Ratier 1956ca Model L7 745 cc opposed side valve twin frame & engine # 3972
The German army that occupied most of France in 1940 was equipped with thousands of motorcycles, notably 745 cc side valve BMW R12 models. For maintenance and repair of these machines facilities were set up around Paris with spares coming from BMW in Germany or from French subcontractors. After the retreat of the German army in 1944 much of these machines and parts were left and a company was set up to produce what we might call R12 clones, but with single-piece crankcase and tubular frame instead of the pressed steel one from the R12. The final drive unit was copied from the R71 and the hand gear change was re-engineered into a foot-operated construction.
This first model, built by the company CMR and soon after that transferred to CEMEC, was labelled L7. Most of the circa 1800 machines that were made between 1950 and 1953 were delivered to various government agencies, the major customer being the famous Sûreté Nationale, the national French police force.
Cemec closed down in 1954 and the production was taken over by Ratier, a long-standing company that had earned fame with the production of variable-speed propellers. Till 1959 Ratier produced some 1035 more L7 machines. By that time the side valve concept had become rather antiquated so a new model with 600 cc ohv engine was designed, the CS6. This was essentially a BMWR69s clone and this model was produced till the end of 1962, also mostly for police services. After 1962 the Gendarmerie switched over to BMWs, but president De Gaulle insisted that till his resignation in 1969 only “real French” Ratier motorcycles were to be used for escort duties. Interesting Ratier information can be found in the February 2003 issue of The Classic Motorcycle.
This interesting and relatively rare Ratier delivers about 20 hp @ 4,300 rpm and has a top speed of around 115 km/h. She has been well-restored and is a good runner. For better looks the original Ratier fuel tank has been replaced by a BMW tank.