French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Pernoo Motorcycles

Manufactured by Ernest-Leon Pernoo of 10, Cité Trévise, Paris (IXth)
Later at 47 bis, route de Versailles, Boulogne-sur-Seine

In July 1899 a machine using a Labitte engine mounted behind the rear wheel won the world's first race for two-wheeled motor bicycles, "Le Criterium des Motocyclettes", a course of 100km between Étampes and Chartres. The Pernoo was piloted by one of the Labitte brothers.

A surviving machine has a "frein à tampon cuillère" (spoon pad brake) on the rear wheel, but a drawing of another version shows a drum brake on the front wheel.

The term motocyclettes had been trademarked by the Werner Brothers (who possibly used a Labitte engine in their first machine) but was later ruled by the courts to be in the public domain.

Pernoo also built motor tricycles. He had considerable experience in the field, having worked with a Rudge and Whitworth cycle dealership in Paris. (As Bourdache points out, that concession was previously held by Duncan and Suberbie who built the Hildebrand & Wolfmüller under licence.)

One of these motorcycles was part of the Musee de Sury-le-Comtal Collection Lefranc.

Ernest Pernoo entered bankruptcy in July 1901. In 1906 he formed a partnership to build Eureka cars which lasted until 1907. He is mentioned again in 1912 as "Pernoo, from the Bozier house" participating in the Tour de France.

Motobicyclette Pernoo. C’est sur une machine de ce système qu’a été remporté le premier « critérium des motobicyclettes » en 1899. Le moteur, de construction spéciale, est disposé derrière la roue motrice à l’extrême arrière et la commande s’effectue par courroie. Cette machine (fig, 56) paraît avoir une grande stabilité, mais elle est assez pesante ; 45 à 50 kilogs environ, et les longues tringles servant à commander, depuis le guidon, ses divers organes, lui donnent un aspect peu séduisant. Toutefois les succès qu’elle a constamment remportés dans les courses la mettent sans contredit très au-dessus de tout ce qui a été fait jusqu’à présent dans cet ordre d’idées,.

Pernoo motorcycle. It was on a machine of this type that the first « critérium des motobicyclettes » was won in 1899. The engine, of special construction, is arranged behind the powered wheel at the extreme rear, and is driven by belt. This machine (fig. 56) seems to have a great stability, but it is rather heavy; 45 to 50 kilos approximately, and the long rods from the handlebars used to control its various components give it an unattractive look. However, the successes that it has constantly won in races undoubtedly put it far above all that has been done so far, in this order of ideas.
Source: Graffigny Ch. VI, pp 98-104




Guélon Collection,
Bourdache (pp 75, 84, 86, 87, 98, 99, 109, 309)

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