Since their inception as a three-wheeled alternative to the motorized carriage in 1884, motorcycles have become not only the preferred method of transportation for millions but have also secured a place in culture and society as the perfect expression of freedom. The very word motorcycle evokes strong images, whether it be Peter Fonda’s Captain America cruising through desert highways, the death-defying jumps of Evel Knievel, or the spirit of rebellion made popular by Brando, motorcycles are more than just vehicles but rather a lifestyle choice. The long and storied history of motorcycles has had more than a few notable road signs and landmarks along the way to their current place in today’s culture and quite a number of interesting facts.
The Longest Mototcycle
The motorcycle is known for many things but being suitable for carpooling is not one of them. That is until Bharat Sinh Parmar of India decided to try his hand at manufacturing a motorcycle that could easily accommodate your entire family and friends while out for a Sunday ride. The custom bike measures a full 86 feet in length and has been recorded by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest motorcycle in the world. To receive that record, Parmar first needed to prove that his motorcycle was fully functioning and able to be ridden, so before the record book’s officials, Parmar took his bike for a spin, riding his way into the record books after traveling a complete distance of 328 feet. The motorcycle itself beat the previously held record by over 13 feet. The record though came as no surprise to Parmar, who holds a few world records for fabricating larger than life replicas of everyday items.
Motocross is One of the Most Physically Demanding Sports
Motocross has seen huge increases in popularity as events like the X-games thrust high flying jumps and speeding dirt bikes onto popular culture with their annual sports competitions. Though with a motor driven vehicle and the relative ease in which the riders propel themselves around the courses it can be easy to mistake the sport for lacking the same demand for athleticism necessary of other sports. That misconception couldn’t be further from the truth though, as motocross is easily one of the most physically demanding sports anyone can participate in. The duration of every race alone adds to the demand on riders bodies, riding a speeding bike through sharp turns and over dirt jumps just once is exhausting enough but having to do so continuously for over a half hour requires levels of endurance not readily displayed by other mainstream athletes. The physical exhaustion of having to maneuver a 200-pound motorcycle through sharp turns without crashing into embankments and other riders while maintaining top speed is enough to wear a person out but the added mental aspect of always needing to be aware of which gear to shift into, when to clutch, and speed necessary to fly over obstacles puts racers truly in a category of their own.
The Wild One Was Seen as Bad Publicity
Marlon Brando’s iconic and career-launching film, The Wild One, is synonymous with the motorcycle craze that swept through the United States after its release. Leading many teens with fantasies of emulating the main star’s look to seek out the famous Triumph Thunderbird 6T ridden by Brando’s character, Johnny Strabler. Though when initially released the company responsible for importing Triumph motorcycles into the US requested the logo be obscured or removed completely from any shots in the film. The company feared that an association with rebellious teens would hurt sales and cause irreparable damage to the public image of their motorcycles. The opposite would prove true as to this day Triumph’s Thunderbird 6T has gone on to become a sought-after classic by collectors and enthusiasts alike.
Interesting enough, the short story the film was based upon was written in response to an actual event that occurred in Hollister,Califonia. Though grossly exaggerated by local news outlets and fueled by staged photographs of drunken riders tearing through the small town’s streets, the event would be the spark for creating the rebellious image of leather-clad teens wreaking havoc on unsuspecting towns.