De Dion-Bouton tricycle

The De Dion -Bouton motor tricycle of 1897 was up to the turn of the century the most successful motor vehicle in Europe. With around 15,000 copies sold [note 1] scored the De Dion Bouton motor tricycle the first breakthrough in the spread of motor vehicles. In particular, the fast-running De Dion -Bouton engine set new standards with built-in motors and is considered the forerunner of all motorcycle engines.


Albert de Dion, Georges Bouton of the technician and his brother Charles -Armand Trépardoux founded in 1882 near Paris workshop. The first project was the production of steam boilers, after quite a successful steam-powered tricycle from 1887, which is said to have already reached a speed of 65 km / hr. Trépardoux, who clung to the further development of steam engines, retired in 1893 from the hassle out of company; De Dion Bouton and opted for the development of gasoline engines after they were able to visit at the Paris World Exhibition of 1889, the Daimler engines.


1895 the first four-stroke engine was ready for. From 138 cc ( bore 50 mm, stroke 70 mm ) reached the single-cylinder engine with 0.5 hp carburetor surface at a speed of 1500 min -1, one for those times amazingly high speed. For comparison, Hildebrand and Wolf Müller reached 240 min -1, Daimler riding car engine was running at a maximum of 750 min -1. Bouton found out that the hot-tube ignition was the obstacle for higher speeds. He developed the engine for a high-voltage battery with ignition breaker. In the upper frame tube ( the trike motor ) there was the dry battery for the ignition, with a little switch on the ignition could be adjusted. The controlled outlet valve was, the inlet valve is automatically operated by a gear driven cam shaft. The design advantage to have been the very early ( 0-5 degrees after top dead center ) opening the inlet valve. The cylinder head was removed and bolted with four bolts on the crankcase. The weight of the existing cast iron motor including all ancillary components was less than 20 kg. "Simplicity and lightness were the advantages of this engine. "

Motor tricycle

Only in 1897 was the almost 80 -kg De Dion -Bouton motor tricycle, now with an engine capacity of 211 cc and a power of 1.5 PS at 1,800 min -1, in production, although in 1895 the motor tentatively incorporated into a tricycle had been. The tricycle with a track width of 92 cm was chosen because for De Dion Bouton and " a bike for this purpose seemed too unstable ".

The motor and the necessary to compensate for the different radii of curvature on the rear axle differential sat. The engine was standing and mounted so that the crankshaft querstand direction of travel. To keep the longitudinal center of gravity exactly in the center of the car, the engine slightly to the left and the differential were correspondingly offset to the right. The very compact powertrain consisted of a small, directly attached to the crankshaft gear. About a drive belt the force was delivered to a larger gear on the rear axle; this she gave his hand on the differential and asymmetrical half- shafts to the wheels on. With the size of the two gears could be experimented. Most were from the factory motor side a little with 11 to 15 teeth and one very large with 102 to 106 teeth on the axle. The late 1890s, this motor tricycles were considered the fastest motorized means of transportation.

The relatively high purchase price was 1000-1500 Goldmark. Almost ten years remained the motor tricycle in the production program, the resistant capacity and performance have been increased. The last model (1904 ) had a 955 cc ( bore 100 mm, stroke 120 mm) enlarged engine and made 8 hp at 1,800 rpm -1. On April 13, 1902, the French racing driver Georges Osmont established at Nice with a De Dion -Bouton motor tricycle on a speed record of 109.1 km / h.

Licensee and copies

1895, after the start of series production of motor [ Note 2], and 1897, with the production of motor tricycle, engines or complete tricycles from numerous manufacturers were either rebuilt under license or copied with slight changes, including from manufacturers in:

  • Belgium: Kelecom, Minerva
  • Germany: Eagle, Beckmann, Cudell, Express ( with switch motors), Fafnir, Opel, Stoewer
  • England: Excelsior, Humber, M.M.C.
  • France: Aster, Henriod, Peugeot, Werner (Model 1901)
  • Italy: Prinetti & Stucchi [note 3]
  • Switzerland: Motosacoche, Zedel
  • USA: Thomas Auto- Bi, Orient ( with switch motors), Royal, Harley -Davidson.


De Dion -Bouton motor tricycle of 1899, with Vorsteckwagen

De Dion -Bouton motor tricycle of 1899

Peugeot motor tricycle with De Dion -Bouton engine from 1900