Boston (USA), 1869

Roper Motorcycle
Reconstruction: Museo del Sidecar, Cingoli (Macerata)
Materials: wood (ash, acacia, elm), forged iron, cast bronze, brass, cured leather, vegetable hair, animal hair, boiled linseed oil, pigments for varnish, pure gold, natural glues

This exhibit is a replica of the Roper Steam Velocipede on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Built by Sylvester Roper (1823-1896) in 1869, it is the first motorcycle in history. The frame is made of iron, the two knobs on the handlebars control acceleration and braking. The saddle is actually the water tank used to recharge the boiler; the burner-boiler set, which is connected to the chimney for releasing steam, is placed underneath. The hatch in the bottom section of the boiler serves to introduce wood or coal and feed the burner. The dream of making velocipedes self-propelled became real with the Roper steam vehicle, even if the definitive success would come only with the advent of the internal combustion engine.