Brief Time Line of Motorcycling History (1885-2000)

  • 1885 — First motorcycle
  • 1903 — Harley-Davidson Motor Company founded
  • 1912 — First white lines on roads
  • 1914 — First stop signal
  • 1928 — First front-wheel brakes on Harley-Davidson motorcycles met with skepticism
  • 1939 — First flashing turn signals
  • 1940 — First sealed-beam headlights
  • 1945 — 198,000 motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1949 — Harley-Davidson fits hydraulic front suspension
  • 1949 — Honda builds its first motorcycle
  • 1952 — First hydraulic brakes on motorcycles
  • 1953 — Patent for protective helmet issued for energy-absorbing liner separate
  • 1953 — Movie The Wild One released
  • 1955 — 450,000 motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1957 — Snell Memorial Foundation established to create helmet performance standards
  • 1958 — California Highway Patrol motorcycle officers begin using helmets
  • 1958 — Harley-Davidson introduces rear suspension
  • 1958 — Over 500,000 motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1959 — First Japanese motorcycle manufacturer (Yamaha), enters U.S. market
  • 1962 — 646,000 motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1962 — “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” campaign launched
  • 1965 — 1.4 million motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1966 — First ANSI Z90.1 performance standard for motorcycle helmets
  • 1966 — Law directing the issuance of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) enacted
  • 1967 — Bell Helmets introduces the first full facial-coverage helmet
  • 1969 — 660,000 motorcycles sold in the U.S.
  • 1969 — Stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in less than 13 seconds
  • 1970 — Movie Easy Rider released
  • 1970 — 1.1 million motorcycles sold in the U.S.
  • 1970 — 2.8 million motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1972 — FMVSS 123 standardizes motorcycle controls
  • 1973 — MSF created
  • 1974 — FMVSS 218, Motorcycle Helmets promulgated
  • 1974 — 55-mph speed limit established nationwide
  • 1975 — 5 million motorcycles registered in the U.S.
  • 1975 — U.S. traffic fatalities: motorcycle occupants–3,265; passenger car occupants–37,897
  • 1976 — Harry Hurt begins study of motorcycle crashes at USC with NHTSA funding
  • 1977 — NHTSA funds rear-wheel-steering motorcycle project
  • 1978 — Stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in less than 12 seconds
  • 1980 — U.S. traffic fatalities peak: motorcycle occupants–5,144; passenger car occupants–27,449
  • 1980 — First International Motorcycle Safety Conference sponsored by MSF
  • 1981 — Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures
  • 1983 — Stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in less than 11 seconds
  • 1985 — U.S. traffic fatalities: motorcycle occupants–4,564; passenger car occupants–23,212
  • 1985 — 5.4 million motorcycles registered and 700,000 sold in the United States
  • 1986 — Superbike ban proposed and defeated
  • 1990 — U.S. traffic fatalities: motorcycle occupants–3,244; passenger car occupants–24,092
  • 1990 — Second International Motorcycle Safety Conference sponsored by MSF
  • 1991 — First antilock brakes on motorcycles
  • 1998 — Stock motorcycles run quarter-mile in less than 10 seconds

 

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