Friday, September 27, 2013


Just as with frames and complete bikes, clothing designers were in the weight weenie groove at Eurobike this year. There were plenty of examples of light weight helmets but is was shoes that seem to have got the most attention this year. It makes sense when you think how hard it is to loose a gram or two from the weight of a pedal to look at shoe design and the weights seem to have plumetted in the last couple of years.
The was also a move towards personalization, headed by the likes of Giro and Bont, which is another strong movement in the bike world generally.

The Mavic Huez shoe boasts the lightest weight of the show, at sub 200g each.
Boa rivalling closure system, the Northwave SLW2
Northwaves light and slippery looking sole

DMT Airtech

Bont Trithlon shoe
The big news on the Bont stand was the launch of their personalization programme, MY BONT.

Giro are already well into the idea of personalization

Monday, September 16, 2013

Peugeot AE21 at the Paris salon du Cycle

I really need to get batter photographs, but here are some very poor images of the Peugeot AE21 at the salon du cycle in Paris.
There were three prototypes on show, one of which was ridable in the electric bike test area. 
It's the first time I've seen the black and orange version or the full black one (gloss and matt black), and they both looked cool!

Matt black with gloss black sides

Matt black with bright gloss orange sides

Here you can see the integrated lock, behind the bag

Friday, August 2, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France, 1919

1919 La Sportive ridden by Firmin Lambert BEL
For the 1919 race several of the big name bike manufacturers, including Peugeot, Alcycon, Automoto, La Français and Labor formed the 'La Sportive' team to try to stop the increasing salary demands of the top riders and to reduce the costs for an industry on its knees after the hostilities. La Sportive would last three Tours (all of which they won, unsurprisingly since they equipped half the peloton). La Sportive was opposed by the J.B. Louvet company, which fielded its own team led by the Pelissier brothers, Henri (who went on to win the Tour in 1923) and Francis.

The war had taken it's toll on the country, with over 6 million either dead or wounded. The riders had suffered too, with many killed in action, and the remaining ones were obviously totally unprepared for such a test. It was and still is, the slowest ever Tour at 24.06 kph though despite that there were only 10 finishers.

It seems trivial to talk of the actual racing when great campions, like Peit-Breton, François Faber, Octave Lapize to name but three were lost in the war, but the racing went on and it's a credit to those who dragged themselves around the war torn roads of France that year.

It's also widely credited as the Tour that introduced the yellow jersey though recent research seems to suggest that it was actually first seen in the previous, 1914, race.

Eventually it was Fermin Lambert who prevailed but Christophe had ridden another great race, though yet again succombed to numerous crashes, punctures and another set of broken forks!

Peugeot AE21 on Car Body Design

Nice to see that bicycles are being recognised elsewhere in the media, for example on the Car Body design site. You can see one of the five videos there, that were made to launch the bike and feature a tour of some design and fashion hotspots of europe.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Peugeot AE21

A mention recently on Bicycle design of the AE2 electric city bike, which will be launched later this year.  
There are more photographs on the Peugeot design Lab web site and some of my sketches.

In the first design I had the bag in the frame but it wasn't really a practical solution.

Same concept but with the bag in the U of the frame.

An idea for a very simple tubular frame incorporating a lock and pump as well as the bag.
The first sketch where I created a container for the bag. The style is also much more sculptural.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France, 1914

1914 Peugeot ridden by Philippe Thys BEL
Thys wins his second of three Tours and again Peugeot are triumphant, with a totally dominant display which saw them take the top three places overall plus 5th, 6th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th.
The stage from Le Harve to Cherbourg passes through Pont-Audemer, a familiar town to all Lavallois-Honfleur riders
It's hardly surprising that they were dominant, with a team consisting of 4 riders who had won, or would win, the Tour and another 4 podium finishers. But that's not the full story since Peugeot were up against a formidable field with the peloton containing 11 riders who would finish the careers having won the Tour.

This was the last Tour before the Great War and in fact the same day the riders set out from Saint Cloud on the outskirts of Paris, Serbian secret agent Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austro-Hungary's Archduke Ferdinand. The Tour was to finish exactly a week before the Nazis declared war on France and invaded Belgium. Many of the Tour riders would be lost in the war.

Peugeot AE21

After a lot of hard work, the production version of the Peugeot eDL122 bike is final out. When the first, non electric, version was released at the Geneva motor show we hoped it would make it to production but there was still a lot to learn about the production process and the making of a bicycle without just using tubes. The DL122 was launched alongside the new 208 and was designed with the same philosophy of compactness, agility and practicality.
A year or so on and Marc Beaugé takes the first preproduction bike on a tour of some of europes best cities.


Sunday, June 9, 2013


Any cyclist who finds themselves in Paris, with a bike, has to try out a few laps round the much loved Longchamp circuit.
The Hippodrome de Longchamp, or simply Longchamp to the regulars, is a system of cycle paths and closed roads that create a loop around the famous home of French horse racing. 

Situated just outside the périférique, which encircles Paris, in the western suburb of Bois de Boulogne the circuit lies at the heart of French cycling. The first ever bicycle race took place in 1868 just over the river in the park at Saint Cloud when Englishman James Moore won the 1200m event. 
Also from the area is the Athletic Club Boulogne-Billancourt, one time stepping stone to the pro ranks and specifically  the Peugeot team. Back in the 70s and 80s ACBB was the temporary home for many English speaking riders as the club became the first to recognize the talents from the 'new worlds' as they welcomed Robert Miller, Phil Anderson, Stephen Roche and Sean Yates, amongst many others.
Many champions from France also passed through ACBB, most notably Bernard Thévenet and the great Anquetil.
These days the circuit is home to weekend worriers, lunch time keep fitters as well as the occasional pro team. The most popular times seem to be Tuesday and Thursday evening, when groups can reach 100 riders, but at pretty much anytime you can see riders at the circuit.
Not only a Parisian sanctuary for cyclists but you'll also see plenty of runners, triathletes (doing a bit of both) and crazy dudes on roller blades. These guys can stay with the big groups of cyclists up until the speed gets really hot. I've been with them at 40+ kph and not much slower on the uphill sections.

One of the delights of Longchamp, to me, is the wonderful pedestrian footbridge that takes you high above the noise and bustle of the city roads to the edge of the circuit from the Saint Cloud side of the river. 

All sorts ride at Longchamp

The starting gates of the race course

Views of La Defence 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

RIP Richard Ballantine

This is how Richard Ballantine's wonderful book should look like, oily, battered, dog eared and loved. I got my first copy in 1979 as my book gift at the school speech day. I'm sure I should have asked for Tess of the d'urbervilles or 1984 but in so many ways Richards Bicycle book coloured my life.

There's a nice tribute to him in the Telegraph (of all places, how the world has changed, not least by Ballantine), including a couple of classic quotes, the first to the simple joy of turning the pedals;

“It’s immediate and direct. You pedal. You make decisions. You experience the tang of the air and the surge of power as you bite into the road. You’re vitalised. As you hum along you fully and gloriously experience the day, the sunshine, the 
clouds, the breezes. You’re alive!”

Whilst another I remember from the first time I read the book. A shocking account of how to deal with dogs, which seemed so alien to a boy growing up in rural Yorkshire. Maybe the dogs are wilder in the US (though he spent much of his life in the UK). In fact, going back to the telegraph article to pinch the quote I see they've removed it from the original story. Shame. 

Ballantine, despite guiding my early cycling exploits always seemed a bit potty, in an extremely endearing way, much like another hero of mine and cyclists generally, Mike Burrows. Both were leading lights in the Human Powered Vehicle community, which often seems to attract the more alternative personalities. Despite that he was obviously also very in-tune with the wider cycling world and in fact was the first person to import mountain bikes into the UK.

Mr Ballantine, I'll be getting my Bicycle Book out tonight and thinking of you. Thanks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A real cyclists tipple

Moser was at the heights of powers when I was getting into cycling, so along with Saronni, became a teenage hero of mine. I had posters of them both in the cellar of our house, where I used to tinker with my bikes.

So I was more than happy to share a glass or two of Moser wine with our suppliers on a recent trip to Taiwan. Can't remember if it was good stuff since quite a bit of grape and grain flowed that evening. The Taiwan beer was as good as ever, I know that.

Moser was a great rider and ranks third in the all time list of winners (thanks Wiki), behind you know who and Rik van Looy as well as winning three monuments including Paris-Roubaix three times consecutively. He was also world champion and Giro winner though it was his 1984 hour record that sticks in my mind. He was the first rider to crack 50k with the aid of a rear disc wheel, the thin air of the Mexico city track and, as we were to find out later, a big dose of EPO. 

When his racing career was over in 1988 he set up his vineyard, Moser Azienda Agricola, on the outskirts of Trento where he works to this day producing his wine, all of which celebrate some aspect of his racing career.

Finding the picture of the Moser wine got me thinking about Mosers hour record bikes. In taking the hour record he was responsible for much of the move towards aero bikes but it was his unsuccessful attempt to retake the record in 1985 that saw one of the most startling bikes ever to roll round a velodrome. You can keep your 29ers, this beauty was a whole meter across! You really have to see it in action to appreciate its magnificence and see what the UCI put an end to. We may never see its likes again! Look here for the full glory 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France 1913

1913 Peugeot ridden by Philippe Thys BEL
The race follows an anticlockwise course around France and creates the formula that last to today of anticlockwise routes in odd years and clockwise in even years. The Tour also reverts to elapsed time as the way of deciding the winner, rather than points.
Peugeot were to take the first three places plus 5th and 7th.

The 1913 Tour is most famous for the story of Christophe, his broken forks and the penalty he was given when a 7 year old boy help him by pumping the bellows while Christophe worked at the repairs in a blacksmiths forge.
Actually the story seems to have been over emphasized since he was only docked 10 minutes, and even that was later reduced to 3, especially considering that he'd lost over three hours on the repairs. More interesting is the story that after the stage Peugeot took the forks away and claimed that they'd been damaged in an accident with a car, while Christophe made no mention of a crash. Clearly Peugeot thought that there was a better marketing story around a car crash being responsible for the breakage than them giving way due to the stresses of the terrible road conditions.

This was the first Tour where gears started to be used in anger and by 1914 they'd become commonplace, with most riders opting for Eadie two speed hubs. In 1913 Petit-Breton was using a Sturmey-Archer two speed hub but despite being able to shift on the fly he was still outclimbed by riders who were flipping their rear wheels to change between the two gears, notably Thys and Buysse, but it was early days for the geared hub and internal losses cancelled out the time gained. 

Another interesting story is that Tour history states that in 1919 Christophe was the first wearer of the yellow jersey, whereas Thys claimed that he was awarded the jersey during this addition. He says he was initially reluctant to wear it, stating that it made him a more obvious target for his rivals but after pressure from his Peugeot team, who saw the marketing potential, he eventually relented. The garment wasn't the slick tailored item of today and needed a knife taking to it to ensure his head passed through the neck hole.

Firmin Lambert on th Aubisque. Note the road conditions.
Faber and Garrigou on the Galibier

100 editions of the Tour de France, 1912

1912 Alcyon ridden by Odile Defraye BEL
1912 followed the formula of the 1911 Tour, which many saw as the first 'modern' Tour, setting the tone for all future editions, though with stages like the marathon 470k and 16 hour haul from La Rochelle to Brest it still owed much to those earlier events. 15 stages and 14 rest days is not something we see today, though at least they lifted the ban of freewheels (some of the facts around this are lost in history because earlier editions allowed freewheels but at some point they were outlawed. Desgrange tinkered with the rules in the same way they do in F1 today).
Jean Alavoine took advantage of the rules change and in fact rode with an early gear changing device which helped him to win three stages.

10 teams of 5 lined up at the start with the rest of the 131 man field being independent riders. Petit-Breton was riding for Peugeot, who were back after their self imposed boycot of the race, though he was again unlucky, this time quitting after crashing into a cow.

Eugène Chrstophe finished second overall, though he could've won if not for the points system that favoured more conservative riders, and on the way took a stage after possibly the longest breakaway in Tour history. Attacking in the Alps and taking in the Télégraphe and Galibier he stayed away for 315k and finished 30 minutes ahead of Defraye.

Riders on the Aubisque during a rain soaked 326k and 14 hour stage
In the end Defraye won easily when the other Belgian riders helped him even though they were on other teams. The French La Française team was so upset by this blatant rule breaking they quit the the race. 

Monday, April 1, 2013

100 editions of the Tour de France 1911

1911 Alcyon ridden by Gustave Garrigou FRA
1911 was the year the Tour hit the Alps, and the organisers didn't mess about, creating a course that took in the Galibier and Télégraphe. It might make us modern day mortals feel better knowing that there was only one rider who managed to ride the whole of the Galibier, but of course he only had the one gear.

Two teams dominated the race with Alcyon and La Français both fielding 2 previous Tour winners.
But there was to be drama before the victor was crowned. Firstly, a challenger to Garrigou, Paul Duboc was heading the race on the queen stage from Luchon to Bayonne, a 326k haul over the Peyresourde, the Aspin, the Tourmalet and finally the Aubisque when he fell ill after taking a drink at the feed station. 

It was assumed that Duboc had been poisoned. At first the suspicions fell on Garrigou because he had the most to lose from a Duboc victory. It is now thought that perhaps the bottle given to Duboc at the sign in contained the poison and that François Lafourcade, who had ridden so well in the mountains of the previous years Tour, may have concocted it. It is now universally accepted that Garrigou was innocent, but at the time the partisan crowds were out fro blood. In the later stages, as the Tour entered Duboc's region around Rouen someone put up signs along the road;

"Citizens of Rouen! If I had not been poisoned, I would be leading the Tour today. You know what to do when the Tour passes through Rouen tomorrow."

Legend has it that Garrigou was given a bodyguard and even wore a false mustache (which seems unlikely since he is sporting a splendid mustache of his own in every photo that I've seen).

despite these difficulties and a strong La Française team, who placed riders in 2nd, 3rd and 4th overall, Garrigou went on to win the Tour with a good points advantage.

Garrigou on the Galibier

Friday, March 29, 2013

VELO 2nd gear

The beautiful VELO 2nd gear book popped through my letterbox the other day. I'd be contacted last year and invited to contribute a few photographs, notably of the Peugeot concept bike. It's great for us to be featured in such a superb book, especially one that concentrates on the slightly more alternative and super high end aspects of the cycling world. We'd like to be considered as one of the more imaginative marques but also one with an unequalled history. Anyway, here are a few really bad photographs, non of which do the book any justice? Go out and buy the real thing and enjoy.

Peugeot eDL132 and ONYX

Peugeot DL121

100 editions of the Tour d France, 1910

1910 Alcyon ridden by Octave Lapize FRA
This was the year the big mountains were introduced and the organisers didn't mess around with the choice of summits, creating a course where the riders tackled the Peyresourde, Tourmalet, Aspin and Aubisque. 

Unrelated to the mountains, it was also the year of the first TdF death, with Adolphe Heliere drowning in the med during a rest day dip!

The decision to include the high mountains was famously proceeded by Desgrange sending one of his staff to check out the route, 2 months before the event. Although in trying to cross the Tourmalet Desgrange employee Steinès become stuck in a snow drift before becoming lost in the snow after abandoning his car on the mountain side. Eventually he was rescued in the early hours by locals who found him trapped in a ravine after falling from an icy ledge. 
His famous telegram to the boss read, 
" No trouble crossing the Tourmalet. Roads satisfactory. No problem for cyclists. Stienés".

This wasn't the only famous quote from the 1910 Tour. On the 'Queen' stage the riders tackled four big mountains, concluding with the Aubisque, where Lapize was found by the organisers pushing his bike in second place, 15mins behind the lone and unknown leader. Lapize, through in a haze of fatique, uttered the words "Vous être des assassins!" and promised to quit at the next village.
But he didn't quit, he continued and sealed the win that would see him beat team mate, favorite and close rival Faber to his only Tour victory. Indeed he was never to even finish the Tour agin despite trying 4 more times though he did win many other prestigious events. 
Like many riders of this time he died during the war when his fighter plane was shot down near Verdun. He was 29.

Lapize on the Tourmalet