The De Dion-Bouton company produced automobiles until 1932 and trikes from 1897-1905. As with many of the early motorcycle and trike companies, they started out creating steam vehicles. In 1882, Jules-Albert de Dion, engineer Georges Bouton, and Charles-Armand Trepardoux (George’s brother-in-law) started a company just outside of Paris.
In 1884, they built their first steam powered trike. As with many motorized vehicle manufacturers, they chose to build trikes rather than a motorcycle. This was because their early engines weighed too much to be a good fit for a two-wheeled vehicle.
During this era of early motorized vehicles, companies were choosing whether to use steam, electric or internal combustion engines. In 1897, the founders decided to go with internal combustion engines and they formed De Dion-Bouton company. Although the company’s focus was on automobiles, they led the world in vehicle sales from pre-1900 with a total number of 15,000 trikes manufactured.
The trikes were known for a number of things including their quality, durability, and reliability. They were also considered very fast – in 1887 the trikes were able to reach 65 km/h. The company also held a couple of “firsts.” They were the first company to eventually build a lightweight, high-speed internal combustion engine and also the first to build a V-8.
Additionally, the De-Dion-Bouton trikes held a number of speed records. An 1884 De-Dion-Bouton trike still holds one record, the record of the oldest motorized vehicle to still run. In 1932, the company seized production for financial reasons. Let us know what you think of these trikes on social media.