Peugeot Motorcycles is mostly known for being a subsidiary of the famous French car manufacturer Peugeot. However, the motorcycles built by Peugeot are pretty popular around the world, being equipped with advanced engines and features. The motorcycle division of Peugeot saw the daylight a long time ago when the two cousins, Eugene and Armand Peugeot, decided to start their own companies. Because Eugene was looking for a factory that would be able to start manufacturing motorcycles, he used the free space in the Beaulieu factory previously used by Armand.
The first motorcycle ever released by Peugeot Motorcycles was revealed in 1898 at the Paris Exhibition but it never reached production. What's interesting is that it had an uncanny design, the engine being installed perpendicularly on the rear wheel.
However, the first official bike manufactured by Peugeot was actually a tricycle and was a result of a partnership between the French company and Dion Bouton who provided the 239.5cc engine. What's interesting is that these vehicles were pretty successful in that period, mostly thanks to their low price.
The tricycles were replaced by quadricycles in 1900 which were equipped with saddles but were also able to develop more power. However, Peugeot stopped the production of quadricycles in 1903 mostly due to the fact that most people preferred a car in the detriment of these vehicles which were often considered to be pretty difficult to drive.
Peugeot continued the development of motorcycles the next years so the first real motorcycle came in 1901, being revealed at the Paris Exhibition which took place the same year. Named Motobicyclette, the bike had a Swiss ZL engine with a displacement of 198cc which produced 1.5 horsepower. Moreover, the motorcycle was equipped with a belt final drive. Two years later, Peugeot rolled out a bike which could produce 5 horsepower and had the engine installed inside the frame, in comparison with the first bike which had the engine mounted perpendicularly on the rear wheel.
Since the company made important steps in the development process, Peugeot decided to enter racing competitions so no less than five motorcycles producing 3.5 horsepower entered the Paris-Madrid race in the 1903 season. And talking about racing events, Peugeot entered the 1914 season with a 500cc, twin cylinder engine which managed to beat the speed record which was previously of 122 km/h. Although it didn't record too many victories, it brought numerous wins after the war.
The time passed by and Peugeot started encountering problems due to the British competition which usually offered attractive motorcycles providing both powerful engines and low price tags. In order to compete with the British rivals, Peugeot manufactured two 500cc motorcycles equipped with 4-stroke engines, dubbed 515 and 517. Introduced in 1933 at the Paris Exhibition, the 515 set a new world 24 hour record at the Montihery race, reaching an average speed of 118.747 km/h.
After World War II was ended, most motorcycle manufacturers started experiencing financial problems so Peugeot decided to concentrate more on small displacement engines that could attract more customers, mostly thanks to their small price tags. Peugeot rolled out the P55, a bike equipped with a single cylinder engine with a displacement of 125cc which was inspired by another vehicle produced by Peugeot before the start of the war.
Since that time, Peugeot remained one of the most important French motorcycle manufacturers, being a powerful company which managed to absorb multiple other local firms, including Terrot and Rene Gillet. However, the European motorcycle industry was ruled over by the Japanese company and, just like many other firms on the continent, Peugeot had problems due to their domination.
In 1987, Peugeot decided to separate the motorcycle and the bicycle divisions so the motorcycle business became Peugeot Motorcycles. What's interesting is that Honda holds 25 percent of the company which underlines the fact that Peugeot is able to produce some pretty advanced bikes.