Gillet Herstal - Luxe à courroie
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Gillet Herstal D2-492-29-16
Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 350
Model : Luxe à courroie
Production : 1922 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


300cc Luxe - 1923

The first of many

Belgium benefitted little from the large stocks of Allied motorcycles abandoned in France at the end of WWI. Its need for basic transportation was filled by Ateliers Gillet. Founded in 1919, Gillet marketed a lightweight motorcycle that combined durability, quality and performance.

"Backwards" Engine

In those days of the Depression, when people couldn't afford repair bills, the public demanded simple, reliable motorcycles – and what could be more simple than a two-stroke? Oddly enough, the engine was mounted "back-to-front" in the frame, with its exhaust at the back and its gearbox in front. The explanation was simple: The idea was to avoid belt slip by lessening the angle formed between the front and rear pulleys.

Competition Record

On the first Gillets, the cylinder head was a detachable aluminum casting, but subsequent models had fixed heads. Launched in 300cc form, the engine had its capacity raised to 350cc, then remained much the same until the end of production in 1927, the same year that Gillet abandoned belt drive. To demonstrate the quality of its products, Gillet entered them in competition and the victories soon began to pile up, starting with victory in the 350cc class of the first Belgian Grand Prix in 1921. For that race, the Gillets were fitted with chain drive and the clutch was separate from the gearbox, directly below the saddle. The same machines competed in the 1922 Tour de France and this model was the French champion in 1923.


Engine: 300cc (74x70 mm) air-cooled Gillet single-cylinder

Power Rating: 3 hp

Valves: two-stroke, three transfer ports

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 2-speed, chain final drive

Suspension: girder forks (front); rigid (rear)

Brakes: bicycle-type rim brake (front); belt rim (rear)

Wheels: wire clincher (front & rear)

Weight: 176 lb

Maximum Speed: 55 mph

The 3 hp Gillet was offered either in this "Luxe" version or as the cheaper "Sport", which had neither kick-starter nor clutch.

Motorcycle encyclopedia Moto Passion, realised by François-Marie Dumas, include almost 2000 photos presented with an exhaustive history of the motorcycles exhibited.

This unique collection has been realised with the participation of many specialists. With many thanks in particular to Yves Campion, Michael Dregni, Didier Ganneau, Jean Goyard, Helmut Krackowizer, Michel Montange, Christian Rey, Bernard Salvat, Mick Woollett, etc

One can order here

  • Original cards on paper (in french)
  • High resolution scans or original documents presented and signed with my name.

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François-Marie Dumas

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