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René Gillet


1930 René Gillet 750cc Model G.

"Son of a railway worker, René Gillet moved to Paris in 1895 at the age of 18, finding employment with a firm of general engineers. His first venture into powered transport was the design and manufacture of a prototype engine suitable for attachment to a bicycle above the front wheel, from which modest beginnings René Gillet moved on to become a motorcycle manufacturer. Like the Werner Brothers, he soon realised that a motorcycle needed to be designed as whole and not as a bicycle with the engine attached as an afterthought, and in 1900 a 2¾hp model was produced with the engine in what would become the conventional position. The first René Gillet motorcycles featured single-cylinder engines tilted rearwards in the frame (like Indian) while for 1905 the firm advertised nine different models, including five v-twins. In 1922 the Model G first appeared and this sidevalve v-twin, manufactured in 750cc and 1,000cc capacities and known as the ‘French Harley-Davidson’, would remain a fixture of the range into the 1950s. René Gillet rapidly established a reputation for robustness and reliability - securing contracts from the army and police force - and its larger v-twins were particularly favoured as sidecar machines. In the 1930s the firm introduced its own novel form of rear suspension, with spring units mounted behind the rear wheel. After WW2 René Gillet concentrated mainly on the manufacture of two-stroke lightweights, and ceased motorcycle manufacture in 1958 following its purchase by Peugeot..." (from

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