Monday, July 28, 2014

Musée de la moto, Marseille, France

Work brought me to Marseille, France,
By chance I discovered that they have a motorcycle museum, so I had to pay a visit. So I hopped on the Metro at la gare de St. Charles and got off at Malpasse. From there I decided to walk instead of taking the No. 38 bus. I didn't realize it would be sort of uphill and hot. And in a neighborhood of projects with bars on windows and a lot of fences. It did not look unsafe during the day, at night it might be more dodgy. The museum is housed in a four story building,

Of course, my secret desire was to find a Royal Enfield in the museum. Alas, no trace of Enfield could be found. There were of course, many French machines, but also many British ones. In the timeline of motorcycle history they claimed that the first modern motorcycle was an NSU of 1901 and did not mention Royal Enfield. The closest thing I could find was a Motosacoche. As you can see in the 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1918 entries of the Royal Enfield Virtual Museum, there was quite a bit of back and forth between both companies, with the Swiss Motosacoche providing the engines for Enfield's return to motorcycling in 1909 and then Enfield providing Motosacoche with sidecars and frames. But at the museum they did not have a Motosacoche of the relevant period, so here I show a 1904. Perhaps the firms were talking as early as that, we probably will never know,

To show how blatantly companies copied their models at the time, next to it is a 1904 Terrot, virtually indistinguishable.
This is a view of the third floor, at the back on the right is a section devoted to World War II. They had a BSA, some Terrots and even a Harley Davidson. They claim the Harley was the fastest motorcycle of World War II, with speeds up to 135km/h, I did not know that.
I close the post with a rather unique bike. It is a 1935-38 MGC prototype, that was in development for three years but never saw production. It has a 4 cylinder 600cc engine with "aviation technology" having the cylinders at the bottom firing upwards and the crankshaft on top. Transmission is by cardan with a three gear foot operated gearbox.
Here's a closeup of that mighty engine,
And here you can see the transmission, and the distributor,

1 comment:

  1. The MGC is fascinating. It looks substantial and a quality product, particularly the instrumentation in the tank. U.S. World War II military motorcycles, like many military vehicles of the time, often have "Max. Speed" placards affixed and it has always amazed me that the top speed set for the motorcycles is quite high (65?) compared to the snail's pace set for four-wheelers (around 45 or less, as I recall from museum visits).



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