Michaux-Perreaux steam motor cycle scale model
Michaux-Perreaux steam motor cycle, 1868, scale model
This object is a scale model representing the world's first motorcycle. The original Michaux-Perreaux machine still exists in France.
By 1869, the firm of Michaux in Paris were already established as the largest manufacturers of pedal-propelled bicycles in Europe. By the middle of the nineteenth century the small industrial steam engine had become commercially available in France and Pierre Michaux decided to install a complete steam power plant within the framework of one of his existing types of 'boneshaker' bicycle. Michaux obtained from Perreaux a small compact steam plant comprising a cylindrical boiler which he mounted horizontally below the bicycle saddle, and a steam engine which he attached to the top of the main frame of the bicycle. The engine was a small single-cylinder, double-acting, unit and though the power output (like the boiler pressure) was low, the motorcycle was reputed to have had a speed of about 10 m.p.h. The rider started the cycle by foot-pedals on the front wheel and once forward motion was established, stem pressure was admitted to the cylinder. Transmission was by two leather belts direct from an engine pulley to each side of the rear wheel. No brakes were fitted to this machine and the metal-spoked wheels had solid iron tyres.
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