Here is a very pretty 1953 Follis Mixte featuring Nervex lugs, Fratelli Brivio hubs, Mavic 650b rims, a Simplex Juy rear derailleur with 4 speed freewheel, and a number of other nice features.
Follis was another highly regarded French builder, founded by Joseph Follis in Italy in the early 1900’s. In the 1920’s, the company established its headquarters in Lyon after Mussolini took power. During and after WWII, the Follis company expanded and began building all kinds of bicycles, varying in purpose and price range, many of which were re-branded by other marques.
This Follis was owned by Nicole Montbarbon, who resided in Bourg, Ain, France. A clearly visible owner’s name tag was a requirement for all French bicycles during this era. Nicole took good care of her machine. Even though the finish is very scratched, the bike appears completely intact and all original, possibly even down to the Michelin 650b 44 mm tires, color matched to the white Sufficit grips and rubber block pedals.
These Follis Jeay-style brakes are a bit nicer design than others I have seen. The inner plate, which pulls up on the caliper arms when the brakes are engaged, has a groove for each arm to travel on, so they stay in adjustment a bit better.
Fratelli Brivio hubs are a nice touch, though the finish is now gone. F.B. was an Italian component maker who first built hubs for Campagnolo, among others, as well as under their own name. Nervar cranksets are not as highly sought after as Stronglight and T.A., but can be equally nice. This one’s finish is pretty bad off, and it probably wouldn’t be worth it to re-chrome it. Instead, the patina adds to its vintage appeal.
I have been amazed at the number of different ways a mixte frame can be configured. In this case, the twin sloping top tubes are hand bent at the seat tube attachment, where they are minimally brazed, before travelling back to the rear dropouts. The frame includes pump pegs, double eyelets front, single eyelets rear, and braze-ons for the shifter and dynamo. However, this particular frame was not built with the highest quality workmanship. Although the Nervex lugs are fancy, the drop outs are stamped, not forged, and the finish work on the ends is just so-so. Even so, a cursory examination of the tubes revealed absolutely no dings or dents, just a lot of scratches and lost paint.
The lighting system looks intact, except for some broken wiring. The lamps and dynamo are branded SELF. The lenses and reflectors are not cracked and have a fun art-deco look to them. Note the yellow front bulb.
The Simplex rear derailleur is frame mounted. This model uses a “bell crank” to move the cage. I haven’t worked on this model before, but fortunately catalog scans are available from Disraeli Gears.
This derailleur has open pulleys at the back of the cage, allowing you to remove the chain from the derailleur without breaking it, a helpful feature. The chain is a Sedis model Yellorex, which also appears to be original to the bike.
I originally acquired this bike as a “donor” – to give me some needed parts for other projects I am working on. However, given its completeness and classic beauty, I may change my mind and restore it. Perhaps that would please Nicole, wherever she may be. Nous verrons!