Unlike cars, which are driven by the motion of a single piston in an internal combustion engine, motorcycles use two wheels powered by a crankshaft, or drive shaft. The engines are normally gasoline powered, but there are a growing number of motorcycles that run on electric motors or other fuels like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
While the technology behind motorcycles is complex, they operate on the same principles as other vehicles. Like cars, they have a chassis made of a metal frame with a seat and handlebars. Two tires are attached to the front and back of the frame, with the exception of some small models that have only one tire. There is a chain or belt that transfers power from the engine to the rear wheel sprockets, and there are usually four to six gears for varying speeds. The clutch is operated by a lever on the left side of the bike, and there are usually handgrip and foot-operated brakes.
There are a wide variety of motorcycles available today, from a basic standard bike that is good for riding around town or bopping to music in your garage, all the way up to exotic machines that can race at high-speed on a public road. In fact, many experts recommend a standard model for a new rider’s first bike; they can be cost-effective and are generally easier to maneuver than sport bikes.
The popularity of motorcycles has increased rapidly over the past decade, partly due to high fuel prices and a growing number of people who are turning in their car keys for a more economical ride. But the motorcycle is a very different vehicle than a car, and there are some important differences in safety rules.