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MOTORCYCLE
In 1884 an Englishman named Edward Butler attached a motor to a tricycle. The following year Gottlieb Daimler in Germany put a small internal-combustion engine on a bicycle. These two vehicles were the first motorcycles. Today the motorcycle is one of the most widely used vehicles for recreation, transportation, and racing.

In the late 20th century the word motorcycle is used to describe a variety of two- or three-wheeled motorized vehicles, including minibikes, mopeds, and motor scooters. Some of these are smaller than bicycles. The scooter, which has been extremely popular in Italy, has wheels from 8 to 14 inches (20 to 36 centimeters) in diameter. Among the larger motorcycles are the three-wheeled vehicles used by many police departments. They carry equipment in a trunk mounted between the two rear wheels.

The motors are usually air-cooled internal- combustion engines ranging from 25 to 4,500 cubic centimeters (1 1/2 to 275 cubic inches) in displacement-- the volume within a cylinder being displaced by the range of motion of a piston (see Internal-Combustion Engine). The larger the displacement, the greater the power. In Europe engines are rated by volumetric displacement, while in the United States they are rated by horsepower. A displacement of 100 cubic centimeters (6 cubic inches) equals approximately 5 to 10 horsepower. The smaller engines are one cylinder, while the larger motorcycles have multiple-cylinder engines. The fuel in some motorcycles is a mixture of oil and gasoline, while others use only gasoline.

The transmission is normally through chain or gearing between the engine and the two- to six-speed gearbox and then by chain, shaft, or belt to the rear-wheel sprocket. Controls on handlebar grips govern the throttle action and often the front-brake system. Rear-wheel brakes are normally operated by a foot pedal.

Motorcycles such as those manufactured by Harley-Davidson in the United States and by Honda in various countries have much of the same standard equipment as automobiles--gas tank, battery, spark plugs, muffler, generator, shock absorbers, oil pump, and turn signals, among others. The much smaller mopeds are far more compact and carry little more equipment than a motor and a small fuel tank.

Motorcycle Racing
Motorcycle racing began in 1897 on a track in Richmond, Surrey, England. Although many early events were informal road races or city-to-city, most racing today is closed circuit--it takes place on confined tracks.

Flat-track racing is done on oval dirt tracks from 1/2 to 1 mile (0.8 to 1.6 kilometers) in length. Motorcycles used in such racing have an engine displacement of up to 750 cubic centimeters (45 3/4 cubic inches). Short-track racing is done on ovals of less than 1/2 mile (0.8 kilometer) in length, and the motorcycles have a maximum displacement of 360 cubic centimeters (22 cubic inches). Some short track racing is done in indoor arenas.


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