French Motorcycles

ELF Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Marque

Developed between 1974 and 1988

The designer André de Cortanze with oil company Elf, and later in collaboration with Honda, built a variety of racing motorcycles. In 1978 the first machines used a Yamaha TZ750 engine in a frame utilising hub centre steering and carbon fibre brake discs. In 1982 they changed to 1000cc Honda engines for long-distance events like the Bol d'Or, and then built GP machines powered by NS500 Honda v-four two-strokes.

Ron Haslam was perhaps the most notable of their riders. ELF retired from competition at the end of the 1988 season.

Despite the enormous amount of development devoted to the motorcycles, few notable results were achieved on the the track. Honda purchased many of the patents which the team registered, but eventually only one was adopted on production machines - the single-sided swinging arm rear suspension now found on many road-going sports machines.

The Elf name also appeared on the Alain Michel LCR Krauser.

Sources:, François-Marie Dumas