Clément 1903 “ 1¾ hp” 141cc aiv frame # 879897
Adolphe Clément was born in 1855.
He became an orphan at an early age. He was very interested in things mechanical and, as an apprentice at the village blacksmith’s, managed to build a simple bicycle out of wood for his own use. At the age of 17 he left his village on this bicycle to seek his fortune in other parts of France.
In 1876 he started to take part in cycle races and set up a small cycle manufacture.
He decided to move to Paris and in 1880 he established a cycle business at the Rue Brunel under the brand name of “Clément”.
This business was successful and pretty soon he had 150 labourers working on the manufacture of his bicycles.
In 1889 he visited the cycle exhibition in London and witnessed a demonstration of the Dunlop pneumatic tyre.
One of his companions advised him to secure the manufacturing rights for France of this new invention.
Adolphe was rather hesitant, but finally agreed.
The Dunlop tyres became a huge success and were sold in fantastic numbers in France: Clément soon became a millionaire.
He formed a huge bicycle factory by combining the companies of Clément, Gladiator and Humber-France.
From 1895 on he started to focus on motorized vehicles: first tricycles, quadricycles and cars and in 1902 he entered the field of motorized bicycles with a small engine of 142 cc capacity.
This engine has an automatic inlet valve, an overhead exhaust valve and an external flywheel.
The cylindrical tank with petrol and oil compartments and hand operated oil pump is fixed behind the saddle and the ignition coil and battery are stored in a leather case that is strapped to the horizontal frame tube.
There are three levers on the top tube: the front one controls the ignition advance, the other two control the petrol/air mixture.
Both brakes are applied with handlebar levers; the front brake is of the contracting band type, the rear brake works with brake blocks on the rim.
Mudguards were not standard: they could be ordered for an extra 10 Francs.
These light machines became very popular and quite a few were sold as complete machines fixed to a Clément (like ours) or Gladiator cycle; despite their modest capacity these little engines were surprisingly lively.
You could also order an engine with fittings and bolt this to any bicycle.
In Britain the Clément-Garrard was well known at the time; in Titch Allen’s “The Second Vintage Road Test Journal” is an informative road test of a 1903 Clément-Garrard.
In 1903 the customers could choose between the 126cc 1hp engine with bore x stroke of 55x53mm or the 141cc 1¾hp with bore x stroke of 60x50mm.
The latter had a longer frame than the 1 hp machine.
This freshly restored Clément is an eye-catching example of a very early product of the French motorcycle industry.