1920s MAD French Cross-frame


A MAD French Cross frame 

22″ Frame

28 x 1 1/2″ Wheels

Bilis Freewheel

(An unidentified Cross Frame with a ‘MAD’ head badge added in lieu of any other identity)



This unidentified French cross frame has a unique design. Cross frames were popular in Britain, and also Holland, but not generally elsewhere. This is the first French one I’ve come across.

The two extra tubes, which are half the diameter of the other tubing, join the headstock between the top and down tubes. They join the top and down tubes two-thirds of the way along.

The joint at the bottom bracket has a triangular metal brace; likewise the joint between the top tube and the seat tube. Small protrusions in the top and bottom triangular braces create points to mount an inflator pump. This machine was obviously designed with extra frame-strength in mind.

This being a somewhat incongruous affair, and unidentified, I decided to fit a loose badge I bought five or six years ago, which says ‘MAD.’

This would probably be a good candidate to send to ‘News & Views’ magazine to enquire if other Club members have seen anything similar.

The machine came with the wrong type of brakes fitted. I’ll either change the brakes or wheels (easier), and I’ll take updated photos when that’s done.



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…The Bilis, a French expanding chainwheel introduced in 1925 and used by the winner of the Ploy de Chanteloup, soon faded from memory (Berto 2009, 128)

Bicycle Design; An Illustrated History, by Tony Hadland, Hans-Erhard Lessing

Bilis chainwheel 1925

The Bilis geared chainwheel, illustrated above, was this components maker’s best-known product. This mystery bicycle has a Bilis freewheel. By the way, the phrase ‘Brevete SGDG’ which you see under the Bilis name on the chainwheel above means ‘patented without government guarantees.’ It was a legal statement releasing the state from liability, a legal requirement until 1968. This text is the invention of Napoleon Bonaparte, according to the Decree of 27 September 1800.


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