Unusual Motorcycles

A collection of curious concepts, prototypes and race bikes

Featuring a superb assortment of 500 photographs, drawings and period adverts, this well-researched book is a unique celebration of the most innovative, eccentric, misguided and sometimes plain daft motorcycles ever conceived and constructed.

Here is a compelling celebration of both the peculiar and the innovative. Unusual Motorcycles presents the stories surrounding all sorts of offbeat machinery – scooters, sidecars and engines as well as motorcycles – largely forgotten by today’s world. Containing 500 illustrations, this well-researched and attractive book explores strange niches of motorcycle history that will fascinate motorcycling enthusiasts with an interest in all things technical.

Coverage begins with a close look at some ‘unusual motorcycles’ with a significant place in history: examples include a highly advanced French motorcycle created by an aviation pioneer (Louis Clément, 1920), the first German motorcycle with shaft drive (Krieger-Gnädig, 1921) and a streamlined machine with its radial engine mounted within the front wheel (Killinger & Freund, 1938).

In a chapter devoted to ‘novel concepts’, there are sections about two-wheel-drive motorcycles (including the 1935 Rex-OEC and the Yamaha WR or the early 2000s), three-seater machines (the Czech Böhmerland and the French Moto Maître), electric motorcycles (such as the 1942 Socovel and 1972 Mobylette), and motorcycles fitted with skis and caterpillar tracks.

Racing machinery includes the landmark Peugeot twin-cylinder, overhead-camshaft Grand Prix racers of 1913-23, the 1949 DKW Gegenläufers (with two cylinders, four opposed pistons and a rotary supercharger), and the radical but unsuccessful BSA MC1 250 of 1954 (with its four radial valves and complex drive system).

In other chapters about engines, sidecars and scooters one finds more curiosities such as a motorcycle and sidecar made entirely from Meccano and the 1924 Seal Family Four, which accommodated the driver and two children within the sidecar and an adult passenger – presumably mother – on the attached ‘handlebarless’ motorcycle.

For 25 years François-Marie worked in product planning for Yamaha Motor Europe but he has also been writing about motorcycles since 1971. Nowadays his work appears mainly in La Vie de la Moto, but he has also written for Motor Revue, Moto Journal and Télé Poche. This is his third book, and his second to be published in English as well as French.

Ed. Haynes, 2012








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