Clement & Cie was one of France’s top manufacturers in the early years of cycling, and a leading contender in racing (see above). Adolphe Clement recognized the importance of the automobile, so he merged his company with Humber and Gladiator in 1896, and the new concern became one of France’s major car manufacturers. Clement also understood the importance of advertising, and many beautiful posters were created to advertise the company’s bicycles, motorcycles and cars. Clement was the most prolific vehicle advertiser in the ‘belle epoch’ era.
1899 Clement de Luxe Path Racer
28″ Wheels with Westwood Metal Rims
Racing Handlebars with Clement Inscription
Cable-operated Front Plunger Brake
Inch Pitch Chainwheel with Fixed/Freewheel Hub
The 1898 poster above illustrates a Clement bicycle with the same style of fork crown as the example featured here. Their recent merger with Gladiator and Humber gave them access to a wider sales market. There was also a vast increase in interest in cycling in France as the new century approached, and the company advertised a wide variety of bicycles, some new and some models from previous years that they continued to advertise.
This 1899 Clement de Luxe has the Clement name engraved into the top of the handlebars; the grips are original (one has minor damage). The reversible rear hub provides both fixed and freewheel, useful for a rider who used his machine for regular commuting during the week and racing at the weekend. The machine is in very good mechanical and cosmetic condition, with a period Brown saddle. The only deviation from original is rubber block pedals rather than open rat trap pedals.
The front brake is a superb accessory sold for a few years only, after the new Bowden cable brake was licensed in France (1899) but before rim brakes were adopted by the cycle industry. It’s a plunger brake that attaches to the fork crown in the usual way, but with an extra stabilising fitting to the top of the forks because it is operated by cable.