Boizot was the brand of Société Charles Boizot et Cie based in Puteaux in the suburbs of Paris, France. The Puteaux area went on to be something of a centre of bicycle component manufacturing, with JIC based there and Huret based in nearby Nanterre. Charles Boizot seems to have been primarily a bicycle manufacturer, but like Terrot, had a healthy interest in derailleurs and gearing.
I am a little unclear about the history of Boizot derailleur designs, but my guess is that it goes something like this:
- In 1908 René-Jules-Alphonse Delacroix patented a rather strange and impractical looking design for a 2 speed derailleur system in Belgium. In 1909 Boizot took out a French patent for the same design (see French patent # 406,967). Frank Berto notes that this patent mentions the term ‘un organe dérailleur’ and suggests that this may be the earliest use of the word ‘derailleur’ in a cycling context.
- Paul de Vivie (Vélocio) writing in the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of March 1913 stated that Boizot first offered a cable controlled derailleur in 1908 - presumably referring to the system shown in the 1908 patent.
- In 1910 Boizot patented a more advanced derailleur design with a pivoting pulley cage with two pulleys (see French patent # 406,967 addition # 12,781)
- In their 1910-11 catalogue L. Aubery of Paris show a 2 speed Boizot derailleur with a pivoting pulley cage with two pulleys.
- Paul de Vivie (Vélocio) writing in the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of January 1911 describes the Boizot Tri-direct. This seems to be based on their 1910 patent. I believe that it used a ‘static’ 3 speed freewheel and a pulley cage with two pulleys that moved sideways, changing the gear - much as in a modern derailleur system. I further believe that, at this time, the Tri-direct required a special chainstay and was only supplied on Boizot bikes. Frank Berto states that the Tri-direct could be supplied with freewheel cogs ranging from 14 to 32 teeth.
- Boizot advertised their 2, 3 and 6 speed derailleur systems in the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of June 1911. I believe that their 2 speed product, at this point, was the Bi-direct system. I think that this was similar to the Tri-direct, but did not require a special chainstay and could be retro fitted to many types of bike. I believe that the 6 speed option was a Tri-direct with a double chainwheel.
- Boizot advertised a ‘new’ 5 speed derailleur system in the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of November 1912. I believe that this was a development of the Tri-direct, with a ‘static’ 5 speed freewheel and a pulley cage with two pulleys that moved sideways, changing the gear. However I also believe that it had the novel feature that it maintained a reasonable chainline by moving the front chainwheel sideways on the bottom bracket axle, as the chain shifted over the rear sprockets. This is not as foolish as it sounds, as the system would have used 1/8” chain, making the chain stiffer and the freewheel wider than we are used to today. Frank Berto maintains that this system was supplied with a 14 to 36 tooth 5 speed freewheel and was marketed as ‘Le Montagnard’ (‘The Mountaineer’). However, I could not find any reference to ‘Le Montagnard’ until 1925 - when it appeared to refer to a three speed system (see below).
- The November 1912 advert also listed a 9 speed system which I guess was a triple chainwheel at the front and a three speed freewheel at the rear. This 9 speed system quickly disappeared from Boizot’s adverts.
- In the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of February 1913, Boizot advertised a three speed derailleur system that could be fitted to any bicycle. I believe that, by this time, they may have redesigned the Tri-direct, moving away from the requirement for a specific chainstay towards a more generic design that clamped onto a standard chainstay. This feature was probably common across all their models by 1913.
- By the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of March 1913, Boizot had added a 4 speed option to their extensive range. I believe this was a system using a 4 speed rear freewheel, and shared the ‘moving chainwheel’ feature of their 5 speed system.
- Finally, in the T.C.F Revue Mensuelle of January 1925, Boizot, at last, advertised their ‘Le Montagnard’ rear derailleur. This was a cycle component designed to be fitted to any bicycle. It appears, from the drawing in a June 1925 advert to be a three speed system. The operation of the Boizot Le Montagnard appears to be roughly as follows. The cable pulls a spring-loaded lever with a vertical pivot. At the other end of this lever is a finger that moves the pulley cage along a rod.
- By the time of this 1925 advert the gear system is referred to as the Boizot-Tracol system. In the Troisième championnat de la bicyclette polymultipliée held in 1921, contestants included two ‘Tracol’ bikes equipped with ‘Boizot’ derailleurs. So perhaps, by this time, the Boizot brand was used for components and Tracol was the house bike brand.