French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Voisin Motorcycle Engines

Gabriel Voisin established his company at Issy-les-Moulineaux, Seine, building aircraft, motorcycle engines and automobiles.

Voisin Engines

Supplied engines to Austral (1929), DFR, Dresch, CP-Roleo, Origan and others.

These included 250, 350cc SV and 350cc OHV singles.

Motor Fly

In 1919 Voisin applied for a patent for his Motor Fly. This was a motorized wheel that could replace the rear wheel of a conventional bicycle, powered by a 157cc single-cylinder two-stroke engine with an inverted cylinder. The 2.5 litre fuel tank was attached below to bicycle frame, and the engine could be disengaged allowing normal pedal operation.

The following year a second patent was obtained on a modified unit.(1)

One of his more unusual machines was the 1949 C30 Biscooter, which has the appearance of the lovechild of a 2CV and a Mini-Moke. In 1953 a Spanish firm developed this as the Biscuter which did very well commercially. The Spanish nicknamed it the Zapatilla.

Paris Salon, 1919

The Sulky.

One of the many curiosities in cycle cars at the Show is the Sulky, made by the well-known aeroplane firm of Voisin. Its motive power is a two-cylinder engine fixed to the side of the frame, with the cylinders placed tandem fashion, and equipped with overhead valve gear. Thence the drive is by propeller-shaft to a small friction wheel, which engages with the inside of the near side wheel disc, the only wheel that is driven.

Motor Fly.

Another ingenious cycle attachment takes the form of a small inverted two-stroke, which drives by friction on to a fabric-faced drum on the rear wheel. This wheel is specially constructed, and consists of a disc dished back to one side of the wheel so as partially to enclose and protect the engine.

The Motor Cycle, October 1919

1. Patent No. 120,473 in 1919 relating to a "driving wheel for converting a bicycle into a light motorcycle", and 1920 Patent No. 513,941 for a two-speed system.
2. Harry Houdini flew a Voisin on March 18, 1910 whilst on a visit to Australia.

Sources:,, The Motor Cycle

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