Folklore states that horsepower was crafted with an 18th century Scottish engineer named James Watt. Watt had a buddy, a brewer, who wanted an engine that would match the power of a horse. Word has it that Watt whipped him up one that did just that. And that’s how the term came about. Sorry to say, y’all, but this story about the history of horsepower is most likely horseshit.
Here is what historians and scientists of the world actually know: Watt wanted to equate the productivity of steam engines to the power of draft horses. And so after much trial, error, and finally success by Watt, the term “horsepower” was born. The measurement later encompassed the output power of other types of piston-powered reciprocation and internal-combustion engines, as well as turbines, electric motors, and other machinery.
Currently there are a ton of different standards and types of measured horsepower, but we here at Hot Bike are all about good-old, tried-and-true mechanical horsepower.
If you didn’t know already, horsepower is why and how this magazine came about back in 1971. Yup, before chromed-out Softails, fat-tired choppers, and big-wheeled baggers, Hot Bike was the first V-twin performance magazine. And we still make performance a cornerstone of every issue we print today.
Hot Bike’s print and online editors are just like you. We are up late at night after work fiddling with our bikes by adding or modifying parts to increase horsepower. And why not? We are just following after our two-wheeled forefathers. It’s a lifestyle that started the day after the first Harley and Indian motorcycles were built back in the early 1900s. Although the times and ways to gain speed have changed for 46 years, Hot Bike magazine is, was, and will always be chock-full of go-fast goodies. In all actuality, we have bored out this issue to bring you many of the best sugarplums of speed and how to get it.
We also added some solid engine, suspension, and metal-shaping tech features as well. John, Ed, and I also rounded out this issue with some stellar bikes that we feel are worthy of being placed in the horsepower issue, making this one hell of a killer crop of dead trees. HB