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 Gnome et Rhone - 500 D
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Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas

Capacity : 500
Model : D
Production : 1923 - 1928
Category : (R) Street Bike


500cc TypeD -1927

From plane engines to motorbikes

In 1919, the plane engine manufacturers Gnome & Rhône decided to diversify into motorcycle manufacturing. They bought the license to build the advanced ABC 400cc flat-twin from one of their former wartime customers, the British firm Sopwith Aviation, whose Camel scouts were powered by Gnome rotary engines. But the ABC proved costly to build and Gnome & Rhône decided to build their own power unit.


Built to Last

That first Gnome & Rhône engine, a clean modern 500 side-valve single, bore more than a passing resemblance to the British JAP engine. Designed by an engineer named Bartlett, it had a cast-iron fixed-head cylinder, a single camshaft and hinged valve lifters. Ignition was by a magneto with manual advance and the tailpipe just had its ends clenched together and liberally drilled to form the most basic kind of muffler. Scarred by the experience of the complex and unreliable ABC, Gnome opted for simplicity.


A Reliable Sports Bike

At the 1923 Paris Salon, Gnome & Rhône unveiled its new Type D "Grand Sport," with a strengthened connecting rod assembly. Thecompany's own gearbox was a copy of the British Burman unit and final drive was by chain. The "D" could reach the magic 60 mph mark - not bad for its day- and to increase the comfort of the rigid rear end, Gnome offered balloon tires and friction dampers as an option. In 1928, the Model D, whose dependability had created a sound reputation for the marque, was replaced by the new side-valve D3.



Engine: 499cc (85x88mm) air-cooled fixedhead single-cylinder four-stroke

Power Rating: 10 hp@ 2500 rpm

Valves: side-valve

Fuel System: carburetor

Transmission: 3-speed, chain final drive

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

Brakes: drum (front & rear)

Wheels: 27x4.00 inch wire (front & rear)

Weight: 243 lb

Maximum Speed: 62 mph


This typical flat-tank sportster of the 1920s was remarkably well-equipped: It had a luggage carrier, front and rear drum brakes and a friction steering damper.


Le fichier Moto Passion réalisé par François-Marie Dumas réunit près de deux mille photos accompagnées d'un historique très complet des machines présentées.
Il sera progressivement mis à jour ici et toute information complémentaire est la bienvenue sur info@moto-collection.org.

Cette documentation unique, qui constitue sans doute l'encyclopédie la plus exhaustive jamais écrite sur l'histoire de la moto, a été réalisée avec l'assistance de nombreux spécialistes dont principalement Didier Ganneau, Christophe Gaime, Mick Woollett, Jean Goyard, Bernard Salvat, Christian Rey, Yves Campion, Helmut Krackowizer, Michael Dregni, Michel Montange, etc. que je remercie ici.

Disponible sur demande :
- Les fiches originales sur papier
- Les photos et archives signées de mon nom en haute définition ou les documents originaux.
Me contacter sur info@moto-collection.org pour les conditions et droits d'utilisation.