Bottin du Cycle 1951: The French Cycling Directory

I love cycling print media from days gone by.  This bible-like tome, the Bottin du Cycle, is a French compendium of all things cycling related.  Its 1,296 pages attest to the booming cycling industry in France during the post-war era.

The front, back, side, spine, and even the edges of the pages are covered in advertising. This book was meant to promote the industry, and I think it must have succeeded.  The ads featured on the exterior of the catalog include Caminargent (Caminade), maker of extraordinarily lightweight octagonal aluminum frames; LAM, a brake manufacturer; Sonnclair, maker of cycling bells; Pryma, a saddle maker, and Philippe, handlebar manufacturer.  Even the supplied bookmarks contain ads:  Dissoplast, a maker of glue and patches for repairing flats, and another ad for Caminargent.

The first part of the directory is devoted to a listing of the phone numbers and addresses of all cycling related retailers and manufacturers of the era in Paris (the blue pages) and then in the rest of France, by region and city.  The print in this section is very small, so I had to employ my vintage magnifying glass to read the text.  In it I found the telephone numbers and addresses of the French builders of the day, including listings for Camille Daudon, Robert Ducheron, Alex Singer, Rene Herse, and many others whose bikes have survived the test of time.

There’s even a section on “Cyclomoteurs” – bicycles made to accommodate a small engine, usually 50cc.  This ad features a frame style by Veloto amazingly similar to some of today’s e-bike models, such as this one available at Portland’s Clever Cycles.

Here’s an ad for Cycles Metropole featuring a drawing by Rodolphe Rebour, Daniel’s brother.

The rest of the book is devoted to featuring the retailers and manufacturers, arranged by category.  Ads appear throughout the book, some of them in color for those who sprang for a higher ad budget, such as Tron and Berthet, shown above.  I couldn’t use a scanner due to the book’s girth, so I used my camera to photograph some of the more interesting pages.  Here’s a look, for your enjoyment:

VAR tools – the gold standard, still made today.

Gnutti hubs – a competitor to Campagnolo.

Mavic and Super Champion rims – both excellent choices for a build.

LAM brakes, featured on many higher-end bicycles.

A Perry coaster brake internal hub.

An innovative hub design – removal can be done sans freewheel.

Arc-En-Ciel (“rainbow”) – loopy frames and whimsical handlebar – I have never seen one of these but would love to.

J. Moyne freewheels – my Camille Daudon features one.

And, of course, the compendium would not be complete without an offering from Peugeot.  The above PH models from 1951 are some of the best of their model range from this era.

This directory will come in handy when I need to research component makers and builders, and is also just a fun bit of cycling history.

9 thoughts on “Bottin du Cycle 1951: The French Cycling Directory

  1. As you may know, I too am a fan of cycling in print and this is an excellent publication. Nice find! What’s funny is that most of those VAR tools on the pages in your book are the same vintage I’m constantly on the hunt for. The older VAR equipment is typically superior to many other new bike tool brands products being produced today.

    • Yes. The industry developed so differently here even though we have greater expanses and plenty of hills. But there was some influx of French and British bikes in the 40’s and 50’s. I have some photos of my Dad cycling with a friend probably dating to the late 40’s. She’s riding a lightweight geared mixte and he’s stuck on a heavy weight ballon tire bike.

      • Don’t get me wrong: I do like vintage American balloon tire bikes. But they aren’t always the appropriate tool for the job, like riding distances or hills. There was such a disregard for adult cycling in the US until at least the 1960s. As for the expanses and hills in the US, I think that’s probably a big reason why the US embraced cars faster than Europe.

  2. I am looking for information on BAGGI bicycles. Does this reference show that they were still in existence in 1951? I presently have a circa 1935/1936 model race/touring model after the BAGGI-SAMYN collaboration was dissolved circa 1932 (?).

      • Thank you Nola. I was curious as to how long they were still in operation. Now I know that they around until ’51. The bike is probably quite rare as I have not seen a ’30s model anywhere. It uses the early striker fork rear derailleur; a Simplex model similar to the Osgear/Super Champion style. I know that Simplex derailleur was gone by the late ’30s-very early ’40s. It has a very odd chainring that no one has been able to ID yet. I would post a photo, but I have no accounts which would allow me to do so. I have it posted on The CABE, and Ratrod Bikes, as well as a couple European sites. Just search for BAGGI, it’s the only one! Not completed since I am still looking for some period parts and finishing building a set of wood rim wheels for it; delayed due to my work load over the last year of chaos.

        I do enjoy your site; I just found it by chance, but I don’t remember what I was searching for when it came up. I have a few dozen frames and bikes in the works so it may have been related to one I was looking for information on. Looks like I could fit perfectly on your frames, but I tend to ride larger bikes than what would be considered appropriate for a guy my size (5’7″). I ride from 50 cm up to 57 cm regularly. The bigger frames have a more forgiving feel to them given the longer tubing, but the small bikes are great for climbing and sprinting.

        I work in a hospital; please be safe and take care. I do recommend the 2 shot vaccines if you have yet to get one or have reservations regarding them.

        Take care,
        Jesper

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