In the early 1880s Gottleib Daimler worked as an assistant to Dr. Nicholas Otto. Otto was an early maker of gasoline engines, in a time where there was little use for the volatile fraction from oil. Daimler decided to leave Otto and build vehicles using a gas engine. His first vehicle was a test bed for later automobiles, and was basically a motorcycle with training wheels. It was called the Daimler Reitwagen, and was patented in 1885.
It had a wooden frame, a seat about like a saddle for a horse, and two outrigger wheels on springs. Daimler's son rode the machine for 6 miles around the roads rural Cannstatt Germany. The machine had twist grip controls, and was air cooled. It had one cylinder, weighed 198 lbs (90 kg), and a top speed of 7mph (12km/hr). The engine was fan cooled, put out 0.5 hp, and ran at 700 rpm. The wheels were wooden with an iron band on the outside. Considered by some the first motorcycle, it actually had 4 wheels so was not a motorcycle, and came 16 years after the steam powered motorcycle of Sylvester Roper, and 14 years after the Michaux - Perreaux steam powered bicycle.
At the same time as Daimler was developing his "motorcycle", his future partner Carl Benz was designing a motorized tricycle.