Today’s motorcycle is the result of 200 years of invention and technology. The history of motorcycles is a fascinating trip, and we’d like to share some of the highlights.
The ancestor of the motorcycle is the humble bicycle. The first bicycles in the early 1800s were made of wood, and riders literally walked them along—good exercise, but not a fast mode of transportation. Bicycles weren’t chain-driven until the late 1860s, and the first steam-powered bicycle, the velocipede, was patented in 1866.
Powering cycles with something other than human power had already occurred to some inventors, and through the 1800s, they came up with dozens of cycles with two, three, and four wheels powered by gas and steam. By the end of the century, motorized tricycles were common, but some areas enforced speed limits and other restrictions.
As with many “firsts” in technology, there is some debate about who built the first motorcycle. Inventors mentioned in the discussion include Sylvester Roper and his steam-powered bike, Michaux with a single-cylinder bike, Lucius Copeland and his three-wheeled steamer, and Daimler and Maybach with the Reitwagen, powered by an internal combustion engine.
An early motorcycle from Royal Enfield had a 239 cc front-mounted engine that powered a belt to the rear wheel. While early motorcycles tended to be two-stroke, the four-stroke engine soon replaced it. After the breakthrough combustion engine, it was possible to mass produce motorcycles, and The Hildebrand & Wolfmuller made its debut in 1894. Companies such as Triumph, Indian, and Harley-Davidson soon followed.
Once motorcycles were mass-produced, technological advances occurred regularly. Tires, engines, and transmissions continued to evolve, and the motorcycle lost the old moto-bicycle look and morphed into the design we recognize today.
Motorcycles soared in popularity during the first decade of the 20th century. By the time World War I began, motorcycle manufacturers were building thousands of bikes a year, and soldiers used them regularly during the war.
While the Great Depression affected motorcycle companies, advances and leaps in technology continued, with engines becoming larger and more powerful. Body designs were streamlined, and in the ‘40s and ‘50s, more companies entered the market, such as Honda, Kawasaki, and Yamaha.
Through the rest of the century to the present, manufacturers have focused on continuously upgrading the bike as a whole. Advances have included diesel engines, wind protection, antilock brakes, left-side gear change, and aesthetic improvements such as metallic paint and neon kits. Motorcycles are now safe, speedy, and comfortable.
As Sullivan’s Island motorcycle accident attorneys who also ride, we’re fascinated by the history of motorcycle technology. What’s your favorite point in motorcycle history?
As Columbia auto accident attorneys, we deal with the aftermath of auto accidents daily. Often, our cases depend on credible witnesses, but they’re not always available. Sometimes witnesses leave the scene because they don’t know what to do. If you witness an accident with no one else around, follow these tips:
No matter what you see or hear, you need to remain calm. You may make the difference between life and death for the parties involved, and you need to stay alert and clearheaded.
Call 911, and make your way to the scene.
Your first priority is to the victims, so get to the scene as quickly as possible. If you’re driving, make sure your car is out of the way, and turn on your emergency flashers to help the police find you. Call 911 as you walk over so help is on the way. The 911 operator will likely keep you on the line and help you stay calm and aid the victims until the police and / or ambulance arrive.
If the accident is a hit and run, the at-fault driver may attempt to flee the scene. Read the license plate number and a description of the car to the operator.
If victims are milling around, ask them to sit and wait for help. You may need to help them calm down, so speak with them slowly, with a soothing voice. They may be in shock or frightened.
Assess the scene for possible danger.
Quickly survey the scene for immediate danger to yourself and to the victims. For example, if you witness a car accident and one of the cars is on fire, you may need to clear the area around it. Tell the 911 operator what you see, and he or she will guide you.
Approach the victims carefully.
Talk to the victims as you approach them. Quickly assess their injuries, and alert the operator. He or she will tell you what to do. If you have a non-responsive victim, the operator may ask if you wish to try CPR. South Carolina’s Good Samaritan law absolves you from civil damages if you render emergency care, gratuitously and in good faith, at the scene of an accident.
Try not to disturb any evidence.
It can be difficult to know what is evidence and what isn’t, so just do your best to disturb as little as possible. Certainly, if a car is overturned, you’ll want to look inside to see who is in there, but just be careful to touch and move as few things as you can.
When the police arrive, tell them everything you remember.
You’re a vital link to the case and to the outcome of any charges that might be filed. Tell the police as much as you can, but don’t speculate or assume anything. Stick to the facts, as you know them.
For more information on South Carolina law, visit our Resources page.
If you ride, you’re already helping the environment because your bike uses much less fuel than a car does. If you’d like to move to the next step and be even more eco-friendly, here are three ideas.
The ultimate in ecofriendliness, a bicycle not only gets you where you want to go cheaply and without gasoline, but it also helps keep you fit. Cyclists are subject to the same traffic laws as motorized vehicles.
Moving to the next eco-friendly level, bicycle manufacturers are rethinking how they create bicycles. Wood-frame bicycles are making a comeback for several reasons: wood is a better shock absorber and lasts longer than aluminum or steel, it isn’t as likely to crack, and it’s biodegradable.
You can find more information about wood-frame bicycles at GreenUpgrader.com.
Other types of eco-friendly bicycles are discussed at SierraClub.
Motorcycles that run on electricity can go over 100 mph and up to 100 miles on a single charge, and they’re a viable option for many people, especially commuters and social riders. Several companies, including Brammo and Zero are racing to fill orders in early 2012.
Zero claims that their motorcycles can go over 300,000 miles on one battery and that their operating cost is only $.01 per mile. Recharging time is 6 hours. Brammo’s electric motorcycle has a water-cooled electric motor and a six-speed transmission. Its Empulse electric motorcycle has won the Popular Science Best of What’s New Award for 2011.
Motor Vehicle Hybrid
These three cars have different features, but all accomplish the same thing—running on electricity reduces the need for gas, but when gas is needed, they get excellent gas mileage.
The Honda Insight has Integrated Motor Assist, which means the electric motor and gasoline engine work together to ensure you have the power you need. The Insight is rated for 41 mpg in the city and 44 mpg on the highway. It also has an ECON button, which helps the vehicle minimize its energy use. Honda also offers a hybrid version of its Civic, a hybrid CR-Z, and the FCX, a fuel cell electric vehicle. The Fit EV, a 100% electric vehicle, is coming soon.
Toyota offers several vehicles as hybrids: three Prius models (including one that plugs in), the Camry, and the Highlander. Their fuel mileage varies, but all are over 40 mph in the city. The newest Prius models also utilize solar power, and the plug-in model can run up to 30 miles in electrical mode.
The Chevrolet Volt can run on electricity alone for 35 miles, on a combination of electricity and gasoline, or on gasoline only, with mileage of 35 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
As South Carolina defective products attorneys, we’re always interested in new products and ideas. Do you have a hybrid, and if so, what’s your favorite feature?
Harley-Davidson is focusing on helping women discover the joys of riding. A previously overlooked market, women are finding that riding is not the dangerous, scary experience they had always thought it was. They realize the benefits of riding, which include . . .
Seeing the country.
Riding cross-country on a bike entails much less hassle than driving or flying. Bikes get better gas mileage than cars, are easier to park, and can enter certain places that cars may not. You’ll be free to stop and go as you please, and you’ll feel like a part of the outdoors because you don’t have the steel frame of a car separating you.
Even after buying full gear, bikes are less expensive than cars to purchase, operate, and maintain. They may also be cheaper to license and insure.
Being more adventurous.
With a bike, you can drop everything you’re doing and ride wherever you wish. You can take a scenic weekend trip, or you can just get away for a few hours. As you’re riding along the coast or in the mountains, you’ll feel confident, giddy, and alive. Besides feeling adventurous, you’ll also feel empowered—it’s just you and your bike, and you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.
Being part of a group.
As Dorchester County motorcycle accident attorneys who also ride, we know firsthand that bikers are a tightly knit and fiercely loyal group. You’ll find lifelong friends and travel companions with common interests, and you’ll feel like you belong. If you run into trouble, another biker will always come to your aid.
Feeling freedom and pride.
What could be more freeing than riding the open road with no one else around, your hair blowing in the wind, and the sun shining on your face? Many women feel as one with their bikes, and have a feeling of accomplishment and pride when they ride. For many, it’s like conquering a fear or climbing a mountain.
Leaving your worries at home.
When you’re just riding, you forget what’s going on at home or at work. You truly do leave it all behind and enjoy the world and your bike. It’s just the two of you.
What’s your favorite part of riding?
Riding at night can be a completely different experience than riding during the day. Your visibility to other drivers is low during the day, and it’s even lower at night unless you take steps to be seen. As Charleston motorcycle accident lawyers who also ride, we’ve experienced the challenges of night riding firsthand and have some ideas to help you ride more safely.
Make an honest assessment of your bike.
Begin making your bike night worthy by determining how visible it is to others. Ask a friend to go out with you one night, with him or her driving a car while you ride your bike. Take your time, and ride next to, in front of, and behind the car. Your friend will have plenty of ideas for you to increase your visibility.
Clean your headlights for the most visibility for you and other riders and drivers. If you’ll be doing quite a bit of night riding, or if your bike is older, perhaps you’ll want to go ahead and upgrade to brighter headlights or add fog lights. Some riders also add extras to the bike, such as neon kits and running lights.
Is your gear up to the task?
Be sure your gear is heavy enough for the cooler night temperatures. You’ll want to make sure that it’s light colored or has plenty of reflective areas so you’ll be easily seen.
Are you ready to ride at night?
If you have difficulty seeing at night, visit your eye doctor for special glasses to help you see better—or consider limiting your night riding. If you tend to be a morning person, riding late at night may not be in your best interest, since you would typically be sleeping.
Exercise the same safety precautions you do during the day, but be even more cautious.
Leave more space between you and other vehicles, and wait a second or two longer after the light turns green before driving through intersections. If you typically lane split, realize that as ill-advised as it is during the day, it can be downright dangerous at night.
Assume that other drivers cannot see you, and that they are sleepy or drunk.
Inattentive, drunk, or sleepy drivers are more abundant at night—especially after the bars close in your area. Just as you should always assume other drivers cannot see you, assume that any driver you encounter at night is impaired.
What precautions do you take when you ride at night?
We’re not only South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys, but we’re also avid riders—and the Northeast has some of the most beautiful motorcycle routes in the country. With its rolling hills, picturesque shoreline, and quaint towns, Connecticut is a perfect getaway for everyone, and it has some lovely scenic route and loop tours.
Lovely Litchfield Loop
This 50-mile scenic route begins in Litchfield, CT and moves west on US 202 through Bantam and New Preston, at which point you’ll turn north on East Shore Road (SR 45) and go toward Warren. When you reach Warren, you’ll take 341 and go west to the town of Kent. Go north on US 7 along the Housatonic River up to Canaan, and then go east on US 44 to Norfolk.
Litchfield was the home of author Harriet Beecher Stowe and America’s first law school, the Tapping Reeve House and Law School. If you enjoy watching wildlife and scenery, the White Memorial Foundation wetlands sanctuary has hiking and bird observatories, and Mount Tom State Park has a lookout tower. The village of Kent has plenty of shopping and museums and is a perfect place to spend the night if you choose.
You’ll find woodlands, lakes and streams, and waterfalls along the route, and if you’re a history buff, you’ll love the historical towns with their stately colonial mansions. This is New England at its finest, and you’ll never want to leave.
The Western Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut Loop
Beginning in Newport, RI, this winding loop takes you on many different backcountry roads during its 64 miles. It begins on Route 138 West and goes to Route 1 North to Route 102 North. You’ll enter CT on Route 165, turn right on Route 49, and again turn right on Route 14A to head to Sterling and Oneco. To return to RI, take Route 117 to Route 102 South to Route 1A through Wickford.
This route takes you through the largest state forest in Connecticut, the beautiful 24,000-acre Pachaug State Forest near Voluntown. Visitors to this state forest are fascinated by the miles of stone fence winding through the forest, and most of the streams still show evidence of mills and dams from days gone by. On this route, you’ll also pass through Beach Pond State Park and Arcadia State Park in RI.
Northern CT Appalachian Mountains Ride
This 102-mile route begins near Granby, CT, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 202. You’ll take Route 20 west into Winsted, then turn on Route 44 and continue west to Canaan and Lakeville. Turn on 41 South to Sharon, and then turn onto 4 South to Cornwall Bridge and through several towns with shopping, restaurants, and sights to see. Pick up Route 7 and ride south along the Appalachian Trail to New Milford, and then if you choose, turn onto 45 North and head back to Canaan.
This route is popular with tourists, so you may wish to explore this in the off-season. Throughout the ride, you’ll find plenty of state parks, museums, and quaint towns to explore, as well as many places to stay and shop, especially along Route 7. The Appalachian Trail has scenery like no other, and much of the ride is along designated scenic routes.
Which route would you prefer, or do you know of any wonderful motorcycle routes in CT?
Being accused of sexual assault, rape, or criminal sexual conduct is not something anyone thinks will happen to them, but the fact is that it can happen—and if it’s not handled properly, the charge (even when proven false) can dramatically affect your life and future. Taking the proper steps, and finding a local sexual assault attorney immediately, can make all the difference.
Sexual assault charges may be filed for a number of reasons, and can be filed on behalf of adults or children. In fact, these charges are alarmingly common in divorce cases, especially those with contentious custody battles. One thing that you need to understand is that sexual assault cases are strenuously prosecuted, and rightly so. You would want a rape or criminal sexual conduct that was perpetrated against you or a family member to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. However, when the charges are false, zealous prosecution makes it even more difficult to defend these types of cases.
Do not talk to the police before you retain an attorney.
The police are not on your side, and they do not want to help you, no matter what they may say. Do not tell them anything until you have a rape lawyer by your side.
Find the right criminal defense attorney Charleston SC locals trust.
When you hire specifically a sexual assault or rape defense lawyer, make sure that he or she has plenty of experience and expertise in this type of case, and ensure that they have the investigative resources to adequately defend you.
Keep your cool.
Being falsely accused of sexual assault is infuriating, shocking, and demeaning. You are understandably angry and upset, but you need to stay calm and focused. You can help your lawyer to defend you by being completely honest about the situation and your history with the alleged victim.
Understand that the justice system may not be fair to you.
Sexual offenses are considered especially monstrous, and everyone involved wants to see someone put away for the crime. That someone with the target on the forehead is you, and you need to be wary of the system and let your attorney do his or her job.
Do not talk to anyone about the case without your lawyer present.
The prosecution and your alleged victim, as well as his or her family and friends, are watching you. You cannot talk to anyone about the case, not even your own family and friends, without your lawyer present. Don’t even joke about it. The prosecution can subpoena anyone it chooses, and you do not want anyone else getting involved or telling the court anything you’ve said.
If you’re accused of rape, criminal sexual conduct, or sexual assault, find a lawyer immediately, and keep quiet.
Finding holiday gifts for bikers isn’t always easy if you don’t ride yourself. As South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys who also ride, we have some great ideas for you from Motorcycle Superstore.
This sleek, lightweight helmet comes in a variety of colors and has a button to move the chin bar, in addition to a sunshade and ventilation system. With a five-year warranty, an aerodynamic design, and an antifog and antiscratch shield, this helmet will quickly become a favorite.
Image above of the Bell Revolver Helmet, taken from Motorcycle-Superstore.com.
This helmet is a bit more rounded in design than the Bell helmet and has a large eye port for expanded visibility. It’s adjustable, and SilverCool™ technology allows heat and moisture to flow out of the helmet.
With a water-resistant frame and waterproof liner, this protective jacket is the one you want on misty days. Thermoplastic shoulder protectors and C.E. approved elbow protectors make this jacket a good choice for riding anywhere. Fully adjustable for every rider, the Hell ‘n Back jacket has controlled ventilation and hydration systems.
Image above of the Speed and Strength Hell ‘n Back Jacket, taken from Motorcycle-Superstore.com.
These lightweight pants have a Carbolex shell with polyester knee panels for the ultimate in comfort and strength. The exterior is waterproof yet breathable, and the seat reduces slipping while the accordion panels at the waist and knees increase flexibility. Reflective materials and piping increase visibility at night.
Miscellaneous gear and stocking stuffers
These easy-to-mount saddlebags are roomy and functional and pair perfectly with other MotoCentric Mototrek bags. With quick-opening zippers, scratch resistant pads, rain covers, carrying handles, and a lifetime warranty, your biker will love these saddlebags.
All leather, waterproof gloves protect the hands from rain, cold, wind, and abrasion. With Thinsulate™ insulation for warmth and a rubber shield wiper on the left glove, these are the perfect gift for any biker.
Image above of River Road Taos Cold Weather Gloves, taken from Motorcycle-Superstore.com.
With flat seams to prevent pressure lines, this balaclava gives a skintight fit while wicking moisture from the face, keeping the user warm and dry. It can be used alone or with any type of helmet.
What’s the best biker gift you’ve ever received?
While holiday parties are fun and a wonderful way to celebrate the season, too many partiers end up with a nasty surprise: a DUI charge and a South Carolina DUI attorney. Fortunately, avoiding a DUI is easy if you know how.
Have only one drink per hour.
Your liver can process the alcohol from one shot, one beer, or one glass of wine per hour. If you stay within that guideline, you won’t have enough alcohol in your system at any one time to warrant a DUI charge.
If you think you’ll have a hard time drinking only one an hour, ask for nonalcoholic drinks in between the alcoholic ones. You can also use a blood alcohol content calculator and determine how many drinks you can have per hour to stay below the legal level. To be safe, drink less than the calculator allows.
Drink early in the evening.
Some holiday revelers prefer to have three or four drinks early in the evening and then switch to nonalcoholic drinks for the rest of the night. Just make sure you wait a full hour per drink before driving home.
Avoid sobriety checkpoints.
Many cities have sobriety checkpoints set up at specific locations, in which they pull over drivers to see if they’re sober. Sometimes you’ll know ahead of time where they are, and even if you’ve had only a little to drink, you should avoid them whenever possible.
If you do go through a checkpoint and are detained on suspicion of DUI, call a good South Carolina DUI lawyer as soon as possible, and do not say anything to police that could be used against you. Know your rights and the DUI arrest procedure police must follow.
Have a designated driver.
If you go with a group, have someone be the designated driver so no one has to worry about counting drinks. Make sure your driver is responsible and truly will stay sober. Make sure the bartender knows who the driver is—often the designated driver can drink soda, tea, and coffee free.
Take a taxi.
If you end up drinking too much, take a taxi home. You can always go and pick up your car the next day. If you know beforehand that you’re likely to drink more than you should, take a taxi to the party. It may be expensive, but it’s much less than a DUI will cost you.
For more South Carolina law tips, visit us on Facebook.
If you can avoid driving when the weather turns bad, do it. However, if you need to drive, here are some tips to keep you safe and accident free.
Consider public transportation, carpooling, or a taxi.
If you are uncomfortable driving on snow and ice, explore other options for getting to work. You’ll feel much better and stay safer, and you’ll avoid causing problems for other drivers.
Make sure your tires have plenty of tread.
Your tires need a tread of at least 6/32” to be safe, and more is better. Have your mechanic measure your tread depth.
As Charleston car accident attorneys, one of the most common mistakes we see people make in the winter is failure to slow down. Your car is not as maneuverable on snow and ice as it is on dry roads, and you cannot stop as easily. Driving more slowly means you are less likely to lose control of your vehicle, and it takes less time to stop it.
Leave plenty of room, and stay alert.
Allow at least three times more space between your car and any vehicle in front of you. You need this cushion in case you need to stop your car. Your driving needs to have your full attention so you can anticipate slowing down or stopping. Put down the cell phone, the food, and anything else that may be distracting you.
Do not suddenly hit your brakes on snow and ice, as you may put your car into a skid or a slide. Watch the cars around you to judge if you need to slow down. If you do not have antilock brakes, pump them gently to avoid locking. If you do have antilock brakes, keep the pressure to the brakes steady and they will pump themselves.
Let the car’s transmission help you.
If you have a car with manual transmission, drive one gear lower than you normally would for the speed you’re traveling. If you drive an automatic, put it in a lower gear than “D”. You’ll be driving more slowly and won’t need to use your brake as much. Do not use overdrive on snowy or icy roads.
Do not use cruise control when the roads are wet.
On wet roads, no matter the temperature, you lose control if you use cruise control. Even if no one else is around, leave cruise off.
If you slide . . .
Take your foot off the gas. If you have rear-wheel drive, steer in the direction you want to go. If you have a front-wheel-drive car, put the car in neutral until you regain control, then steer in the direction you want to go.
As you would in the summer, make sure you have plenty of windshield washer fluid and that your wiper blades are in good shape. Keep the inside of the windshield clean, and ensure that your headlights are visible whenever possible.
What’s your best winter driving tip?