From Boneshakers to Choppers: The Rip-Roaring History of Motorcycles

Overview

The fastest book on two wheels explores the timeless appeal of the motorcycle.

In 1885, two German inventors strapped a motor to a bicycle, and the world's first motorcycle was born. Riders have been hooked ever since.

Climb aboard From Boneshakers to Choppers and discover how these two-wheeled wonders spawned subcultures that continue to flourish today. From early endurance contests that catapulted ...

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Overview

The fastest book on two wheels explores the timeless appeal of the motorcycle.

In 1885, two German inventors strapped a motor to a bicycle, and the world's first motorcycle was born. Riders have been hooked ever since.

Climb aboard From Boneshakers to Choppers and discover how these two-wheeled wonders spawned subcultures that continue to flourish today. From early endurance contests that catapulted Harley-Davidson to fame to pulp novels featuring rugged biker heroes, you'll witness the burgeoning motorcycle image of the early 20th century.

Move on to wartime when the military pushed the motorcycle's portability by designing collapsible motorbikes to drop -- by parachute -- behind enemy lines. Then follow the motorcycle through the definitive postwar years: the birth of the Hell's Angels, the ultimate cool of biker Marion Brando in The Wild
One
, and the scooter-as-fashion craze of the mods. You'll also discover the world of adventurous female bikers, take to the tracks of stunt riders, and hit the road with cross-continent racers.

Brimming with an amazing collection of archival and contemporary photographs, From From Boneshakers to Choppers will take you on an unforgettable ride.

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Editorial Reviews

YALSA
Selected as a 2008 'Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers' by the Young Adult Library Services Association.
Booklist - John Peters
Lively, wide-ranging ... this colorful survey definitely won't stay on the shelf for long.
The Fairhope Courier (Fairhope, AL) - Terri Schilchenmeyer
Got a future biker in your family or maybe a kid with a need for speed? Then "From Boneshakers to Choppers" is going to make his/her heart sing.... [It's] the perfect book for kids ages 10 and up who can't get enough of motorcycles.
Canadian Teacher
This comprehensive history covers everything from the invention of motorcycles in Germany in 1885, the motorcycle's role in World War I and II, the transition to more general use, the role of Hollywood in shaping the motorcyclist's image, the beginning of motorcycle clubs, the rivalry with people who prefer scooters, to modern motorcycles and their uses today. The book is liberally illustrated with colour photos and illustrations, including some vintage posters and motorcycle ads. Even people (teachers and students) who are not avid motorcycle riders will be fascinated by the information presented here in a lively and interesting format.
VOYA - Jane Van Wiemokly
In the 1880s, the earliest "motor cycles" began with a motor attached to a bicycle, and ever since then, entrepreneurs and inventors have tried and succeeded in improving on that concept. The first gasoline engine motorcycle built in 1885 by Daimler was made mostly of wood. Steam engines, "explosion engines," electric-all progressed to the internal combustion engine. From its beginnings, the motorcycle in all its forms captured the adventure, sense of freedom, and competitive spirit of riders, both male and female. For a time, when coupled with sidecars, they were even touted as an alternative to the more expensive automobile. In World War I but more so in World War II, they were used for dispatches and sometimes as attack vehicles. From mainstream, to gangs, to stunt- and dirt-biking, to biker films, the motorcycle's image has come a long way and undergone major transformations, both physically and culturally. Loaded with illustrations and color photographs, this popular history of the motorcycle even touches on the attendant fashion associated with its culture. For a slight book, it adequately and engagingly explores its history. In addition to motorcycle aficionados, students also will find this book a good place to start for papers on history, culture, and invention using the motorcycle as a subject.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781554510153
  • Publisher: Annick Press, Limited
  • Publication date: 4/13/2007
  • Pages: 124
  • Sales rank: 1,508,462
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.25 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Lisa Smedman is a novelist, short-fiction writer, and one of the founders of Adventures Unlimited magazine. She lives in Vancouver, B.C.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Passion for Motorcycles

The First "Motor Bicycles"

Adventure on Two Wheels

Pushing the Limits

The Motorcycle Goes to War

Fun and Games

Bad Boys on Bikes

The "Nicest People"

Mods vs. Rockers -- Scooters vs. Motorcycles

Motorcycles Hit the Mainstream

Going to Extremes

Epilogue: What's Ahead

Partial List of Sources
Further Reading
Index
Photo Credits
Acknowledgments
About the Author

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Preface

Introduction:
The Passion for Motorcycles

Ever since the 1800s, when the first "motor bicycle" roared onto the scene, motorcycles have captured our imagination like no other machine. We still celebrate them in movies, books, magazines, comic books, design exhibitions and in fashion. Whether you admire them from a distance, are a first-time rider, or a long-time devotee, you're part of a huge, diverse community of fans. What is it about the motorcycle that inspires such passion?

To begin, the motorcycle gives its rider a sense of freedom -- there's nothing between you and the outside world. You feel the wind in your face, the hot sun on your back, or the cold sting of rain. And there's no denying that many enjoy the sheer speed, and with it, the scent of danger. Not only can riding a motorbike be an exhilarating experience, it's also affordable -- most models are cheaper than cars and less costly to run. Riders also identify with their bikes -- their sleekness, their stylish design, their signature paint job. Quite simply, a motorcycle becomes an extension of the rider's identity.

So how did this infatuation begin?

The motorcycle's origin was modest. The first models were not much more than motorized bicycles -- clunky in design, rough to ride, messy, and temperamental. Enthusiasts kept tinkering away, trying to improve the performance of their bikes and fulfill their dream of freedom on the road. From the start, inventors raced their one-of-a kind prototypes, in some cases riding them so fast the machines nearly tore to pieces.

By the early 1900s inventors built factories and started mass producing their designs. William Harley, along with his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson, were among those first innovators. As soon as the average person could buy a ready-made motorbike, customers clamored for the new machines.

Before long, motorbikes were racing along muddy roads in World War I, delivering messages to the front lines and carrying the wounded back to medical stations. After the war, new speed records were set and broken as eager designers continued to improve upon the basic styling. During the Great Depression, though, sales grew sluggish. The new concept of the assembly line-made cars less expensive, so the motorbike was no longer a contender as the family vehicle. Manufacturers struggled. But as World War II loomed, the motorcycle hit the battlefield once more. Some were fitted with treads that made them look like miniature tanks, while folding motorcycles were parachuted to agents behind enemy lines.

The war ended, and veterans returned home, but many weren't ready to fit into a conventional lifestyle. The motorcycle found a new niche as a vehicle for the adventurous and the rebellious. They appealed to this new kind of "bad boy"
and were soon their machine of choice. Before long, "outlaw" motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels clashed with police, and the "biker" was born. For many, riding a motorcycle was an act of defiance and a way to assert personal freedom. A new sub-culture evolved.

With the arrival of Japanese bikes in the 1960s, a completely different brand of rider emerged -- one much less subversive, but equally in love with the freedom of the motorcycle. If there was ever any doubt about the broad appeal of the motorcycle, it quickly evaporated.

Thanks to the motorcycle and the imagination of its riders, daredevil acts emerged, adventurers undertook grueling round-the-world tours, and oddly themed races were staged, together with those of a more conventional nature, such as drag races. Clubs of all descriptions formed, while increasingly sleek designs and steadily improving engines responded to consumer demand.

Freedom and adventure, combined with an exhaust-whiff of danger, are part of the irresistible allure of the motorcycle. From the time the first motor was mounted on a bicycle to the choppers of today, these two-wheeled wonders have had a remarkable history.

Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction:
The Passion for Motorcycles
Ever since the 1800s, when the first "motor bicycle" roared onto the scene, motorcycles have captured our imagination like no other machine. We still celebrate them in movies, books, magazines, comic books, design exhibitions and in fashion. Whether you admire them from a distance, are a first-time rider, or a long-time devotee, you're part of a huge, diverse community of fans. What is it about the motorcycle that inspires such passion?

To begin, the motorcycle gives its rider a sense of freedom -- there's nothing between you and the outside world. You feel the wind in your face, the hot sun on your back, or the cold sting of rain. And there's no denying that many enjoy the sheer speed, and with it, the scent of danger. Not only can riding a motorbike be an exhilarating experience, it's also affordable -- most models are cheaper than cars and less costly to run. Riders also identify with their bikes -- their sleekness, their stylish design, their signature paint job. Quite simply, a motorcycle becomes an extension of the rider's identity.

So how did this infatuation begin?

The motorcycle's origin was modest. The first models were not much more than motorized bicycles -- clunky in design, rough to ride, messy, and temperamental. Enthusiasts kept tinkering away, trying to improve the performance of their bikes and fulfill their dream of freedom on the road. From the start, inventors raced their one-of-a kind prototypes, in some cases riding them so fast the machines nearly tore to pieces.

By the early 1900s inventors built factories and started mass producing their designs. William Harley,along with his friends Arthur and Walter Davidson, were among those first innovators. As soon as the average person could buy a ready-made motorbike, customers clamored for the new machines.

Before long, motorbikes were racing along muddy roads in World War I, delivering messages to the front lines and carrying the wounded back to medical stations. After the war, new speed records were set and broken as eager designers continued to improve upon the basic styling. During the Great Depression, though, sales grew sluggish. The new concept of the assembly line-made cars less expensive, so the motorbike was no longer a contender as the family vehicle. Manufacturers struggled. But as World War II loomed, the motorcycle hit the battlefield once more. Some were fitted with treads that made them look like miniature tanks, while folding motorcycles were parachuted to agents behind enemy lines.

The war ended, and veterans returned home, but many weren't ready to fit into a conventional lifestyle. The motorcycle found a new niche as a vehicle for the adventurous and the rebellious. They appealed to this new kind of "bad boy" and were soon their machine of choice. Before long, "outlaw" motorcycle clubs like the Hells Angels clashed with police, and the "biker" was born. For many, riding a motorcycle was an act of defiance and a way to assert personal freedom. A new sub-culture evolved.

With the arrival of Japanese bikes in the 1960s, a completely different brand of rider emerged -- one much less subversive, but equally in love with the freedom of the motorcycle. If there was ever any doubt about the broad appeal of the motorcycle, it quickly evaporated.

Thanks to the motorcycle and the imagination of its riders, daredevil acts emerged, adventurers undertook grueling round-the-world tours, and oddly themed races were staged, together with those of a more conventional nature, such as drag races. Clubs of all descriptions formed, while increasingly sleek designs and steadily improving engines responded to consumer demand.

Freedom and adventure, combined with an exhaust-whiff of danger, are part of the irresistible allure of the motorcycle. From the time the first motor was mounted on a bicycle to the choppers of today, these two-wheeled wonders have had a remarkable history.

Read More Show Less

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