Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vieux Velo

A good French antique dealer occasionally shows up at the flea market and he always has interesting stuff. This past weekend, he brought an old French bike out and there was something about it that interested me. It's rather amazing how little the basic manufacture of bicycles has changed over the years.

Its original condition really spoke volumes. I began to think of its value as a display piece. What was weird to me about it was its size. It's tiny. Two feet from floor to seat. Was it a salesman's sample? I'm used to full-sized bikes in that great utilitarian black and white color scheme but, being a dad, I'm conditioned to expect children's bikes to appeal explicately to little kids. Pink with My Little Pony decals, or whatever. This was an EXACT replica of an Edwardian bike, down to the 'dress guard' holes drilled into the rear fender that held lacy web-like things that kept women's long dresses from getting caught in the spokes of the rear wheel. This was a girl's bike (you can tell by the 'swan's neck' frame style) and everyone says that guys bikes are more desirable. But I don't care because I think that they look cooler and, if you're a guy over the age of 30, getting astride this style is a LOT more comfortable if you know what I mean.
My hopes were dashed (slightly) because it turns out that little, TINY kids did actually ride similar bikes in France in the early 20th Century so my bike was probably not a salesman's sample. But it's still really cool. Typically, children's bikes are fairly common but I suspect that ones this old are fairly rare, especially ones this small. Check out these great vintage photos of small children riding similar bikes long ago.

This antique bike's small size makes it ideal for display. I can envision a vintage bike enthusiast hanging this up on a wall to capture all of the nostalgia of early French cycling without the size of an adult model.

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