100 Years of Motorcyles in America

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Mostly on loan from private collectors, the Morris Museum hits it out of the ballpark again, by offering on view 44 motorcycles from the turn of the 20th century to today, with “On The Road” exhibit.  Truly an example of form following function; the developing artistry of the motorcycle is nicely displayed.  I enjoyed viewing the evolution of motorcycles as purely a means of cheap transportation to motorcycles as works of art.

The earliest motorcycles were just that – motorized bicycles…..Someone strapped a motor onto the body, & the rider peddled until they could get the motor running.  Earliest motorcycles provided a cheaper form of transportation that automobiles – they cost less, took less gas & could traverse the underdeveloped roads of the time.

As time went on, improvements were made that made the motorcycle more durable and high performing, as this 1920’s Harley Davidson shows.

On left an Indian “Hill Climber” from 1940.  Motorcycles were widely used during World War II & gained a lot of GI fans, who after the war sought out the same bikes they enjoyed riding during the war.

Riding for pleasure eventually gave way to motorcycle clubs and a sub-culture of “Bikers” – and became part of the popular culture, with the classic film “Easy Rider”

To the present day popularity of customized motorcyles, like that of the Orange County Chopper bike displayed:


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