French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Duncan-Superbie & Co.


16 Rue Haléry, Paris

Factory in Croissy

In November of 1894 Duncan and Suberbie obtained the rights to manufacture Hildebrand & Wolfmüller for France and Belgium. The following year they presented several petrol-engined motocyclettes at the Salon des Cycles et Automobiles which were in appearance quite similar to the H&W. They named their machine La Pétrolette, a term coined by Pierre Giffard of the Petit Journal.

The first automobile race, the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris, was held in June of 1895 and was won by Emile Levassor. Six motorcycles took part, only one of which finished the gruelling 47 hour first leg from Paris to Bordeaux - Duncan and Suberbie's "Reine Pétrolette", ridden by Georges Osmont.

By the end of 1895 some 50 machines had been sold, but all was not well. The motorcycles proved hard to start and numerous clients sued for their money to be returned. The company was sold in early 1897, and the new owners abandoned motorcycle manufacture.

Bourdache pp 21-28, 31, 32, 44, 233.
Graces Guide

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