How Much Do You Know About American Motorcycles?


By: Craig

6 Min Quiz

Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Since the introduction of motorcycles in the mid-century, the inspiration for these vehicles came from the bicycle. Early designs of this vehicle involved three wheels rather than two and were conceived by two German inventors in 1885. This invention gave rise to three main types; street (which includes cruisers, sportbikes, and mopeds), off-road and dual purpose. Today, motorcycle enthusiasts vary from thrill-seeking daredevils and fearless stunt masters to everyday commuters

America jumped on the bandwagon sometime between 1896 and 1900, which paved the way for a number of classics. They are distinguished from their modern counterparts by their simple designs, many of which were cruisers. One such example is the 1921 Reading Standard, which is identified by its teal paint job. Another is the American Fours; namely the 1910 Pierce Four and the 1914 Henderson Four.

Motorcycles such as sportbikes, have been revamped for speed, acceleration, and cornering on paved roads. Many of these, such as the EBR 1190 RX and the Lightning LS 218 are favorites among avid racers. Off-road bikes, as the name suggests are more suited to rugged terrain and gravel, the perfect vehicle for sport-like dirt bike racing. No matter the type, no matter the individual’s preference, there is the perfect motorcycle to be found.

How much do you really know about American motorcycles? Well, this is the perfect place for you to test that knowledge. Take it to see how much you know and if there is any need for improvement!

Which iconic American motorcycle brand was formed in 1903?

Probably the most famous motorcycle brand in the world was started in 1903 and by 1904, the first Harley-Davidson model had already hit the road.


Who were the two men responsible for founding Harley-Davidson?

Harley-Davidson was founded by William S. Harley, a mechanical engineer by trade and Arthur Davidson, a businessman. There were two others involved as well, but Davidson and Harley are considered to be the fathers of the brand.


With over 100 motorcycle manufacturers springing up all over America during the first decade of the 20th Century, who were Harley-Davidson's main rivals?

Indian Motorcycles certainly had the head start on Harley-Davidson. By 1910, Harley-Davidson were producing 3,000 machines a year but Indian were making double that figure.


Which of these is one of the most famous models from Indian Motorcycles?

The Chief is perhaps the most famous of the motorcycles produced by Indian. It was built from 1922 to 1953.


Where was the first Harley-Davidson built?

The first Harley-Davidson bike was certainly born in humble beginnings - a simple shed.


Who coined the phrase "Take the work out of bicycling" as himself and his partner developed their first motorcycle for a brand now considered America's most iconic?

Arthur Davidson coined the phrase "Take the work out of bicycling" as he worked with William S. Harley to fulfill their dreams.


Name the American manufacturer of enduro motorcycles in the early 1970s.

Yankee off-road motorcycles were produced in the early 1970s. They were the brainchild of John Taylor who wanted a faster, more powerful model than those available from foreign markets.


Although Harley-Davidson is the most famous brand of motorcycles in America, they are not the oldest? Who is?

Indian Motorcycles formed in 1901 and are credited as the first motorcycle company in the United States


This important part of the motorcycle was only introduced in 1927. Before, riders had to use their hands and feet to change gears. What is it?

What now seems standard, it's almost impossible to believe that before 1927, any rider had to change gears using a foot clutch and a hand shifter to select them. That all changed with the gear selector. Now the clutch control has moved to a lever and the gear is selected using your feet.


This TV series followed two members of the California Highway Patrol. What was the series name?

CHiPs ran between 1977 and 1983 and for 139 episodes. It was a massive hit thanks to the bikes.


The two actors who starred in the hit TV series CHiPs which followed two bike patrol officers of the California High Patrol were?

CHiPs became a very popular sitcom in the late '70s and early '80s. It featured Erik Estrada and Larry Wilcox in the lead roles.


What form of motorcycle racing popular in America uses no brakes?

From the time motorcycles were invented, people have raced them. Speedway is unique in the fact that it has bikes going around an oval track, nothing new there except the bikes have no brakes and only one gear.


The rarest motorcycle in the world is considered to be a ....?

Discovered in an apartment in Chicago behind a wall, a 1916 Traub is thought to be the rarest motorcycle on the planet.


The first motorcycle was built by Indian in what year?

The first Indian motorcycle was produced in 1901, two years before the first Harley-Davidson.


Another early American company that produced motorcycles between 1901 and 1904 was?

The first Rambler, the 2-1/4 hp Model B was built in 1902. Sadly, the company didn't last very long.


According to the National Highway Transport Safety Administration, which age group of American riders are more likely to die in a motorcycle accident?

Strangely enough, the age group most likely to die in a motorcycle accident on American roads are riders from 40-55 years old. This may have something to do with a large percentage of that group buying motorcycles for the first time since their younger years.


Where are motorcycle accidents in the America most likely to take place?

More motorcycle accidents happen at intersections than anywhere else in America. This is often as a result of motorists not seeing an oncoming motorcycle or misjudging their speed. That is why it is important to adhere to speed limits and to make yourself as visible as possible.


Other than making motorcycles, what else did Harley-Davidson produce right up until 1921?

Harley-Davidson produced pedal-powered machines from 1916 to 1921 when production stopped. The main factor for this was that motorcycles brought in more profit.


One of America's earliest motorcycle manufacturers, this company was started by George Wagner in 1901.

Between 1901 and 1914, Wagner Motorcycle company built around 8,500 bikes. A drop in sales saw Wagner sell his company in 1914.


Although Harley-Davidson produced its first motorcycle in 1903, its first year of "mass production" came a little later. Do you know which year?

By 1905, Harley-Davidson was upping its game as the demand for their motorcycles grew. In that year, it managed to build 8 machines.


Interestingly, in producing its early machines, Harley-Davidson had input from a German designer. What was his name?

Emil Kroger had come to the United States from Europe armed with a fair amount of knowledge of engines thanks to his work on the first model of the de Dion internal combustion engine.


With over 100 motorcycle manufacturers springing up all over America during the first decade of the 20th Century, who were Indian Motorcycles' main rivals?

Indian Motorcycles certainly had a head start on Harley-Davidson, but by 1910, Harley was producing 3,000 machines a year, quickly catching up to its rival's 6,000 motorcycles over the same period.


Harley-Davidson is known for its V-Twin motors but also has produced another motor style, specifically in the 1940s. What type of motor was this?

After the US Army came across German BMW motors with their Boxster-style motors, they asked Harley for a model that included the same motor design. The result was the XA.


Which German sportscar manufacturer helped design an engine for Harley-Davidson in the 1970s?

In the 1970s, Porsche designed an 800cc liquid-cooled, 60-degree V-4 engine for Harley's Nova project. Sadly, it was shelved before any motorcycles were ever produced.


When did Harley-Davidson produce its first sidecar?

Sidecars became an extremely popular way of turning the motorcycle into a relatively safe passenger carrier. Harley introduced the option of sidecars in 1914.


Rambler motorcycles were only produced for an extremely short period from 1901 until?

Sadly, Rambler motorcycles were only produced for a period of two years between 1902 and 1904. Their designer, Albert Pope, went on to produced machines, including for his own brand.


What style of motorcycle was made famous in the 1969 movie, "Easy Rider"

The choppers used in the iconic movie, "Easy Rider," were designed by Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy. A total of four bikes were made, one was smashed and eventually rebuilt while the other three were stolen.


Customized motorcycle, particularly Chopper style bikes are big business in America. In 2003, a TV-series was filmed following Orange County Choppers, a family run business producing these bikes. What was the series called?

"American Chopper" was first broadcast in 2003. It follows the staff at Orange County Choppers as they build a range of bikes for customers as well as special one-off projects.


Which American motorcycle company ran from 1983 till 2009 when it shut down.

Founded in Wisconsin in 1983, the Buell motorcycle company was the brainchild of Erick Buell, a former Harley-Davidson employee.


Which company, started by a former employee, did Harley-Davidson acquire a 49% share of in 1993?

Formed by Erik Buell in 1993, Harley-Davidson snapped up 49% of the company, eventually owning it in full in 2003.


After Harley-Davidson bought his company outright in 2003, Erik Buell formed a new company making racing bikes. What was it called?

Erik Buell started Erik Buell Racing in 2009, offering a range of models including the "Black Lightning" a variation on their standard 1190 platform.


American motorcycle company Brammo produced which type of motorcycles for the American market?

Bremmo Motorcycles was established in 2002. Founded by Craig Bramscher, they make a range of electric motorcycles including street bikes and off-roaders.


Based in Ohio, this manufacturer has two stints of producing motorcycles for the American market, 1902 to 1905 and again from 1915 to 1929. Who were they?

Cleveland Motorcycles brought out a range of models, particularly from 1915 onward. Sadly, the Great Depression saw sales drop, eventually leading to the closure of the company in 1929.


Wagner Motorcycles introduced a model especially for women in 1909.

Wagner did introduce a drop frame bike for women in 1909. In fact, the owner's daughter, Clara Wagner, is considered the first female motorcyclist in the world.


Motorized bicycles were popular in America for a long period, particularly after World War II. Which company produced these engines?

Whizzer engines were produced between 1939 and 1965. In 1948 they released their own motorized bicycle, the Pacemaker. The company made a comeback between 1997 and 2009.


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