A little while ago I published an article on the remarkable Clément V4 motorcycle. Within the comments section I received a factual correction (which is always welcome here) to identify the rider of a Clément in a particular picture not as Maurice Fournier as I had thought but as Gabriel Holley, another prominent motor sportsman of the era. What was special about the correction was that it came from the great great grandson of Holley.
|The rider carrying the number 51 is Gabriel Holley
and the chap to the left with the full beard is Adolphe
Holley was a true pioneer of motor transport and was resident in Paris, a city I believe is fair to call the cradle of motoring. The path that characters such as Holley followed is one that is hard for us in the modern world to comprehend. Imagine a time when until just a handful of years prior the fastest personal transport known was a horse and the effects of high speed on the human body was unknown. These chaps raced point to point cross country at high speed on dirt roads through villages that until then had not even seen motorised transport. To race a 1.5 litre beast of a motorcycle with no suspension and little in the way of braking on rough roads at speeds up to 60mph would have demanded considerable mettle.
|Poster for Gabriel Holley's garage business. Probably
the driver of the car is Holley.
|Holley's business card.
|The Buchet tricycle.
|The workings of the Buchet monster. The crank drove
direct to the axle so engine rpm translated directly to
|From 1903 the Buchet twin was further developed
and fitted to a two wheeler chassis.
Apparently the Clément V4 was a very difficult machine to ride due to the weight of the very hefty engine in a long and spindly unsprung chassis. Adolphe Clément's son Albert had several falls trying to master the beast. Holley developed a new technique of braking hard before a corner and then accelerating through it, a technique that is now taught in race schools the world over as the fastest way around a bend.