French Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Louis Janoir

After graduating from the Ecole Nationale des Arts et Métiers, Louis Janoir could hardly, at the beginning of the 20th century, do otherwise than take an interest in mechanics, which was still in its infancy.

His first experiences were in the field of aviation, as a pilot. Like many young people from "good society", he took part in competitions, in particular at the controls of a seaplane brand "Deperdussin" and participated in prestigious events such as the "Coupe Schneider" or the "Coupe Gordon-Bennet" .

The use of this type of plane is not insignificant in the context that interests us, since this machine, quite extraordinary for the time, included a monocoque metal cabin, at a time when most of the other "aeroplanes" were manufactured around a wooden structure, covered with canvas. We will see later that this monocoque structure probably influenced the design of the vehicles that Louis Janoir would design later.

Relatively logical continuation, Louis Janoir then built planes of his own design. Probably in very small numbers. Most of the devices that came out of the Janoir factories were Spad XIII, the construction of which was also entrusted to Levasseur and Blériot. Coincidence? All of them, at the end of the war, converted to motorcycles or automobiles. Their common point being a certain originality in the design of their vehicles... with varying degrees of success.

Janoir, when he turns to the subject that interests us most - the motorcycle - will innovate in all areas, or, at worst, opt for the most advanced solutions of the moment:

The frame was made of stamped sheet metal. It was surprising, since it evokes, in its front part, the "Deltabox" of the most recent productions. Journalists also spoke about it, chassis.

It is equipped with a rear suspension, the springs being "half-cantilever" leaf springs (that is to say, 1/2 leaves).

The two brakes (the rear is operated by a lever) are drum brakes and the wheels are interchangeable.

The swingarm holds the rear wheel with a pin. Technique probably too practical for "modernism" to have made it last: It allows the wheel to be removed without having to remove the brakes.

The front fork is less inspired, since it is of the "oscillating" type.

The engine, on the other hand, is a longitudinal "flat" twin cylinder whose cylinders are cast with the crankcase (a technique that will often be used in the 1960s on high-efficiency engines, to improve engine rigidity) and steel-lined .

Its cylinder heads are aluminum and detachable and the valves are overturned. The pistons are also made of aluminum and the connecting rods mounted on ball bearings.

On the transmission side, there is a huge single conical disc clutch and a 3-speed gearbox.

Was the technical audacity of this motorcycle an obstacle to its development? Did it present any problems for its manufacture? Did it lead to too high production costs or an excessive selling price?

Today I don't know. What is certain is that there are not many copies. If there is still one!

Janoir did not last long in this field and then turned to the automobile or, more precisely, bodywork for automobiles, the particularity of which was to be "all steel". In a way, the ancestor of monohulls. Definitely!


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