French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Leyat Tricycles

Marcel Leyat was an aviation enthusiast from his youth, and turned his attention to road-going vehicles in 1913 when he built his first propeller-driven Helica tricycle.

In 1919 the machines grew a fourth wheel and the engine was moved to a location more conventional than above the head of the rider.

Some 30 of these vehicles were sold, the last of which was built in 1925. The number of pedestrians sliced and diced by the aptly named Helica is unknown.

A Helica tricycle took a world speed record at Montlhéry racetrack in 1927, achieving 170km/h and 6 litres for 100km. Whilst this is a very fine achievement, the competition in the propeller-driven tricycle class was likely sparse.

As early as 1909 (some say 1907) Leyat built aircraft, both gliders and power planes, and continued to do so until the onset of WWII.

"On 15 August 1909, Marcel Leyat used this auto-towed launch method to fly his biplane glider 200 m at 10 m above the ground."
Sources:, Wikipedia, et al