There is some amount of debate over the exact date, location, and claim to the invention of the motorcycle. Documented evidence can be found of steam-powered bicycles, developed independently during the course of the XIX century. Edward Butler in England and Gottfried Daimler in Germany seem to have been two of the earliest pioneers of the concept of a usable, practical motorcycle, in the mid 1880s. While Butler apparently ran out of financial means, Daimler was purely testing his engines, seeking to adapt them to cars.
It took yet another decade for the world to see production spreading, with France, Britain and Germany soon being joined by other prosperous countries, notably the USA. In a time of rapid economic growth, motorcycles enjoyed a quick evolution, fuelled by the viability of a fast personal vehicle made available at reasonable prices. Racing was also a crucial factor, providing real conditions for improvements to be considered, tested and implemented further.
Halfway along the XX century, motorcycles became a common sight across the world and demand kept on growing. After initial European and American dominance, Asia turned out to be, by far, the main buyer of motorcycles and the image of hundreds of bikes carrying all sorts of goods (or improbable amounts of people), entangled in indescribable traffic scenes in mega cities like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila or Jakarta can be seen on a daily basis.
Modern regulations with regards to safety, noise limitation and pollution prevention have been shaping recent production, forcing enterprises to adapt to new laws and norms, but surely won’t prevent the ongoing use of motorcycles as a worldwide transportation method for years to come.