Made in Belgium from 1901 to 1908 (Sales continued until 1910)
Sylvain de Jong, born Amsterdam 1868, with his brothers built Mercury bicycles in Antwerp from 1885. He began his own firm, Minerva, in 1899 and began producing motorcycles and voiturettes. His first machine used a Z & L (later Zurcher) engine.
Prior to the Great War, Minerva became quite famous for its range of motorcycles with 1.5hp to 8hp motors. These engines were also supplied to over 100 other manufacturers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles, and were licenced for manufacture in other countries. The factory ceased production of motorcycles in 1909 in favour of high quality cars which competed with the likes of Rolls- Royce and Hispano-Suiza, with clients in wealthy and influential circles including royalty and stars of stage and screen.
Three models were presented in 1903 - 239cc and 331cc clip-on engine machines, and a 232cc model Romania with the engine mounted vertically in the frame - a true motorcycle. The Romania name for the 1¾hp machine was used in 1903 only - the following year they reverted to Minerva for these and all other models.
1904 models had mechanically opened valves and were fitted with Longuemare carburettors. Engines were available in capacities of 254cc, 345cc and 433cc, and in 1905 a 577cc V-twin was added to the range.
The 1907 Minerva was rigid framed (sans front suspension also) with belt drive directly from the crank. In 1909, the final year of production, the factory offered a range of motorcycles from 254cc singles to 577cc and 855cc V-twins, now fitted with G. & A. carburettors. Brown and Barlow carburettors may have been used some British-built machines, and there is certainly one such in Australia. By this time, the new Bosch ignition was available as an alternative to Eisemann.
In total, some 35,000 Minerva motorcycles were built in the Belgian factory.
The company was declared bankrupt in 1934, and was taken over by Imperia of Belgium which made vehicles during WWII. A revival of the company was attempted in 1953 or 1954 with the production of scooters under licence from MV Agusta, but this failed and the factory went into final liquidation in 1958.
Manufacturers utilising Minerva engines included
See also Minerva (Great Britain)
Minerva Motocyclettes 1900-1909: mathieudepuydt.com/minerva
There is an excellent period photograph of a Lewis c1904 with Minerva engine in the State Library of South Australia collection, and more on Murray Barnard's site
Mystery pioneer single, possibly a Rex?
Sun Feb 17 2008
ritchie.hamish at google.com (bounced - try gmail.com)
minerva 3.5 hp
looking for more detail re the minerva bikes as seem to have a family history of these bikes in new zealand. would be interested in seeing any early photos or purchasing any parts particulary a motor .
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