Motorcycle, motorized two-wheeled vehicle for transporting one or two riders. Motorcycles are capable of the same speeds as automobiles and can be licensed for use on public highways. Most American states and all Canadian provinces require a special driverís license to operate a motorcycle on public roads. Motorcycles are generally bigger, heavier, and faster than mopeds.
A popular transportation alternative to the automobile, the motorcycle is relatively compact, fuel-efficient, and maneuverable. More than 1000 motorcycle clubs exist in the United States alone. This Harley-Davidson model is a classic model that illustrates the essential features and well-balanced design characteristic of motorcycles. In addition to their functions in general transportation, sport, and leisure, motorcycles are used by police and military forces around the world.
Motorcycles provide a convenient and relatively inexpensive alternative to automobiles. They are more maneuverable than automobiles and they deliver higher fuel economy. Depending on the size of the engine, a motorcycle may get from 19 to 36 kilometers per liter (45 to 85 miles per gallon), two to four times that of most mid-sized cars. Also, a motorcycle accelerates more quickly than an automobile does. However, riding a motorcycle requires special skill. Braking and handling demand extra caution and can be difficult on wet or slick surfaces.
Riders use different kinds of motorcycles for different purposes. Motorcycles designed for use on paved streets and roads are called street motorcycles. Street motorcycles are a popular means of transportation during summer months and in warm climates. People often use them for recreational riding as well as for commuting. Off-road motorcycles perform well on dirt or gravel roads or trails. Racing motorcycles are engineered for handling performance and increased speed.