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Some people are under the assumption that dirt bikes were created by Honda but that actually might not be the case. Honda seemed to popularize and bring attention to the dirt bike back in the 50s but they were actually around much earlier than that.
The first dirt bike was created in around 1914 by a guy called Siegfried Bettmann. He was the first one to take the motorcycles that were already on the market and design them more for off-road use. They weren’t very popular until the 1950s when Honda started manufacturing and bring them to the Market.
There were a lot of motorcycles on the market at this time but they were only really used on paved roads. Once Honda started to make them and they started to gain traction, other companies that had been around for a long time like Yamaha and Suzuki started making their own.
The First Bikes With Motors
The first-ever motorcycle was created back in the 1860s in France and it was actually powered by steam and alcohol. It had a single-cylinder engine and was operated by a little hand level that would let more or less steam in. On top of that, the motorcycle actually didn’t even have brakes so it was a pretty crazy thing to ride.
There was also a motorcycle built in the late 1860s in Boston but nobody knows for sure the exact date of it. There was another motorcycle created in 1885 by a couple of Germans and it was the most advanced of the three and was closest to what we use to this day. It was the only one of the three that actually used a combustion engine.
The First Dirt Bikes
The early 1900s is when someone attempted to build the first dirt bike. Bettmann wanted to take what was already on the market and make a few small adjustments that would allow it to be more versatile and better for off-road use. What he ended up doing was he made the bike lower to the ground as well as some other small tweaks but it actually didn’t perform very well and that’s one of the reasons why it didn’t become very popular.
Modern Day Dirt Bikes
Between 1914 and the 1940s there really isn’t too much history on the evolution of dirt bikes but during the 1940s and 1950s is when they really started taking off. Most people credit the evolution of dirt bikes to Honda but it is pretty hard to tell just because they were becoming so popular and there were so many different companies actually building them. Let’s jump into the history of some of the most well-known dirt bike brands.
Honda played a really big role and modernizing a modern-day dirt bike. They had already been manufacturing motorcycles but wanted to make it a mainstream thing that everybody could do. That’s when they decided to take what they were already doing and make changes to make the bike more off-road friendly. They added a stronger suspension, bigger tires, and what came out of it is pretty much what you see today.
Yamaha is a company that has been around for a long and had been creating a bunch of random products that had nothing to do with motorcycles. They came up with their first motorcycle in the mid-1950s, which was a bit later than most of the other companies, but they’ve continued to work on them ever since and are now one of the top dirt bike brands on the planet.
Suzuki is another company that has been around for a while but didn’t start bringing dirt bikes to market until the early 1950s. They started creating motorcycles during the Second World War because people needed a smaller and lighter mode of transportation. Their first bike had a 36cc 2-stroke engine and it was pretty much just strapped to an old bike frame. In 1965 they created their first trail bike that came with an 80cc 2-stroke engine.
Kawasaki had been an aircraft manufacturer during both world wars and it wasn’t until 1949 that they created their first motorcycle. It wasn’t until 1963 that they created their first dirt bike which had a 125CC engine. They’ve continued to make motorcycles to this day as well as other motorized vehicles and one of the top manufacturers in the world.
KTM didn’t really start gaining popularity until not that long ago. They started selling motorcycles after the war because they were cheaper than cars and it wasn’t until the 1970s that they actually started gaining in popularity. Ever since then, they’ve been working on their bikes and is now considered one of the more high-end bikes on the market.
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