Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bikes of Paris

Continuing with the French theme, here are some bikes from Paris.  Don't consider this an exhaustive list, for if it were, I couldn't omit Peugeots, Gitanes or Merciers.  These are merely some bikes that I like.  For me, these bikes represent history, culture and beauty.  They are all decades old yet still faithfully fulfilling their function, each waiting dutifully for their master to return. 

I hope you enjoy them.


Motobécane was a French company established in 1923.  The name is derived from the combination of "moto", which is slang for motorcycle, and "bécane", slang for bicycle (they also made motorcycles and mopeds).  They went bankrupt in 1981 but were bought up by Yamaha and continue to this day to make motorscooters.  

In the late 1970s, Motobécane became the first French manufacturer to start using Japanese parts, which were generally lighter, cheaper and better than French equivalents, particularly in the mid-price range of bicycles.

I like a few elements of this photo; the old padlock and chain, busy Parisians passing by, but mostly the beautiful old frame and paint job.  Clearly it's s bit scratched up but it's clear to see she would have been a stunner in her day.

Décathlon is a large department store chain that exists throughout France.  Established in 1976, the company has produced numerous sporting products, including bicycles of variable quality.  

In 2006, the bicycle arm of the company was rebranded as b'Twin.  These bikes saw Tour de France action under Ag2r (not the most attractive bikes in the peloton).  A bit different to what this "Voyage" has endured, but by the look of the side walls, it's done some hard miles too and no doubt keeps someone very content.

I don't know anything about Spécial Sport bikes but I saw quite a few around Paris.  Honest, hard-working steel steeds, just as a good French vélo should be.

I love this headtube badge.  It looks...well, original!  That's no doubt because it is.  It's complemented by some beautiful details.  Out of the box, the paint would have blown your hair back.  And matching cable outer too.

I don't remember the brand of this derailleur but I think it might be a Simplex.  It's also hard to say exactly when it was produced.  Simplex derailleurs first appeared in 1928 out of a small bike shop in Dijon.  They quickly became popular and were the winningest derailleurs available for the best part of two decades.  This one is probably from the late 1950s and looks for all intents and purposes to be running strong.


This is one of my favourite photos.  It's made in France.


I love this bike because of what it lacks; seatstays and chainstays!  Who needs them when you've got a rack that fills the gap?

More beautiful bikes coming soon.  I'm thinking of serving something up with some Moroccan flavours next.

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