French Motorcycle Brands

French Motorcycle Brands

The French motorcycle industry has a long history. Like the British motorcycle industry, it arose directly from the popular bicycle workshops of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But unlike all modern countries, which have taken over the palm in this direction from France, it was here in 1868 that Louis-Guillaume Perrault invented the world’s first motorcycle. Or rather, “steam bike” because one day, tired of pedaling, Perrault took and adapted a small steam engine to his bicycle. Thus, he provided himself with the opportunity to effortlessly travel 15 kilometers to work and back. As a result, at the beginning of the XX century, France was already a decade ahead of all world brands in the development of the motorcycle industry, exporting its machines to all countries of the world, including Japan.

What are French motorcycle brands?

French motorcycle brands include Peugeot, MBK, Motobecane, Voxan, Rene Gillet, Gnome & Rhone, Barigo Motorcycles, Godier & Genoud, and Scorpa. These are both old and relatively young companies.

The middle of the 20th century was a crisis for the motorcycle industry worldwide, affecting this area in France as well. The decline in prices for cars and the beginning of their widespread mass production led to the emergence of a more comfortable mode of transportation. The crisis led to the closure of all French motorcycle brands, which could not withstand such strong competition. Only Motobécane and Peugeot tried to stay afloat. However, Motobécane went out of business in the 70s, leaving the market open for Peugeot. In recent years, there have been attempts to revive this trend by three new firms, but they have failed to capitalize on Peugeot’s good fortune.


Peugeot Logo

France – 1898. In the town of Mander, the founder of the company, named after Armand Peugeot, begins production of motorcycles. The range includes scooters and components necessary for repairing motorcycles sold all over the world. However, the scooters became very profitable, which halted motorcycle production until 2010, when the Peugeot P2x Roadster and P2x Cafe Racer came out of the factory’s inventory. But in 2019, the owners decided to sell the brand to Indian company Mahindra, which makes scooters and tricycles at its sites in France and China.

The company’s trademark, the lion, is known not only to cars and car enthusiasts. Its popularity was promoted by the cult movie “Taxi” by Luc Besson. Over the years of the brand’s existence, its logo has changed, constantly preserving its concept. Lion fil – a logo depicting a heraldic roaring lion standing on its hind legs and characterized by refinement and sophistication of design, remained on the motorcycles produced by Peugeot until the sale of the brand. It consisted of several colors – silver, blue, and black, each of which carried its own emotional component and special meaning. The silver color symbolizes innovation and tradition with many years of experience. The black color demonstrated its rigor and authority.


MBK Logo

One of the leading French motorcycle companies, MBK is an offshoot of the oldest French motorcycle manufacturer, Motobecane. Its founders were Charles Benoit and Abel Bardin. The company first introduced a two-wheeled machine equipped with a power plant under its trademark in 1923. After seven years, the company received the status of the largest representative of the French motorcycle industry, becoming one of the world leaders in this field until the fifties of the last century. In the crisis year of 1981, the company went bankrupt, and three years later, it was acquired by the Japanese motorcycle concern Yamaha. In this case, the name of the brand was reduced to the abbreviation – MBK.

The name of the company is a combination of two words – “moto” and “bike.” The new owner changed the logo to three letters, which is used to this day. Visually, the sign represents these three letters of the abbreviation in bright blue lowercase letters in a font similar in lettering to Shapiro Base Plus. It is complemented by a sign in the form of a circle tilted to one side, symbolizing a wheel, and two hemispheres tilted to the other side, which creates a visual perception of the mark as a symbol of the perpetual motion machine of the atom, depicted schematically.


Voxan Logo

The young French brand Voxan made its name in 1995. Its founder, Jacques Gardette from Issouar, wanted to realize his idea of an original motorcycle, a unique design with a V-shaped engine with two cylinders. Sodemo Moteurs was responsible for the engine, and Alain Chevalier for the chassis. The company’s main focus was the transition to electric motors. In 2009, the brand was sold to Venturi of Monaco, owned by Gildo Pallanca. Venturi Automobiles continues to develop Voxan motorcycles in the same direction, with the launch of the first Wattman electric motorcycle in 2013.

The brand stands out not only for its design and engine type. Its logo is also original in execution and has a spectacular visual design. It is based on the brand name itself – Voxan, made in lowercase letters, in which the accent element is the letter “X.” This symbol is made with the connection of the letters “O” and “N,” at the same time forming a crossbar “A,” reinforcing the impact. At the same time, the “rainbow” color in a gradient design from “Death Indigo” through changing shades of blue-gray, periste, lavender, and again blue-gray and indigo provides a strong visual impact. Agility Std Heavy was taken as a base and given a design treatment.

Rene Gillet

Rene Gillet Logo

The famous French motorcycle manufacturer Rene Gillet produced motorcycles from 1897 to 1957. Initially, its production was located in Paris. Then, in the factory suburb – Monrouge, on the banks of the Seine. The first two-wheeled “horse” was produced in 1902, and in 1904, the owner registered his first patent. Success came in the twenties of the last century thanks to government orders. However, the war years led to a decline in production. The lack of new developments drastically reduced sales. In 1955, the company was bought by Peugeot, closing it completely five years later.

The French style of that time influenced the formation of the emblems of the brand. The text was done in accordance with the lightness and delicacy of the design of vaudeville posters and Moulin Rouge posters. The light and floral typeface, in deep red, matched the lightness and flashiness of the design of the motorcycles themselves, which attracted fans even more than the features. The two words of the brand name were arranged in a staggered pattern, one below the other. They were united by an arc, which smoothly, as a continuation of the leg of the letter “t,” went up around the whole text, ending before the beginning of the first letter of the second word. The arc was made of different thicknesses. It increased and then faded towards the end.

Gnome & Rhone

Gnome & Rhone Logo

Almost all French, and not only French, airplanes of the early XX century were equipped with Gnome & Rhone engines, which brought them worldwide fame back in 1914-1918. After the end of hostilities, the company’s capacity allowed them to open production of motorcycles, which expanded their interest in the civilian market. However, the outbreak of World War II required new developments in aviation. The company worked for the German Luftwaffe, which made it necessary to cease its operations under direct and accurate Allied bombing. In 1945, its operations were discontinued, except for the small-scale production of motorcycles and bicycles, which Snecma took over in 1949.

The company’s emblem accurately reflected its core business. The circle, symbolizing the movement of propeller blades, in which the central part was occupied by a stylized image of an airplane cabin with two departing from its propellers, was made in light brown. This symbolized the wooden material from which airplanes were assembled at that time. In contrast, the inner free field was filled with black color, symbolizing assertiveness and steadfastness in the pursuit of the goal. Later, this color acquired a different interpretation – associated with the development of the Luftwaffe, whose uniforms had the same color. To the right of the upper blade and to the left of the lower blade, there were segments with brown stripes, which created the illusion of the propeller rotation. The brand name went from top to bottom, along with the blades. In the remaining two free sectors to the right and left of the propeller, filled with black, the first letters of the name were applied in red, which allowed us to compare this color combination with the colors of the flag of Nazi Germany.

Barigo Motorcycles

Barigo Logo

The founder of the brand in 1973 was Patrick Barigo, a former motorcycle racer from the French Thouars. The failures that followed throughout the athlete’s career pushed him to create his own motorcycle to ensure victory. His first step was an attempt to create a machine based on the Bultaco 250 in 1976. However, favoring the four-stroke type of engine, he modernized the chassis for it, becoming the first in the world to create such a model. Subsequent victories in races on his motorcycles increased interest in the brand. 1986 was the year of the appearance of the Tanagra supermotard. However, financial problems hampered the development of the company. In 1993, he managed to surprise the world again by creating two models purchased by the police. But in 1997, the company closed down.

The Barigo logo was simple and laconic. The brand name was inscribed in the contours of the French flag in the form of a stylized arrow pointing forward. The text was broken down into several elements. All letters of the beginning of the word – “Bari” – were connected, and the last two letters were separated as if forming the English word “go,” which added a semantic load about moving forward. The text was inscribed in the middle white part of the flag, pointing from bottom to top, symbolizing this movement. The background color of the letters is light beige with white strokes, stylized as a headwind characterizing high speed.

Godier & Genoud

Godier & Genoud Logo

For 25 years – from 1970 to 1995 – French riders Georges Godier and Alain Genoud modernized Kawasaki and Honda motorcycles. They changed the wheelbase to a trackbase. In the process of modernization, they used an engine of their own design. However, such machinery was not in demand. As a result, the 90s became the last attempt to realize their ideas profitably. At this time, another fast road customs was created, but with the same result. In 1995, the brand was closed down.

The owners paid little attention to the visualization of their brand. An emblem was created, which was placed not only on motorcycles but also on office stickers and signs of the production department of the company. It was a text consisting of 2 words – the surnames of the founders. Written in capital letters, “godlier generous” in 2 lines with a shift of the second word to the right by one sign relative to the upper one, the text was not characterized by intricacy and special attractiveness. Graphically, it was made volumetric by forming shadows with the help of a mat. Simplicity and laconism remained in the memory of those who had time to get acquainted with some types of products of the brand.


Scorpa Logo

One of the youngest in the history of the French motorcycle brand is Scorpa, which first announced itself in 1993. The production was based around the town of Alès. Founded by Marc Teysier and Joel Domergue, the company was engaged in the development of trial motorcycles designed specifically for the sport of the same name – performing difficult tricks and overcoming obstacles. In 1994, the first model, WORKS 294, was released. However, as a result of internal conflict in the summer of 2009, the company was liquidated. But in the fall, Marc Teissier bought back the brand and by 2010 is preparing to release several new models at a new address – Ales, Nîmes.

The brand was represented by an emblem consisting of a stylized image of a scorpion preparing to strike and the brand name underneath. The text and the mark were rendered in black, the color of the future, a symbol of renunciation in the name of victory, of unrestrained pursuit of the goal. The font chosen for the visualization – Personalization Regular – was redesigned to better match the spirit of the company. All the letters were slanted to the right, symbolizing the starting tension and acceleration. The letters “P” and “P” “lost some of their legs,” causing the gap to merge with the blank interior of the letterheads, creating a stylized look of high-speed movement. The letter “A” is made in the form of a starting “shoe.”

Does France make motorcycles?

Yes, the French motorcycle industry exists, but it is underdeveloped. Its largest representative is Peugeot. The rest of the motorcycle manufacturers have either left the market or are not competitive.

Are motorcycles popular in France?

Statistics show that the French love to ride motorcycles even more than the rest of Europeans. Many locals have this type of two-wheeled transport, but they prefer mainly imported models because only Peugeot is a popular motorcycle brand in France.

What are the big four motorcycle brands?

The biggest motorcycle brands have nothing to do with France, as they represent the Japanese Big Four. In first place is Honda, second – Yamaha, third – Suzuki, fourth – Kawasaki.