In the 21st century, there’s clear line drawn between cycling and motorcycling. But, at the dawn of the twentieth century, such divisions did not exist. Bicycles were still a novel form of transportation, with cyclists fighting daily battles with horse-drawn vehicles, policemen, pedestrians, local authorities that tried to restrict their use, and the conservative society of the day with its various codes of conduct constantly challenged by ‘bicyclists.’ When manufacturers started attaching engines to bicycles, there was not a single cyclist who was not excited by the prospect.
Cycle manufacturers were overjoyed to be able to diversify into making motorised bicycles and components to keep their businesses afloat, and the annual bicycle show became a motor cycle and bicycle show. As the Victorian Age gave way to the Edwardian, the Boer War ended, and a fabulous optimism swept over the public, much of it funded by the potential offered by these novel forms of independent transportation.
Bicycle prices had been forced down by over-production and intense competition so, as motorcycles and automobiles became the new fashionable dalliances of the upper classes, the working classes were able to afford secondhand bicycles. Increased mobility of the working population in turn helped industry. WW1 was a further turning point for invention and innovation in transportation; motorcycles not only now had clutches and gears, but soon they had chains to drive their wheels.
All along, chaps continued to tinker in their garages and sheds. Every male rider was equipped for at least basic maintenance, and female riders enjoyed the challenge of repairing their bicycles too. New models and innovations announced in the magazines of the day were eagerly scrutinised. Owning even a basic, cheap, secondhand bicycle entitled the rider to lucid dreams of the latest ridiculously overpriced top-of-the-range motor bicycle, exotic powered machines from France or America …or even a Lea Francis, Dursley Pedersen or Sunbeam, the most expensive bicycles of the era.
It is against this background that a bicycle museum incorporates the wonders of early motorised bicycles and motorcycles into its ranks.
1906 Deronziere Autocyclette 282cc
Deronziere motorcycles were produced in Lyon between 1903 and 1914. Besides their own power units Peugeot or Zedel engines were used.
This example is equipped with Deronziere’s own engine, an engine kit sold separately to be fitted to a purchaser’s own bicycle.
It has an automatic inlet valve and mechanically operated exhaust valve as was common with many French machines at the time. A special feature is the ignition system, a make and break system in the cylinder head instead of the usual points in the magneto. There is a spark plug in the cylinder head, but that only has a central electrode.
This example has an engine in sound condition. Wooden wheels fitted to bicycles of this era are no longer considered practical for powered usage, so they will need to be replaced by metal rims.
8 rue Dumont d’Urville à Lyon
CROISIER DERONZIERE et Cie en 1907
Même adresse en 1910 : CUMIN et MICHELIN constructeurs
The Deronziere below was purchased by Lord Montague of Beaulieu museum, in Paris in October 1958 and restored for the princely sum of £ 36/12/6 as is shown by correspondence to Graham Walker, the Museum motor cycle section curator at the time. It was recently sold by Yesteryear Motorcycles of Holland.