1950s Velo Porteur Verdeun
This is a very rare machine for several reasons. First it’s a dedicated ‘velo porteur’ …or tradesmen’s bike, as we’d call it in England. Most French porteurs had normal diamond frames with equal wheel sizes, and carriers added either front, rear or both. But I’ve only ever seen one other – a Motobecane – especially made as a carrier bike, like this one, with a special frame and smaller front wheel.
This Verdeun has a strengthened frame with extra down tube, and a smaller front wheel to accommodate the front carrier. The rims are wider than usual. The bike is more in the style of Dutch transportfiets (tradesmen’s bikes), but when you see the fine details you can tell it is French …look at the ornate decoration on the down tube and forks.
The other reason it’s unusual is that it’s made by a manufacturer of racing bicycles: the Verdeun brothers were racing champions in the 1950s. The only other example I’ve seen of their output is a lightweight cycle, so I was surprised to discover they also made a commercial bicycle such as this. Nevertheless, if you look closely at the photo further down the page illustrating their display from 1951, you’ll also observe motorised machines in the front of the display, strengthened bicycle frames fitted with Mosquito engines. (The word ‘mo-ped’ was not coined until 1954). This shows that the company diversified and was a serious manufacturer. So presumably the porteur was a similar attempt to cater for a different market. With the company name emblazoned on the down tube and chaincase, they obviously appreciated the advertising potential of commercial bikes being used in markets and by shops for deliveries.
1951 STAND CYCLES VERDEUN
I’m not sure if Cycles Verdeun was founded by Maurice Verdeun (above) or his younger brother Robert Verdeun (below). Or both of them?
Both were racing champions. Apparently there is still a shop in Bordeaux bearing Robert Verdeun’s name, though it no longer sells cycles.
Above: The normal style of velo porteur, ie diamond frame and equal wheel size, with a front carrier added.
Below: The only other dedicated French carrier bike I’ve found, a Motoconfort.
Motoconfort photo – http://velo-porteur-ancien.over-blog.com/