Millet motorcycle

The Millet motorcycle, designed in 1892 by Félix Théodore Millet, may have been the first motorcycle (or motorized bicycle) to use pneumatic tires.[1] It had an unusual radial-configuration rotary engine incorporated into the rear wheel, believed to be the first one ever used to power a person-carrying vehicle of any type.

Millet motorized bicycle
Felix Millet.jpg
Unrestored Millet, titled 1897 model
ManufacturerAlexandre Darracq
Productionca. 1894–1895
Engine5-cylinder air-cooled radial-configuration rotary engine
Top speed35 km/h (hypothetical)
Power1.2 PS (1.2 hp)
Ignition typeBunsen cell/ignition coil hybrid

Production historyEdit

A prototype with rear-wheel rotary engine ran in 1892. Production rights were acquired by Alexandre Darracq in 1894. Production halted following an unsuccessful entry in the Paris–Bordeaux–Paris race of 1895.[2]


The five cylinders were mounted radially in the rear wheel, with the connecting rods directly attached to the fixed crank of the hollow-drilled rear axle. The rear fender served as a fuel tank; a surface carburetor and air filter were located between the wheels.[3] Ignition was electric via combination Bunsen cell and induction coil. Millet used a rotating handlebar twistgrip for its operation.[4] It was started with pedals so the motorcycle could be moved even after engine failure. Maximum power was rated at 1.2 metric horsepower (1.2 hp), continuous power at 0.75 metric horsepower (0.74 hp) at 180 RPM. With the rated continuous power, the bike should have reached a speed of 35 km/h.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ William Harris, Motorcycle History, How Stuff Works, retrieved 2012-11-26
  2. ^ Cyril Posthumus; Dave Richmond (1978). Motorräder gestern und heute [Motorcycles yesterday and today]. München Heyne. p. 11. ISBN 3-453-52080-7.
  3. ^ Dinglers Polytechnisches Journal. Bd. 299 (1896), p. 178, Reprint: ISBN 3-931965-13-9
  4. ^ a b Juráj Porázik (1983). Motorräder aus den Jahren 1885 bis 1940 [Motorcycles of the years 1885 through 1940] (in German). Dausien Werner. p. 48. ISBN 978-3768402408.