Tuesday, April 24, 2012

French Chainless Bike, 1890s Poster

My terrible effort pasting together two halves of a scanned poster

Another follow-up on the shaft drive bike-share bikes in Los Angeles - they have been around forever, so if there was something so great about shaft-drive bikes, we'd have a few more being made today.

This poster is for a French bike from the late 1890s and pushes the chainless aspect - it isn't so much pro-shaft drive as anti-chain.

Title: Acatène Velleda / / L. Baylac, Biarritz '98.
Creator(s): Baylac, Lucien, 1851-1913, artist
Date Created/Published: Paris : Imp. Kossuth & Cie., 1898.
Medium: 1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 156 x 118 cm.
Summary: Advertising poster for the chainless Acatène Metropole bicycle with G&J tires showing the Germanic priestess, Velleda, a legendary leader of the Batavian uprising against the Romans, with a bird of prey carrying chains and the Latin motto "Vae Catenis," or "Woe to Chains," above its head.
From the Library of Congress
Persistent link to full record

In the good old days of digitization, a large-ish poster like this was scanned in two pieces and the two parts offered up separately, leaving it to others to piece them together. The images are skewed and I could have probably done this better if I fiddled with it, but this is a lot better than what you see here.

The LA shaft-drive bikes have a chain stay (well, what else do you call it, even if it is a chainless bike??) plus the shaft drive, but this older bike follows the more "elegant" design of replacing the right side chain stay with the shaft drive shaft. So, you have to give the old time bike designers credit for that.


  1. That is really cool. I think it's really neat to see all the different kinds of bike designs that are out there, and how they change (or don't change) over time.

  2. I found it surprising that a French bike company would take this approach of evoking the glories of Teutonic goddess at any point during French history.