07 April 2013

A Thread Or A Loaf Of Bread?

It seems that every time I take Arielle out for a ride, I see other pretty bikes.

Today's trek was no exception.  On my way to Point Lookout, I wasn't even a mile from my apartment when I saw this gem locked to a signpost:

At first glance, it might seem like just another bike-boom era French mixte bike.  But, as I passed it, the white pinstriping on the lovely blue fork caught my eye.  When I turned did an about-face to get a look at it, I noticed some nicer detailing than one usually finds on such a bike:

If those aren't Nervex lugs--which they probably aren't, given that the frame is built of regular carbon-steel tubing rather than, say, Reynolds 531 or Vitus 888--they are a reasonable facsimile.  More to the point, some care seems to have been taken in joining and finishing them.

Also, you might be able to see the brazed-on pump peg and shift levers.  The components were typical of bikes from that era:  steel cottered crank, Huret Luxe derailleurs, Normandy hubs and RIgida steel rims.  Everything, it seemed, was original equipment except for the tires and the brakes.  The latter component had a label that read "centerpull," but no brand name.  Bikes like these usually came with Mafac or Weinmann centerpulls; I am guessing that this bike came with the former, as the bars sported Mafac levers.

The steel "rat trap" pedals are also, I suspect, original equipment.  They are a variation I've seen only on a few bikes:

It looks like a cross between a cage and a platform. I've never tried such a pedal, but I suspect it would be more comfortable with soft-soled shoes than the steel cages on pedals found on similar bikes.

Even with such lovely details, I couldn't help but to chuckle at the bike's brand name:

If you've ever been in a boulangerie, you know that a ficelle is a long, skinny loaf of bread. (Not all French breads are baguettes!)  Actually, "ficelle" means "thread" or "string"; it's the diminutive of "fiche", or strand.

I've seen only a few of these bikes, even in France:  They seem to have been a small regional manufacturer.  I can't find any recent information about them, so I don't know whether or not they're still in business.  Perhaps they were taken over by a batard like Peugeot.


  1. Like you, I often look for interesting and unique bikes while I am out riding. Since I don't live in the city, there aren't as many "cool bike sightings". However, once in a while I do have good fortune and get to see some fun stuff. I always enjoy your postings about the unique bikes you find.

  2. That bike looks great! I've never seen pedals like that. Thanks!