For many motorcycle riders, the classic bikes will always be the best – there is even a Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, which celebrates some of history's most iconic motorcycles. But innovation in motorcycle design has not stood still, and today's motorcycles consistently use technology and performance improvements. Here's a brief look at some of the great advances over the last 100 plus years, and a glimpse of what's next.
Earlier Progress (1916 to 1980s)
While Various Bicycles Have Been Found Since the late 19th century, many of the important security and performance features have been added in the last 1
In the early 1900s, motorcycles only had brakes on the rear wheel. In the mid to late 1920s, as motorcycles got faster and more powerful, additional stopping power became more prioritized. According to the National Highway Transport Safety Association (NHTSA), Harley-Davidson was the first motorcycle manufacturer to present wheel brakes in 1928.
Prior to 1972, there were no federally authorized standards for motorcycle inspection, according to the NHTSA. Manufacturers designed motorcycles with clutches, brakes, swing signals and other controls that can be placed in different locations. Since 1972, federal rules have determined where to place motorcycle controls, making it easier and safer for riders to switch from one motorcycle to another.
Fuel Injection System
American cars began using fuel injection systems in the 1950s, according to Petersen Automotive Museum. It took much longer for electronic fuel injection technology to be used in motorcycles, which continued to rely on traditional carburetors. At the beginning of the 1980s, the prospect of faster emission regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency led motorcycle manufacturers to turn to fuel injection systems, which use sensors to ensure that fuel is burned more efficiently, according to RideApart.com.
Antilock Braking Systems (ABS)
NHTSA explains that ABS braking systems (ABS) automatically control brakes to prevent the wheels from unlocking during sudden braking. RideApart.com says that ABS technology was applied to bicycles in the late 1980s – not long after it was developed in cars. A recent development in motorcycle technology is the "swing ABS", an ABS type that BMW made available on production bikes in 2014, which helps prevent wheels from locking even when brakes are applied quickly during turns on corners, says Motorbike Writer.
Latest advances (1990s to today)
Motorcycle tires can have uneven wear, according to Rider Magazine. Since most bikes spend more time traveling straight, the center of the tire usually has faster than the shoulders. Tighter tires are generally longer, but cannot give as good grip as they are twisted.
Composite 1994 by Michelin for use on its racing motorcycles, combines double tire tire rubber in the middle of the tire, which improves durability and tire life, with softer rubber on the shoulders that normally grip the corners, according to Ultimate Motorcycling.
The introduction of airbags for cars was an important safety development. But creating an airbag for a motorcycle presents some obvious challenges. Motorbike Writer explains motorcycle airbags are evolving, but the technology has not spread much. Motorcycle and safety equipment manufacturers work on vests worn by the rider, who use sensors to use a portable personal airbag in a collision. Airbags are now being used by professional motorcycle bikes, says RideApart.com, but these techniques have not yet been widely adopted by your average motorcyclist.
Traction Control is another relatively new safety novelty for motorcycles that can provide some extra protection against skiing. Using the sensors in a motorcycle ABS, a motorcycle's traction control measures the speed at which the two wheels spin, says RideApart.com. If the two wheels are driven at significantly different speeds, the traction control reduces the power of the rear wheel (which is likely to lose traction as it is driven by the engine), which helps to improve the stability of the rider.
Dynamic brake lights  Dynamic brake lights are intended to indicate how difficult a motorcycle brakes by using a two-stage brake light system according to Motorcyclist. In many dynamic brake light systems, a set of lamps is put on during normal braking, while another set is turned on when the cycle approaches the downtime or the rider suddenly brakes hard. This gives a further warning to subsequent vehicles that the motorcycle is lowered very quickly and / or comes to a complete stop.
Missing the spokes we normally associate with motorcycle wheels, hub-free wheel appearance faithful. Jalopnik explains that instead of spokes, hubless wheels have a rigid inner ring attached to the rotating part of the wheel. It's not all to show, either – the benefits of hubless wheels include reduced stress on the motorcycle's structure, improved steering accuracy and less vibration, so they can catch more, according to Jalopnik.
Hybrid and electric bicycles
As environmentally friendly cars are becoming increasingly common, Digital Trends notes that there are only a number of electric motorcycles at this time, and several major manufacturers are working on designing electric bicycles. Hybrid bikes, which combine the use of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, are also in development, Cycle World notes. Although there are some of these eco-friendly motorcycles that are currently available, it is just a matter of time before hybrid and electric models become more common.
The reason is that motorcycles are constantly evolving, just as they have in the last century. New technology and creative technology have helped improve both the motorcycle's safety and performance, and will continue to do so in the future. It will be exciting to see what the next big thing can be.
Originally published May 3, 2016.