Book Review: Bicycle Design by Tony Hadland & Hans-Erhard Lessing

Rohloff Speedhub 14 courtesy of Bicycle Design, by Tony Hadland & Hans-Erhard Lessing, p. 242

I like to keep my vintage bicycle library stocked with both old and new volumes.  This book, published by MIT in 2014, caught my eye on a trip to my local Powell’s.  Bicycle Design was written by Tony Hadland and Hans-Erhard Lessing, the latter being a physics professor and Hadland being a Raleigh and Moulton expert and author of a number of cycling books.

This is a book dedicated to the science and design of the bicycle and its components, with an extensive discussion of historical developments and many interesting illustrations and photos.  The entire first half of the book is well worth the admission price I paid – about $35.  There is a fascinating discussion of wheel design and development which includes spoking patterns and engineering concepts.

There are so many interesting engineering designs and cycling innovations in this book that it is hard to single out notable developments.  The book is organized topically, except for the first chapter which deals with Velocipedes and their forerunners from an historical perspective. The remaining chapters address drive train, wheel engineering, braking technology, and transmission, before launching into chapters organized by accessories and applications.

One topic that can be challenging to vintage bicycle enthusiasts is an understanding of the wheel rim designs of the day.  Westwood rims are designed for brakes which will engage the rim rather than the sidewall, while Endrick rims can accommodate brakes which engage the rim sidewall.

C.M. Hanson, 1895 Clipless Pedal

One fascinating innovation described in this excellent resource is Hanson clipless pedals shown above.  At the time, various manufacturers were experimenting with shoe/pedal attachment options.  Another idea involved a magnetic shoe/pedal attachment, developed in 1897 by Henry Tudor of Boston (US patent 588,038).

Mafac, Resilion Cantis, modern cantilevers, courtesy of Bicycle Design p. 277.

This book includes discussions of most historical cycling developments.  However, the authors note their one glaring omission:  derailleurs.  Because derailleur history has been discussed by a number of other authors, that topic is given cursory treatment in Bicycle Design.  If you don’t already have a copy of this tome, I recommend adding it to your library.

1947 Camille Daudon – Frame Details

My 1947 Camille Daudon bicycle, custom built for Irene Faberge Gunst, is currently in a state of disassembly, so this seems a perfect time to share some details of the frame’s construction.

While I have some information about this bike from the previous owner, I wasn’t sure about the steel tubing.  Because the previous owner had re-chromed the frame, all the original decals and transfers were lost.  So, I was delighted to see this VITUS logo on the steerer tube when I removed the fork.  This logo probably means that all the frame tubes are Vitus – a quality steel tubing made by the French company Atelier de la Rive.

The work done to create this frame is far beyond anything you would ever see today, except from a custom builder.  The creases in the chainstays, to provide clearance for the crankset and the wheels are beautifully executed.  And, the sloping downtube connection to the seat-tube is one of my favorite designs for mixte bikes that use a single, rather than double, sloping top tube.  This type of robust brazing firms up the frame, and gives the mixte bike better handling characteristics.  Peter Wiegle has continued this concept on the mixte frames he has built.

Pinned chainstays

Another interesting feature are the pins used to secure the chain stays, as can be seen by peering inside the bottom bracket shell.  Pinning the tubes was a method used by a number of builders of this era, and is even continued today by Mercian, whose process involves using a brick oven to heat the tubes for brazing.  I don’t know whether Camille Daudon used this heating process, as the only tubes which are pinned in this frame are the chainstays.

The finish work on the stays is beyond anything I normally see – simply extraordinary.

This frame has only a few braze-ons -the shifter mount, pump pegs, and shifter and brake cable routing.  Most notably, there are no braze-ons for a dynamo nor for a chain guard.  Since this bike was designed for commuting and city riding in San Francisco, that seems odd to me.

1947 Camille Daudon mixte, prior to re-chroming

Prior to being re-chromed, the frame looked as above.  As you can see, the chrome was seriously compromised.  Chroming a bicycle frame is a harsh process that may not yield the results you are looking for.  It is very labor intensive, and will remove some brazing material from the frame.  It is essential that the frame be thoroughly cleaned and the old plating removed before re-chroming.

The previous owner thought that he had prepared the frame correctly for the chroming process, but unfortunately a small section of the drive side seat stay developed a hole during the re-chroming, due to incorrect preparation.  This is an area of frame construction where failures can develop.  However, in this case it looks like the combination of incorrect preparation, along with the harshness of the re-chroming process itself, caused this hole to develop. While it is a small flaw, it’s something to take note of.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will try to re-create the Daudon logos which were original to the frame, as shown in the above photo.  I love seeing such a large head tube on a smaller frame such as this, which should provide for a comfortable riding experience.

Best of all about this disassembly process was seeing the codes engraved on the fork and rear dropouts – “471” which makes me think that this was the very first bicycle off the line from Daudon’s shop in 1947.  A nice, and interesting,  thought.

Frame dimensions:

Seat tube:  50 cm

Top Tube -effective:  52.5 cm

Wheelbase:  102.5 cm

Frame Weight:  5 pounds, 15 ounces

Material: Vitus steel tubing

1947 Peugeot Bicycle Catalogue

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Finding new vintage bicycle catalogues is a joyous occasion, especially when they feature a bike in my collection.  I really love vintage Peugeot bicycles – they are particularly enjoyable due to their emphasis on rider comfort, as you can see depicted in the drawing above.

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1947 Peugeot 650b as restored

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1947 Peugeot as a box of parts

I restored this 1940’s Peugeot without knowing its date of manufacture.  The bike came to me with many missing parts, including a missing wheelset and fenders.

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One of the things that made me want to restore this incomplete collection of parts into a complete bicycle was the presence of the two original keys to the fork lock – very unusual, given that many other parts were missing.

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This 1947 Peugeot Mixte is built with high end Vitus Rubis tubing, with an H75623 serial number. A while back a Canadian cyclist contacted me with a Peugeot Serial Number spreadsheet which indicated that this bike was a rare 1947 model.  I reviewed his analysis and agreed with his conclusion.

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1947 PRD Peugeot Mixte

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1947 Peugeot PHL 55 Mixte

But that was before I had any 1947 Peugeot catalogues.  Now, with the the 1947 catalogue newly available, I believe that the bike is indeed a 1947 model. – the PHL 55 model depicted above, and not the other mixte offered in 1947 – the PRD model.

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Many thanks to the BikeBoomPeugeot site for sharing this catalog – this site is a wonderful resource for Peugeot enthusiasts.  The 1947 catalog features many interesting bicycles from the post WWII era after France was liberated and bicycle production in France was once again underway.

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1947 Peugeot chain guard