Tuesday 10th November 1885
Paul Daimler (17) made the first ever journey on a motorcycle. The short drive, over a distance of 5.5 kilometres from Cannstatt to Untertürkheim in southern Germany, was made on the gasoline reitwagen, the invention of Paul’s father Gottlieb Daimler, and his colleague Wilhelm Maybach. Daimler and Maybach had been experimenting with the internal combustion engine for a number of years, devoting their endeavours to producing a lightweight design that would be capable of propelling a vehicle. In 1885, they came up with a design that was small and light enough to perform the task. Nicknamed ‘the grandfather clock’ for its pendulum-like appearance, the small combustion engine was affixed to a custom-made cycle, and the petroleum reitwagen was born. It was a primitive wooden-framed machine running on ironclad wooden wheels, with no suspension and only a rear brake. The engine had 0.5 horsepower, and gave a top speed of 11 km/h.