In the late 1860’s, Sylvester H. Roper of Roxbury, Massachusetts invented one of the first steam powered motorcycles: The Roper Steam Velocipede. It ran on a coal-fired boiler (ouch, HOT!) that sat between the wheels. After his initial prototype, Roper built a new and revised version in 1884, based on the then state of the art safety bicycle frame type.
An 1869 Roper is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution.
Roper invented many different things, but is known for being that guy who died while riding one of his inventions. On June 1st, 1896, Roper rode one of his later velocipede models, a bicycle with a steam engine added, around Cambridge, Ma. He made several laps around the track, appeared to wobble and then fell, suffered a head wound and was found dead. The cause of death was found to be heart failure.
The Roper steam velocipede of may have been the first motorcycle, for which he was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2002.