A Brief History of the Marque
Built in Geneva, Moto Rêve machines were quite similar to those of Motosacoche which were also built in the lakeside capital. Launched in 1906, by 1907 they were being marketed in England under the Norton banner, and at least one other British manufacturer used their engines to build a machine of the same name. The marque did well until 1914, but after the war it slowly faded from view.
There appears to have been a relationship with ALP motorcycles.
In 1907 Norton created their first "V" Twin using a Moto Reve engine. This was displayed at the Olympia show on the Moto Reve stand and Pops Norton called it the "Norton Energette"
The British offices were Moto-Rêve Ltd., Acton Vale, Middlesex and Moto-Rêve Co. Ltd., Alperton, Wembley.
The machines were also marketed in England as MR and Alp, and Moto-Reve engines were used in Wolf motorcycles. They were imported to Sweden by Husqvarna who named the 1915 V-twin "Lyxmaskin typ 75", retaining the original badges.
Sources: Yesterdays; Wikipedia NL
1905 The beginning!
A HISTORY OF THE MOTO-REVE MOTORCYCLE
In 1905 Mr. David and his companions founded a stock corporation, called Moto-Rêve. The word means " Dream bike". It is interesting that whilst Moto-Rêve was established in Genève, on Rue de Lancy, another successful and larger company, called *Motosacoche (est. 1899) had moved into Rue Acacias Genève. It is assumed, but not proven, that some engineers from Motosacoche moved to Moto-Rêve to realise their dream of a V-twin engine.
This fits, because the first Moto-Rêve “Model A” was a V-twin that was placed in a bicycle frame without any change. In those days Motosacoche only had a single cylinder engine in their program that needed a supporting frame to be fixed. The Motosacoche V-twin model C1 came 2 years later to the market.
In the magazine "La Suisse Sportive" Nr.369 you could read that under the supervision of Mr. David, the boss of Moto-Rêve, the “Model A” was designed, constructed and brought to production in only 4 months. In May 1906 you could see the “Model A” on display at the Salon du Cycle in Genève. It was a 2 hp. 274cc v-twin with automatic inlet valves.
The fuel tank was rectangular, and contained 3,5l petrol and 1,5l oil. Approximately 400 engines where built with this shape of tank, most of them being put into BSA bicycle frames. From then on Moto-Rêve even made their own frames.
* From 1900 Motosacoche (in Genève) produced a bicycle auxiliary engine, in a sub frame that could be installed into a conventional bicycle. This looked like an engine in a bag, hence the Motosacoche name, meaning "engine in a bag".
Source: Eric Tindall (see below)
The Moto Reve Co.
The Moto Reve motor bicycle is one of the best made of the lightweight motor bicycles now becoming so popular this country, the finish being remarkably good. The engine is of 2 h.p., bore and stroke 50 by 70, and the cylinders are set at an angle of 60°. The inlet valves are automatically operated, and the exhaust valves are worked by means of adjustable tappets. The ignition is by high tension magneto, manufactured by The Moto Reve Co. under Gianoli patents. The carburetter interesting, but it has been fully dealt with in a previous me of The Motor Cycle.
The little machine is well thought out, and well designed spring forks are fitted. One of the machines shown on the stand is fitted with the Druid spring forks, which allows for a rim brake being used. A new model which should not be missed is the Moto Reve lady's motor cycle, which is, unfortunately, in an unfinished condition, the necessary parts had not arrived by the time the show ended. When completed the machine will weigh 80 lbs. The engine is carried in a looped frame, and flaps will be provided to protect the lady's clothing.
As a contrast to the lightweight just described, the 5 h.p. twin-cylinder Norton motor bicycle is shown on the same stand. It will be remembered that the Norton twin won the twin-cylinder class of Tourist Trophy held on the Isle of Man at the end of May, the actual machine which competed being shown. The latest model has an English built engine fitted with the De Veulle carburetter controlled from the handle-bars, and very large exhaust ports. It is interesting to note that this engine is fitted with ball bearings at both ends of the main shaft.
Moto Rêve Co., Ltd.
Gray's Inn Road, W.C. Stand No. 108.
A number of 1909 models of these handy and comparatively powerful light-weights are to be seen on this stand. The most noticeable alteration is in the tyres, which are now 2in. heavy motor-cycle Continentals. A strong girder fork has been added, and a pedal-applied belt rim brake operated from the foot-rest by a perfectly straight adjustable rod. Control is, as before, entirely from the handle-bar, and the valve lifter has been slightly strengthened. The tank has been somewhat increased in size and will contain a full gallon of petrol and a quart of oil. Gauges are fitted to each compartment, and there are pipes with taps to convey petrol to the compression taps to ensure easy starting when the engine is cold or sticky. At 37 guineas complete, with everything ready for the road, we consider this machine is extremely good value for the money.
No startling improvements are to be found in this splendid little lightweight, fitted with a 2 h.p. V engine, 50 by 70. All the improvements and alterations are in small but somewhat important details, e.g., the wheels are built somewhat stronger, and substantial 2in. Continental tyres are fitted. A couple of taps with small pipes leading from the tank to the compression taps are provided, so that petrol can be easily injected when the engine is difficult to start.
The design of the spring forks is distinctly good, the forks being light, while at the same time they are strengthened by the aid of a girder. An extra release valve has been added to the crank chamber to prevent the oil from being splashed out. Another small but important point is the fitting of a toolbag, which comprises a neat roll, so that the tools can be inserted and the whole neatly rolled up. A new belt rim brake, operated by a pedal on the footrests, deserves special attention, since it is a fitment which is extremely neatly carried out.
Another innovation consists of an alternative model, which allows the engine to be carried very low dowm indeed, rendering it most accessible, so that the cylinders can be removed without detaching the engine from the frame.
jfhlaw at gmail.com
Do these bikes ever come up for sale and can you approximate the value of one? I read somewhere that there were only 60 known to exist?
Fri Nov 30 2012
moto reve 1909
Tue May 17 2011
Moto Rêve Motorcycles
Moto Rêve Unknown
A few years ago I bought an old motorbike petrol tank at an antique fair in France. The seller told me it was from a Moto Rêve. Is anybody interested in buying it.Photos can be provide if required.
Wed Dec 08 2010
motoreve 1914 small twin 85lbs weight
I have written a short text about G A Reed of York for a village website.
Register entries for him show he owned a Motoreve Twin 85 lbs weight regd 1914 in York He trialled m/c .
Can I use a picture of a motoreve from your site please.
I C Gibbs
Shipley West Yorkshire England
25 Coombe Hill Road
My Father started his own firm The Motor Supply Company in Lewisham in 1907. During the year he negotiated with M.R. Geneva to import a few machines. He must have considered that they were a worthwhile proposition but found that they were not an easy Company to deal with (French management!!) difficult to pin them down to a satisfactory business arrangement. Any way eventually they were appointed sole concessionaires for the UK & Colonies on a two year arrangement & think, he arranged to Exhibit the machines "Stanley Show" Royal Agricultural Hall 18-28 November 1908. On the first day problems arose when Bowden's made a deputation accusing them of an infringement of cable Patents. This was resolved quickly & future imports consisted of engines only.
Arrangements had to be made regarding the manufacture of parts, and frames etc. this was fraught with problems plus assembly arrangements had to be made. The appointment of sales agencies in the bigger towns also sorted out. Genève were slow a erratic with their deliveries of engines which would sometimes arrive without belts, etc and customers would be disappointed and from time to time matters improved and he moved to Grays Inn Road London (SEE PHOTO) 6.Aug 1908 and established a works at Acton Vale.
He changed the name to The Moto Reve Co Ltd. (British Agency & Agencies all over the UK). The machines assembled and built here were supplied through the appointed agencies or to individuals going abroad. I guess Moto Reve Geneva made similar arrangements in other countries, (but) I have no information about this.
Re: The Alperton Motor Co which ceased in 1919 a Bus garage stands on the site today. (SEE PHOTO)
Always on the lookout for more businesses Motosacoche were contacted in Feb 1909 by Lenslthen Howard and after promising an agency, they retracted after finding out that the owners of the British Cycle Manufacturing Co were also owned by Feeney's.
I notice that the The illustrated encyclopedia of motorcycles by Erwin Tragatsch - Hamlyn shows a small para "M.R. 1904 - 1925. Geneva & GB."
The editor is Erwin Tragatch, (ISBN 10: 0600362728)
Mon 16th August
The 138 Grays Inn Road photo was taken during a trip that I made to London in the 1980's. later they also took on next doors premises as later addresses will show
The High Street Alperton photo is a period shot. This picture also confirms the source of "THE ALP" another Motorcycle produced by MR (Moto Reve changed to MR during the first WW as the Moto Reve sounded too foreign and was affecting sales)
"by 1907 they were being marketed in England under the Norton banner"
You may wish to alter this portion of your page as I have correspondence between Harold Karslake and John Griffith of the "Motor Cycling" who interviewed Basil Feeney in 1958 (page 337). What they agreed is that Norton created their first "V" Twin using a Moto Reve engine this was displayed at the Olympia show on the Moto Reve Stand and Pops Norton called it the "Norton Energette" The engine fitted to my bike I believe was the one used for their trials!!
As I hope to produce the definitive story of the British Moto Reve one day I could go on for ever but perhaps this little snippet gives you some information for now.
All the best
Fri Aug 13 2010
Posted by Tim Tidmas on August 8, 2010, 1:24 pm
What a great Saturday, Steve, Ian and myself (Tim Tidmas) went round to Eric's to help him get his Moto Reve up and running. This bike was manufactured in 1909 and has not run since 1928. All credit to Eric as the bike has been renovated to the highest standard. Susan ( Eric's wife ) put on a lunch that matched the bike for excellence, Ham and mustard sandwiches, Melton Mowbray pork pies, a slab of Stilton cheese that would sink a battle ship complete with salad. Then to follow home made Victoria sponge cake that was nigh on 6" thick, malt loaf and fresh strawberries, well done Sue. It was decided that Eric should share his wife one week in four. By the afternoon the bike was peddled into life by Steve our fit test pilot and smiles were all round, well done lads.