are still behind the motors. Motorcycles parts are where they are because it is the obvious, practical solution.

Join Us for a Test Ride at a Procycles Showroom

When you visit a Procycles Showroom to view our collection of Triumph, KTM, Suzuki, and BMW motorbikes, and perhaps take a demo ride, spare a thought for the pioneers. Think of the people who influenced the final position of motorcycle parts. Remember the brave young man who rode the velocipede with the steam engine between his legs.