In 1882 the Italian inventor Enrico Bernardi presented to the public a gasoline engine used to power a sewing machine. Two years later the engine was installed on a children’s tricycle and Motris Pia was born.
In 1881 Lucius Copeland assembled the Copeland mechanism of the same name — a two-wheeled bicycle with a steam engine.
Almost twenty years earlier than Daimler, in 1867 and 1869, Louis-Guillem Perrault rolled out into the world “Michaux-Perrault” and “Roper” — a pair of two-wheeled motorcycles with steam engines on the frame. And yet the first motorcycle is considered to be a Daimler-Maybach product. Why?
According to the sum of key characteristics:
— it was a single-track unit;
— equipped with two wheels (formally with four but side wheels were used only for support)
— most importantly: with an internal combustion engine.
Yes, steam engines appeared earlier, but they turned out to be a dead end. It was internal combustion engines that filled modern technology with life.
Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach met in 1872 at the Otto und Langen Gazmotoren Fabrik Deutz. Gottlieb worked as a technical director, Maybach headed the design bureau. For about ten years the engineers actively cooperated with each other. In 1882 they left the factory and opened their own workshop for the production of motors (Daimler was a co-owner of the patent for the production of Otto engines). Joining forces with Maybach, the inventors improved the design of the engine in two years, creating a valve chamber and an ignition system from an incandescent tube. In addition, Daimler managed to achieve incredible power and rotor speed by the standards of steam engines: more than 600 revolutions per minute. Such characteristics turned the Daimler engine not only into a working mechanism but also gave the invention practical meaning.
Vehicles with a Daimler engine had sufficient speed of movement to become an alternative to horse-drawn transport. Now it was crucial to create a wheel frame for installing the engine.
In 1884 Reitwagen appeared. On November 10, 1885, a demonstration of the new device took place. In the same year, the Daimler-Maybach workshop released its 1000th engine.
On the first day of tests the seat of the “self-propelled carriage” repeatedly ignited due to excessive heating of the combustion chamber located directly under the driver, and the total length of the route did not exceed three kilometers.
Nevertheless, the original design has proven its stability. The design was patented and a year later Daimler assembled his first four-wheeled car (almost simultaneously with Benz, who assembled and patented a tricycle in 1887).
Despite the official status of the world’s first motorcycle the Reitwagen was primarily a carrier frame for the internal combustion engine developed by Daimler. It was the engines that interested the inventor. Daimler did not return to the design of motorcycles, focusing on the development and improvement of internal combustion engines. For several years Reitwagen remained in the garage as a test stand. It burned down in 1903 during the Cannstadt fire which destroyed the Daimler and Maybach workshops.
In 1985 in honor of the centenary of the invention replicas of the original “Reitwagen” were created. The general characteristics include:
Engine power: 1/2 horsepower at 600 rpm.
Engine capacity: 264 cm3;
Fuel capacity: up to 2 liters;
Maximum speed: 12 km/h;
Number of gears: 2 (up to 5 km/h in first gear and up to 11 km/h in second gear).
Weight: 90 kg.