Be the life of the party at your next motorcycle gathering with these 50 motorcycle facts that explore the last 100 years of motorcycling. Learn how motorcycle companies started, about new laws that sound ludicrous, and motorcycle trivia on your favorite movies. We bet there are a few that can stump the best motorcycle historians out there. So what are you waiting for? Let’s test your knowledge and see how many of these fun facts about motorcycles you know!
- In 1887, Yamaha started as a piano manufacturer, but today is a multinational conglomerate that still produces musical instruments. In addition, they have added boats, car engines, swimming pools, industrial robots, wheelchairs, RVs, electronics, golf carts, and motorcycles. Shop for OEM Yamaha motorcycle parts.
- Dipayan Choudhury set the record for the longest-ever backward motorcycle ride in Jabalpur, India, on October 7, 2014, lasting 125.52 miles (202 kilometers).
3. Legend has it that the origin of the term “hog,” when referring to a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, was from the early part of the 1900s Harley’s racing team, the Wrecking Crew. They had a small pig as a mascot, and one of the riders would do victory laps with the pig sitting on the bike’s gas tank. In later years, HOG became the official acronym of the Harley Owners Group and is the trading symbol of Harley-Davidson on the New York Stock Exchange.
4. Recognized worldwide as a motorcycle helmet manufacturing leader, Arai Helmets started as a hat-making company in Japan in 1926, making gear for the construction industry. Company founder Hirotake Arai was once a motorcycle stunt rider, and the company is still privately owned today and run by the Arai family. Shop for Arai helmets.
6. 61% of the female motorcyclists who died in crashes in 2020 were passengers. Their deaths represented 92% of the passenger deaths. Male motorcycle riders who died predominately were drivers. Shop for motorcycle safety gear.
7. Engine sizes of motorcycles whose drivers died in crashes have gone up dramatically. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2020, 94% drove motorcycles with engine sizes larger than 1,400cc, compared with 9 percent in 2000 and less than 1 percent in 1990.
8. The Isle of Man TT is a high-speed motorcycle race, held on closed public roads.. The 37.73-mile Mountain Course serves as the venue for the IOMTT, which was first established in 1907 and was formerly known as the Tourist Trophy.
9. In the 1970s TV police series CHiPS, actor Erik Estrada suffered a severe motorcycle accident while filming an episode. Until he recovered, he shot his scenes from his hospital bed.
10. Did you know that modern sport bike tires don’t contain any natural rubber? A tire’s tread is made of synthetic rubber, blended to provide a balance between durability and traction. Shop for motorcycle tires.
11. Motorcyclists in Indiana only have to stop at a red stop light for 120 seconds (2 minutes). They can treat the stop light as if it were a stop sign, then proceed through the intersection cautiously. The law’s nickname is “The Dead Red” but officially is designated IC 9-21-3-7b-3d, updated in 2021.
12. Honda began selling pushbikes in 1946 fitted with two-stroke 50cc generator engines initially designed for use with army field telephones. In 1992 (another 46 years later), it launched one of the most complex production motorcycles ever made, the Honda NR750. The NR boasted oval pistons with two connecting rods and eight valves per cylinder. Initially made as a racing-only model, Honda later made 300 road versions of the NR available to the public. Shop for OEM Honda motorcycle parts.
13. Suzuki started producing weaving looms for Japan’s silk industry in the early 1900s. To broaden his business, Michio Suzuki founded an engineering company that began producing small cars and engines in the 1930s. The first Suzuki motorcycle appeared in 1952 and was a motorized bicycle called a Power Free. It had a 36cc two-stroke engine with a double sprocket gear system that allowed the rider to pedal with engine aid, pedal without the engine, or just detach the pedals and use the engine. Suzuki is now Japan’s second-largest maker of small cars and trucks and produces wheelchairs, marine engines, and autos. Shop for OEM Suzuki motorcycle parts.
14. In 2010, Rocky Robinson used a streamliner-shaped motorcycle to set a world record for the fastest motorcycle at just over 376 miles per hour on the famed Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
15. A man in North Carolina buried his Harley-Davidson on his property and claimed it was stolen in 2006. He was paid for the stolen motorcycle, and his loan was also paid off. The motorcycle was discovered in 2012 by a new property owner having some grading done by a contractor.
16. Before 2008, the top age category for motorcycle fatalities was 29 years old and less, but 2008 saw a decrease in that category and led change in the 50 years and older crowd.
17. The longest distance riding a motorcycle in 24 hours (individual) is 2116.5 miles (3406.17 kms) and was achieved by Carl Reese (USA) at Continental Tire Proving Grounds in Uvalde, Texas, the USA, on 26 February 2017. He attempted the record to raise awareness for the Motorcycle Relief Project, a group that helps injured and PTSD-afflicted veterans
18. Did you know Steve McQueen’s famous 65-foot motorcycle jump in the movie The Great Escape was done by stand-in rider Bud Ekins and he did it in just one take?
19. In the earliest days of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, small advertisements were placed in the Automobile and Cycle Trade Journal offering bare Harley-Davidson engines to the do-it-yourself trade that could assemble their motorcycle. By April 1905, complete motorcycles were in production on a minimal basis. Shop for Harley Davidson motorcycle parts.
20. Peter Fonda wore the Captain America jacket while riding his chopper for a week around Los Angeles before shooting the movie Easy Rider to give them a broken-in look and get used to riding the radically designed bike. The American flag on the back of the jacket and the bike’s gas tank caused him to be pulled over several times by the police.
21. Aside from making motorcycles, Kawasaki also manufactures personal watercraft, ships, electronics, construction equipment, tractors, trains, helicopters, jet engines, missiles, and space rockets.
22. Only three states in the US do not require a helmet for any motorcyclist. In comparison, 17 states require a helmet for specific riders, and the other 30 states, plus the District of Columbia, require a helmet for any rider (called a universal helmet law). Shop for helmets.
23. The highest month for motorcycle theft is August., followed by September and July. And the state with the most motorcycle theft is California.
24. Dodge built and sold nine motorcycles with a Viper V-10 engine called the Dodge Tomahawk. The motorcycle featured 500 horsepower with dual front and rear 20” wheels and tires. Each sold for between $500k and $700k.
25. 51,291 motorbikes were among the nearly 1 million stolen vehicles in 2021. Less than half of the motorcycles stolen this year have been found; the recovery percentage, according to the NICB research, is 42%. Shop for motorcycle security accessories.
26. Actual motorcycle clubs were on the 2003 movie Biker Boyz set to aid with tricks, stunts, and racing. They include Valiant Riders, Black Sabbath, G-Zer Tribe, Ruff Ryders, Soul Brothers, Total Package, Chosen Few, Rare Breed, Brothers of the Sun, Sisters of the Sun, Deuces, and Black Sabbath New Breed.
27. Honda motorcycles in California were the most stolen in 2011, while, of the top five brands that made the list, Harley-Davidsons were the least stolen.
28. The Givenchy “motorcycle jacket” was listed in 2016 as the most expensive jacket on the market. At $9,100, the women’s Hooded Biker Jacket is one of those pieces designed for the sake of fashion rather than for wearing while riding. Most of the jacket is made of lambskin, but pillowy lamb fur lines the collar and inside of the hood. Shop for motorcycle jackets.
29. An estimated 10 cents of every $1 in insurance premiums goes toward the payment of fraudulent claims, according to the North Carolina insurance department as of 2012.
30. The longest trick on a bike on record was set by Robbie Maddison in Melbourne, Australia, traveling 246 feet with a Superman Seat Grab on 14 May 2005..
31. Doug Domokos was inducted into the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Hall of Fame in 2002. He was nicknamed “The Wheelie King” and once held the record for the longest wheelie at an impressive 145 miles in length. That record stood for over eight years.
Before you start doing wheelies on your own, check out our state-by-state guide to motorcycle wheelie laws.
32. The sound made by the “motorcycle” that Chris Pine rides to the shuttle departing to Starfleet Academy in the film Star Trek is the same sound used on The Jetsons from 1962 for the “cars” when they fly.
33. The 2007 movie, Wild Hogs, features quick cameos from Paul Teutul Sr. and Paul Teutul Jr. of American Chopper: The Series (2003). The two famous bike builders appear in the Wild Hogs’ favorite bar as the bar owner and a background patron. The olive-drab green bike the character named Jack (played by actor Ray Liotta) was riding is made by Orange County Choppers and features their logo on the motorcycle in the movie.
34. In 2020, California reported the highest amount of registered motorcycles in the country ( 785,424 registered); Delaware and the District of Columbia had the least amount (4,023 and 3,567 respectively ).
35. Emilio Scotto holds the world record for the longest motorcycle ride, spanning. Ten years, 279 countries, and a total distance of 457,000 miles
36. Harley-Davidson is the leading motorcycle manufacturer in the U.S. market, producing 5.3 billion dollars in revenue in 2021 and 800 million U.S. dollars from financial services.
37. Brough Superior was the first company that advertised a motorcycle’s top speed of over 100mph. That claim was made for its SS100 in 1924. Brough motorcycles were the first to have prop stands, twin headlights, crash bars, interconnected silencers, and 1000cc v-twin engines. Every SS100 was tested on public roads to check that it could reach 100mph. If it didn’t, it was returned to the factory for further work until it could reach that feat.
38. In 2017, California became the first state to legalize lane-splitting through the AB-51 Bill.
39. Contrary to popular belief, Harley Davidson was not the first American motorcycle company; the Indian Motorcycle Company opened the company’s first factory in 1901 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
40. During WWII, Italy produced the Volugrafo Aermoto 125, a motorcycle folded inside a metallic box and launched from planes with a parachute. Later, the UK and the United States built their versions of “parascooters” with the Welbike and the Cushman 53, respectively. After the war, Enrico Piaggio took some inspiration from these models to create the Vespa.
41. “Vespa” is the Italian word for wasp.
42. The Matrix actor, Keanu Reeves, is a motorbike aficionado despite having experienced a few accidents. In 2011, he established his own motorbike business, Arch Motorcycle Company.
43. The history’s largest Harley Davidson motorcycle parade took place in October 2019 in Paris, Texas, USA, with 3497 bikes.
44. The smallest rideable motorcycle is the Smalltoe. Created in 2003 by Tom Wilberd in Sweden, the front-wheel diameter is only 0.62 in and a rear-wheel diameter of 0.86 in.
45. The highest motorbike jump, according to Guinness World Records, was 25 ft. Tommy Clowers in Ramona, California, USA. He set the record by leaping from a 10 ft ramp following a 40 ft run-up. He has held the record since January 21st, 2001. Shop for shock absorbers for your bike.
46. The most expensive commercial motorcycle helmet is the Arai Corsair X RC Helmet, which costs $4,095.95. It is made from a carbon fiber composite initially developed for Arai’s Formula 1 helmets. As a result, you get a lightweight shell that is the ideal balance of rigidity and flexibility.
47. The heaviest motorbike ever built is the Panzerbike, weighing 5.22 tons (4,740 kg). The goliath motorcycle was built by the German firm Harzer Bike-Schmiede and is powered by a 38ltr WWII German ‘Panzer’ tank engine.
48. With a price tag of $11 million, Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter is the most expensive motorbike in the world. The Neiman Marcus Limited Edition Fighter is street legal and can reach a top speed of 190 mph. The vehicle’s 120ci 45-degree air-cooled V-Twin engine generates this power, combined with body parts made of titanium, aluminum, and carbon fiber.
49. At the start of the 20th century, some weapon manufacturers turned to motorbikes because the same parts that went into making gun barrels were also used to make engine cylinders. The best examples are BSA, Fabrique National, and Royal Enfield with the motto “made like a gun”
50. The first motorcycle was a wooden-framed machine built in Germany between October-November 1885 by Gottlieb Daimler and first ridden by Wilhelm Maybach. It was called the “Einspur,” and its top speed was 12 mph.