Gnome et Rhône

Gnome et Rhône
Gnome et Rhône is a familiar name in vintage aviation circles. But few people know that the French company also built motorcycles, from 1920 until the early 1950s. This lovely machine is one of around 3,000 manufactured under license from the British firm ABC Motorcycles—a company closely aligned with Sopwith, another aircraft manufacturer. In those days, aviation and motorcycling were commonly linked, and this particular connection was brokered by a pilot: André Barthélémy, the official Parisian distributor of ABC. Barthélémy was a talented engineer, and fixed numerous mechanical problems with the powerful yet fragile ABC. He increased capacity to 500cc, refined the carburetion and rocker arm system, and added an oil cooler. (The original engine had a tendency to overheat: its nickname was “glow worm” because at night the cylinders would turn red.) The gearbox was unchanged, retaining the ABC-style hand-shifter with an ‘H’ gate, as you’d find in a car. The owner of this particular Gnome et Rhône found the bike in a junk shop, and retraced its history. After four years of restoration, he’s done justice to Barthélémy’s vision—and fortunately for us, French motorcycle photographers Guerry & Prat Images were on hand to capture the result. [Merci beaucoup to Vincent Prat of Southsiders MC.]

Gnome et Rhône
Gnome et Rhône
Gnome et Rhône
Gnome et Rhône
Gnome et Rhône