My Givaudan was
manufactured around 1904 by C.Givaudan in Lyon, France. It
has a genuine frame number of 163, with the engine being unnumbered at
time of acquisition. Since then I have numbered the engine as 163 in
keep the DVLA happy. My machine has an automatic inlet valve and is
70 x 70 - 270cc. In 1904 it was available at a cost of 750F, whilst a
Zedel engined engined Griffon cost 900F and the Peugeot vee twin cost
975F. So, the Givaudan was competitively priced.
Claude Givaudan, the
manufacturer, was extremely interested in
Aeronautics and it is believed that he used the motorcycle side of his
to develop engines for his aeroplanes. Few machines were made, but
supplied to other manufacturers in France, such as Terrot, L’albatros,
Diamant(including a vee twin). Also, New Century, who were in St
Albans, in the UK,
engined machines, according to one source. They built the Clarke racer
and World record holder that was fitted with the 70 x 70 Givaudan
motor. Roger Bird at the Brooklands Museum did wonder how the Givaudan
70 x 70 engine managed to take a world record, but I was able to
confirm that my engine is quite free reving, and has a good
turn of speed.
Whilst the stem and
tank badges of my Givaudan clearly state
‘C.Givaudan’ it was a family business. Tragatsch quotes Givaudan as
in London from 1908 and using Villiers engines – this entry in the
should be viewed with suspicion as to its accuracy and is a mistake, I
which has been perpetuated in further publications. Hugo Wilson also
1902-03’ under unconfirmed French Marques. Quite where Hugo got his
from, I don’t know, and having contacted him, he can’t remember.
Anyway, back in the
1970’s, somewhere in the Pyrenees sat a convertible touring
car for sale. A Belgian doctor-collector from the Charleroi vicinity in
was interested in buying it, and to get it, he had to “take” a Givaudan
motorcycle as well. That way my Givaudan went to Belgium and ended up
cellar to rest near an enormous Terrot engine. It is not clear as to
that the Givaudan arrived in Belgium, but it must be the seventies at
The following two photographs show the unrestored state of the Givaudan
By 1984 some
restoration had taken place. From Photographs below,
the Givaudan had only had a cosmetic restoration; the pedal axle had
and the exhaust pipe badly copied – also, by 1984 the restoration had
faded. Even being stored in a dry cellar there was a lot of rust
show on the bars, suspension and brakes etc.
After a row between
the doctor’s widow and son, “Mam I know that I
cannot sell anything out of my dad’s collection, so I’m swapping it…..”
advert was placed in the CMB magazine – it read, “An 1898 motorcycle to
swapped against a pre-war 500cc motorcycle”, and Dirk Praet from Lede,
Aalst, took the bait. He swapped his 1939 Norton 16H – Precision
for the Givaudan. Willy Kesteleyn and Dirk retrieved the Givaudan from
the cellar around 1983.
The following photos were taken of the bike, on it's arrival with Dirk:
This photo shows the Givaudan on display at the Wieze Moto
Retro in 1985, after Dirk had acquired the bike and before any
re-restoration had started:
Dirk was not a man who
was into restoring machines so he handed the job
to Bernard Godfirnon. The restoration took two years and when the
returned to Dirk it was fully restored, cosmetically – but it would not
run. These photos were taken during the restoration - note the frame
crack, most noticable in the 6th photo below - a problem that was not
corrected during the restoration and which cropped up again later:
Having spent a lot of
money on the bike, Dirk put the machine on
display in his flat above his business. At first it was hung on the
his children kept knocking their heads on the pedals etc as they walked
so, the machine was put on display in the kitchen, with a potted palm
I now came into the
story and in 1990, along with a few other VMCC section
members, we attended and rode in the CMB clubs 9-Provinces weekend.
the main organiser and spoke to us. I told him that I had a 1902
Clement-Garrard and he immediately invited me to view his 1904 C
saw the bike, I fell in love; it was a real beauty and looked splendid
the spotlights in the kitchen of Dirks flat.
Dirk and I became good
friends and visited each other fairly often, plus we attended the
9-Provinces event in Belgium most years. We
often discussed the Givaudan and the fact that I would like it. Dirk
agreed to a swap, but he could not decide as to what he would like
exchange. During one of our visits I had a good look at the Givaudan
it was fitted with an energy transfer ignition coil in a trembler coil
explained to Dirk what the problem was and he then managed to find
correct the problem by fitting a suitable coil and the bike then ran
for the first time.
Dirk did a few rallies
with the machine but it did not run well at all.
Parts fell off the bike and were lost and the final straw came when the
broke whilst on an event in Holland.
The very same crack under the steering head that can be seen in the
restoration photos above. A Dutchman used a MIG welder on the frame and
piled the usual amateur
shit all over the break. The repair did not last and Dirk continued to
event as the frame steadily bent under the use.
The first photo below was taken
whilst Dirk was riding an event in Holland; The second photo showing
the repair of a puncture was taken during the 13th Ibbenburen
veteran rally in Germany in 1993.
By now Dirk was really
fed up with the Givaudan and what it had cost him, so I was told that a
Sunbeam S7 would be acceptable as a swap. I
found one of those and rebuilt it as new inside, but kept it original
preferred his bikes to be as original as possible.
Another good Belgian
friend, Pierre Gyselinck, brought the Givaudan to
Wales in 1999. The bike was not in a good state and needed to be
rebuilt properly, including a decent repair
of the broken
frame. I gas welded that, but the repair didn't last - in 2015 I
effected a replacement for the errant tube - fingers crossed!!
following are some of Dirks notes on his search for Givaudan
the years. The notes were originally written in Flemish and then
Pierre Gyselinck for me.
In the mean time I’m
looking for everything about Givaudan, and
find nearly nothing.
In 1985 I find in the
Musée de Falmignoul a
quadricyle, Renault or Peugeot with a huge single cylinder Givaudan
engine. Some time
later the owner dies,
and the heir quickly sells the collection to avoid the succession
car disappears into thin air….
Bill Phelps sent me a
copy of page 497 of magazine
“The Motor” (issue of 16/12/1903), stating: “G. Givaudan, Lyons. In
a good display of motors some of which have two cylinders several
motorcycles are shown by his maker. These vary in power from 2 to 3
although well designed and made, they are not distinguished by any
departure from the standard types”.
That Givaudans had
been sold outside France is proved
with the following advert in
Cycle” (suppl. IV) on page 26 Advertisements, issue of 21/05/1906 where
makes such as Singer, FN four, Royal Enfield, Kelecom, Bradbury, Ariel,
Chater-Lea, Werner, Gobron-Minerva, Rex, Riley Triumph, Kerry,
”Givaudan, 2 ½ HP, 70mm
by 74mm, 19 in. frame, 26 in. wheels, long
£12, 40 Woodville Road,
Prices of second hand motorcycles varied in those days from £8 to £33
your mouth water don’t they!)
1903, Terrot’s clients
can choose out of three
engines, Zedel, Faure or Givaudan (2HP).
On the 1993 Pentecost
event in Ibbenbüren, (one day,
90 Km with the 1904 Givaudan), a German told me that he had a “La
Diamant” motorcycle with a twin cylinder Givaudan engine. This was the
ever he came across
Yves Campion tells me
that there is another Givaudan
in the “Musée Chapleur” in Lunéville (near Nancy). A visit
tells me that it’s a 1900
water cooled tricycle. I’m
to take any pictures, but never the less I did. In the meantime the
museum is gone. (BP
note: The Museum is now near Metz)
Another Givaudan is
found with Mister Callenvels,
note:– this bike is a Terrot)
Though a slight deception, the engine is twice as big, maybe
and they “modernized” it with an “open magneto”, whilst mine got a Ford
It remains quiet for
quite a while, although I did
several runs in Germany, Holland and Belgium
until Mr. Luk Ryckaert
makes me happy with a lot of Givaudan information. He had been
strolling around in France and
returned with a rich loot, Givaudans were found:
Henri Martre, Rochetaillée-sur-Saône
château de savigny les beaune
Run in Sorgues. The
owner is Mr. Thomas, friend of
The magazine “La vie
de la Moto” (nr 162, June 1995),
publishes an article on Mr. Claude Thomas; according to him there are
known Givaudans in France, maybe another one in Switzerland.
motorcycles powered from 2, 2.5 (two types), 3 to 4.5 HP.
On the Leek-Assen-Leek
Run, (which I finished, Yves
Campion pedalled his FN to the finish), a Mr. X (I have to find his
claims to have information about Givaudan…..as I have to pay money in
I do not trust him.
Riding those runs made
a lot of damage and breakdowns; broken bars and
frame (fatigue of the metal?). A
out sprocket wheel made me push start the motorcycle, luckily Jef Wuyts
nice copy. Patrick
Fransen solved the
battery troubles (empty after a couple of minutes); he builds a
uses just a fraction of power.
As no other motorcycle
bares the Givaudan-logo on the tank and the stem,
it makes me think that Terrot, Française Diamant and others just used
engine. Maybe there
is someone “out
there” who knows the answers.
When you want to dig
further, maybe you have to go and find an
enthusiastic around the Lyon’s
airfield who is
prepared to look up things related to Givaudan, who was, in his days, a
known engineer who founded the aero club and field tested his
for flying purposes.
These photos were taken soon after the repairs and rebuild
carried out by
myself: The round box bolted to the frame in front of the engine is a
period accessory for carrying a spare inner tube.
I needed to arrange a UK registration number and obtained a certificate
from the VMCC that the machine was 1904 – that was the date that I
a suggestion. The Sunbeam club, also, took my suggested date of 1904
Pioneer register, whilst the Science museum dated the bike as 1904,
what the VMCC and Sunbeam Clubs had said.
After the ‘proper’
repair and re-build the first outing for the Givaudan
was in the 2004 Banbury run, see the photo to the left.
I found that the engine would run fine at
up to 10
mph – above that, misfiring occurred. No matter what I did I could not
engine to run properly, however, the bike climbed all the hills, thank
goodness, albeit slowly.
One problem that occurred was that the machine, despite
a full tank, ran out of fuel after 28 miles on the 35 mile veteran
finish, I removed the belt and pedalled to the next checkpoint where I
some fuel from the tank of one of the marshal’s motorcycles, which
to run the last few miles back to the finish.
Some more work when I got home and I diagnosed
the trembler coil ignition system was the main problem. So I fitted the
a ‘normal’ set of points adapted from a Villiers Junior De Luxe
flywheel magneto, plus an 'ordinary' 6v coil. I then found that the
engine would now run
cleanly, and at well
above its previous 10 mph.
So, the 2005 Banbury
was entered and the bike ran much better and gained
a Silver Award. One main problem still remained and that was the fuel
consumption – 25-28 miles again on a full tank, but this time I had
fuel with me - note the red can on the carrier in the photos.
Eventually, I discovered that the problem
was simply due to vibration, the carb flooded when
the engine was running on the road. This was due to the float needle
not sealing the fuel supply. The carb is a new one that Dirk had made
Willem Pol in Holland
– unfortunately, the original carb never came back, so comparisons
could not be made.
I remade the needle
and seat, several times, but things only improved
slightly. The Dutch arrangement in the new carb for float control was
that used by
their 276 float chambers and was a case of the float trying to pull the
cone on the bottom of the needle
up, so as to seal the bottom fuel feed.
I had contact with David Plant on the
Man, who owns a Givaudan engined Terrot and David kindly stripped the
carb on his Terrot and took photographs and measurements of the float
I also found, in a
book by Victor Page, titled ‘Early Motorcycles’, a line
drawing of a Longuemare carb and from that it was obvious that the
arrangement in the float chamber of my Dutch made replica carb was
totally wrong. So, the next job
remake the float chamber setup and run again in the Banbury for 2006.
The Longuemare system had a weighted needle that sank into a taper to
cut off the fuel supply. As the fuel was used, the float came down and
pressed down on two rockers that lifted the weighted needle allowing
more fuel into the chamber.
Success – I still had
nearly half a tank of fuel left at the end of the
run and the bike ran very well, despite the unsympathetic route and the
hills, which have put me off ever riding the Banbury again with the
I have photographs and
notes of a number of different Givaudan engined motorcycles
and a number of separate engines, but, apart from mine, the ex-Claude
Thomas bike and the one in
Malatre collection near Lyon, the others are mostly Terrots. Not
Chapleur collection tricar, which may or may not be of Givaudan
in the Lyon area from 1907 to 1929. Used Zedel, MAG, Anzani
well as Vee twin Givaudan engines. Production was around 2 machines per
week from the 20 employees.
In the Henri
Malatre collection, Rochetaillée-sur-Saône, France (just north of Lyon)
There are some slight differences between this engine and mine, such as
the horizontal exhaust port angle and the spark plug being at the rear
of the cylinder.
This is the Givaudan - owned by a Mr Claude Thomas, as mentioned in
Praet's notes - followed by newspaper scans of the same bike: It is now
believed to be in Switzerland, but the exact whereabouts have not been
confirmed. There is a You-Tube video from Jean Schoenner from about
2011, but I still do not know the whereabouts of the bike. Please let
me me know if you have knowledge of the Givaudan: you
Seen at the Musée
Moto Vélo - Chateau de Bosc Domazan - France (to the West of Avignon,
in the South of France)
In a collection on the Isle of Man
The following Terrot seems to be trying to attain full Givaudan
manufacture. The third photo below appeared on Dutch Wikipedia
as a Givaudan - since corrected. This bike is the one known to have
been owned by a
Grootenbroek, Holland, it is believed that it then went to the Dutch
dealer for a short time - and subsequently has appeared for sale, in
France I think, claiming to be a Givaudan, with 'Givaudan' now written
on the tank. Mr
Callenfels borrowed the original tank badge from my Givaudan and
returned two silver replicas cast from it - the original badge has not
been seen since. One of the silver badges was fixed to the tank of my
place of the original and the second badge was used by attaching it to
the steering head. This givaudan has been listed as 360cc and was
catalogued as 1906/7 by Yesterdays.
An engine in the Musée
château de savigny les beaune, France (South of
A 500cc(possibly may be 344 or 360cc) engine currently in France.
Similar engine timing chest to that in the Terrot as mentioned above.
Photos courtesy of Jean-Luc Lamouroux
A water cooled engine seen in Chamery, France and offered for sale
Another water cooled Givaudan motor
1904 Givaudan motor, whereabouts uncertain
A water cooled Vee Twin engine, believed to be in the Gold Coast,
Seen in the Chapleur collection in Metz(well worth a visit) is this
Givaudan engined tri-car, listed as a Givaudan from 1900 - at least two
years before Givaudan is believed to have started production. Whilst
the engine is
clearly marked as Givaudan, the cycle parts may not be, certainly 1900
seems to be too
early as a date for a Givaudan engine with both valves being
mechanically operated? More likely to be a post 1905 engine. The Tricar
could do with a much closer
The following is the
research that I have collated on Claude Givaudan, the
Claude; born 16th September 1872 in Caluire-et-Cuire, a suburb of Lyon,
Claude was an engineer who provided his vast culture to the service of
He registered a large number of patents relating to a wide variety of
inventions from aerospace to chemistry.
In 1903 he took over, as an
manufacturer, the workshop where Claude Rochet and the Francisca
their cars at 40 rue Sainte Genevieve, Lyon. Claude produced and
supplied engines to other maufacturers, as well as making complete
with his own name. At the Paris Show of 1903, he exhibited a selection
and 3hp engines, including some vee twins, along with several examples
In May 1909, he built
several airplane prototypes of unusual design, and known as a Tandem
Drum design, but none really flew
398943 January 29, 1909). A famous aviator of the time, Adolphe Pegoud,
the airplane commented by saying that he only had one fear: that it
actually take off.
The engines in these airplanes, including a V8, were designed and
entirely by Givaudan, who was then working as an engineer at the
factory (Villefranche sur Saone, a town just north of Lyon). He had
by Victor Vermorel in 1906 to develop the company moving it from a
method of cars manufacturing to a small assembly line.
coloured picture above was taken from an aviation book with the
following descriptive notes attached:
by French aviation enthusiast Givaudan, during early
1909 at the Vermorel factory in Villefranche;this very peculiar and
consisted of two
concentric drums, united by small, radiating planes spaced uniformly
acted as both lifting and stabilizing surfaces. These multi-cellular
mounted near the ends of a framework fuselage that passed through the
of each and fitted at it’s forward end a tractor screw of 2.4m
from the motor through reduction gears. The control system was
original. By means of a universal joint, the forward cell was connected
fuselage, thus movable in every direction; while the rear cell remained
stationary. The machine rested on four wheels,the front pair being
Doubtful to as ever have flown; the 5.8m Givaudan multicell plane was
a 40hp, air cooled vee 8 Vermorel motor weighing 80 kgs of Givaudan’s
Givaudan won the Eiffel prize of the Aero Club of France and the first
prize of the
Aero Club of Belgium.
In 1911 he
received his balloon pilot license: number 111.
In 1912 he founded a military school for aircraft mechanics in Lyon
the first in the world) taking the role of director.
From 1904 to his death on the 30th October 1945, he was secretary and
president of the Aero Club of the Rhone but kept patenting designs
with his son Emile until 1944.
variety of Givaudans mentioned in some 'for sale' adverts and reports
The Motor - 16th December 1903(note: Claude is incorrectly noted as
The Motor Cycle - 21st May 1906
The Motor Cycle - 28th February 1908
The Motor Cycle - 1st April
The Motor Cycle - 15th
The Motor Cycle - 10th June
The Motor Cycle - 15th July
The Motor Cycle - 5th
The Motor Cycle - 30th Sept
The Motor Cycle - 28th July
The Motor Cycle - 27th
The Motor Cycle - 15th
- a World
It was reported in
‘The Motor Cycle’ of 1st Sept 1910 that
W.Chitty at the BMCRC speed trials on the 17th
August 1910 had set
world speed records of:
52.67mph over the
51.78mph over the Mile
Using a 70mm x 70mm
Givaudan engine of 270cc
Whilst the engine is
undoubtedly Givaudan, it is believed that the frame
is of British Manufacture as it was seen in later years with several
engines fitted and there are no similarities with any known Givaudan
I suspect that this photo is of the actual Givaudan engined New Century
that D.R. Clarke used in 1908/9.
was a note in ‘The Motor Cycle’ of the 2nd
Feb 1911 where a correspondent asked: “Why did Chitty, in the speed
a 1906 Givaudan to make his world records and Collier a 1908 JAP”
With thanks to Dirk Praet, Giovanni Orlando, Ken Hallworth and Roger
Bird at the
Brooklands museum for all their help and research.
Bill Phelps - August 2015