In England in the thirties, small cycle manufacturers were springing up everywhere. They were supported by their local clubs and, often, club members were the shop founders and the businesses became local ‘hang-outs.’ Schoolboys of the day would wander past the shop windows of an establishment such as Harry Rensch’s Paris Cycle Co at 131 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16, and peer dreamily at the bicycles on offer.
My friend was one of those impressionable youngsters and the Paris Galibier, being a top machine of the day, was one of his favourite ‘dream bikes.’ Its design may have been influenced by the machine with a ‘flexible’ frame built by French constructeur Jacques Shulz, from Colombes, near Paris, between 1935 and 1937. Despite many of the top builders of the 1930s producing individual machines to great acclaim, the Paris Galibier stood out from the crowd as soon as it was launched, and it soon became an icon of the era.
Though he couldn’t afford a Paris Galibier at the time, my friend bought this frame many years later in order to relive those memories, and I’m grateful to him for letting me share the experience of Galibier ownership …a rare experience these days.
1951 Paris Galibier
32.5″ Standover Height (crossbar to ground)
Frame No 7668
My first trip on the Galibier, recorded here for posterity, was on a chilly but sunny autumn day, around the bends on Pump Lane, near Framfield, E. Sussex. If you don’t end up in the hedge while negotiating this road, you know you have bike that handles well. If I was going to ride at speed down wet bendy roads on a regular basis, I’d look at other tyre options to see if I could improve road-holding. But for general use this set up is fine for me.
I don’t like derailleurs. It’s taken me long enough to be able to spell it, never mind having to re-fit the chain every time it slips off. So, although I do have a derailleur set-up for the Galibier, I’ve left it as a simple freewheel as my personal preference.
The above review is from the 25th Cycle & Motorcycle Show at Earls Court in 1949. You can see the Paris Cycles stand – number 164 – in the plan of the show below.
PARIS GALIBIER ‘DEL PRADO’ PLASTIC MODEL