French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Darracq Motorcycles

A Brief History of the Firm

Alexandre Darracq built the 5 cylinder Millet motorcycles and tricycles, and the Perfecta tricycles with Soncin or Aster engines.

Darracq and Paul Aucoq were the founders of Compagnie des Cycles Gladiator which built bicycles, automobiles and motorcycles.

Darracq presented an electric carriage at the Salon du Cycle of 1898 which was shown to be capable of travelling for four hours at 15 km/h. Downhill runs recharged the batteries which were in the very early stages of developement and accounted for almost half the weight of the vehicle.

By 1904 Darracq & Cie was one of the largest producers of automobiles in France, and in 1906 Darracq founded Società Anonima Italiana Darracq in Milan, the company which became Alfa Romeo.

Millet Five Cylinder Motorcycle

Félix Théodore Millet built tricycles and motorcycles powered by a 5 cylinder engine which was integral with the rear wheel, the first designs appearing in 1892. The hollow axle of the rear wheel formed the crankshaft. On the solo motorcycles the rear guard formed the fuel tank and the surface carburettor was located between the wheels. Ignition was via a Bunsen cell and induction coil, and long before it became common practice it featured a handlebar-mounted twistgrip throttle control.

The Millet is believed to have been the first motorcycle to be fitted with pneumatic tyres.

It is estimated that the machine was capable of 35 km/h with the engine whirring along in excess of 180rpm.

Darracq produced the Millet from 1894 to 1895.

Darracq Sources: Bourdache (pp 21, 33, 49, 105, 261, 274.), Wikipedia,

Millet Sources: Bourdache (pp 21, 25, 33-36, 44, 45, 57, 72, 214, 380), Anibal Martinez, François-Marie Dumas.

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