French Motorcycle Brands

French Motorcycle Brands

The French motorcycle industry has a long history. Like the British motorcycle industry, it emerged directly from the popular bike shops in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. But unlike all countries today that have adopted the palm tree of leadership from France in this direction, it was here in 1868 that Louis-Guillaume Perrault invented the world’s first motorcycle. Rather, “steam cycle,” as once tired of pedaling, Perrault took and adapted a small steam engine to his bicycle. Thus, he ensured himself the opportunity to drive 15 km to and from work without much effort. As a result, France outstripped all world brands by a decade in the development of the motorcycle industry already at the beginning of the 20th century, exporting its cars to all countries of the world, including Japan.

What is French Motorcycle Brands?

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

The middle of the 20th century became a crisis for the motorcycle industry worldwide, affecting this direction in France. The decline in prices for cars and the beginning of their wide serial production have led to a more comfortable mode of transportation. The crisis led to the closure of all French motorcycle brands that could not withstand such strong competition. Only Motobécane and Peugeot tried to stay afloat. In the 70s, however, Motobécane pulled out of the race, leaving the market open to Peugeot. In recent years, there have been attempts to revive this direction from three new firms, but they did not manage to seize the good fortune of Peugeot.


Peugeot Logo

France – 1898. In Mandeure, the founder of a company named after Armand Peugeot begins the production of motorcycles. Scooters appear in the assortment and components necessary for the repair of motor vehicles sold worldwide. However, scooters began to bring big profits, which halted motorcycle production until 2010, when the Peugeot P2x Roadster and P2x Cafe Racer came out of the plant’s stocks. But in 2019, the owners decided to sell the brand to the Indian company Mahindra, which makes scooters and tricycles at its sites in France and China.

The brand name of the company – the lion, is known not only to cars and motorists. Its popularity was promoted by the cult film “Taxi” by Luc Besson. Over the years of the brand’s existence, its logo has changed, constantly maintaining its concept. Lion fil – the logo representing the heraldic roaring lion, standing on its hind legs and distinguished by the sophistication and sophistication of its design, remained with the motorcycles manufactured by Peugeot until the moment the brand was sold. It consisted of several colors – silver, blue, and black-each brought its emotional component and special meaning. The silver color symbolized innovation and tradition with many years of experience. Black demonstrated his severity and authority.


MBK Logo

One of the leading French motorcycle companies, MBK, is an offshoot of the oldest French bike manufacturer, Motobecane. Its founders were Charles Benoit and Abel Bardin. The company first introduced a two-wheeled unit equipped with a propulsion system under the brand name in 1923. Within seven years, the company received the largest representative of the French motorcycle industry, entering the list of world leaders in this field until the fifties of the last century. In the crisis year of 1981, the company went bankrupt, and after three years, it was acquired by the Japanese motorcycle concern, Yamaha. At the same time, the brand name was shortened to an abbreviation – MBK.

The name of the company is a combination of two words for moto and bike. The new owner changed the logo to three letters, which is still used today. Visually, the sign represents these three letters of the abbreviation, executed in bright blue lowercase letters in a font similar in type 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 sign as a symbol of the perpetual motion of an atom, depicted schematically.


Voxan Logo

A young French brand, Voxan, announced itself in 1995. Its founder, Jacques Gardette of Issoire, wanted to bring his idea of ​​an original motorcycle to life, a unique design with a V-engine with two cylinders, in this way. Sodemo Moteurs was in charge of the engine, and Alain Chevalier was in charge of the chassis. The main focus of the company 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 performance. It is based on the very name of the brand – Voxan, executed in lowercase letters, in which the accent element is made of beech “X.” This symbol is made connecting the letter “O” and “N,” at the same time forming the crossbar “A,” increasing the impact. At the same time, the “iridescent” color in a gradient design from “deathly indigo” through changing shades of blue-gray, periwinkle, lavender, and again blue-gray and indigo provides a strong visual impact. As a basis, Agilita Std Heavy was taken as a basis, which underwent design processing.

Rene Gillet

Rene Gillet Logo

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

The French style of the time influenced the formation of the brand’s emblems. The text was executed in accordance with the lightness and delicacy of the design of the vaudeville posters and Moulin Rouge posters. The light and flowery font, executed in deep red color, corresponded to the lightness and showiness of the design of the motorcycles themselves, which attracted amateurs even more than the characteristics. The two words of the brand name were positioned in steps one under the other. They were united by an arc that went smoothly like a continuation of the leg of the letter “t” upward, around the entire text, ending before reaching the beginning of the first letter of the second word. The arc was made with varying thicknesses. It grew and faded towards the end.

Gnome & Rhone

Gnome & Rhone Logo

Almost all French, and not only aircraft of the early 20th century, were equipped with Gnome & Rhone engines, which brought worldwide fame back in 1914-1918. After the end of hostilities, the company’s capacities made it possible to open the production of motorcycles, which expanded their interest in the civilian market. But the beginning of the Second World War required new developments for aviation. The company works for the German Luftwaffe, which led to the need to terminate its activities with direct and accurate Allied bombing. In 1945, its activities were discontinued, except the small-scale production of motorcycles and bicycles, which Snecma took over in 1949.

The emblem of the company reflected precisely its main activity. The circle, symbolizing the movement of the propeller blades, in which the central part was occupied by a stylized image of the aircraft cockpit, with two propellers extending from it, was made in light brown. It symbolized the wooden material from which airplanes were assembled at that time. To provide contrast, the internal free field was filled with black, symbolizing the assertiveness and steadiness of striving to achieve the goal. Later this color acquired a different interpretation – belonging to the development of the Luftwaffe, whose uniform was of the same color. Segments with brown stripes were selected to the right of the upper blade and to the left of the lower blade, which created the illusion of a rotation of the propeller. The name of the brand ran from top to bottom along with the blades. In the remaining two free sectors to the right and left of the screw, filled with black, the first letters of the name were applied in red, which compared this color combination with the colors of the Nazi German flag.

Barigo Motorcycles

Barigo Logo

The founder of the brand in 1973 is Patrick Barigault, a former motorcycle driver from the French Thouars. The failures that followed throughout the athlete’s career prompted him to create his motorcycle to ensure victory. His first step was an attempt to create a unit based on the Bultaco 250 in 1976. However, preferring a four-stroke type engine, he upgraded the chassis for it, becoming the first creator of such a model in the world. The subsequent victories in his motorcycle races raised interest in the brand. 1986 was the year of the Tanagra supermotard. But financial problems are hampering 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 enterprise closed.

The Barigo logo was simple and concise. The brand name was inscribed against the contours of the French flag in the form of a stylized arrow pointing forward. The text has been split into several elements. All the letters of the beginning of the word – “Bari” were connected; the last two 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 of the flag, directed from bottom to top, which symbolizes this movement. The background color of the letters was light beige with white strokes, which are stylized headwinds that characterize high speeds.

Godier & Genoud

Godier & Genoud Logo

For 25 years – from 1970 to 1995, French racers Georges Godier and Alain Genoud were engaged in the modernization of Kawasaki and Honda motorcycles. They changed the wheelbase to a tracked one. In the process of modernization, they used an engine of their design. However, such equipment was not in demand. As a result, the 90s became the last attempt to implement their ideas profitably. At this time, another fast road-going customs was created, but with the same result. The brand was closed in 1995.

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, plates of the company’s production department. It was a text that consisted of 2 words – the names of the founders. Written in capital letters “godier genoud” in 2 rows with a shift of the second word to the right by one character relative to the upper one, the text was not distinguished by its intricacy and special attractiveness. Graphically, it was made three-dimensional by shaping shadows using a matte. Simplicity and conciseness remain in the memory of those who managed to get acquainted with some types of the brand’s products.


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 near Alès. Founded by Marc Teissier and Joël Domergue, the company was engaged in developing trial motorcycles designed specifically for the sport of the same name – performing complex stunts, overcoming obstacles. In 1994, the first WORKS 294 was released. But as a result of an internal conflict in the summer of 2009, the company was liquidated. But in the fall, Marc Teissier buys 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 that consisted of a stylized image of a scorpion preparing to strike and the brand’s name underneath. The text and the sign were made in black, the color of the future, a symbol of renunciation in the name of victory, an unrestrained striving for the set goal. The font chosen for rendering, Personalization Regular, has been redesigned to fit the company’s spirit better. All letters have acquired a slope to the right, symbolizing the starting tension, acceleration. The letters “R” and “P” “lost some of their legs, as a result of which the gap merged with the empty interior space of the letterheads, creating a stylized appearance of high speed of 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.