The Big Car Database

Werner Motorcycles

Werner Brothers
Werner 230 cc 1904.jpg
The Werner Brothers Motobicyclette of 1904
Manufacturer Werner Frères et Cie
Production Paris, France, 1898 MMC England
Engine 216 cc (13.2 cu in), air-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder
Fuel capacity Fuel was of 0.680 specific gravity

The brothers Michel and Eugene Werner, Russian immigrants in Paris, built a motorcycle in 1897 based on a bicycle frame. 

It had a motor mounted over the front wheel, and drove the front wheel by a belt.  It proved to be top heavy and hard to control, so an improved model was built with the motor mounted low on the frame.  In 1900 the improved model was released using a de Dion four stroke single cylinder 230 cc engine.  The 1.5 hp engine drove the rear wheel with a belt, and pedal power was retained as a back up and to get the motorcycle up to speed before the motor was engaged, since there was no clutch.  The engines were small, but the frame was very light, so the Werner had a great power to weight ratio. Drawing is from Motorcycles of the 20th Century.


Motocyclette advertisement from 1900

The attempt to use a De Dion-Bouton engine in a bicycle frame in 1896 resulted in failure. But in 1897 they succeeded in creating a moto bicycle called the Motocyclette with the engine mounted on the front steering head that achieved some success.

The most significant success in moto bicycle design came in 1900 with the New Werner which used a patented frame design in which the engine is mounted at the bottom of the frame. By this time the company was also making their own engines rather than buying them from De Dion-Bouton as had been the case previously.

Werner was also the first or one of the first to produce a moto bicycle with a two-cylinder vertical twin engine in 1903 with a capacity of 500 cc.

Werner licensed Motor Manufacturing Company in England to sell their line of motorcycles.

When both brothers died in 1908 the company failed.[dubious ]

On 13 September 1902, Alfred Nipper of Prospect Place,Weston Super Mare, was riding his 1898 Werner Motorcycle on Bristol Road, Worle, Somerset when he was reported for the following offence as written on the summons.

"Then being the driver of a certain carriage (to wit a motorcycle) on a certain highway there situate called Bristol Road unlawfully did ride the same furiously thereon so as then to endanger the lives and limbs of passengers on the said highway"

This is believed to be the first summons issued in Somerset for a motoring offence. Mr Nipper was fined Seven shillings and Six pence. The summons is now in the possession of Mr Nippers great nephew Laurie Hatchard of Kingsley Cheshire.

Alfred Nipper was a Photographer, but he also assisted Marconi with his radio transmissions from Weston Super Mare.