Torpedo - F-Head
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Torpedo D2-492-81-07
Photo ou archives : G. Bonnafous

Capacity : 500
Model : F-Head
Production : 1905 -
Category : (R) Street Bike


500cc F-head - 1905

Survivor of a lost empire

Torpedo was one of the pioneer manufacturers that, at the beginning of this century, played its part in the motorization of the Austro-Hungarian Empire- particularly in its industrial heartland of Bohemia-Moravia. The firm was founded in 1903 at Kolin, east of Prague, by Trojan and Nagl. Its existence was brief, with production ending in 1912.

Lasting Memory

The Torpedo marque is best remembered for manufacturing extremely high quality motorcycles. Designed by Frantisek Trojan, they were entirely built at the works, right down to the carburetor.


Two models were initially available, both single-cylinder machines. One was a 330cc developing 3.5 hp, the other a 500cc 4 hp bike with opposed valves (an automatic overhead intake valve and a mechanically-operated side exhaust valve). Then the company progressed to mechanically-operated overhead intake and exhaust valves, as on this rare survivor dating from 1905. Torpedo also built V-twins of 6 and 8 hp. Even if the level of production never attained the level of the marque's major competitors in Bohemia such as Laurin-Klement, Puch or Walter, the Torpedo was still one of the best machines built in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some were still in regular use in what had become Czechoslovakia after WWI, while spare parts – made in the 1920s by the works after reconstruction – remained available for a long time.


Engine: 500cc air-cooled single-cylinder four-stroke; lubrication by hand-pump

Power Rating: 4 hp

Valves: overhead intake, side exhaust

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: direct-belt drive

Suspension: none

Brakes: band brake (rear)

Wheels: wire clincher (front & rear)

Weight: 165 lb

Maximum Speed: 44 mph

The main illustration shows the F-head 500cc Torpedo of 1905. Inset is a 330cc single from 1904 with an automatic intake valve.

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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