MAGNAT DEBON HISTORY
Watchmaker and inventor Joseph Séraphin MAGNAT and mechanical engineer Louis Auguste DEBON formed their company in Grenoble around 1892 to build bicycles. They patented numerous cycle innovations for brakes and gears, and for a ‘balanced and anti-vibration’ engine in 1899. The earliest patent I found for Joseph Magnat was for an automatic beer pump operated by water pressure, in 1889. His 1896 patent registered a design for a front brake inside the steering head (above), an idea subsequently used on various French bicycles, including the Magnat Debon (below).
Joseph Magnat developed a carburettor in 1901 and their first motorcycle appeared in 1902, equipped with a 250cc de Dion Bouton engine, and known as an ‘Autocyclette’. After Swiss engineer Arthur MOSER joined the company, Magnat Debon produced motorcycles with their own engines (from 1905). Its 400cc motorcycle known as the Magnat Debon ‘400 Aviation’ was used extensively during World War 1 by the French cavalry (the name relates to the use of observation balloons). But the surplus of American Harley Davidson motorcycles left behind in France after the war caused serious difficulties for motorcycle manufacturers, and Magnat Debon stopped production in 1920. Terrot was expanding at this time, and in 1921 purchased Magnat Debon.
1911 Magnat Debon ‘Modele B de Route’
BSA 3-speed gear
Frame No 8950
In the early years of the French cycle industry, Maganat Debon was one of the most innovative companies. As well as making their own 3 speed machines, with the gear in the bottom bracket, they also offered the British BSA 3-speed as an option, as you can see here.
This example is in very good unrestored original condition and has recently had a service and new tyres and tubes fitted. It’s ready to ride.
1910 MAGNAT DEBON CATALOGUE EXTRACTS
MAGNAT DEBON INTEGRAL FRONT BRAKE DETAILS
MAGNAT DEBON REAR BRAKE DETAILS