Bizarre Bikes is a segment that looks at the history of a strange motorcycle to find out what made it unique. We’ve previously covered the Megola, with its rotary engine mounted within the front wheel. The Majestic was another unusual motorbike. Created during the Art Deco period, the Majestic can be described as a cross between a sculpture and a vehicle. Its elegant design made it a revolutionary machine.
A motorcycling masterpiece
In 1928, French engineer Georges Roy developed a machine called the ‘New Motorcycle’ that made use of a pressed-steel monocoque chassis. He deviated from the normal tube frame, which proved to be expensive and labour intensive. Roy built the New Motorcycle by hand and riveted it together. His monocoque design went on to be adopted by the automotive industry, which explained why his motorbikes looked like they were combined with a car.
It didn’t take long for companies like BMW to apply the monocoque concept to their machines, so Roy worked on another radical design. The Majestic debuted at the 1929 Paris Motor Show and it was unlike anything that had come before. It featured a tapered body made from pressed steel panels. Constructed using square-section steel, the chassis was joined by riveted cross members. The Majestic became the first motorbike to have a bespoke body fitted onto a standardised chassis. This gave it the appearance of an Art Deco masterpiece.
A unique paint job
The original Majestic came with an American 4-cylinder Cleveland engine. Other engines that were used included a JAP single-cylinder engine or JAP v-twin mounted transversely. The motorbike came in several colours, even a rare ‘alligator’ finish, which was hand-applied by artists of the Guild of Decorative Painters. The unique finish involved using a top paint layer over an incompatible ‘base’ paint coat. The top layer dried quickly, cracking the paint to resemble the skin of an alligator
Roy created a motorbike that changed the direction of the industry, with his design being adapted over the decades. The Majestic has been praised as a work of art and as a well-designed vehicle. For example, it’s appeared at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the 1998 ‘Art of the Motorcycle’ exhibition.
Motorbike historians have estimated that there are only ten Majestics left in existence. If you’ve managed to catch a glimpse of one then consider yourself lucky.
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