1912 Peugeot Moto Legere Type MD2 V-Twin 380cc

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.

1912 Peugeot Moto Legere ‘Type MD2’

380cc V-Twin
Truffault front forks
Excellent Original Condition & In Running Order
(See Video)

This amazing machine was found in the corner of a French garage where it had been stored for four decades. My friend Alain put some petrol in it, cleaned the plug …and it fired up! You can see it running in the video below.

It is in remarkably original condition. The small wheel on the left side of the top tube (above the petrol tank) is the tensioner for adjusting the belt; you slacken it when you store the bike, and tighten it if it starts raining while you are riding. It is rare to still find this item on a hundred-year-old motorbike as most of them were removed over the years.

The only unoriginal item on the motorcycle is the pedal arms: they should be round ones, but the ones fitted – which are still of Peugeot manufacture – have a square section. Everything else on this motorcycle is original specification.

I sold this motorcycle to one of my American customers in April 2012. It’s an interesting example of the evolution from motorised bicycles to motorcycles.


Peugeot observed a need for a cheap lightweight motorcycle and, in 1910, the company introduced this light V- twin motorcycle, which subsequently enjoyed enormous success. The  Moto Légère MD was equipped with a 333 cc 45 degree V-twin engine with automatic inlet valves, direct belt transmission, Bosch magneto,  single lever Claudel  carburetter and Truffault front forks. The little machine proved easy to start, easy to handle and was very reliable. Moreover, it weighed only 40 kg and was able to sustain a practical running speed of 60 km/h.
In 1912, they updated the machine as Type MD2, with a 380cc engine and, the following year, considering the cylindrical petrol tank by now outdated, redesigned the machine with a rectangular tank – this motorcycle saw considerable success in the gruelling Paris-Nice Road Run in April 1913, so subsequently became known as the Paris-Nice.
Although the 1913 model changes, to bring the design up-to-date, were important at the time, 100 years later we obviously prefer the more antiquated appearance! This is an ideal machine to use in the annual Pioneer Run, being an attractive lightweight machine with distinctive front forks, a reputation for reliability …and a V-Twin engine.