1906 Griffon Twin
Frame no. 33753
Engine no. ZEDEL 16439
Founded on rue Louis Blanc in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris (now the site of La Défense), the Griffon bicycle company became a Pioneer motorcycle manufacturer by 1902, attaching a Swiss-built Zédel motor to front downtube of their bicycle. By the following year, Griffon displayed their commitment to the fledgling moto-cycle craze by displaying 10 models at the Paris Motor Show, which were purpose-built motorcycles with engines integrated into frames; these were among the first true motorcycles in the form we recognize today. The great craze of arena bicycle racing swelled at the dawn of the 20th Century, as did the fledgling sport of motorcycle racing; a new Griffon racer, specially built with an extra-long frame and ultra-light construction, utilized a twin-cylinder Zedel v-twin engine with battery and coil ignition, which was timed at 110km/hr in 1903, a remarkable speed for this date. Such machines were generally raced on the same tracks as bicycles, and provided mixed entertainment for racing enthusiasts as reliability at that date was questionable; they were very fast when running!
This 1906 Griffon represents the best of the factory's output, with large-capacity v-twin Zédel motor and Longmuere carburetor. The Zédel F-head engine utilizes 'atmospheric' inlet valves and mechanical exhaust valves, and a battery/coil ignition hidden in a compartment in the petrol tank. The short leading link fork with enclosed spring is a great advance in comfort for 1906 (lesser models shook their owners with solid forks). This machine was restored from a mostly original and complete example in the 1990s, and represents the best of the French motorcycle industry of the Pioneer years.