TO mark the date in 1897 when what’s believed to have been the first ever motorcycle race took place, we’ve gone full throttle and found some interesting facts about bikes.

What’s considered to have been the earliest race specifically for motorcycles was held at Sheen House, Richmond, over a distance of one mile.

The winner was Charles Jarrot on a Fournier with a time of two minutes and eight seconds.

With safety not a priority at the time, this and subsequent races were as much a test of endurance for machine and rider as they were of speed.

Whether you’re a biker or not we hope you find these 10 facts about motorcycling interesting enough to get your motor running:

  • The front tyre provides 75 per cent of a bike’s grip when cornering.
  • The Vespa brand of scooter got its name from the Italian word for wasp.
  • As well as motorbikes, Kawasaki also makes spaceships. It only began making motorcycles in 1962 to publicise its ‘heavy industries’ which were unknown to the public.
  • Devil, Satan and Lucifer have all been brands of motorcycles.
  • The first motorcycle was the SH Roper 1869 steam cycle.
  • His character The Fonz may have been the epitome of cool but actor Henry Winkler couldn't actually ride a motorcycle.
  • When Valentino Rossi was five, his dad (a former motorbike racer himself) built him a go-kart as a substitute to biking out of concern for his son’s safety.
  • The TOTO motorcycle built in Japan in 2010 ran on human waste.
  • American Triumph dealer Bud Ekins did the now-famous 65ft motorcycle jump in The Great Escape (in one take), not Steve McQueen.
  • Between 1917 and 1923 macho American bike firm Harley-Davidson made pushbikes. Meanwhile, Hell’s Angels founder Sonny Barger said in his autobiography he prefers Japanese bikes to Harleys.