DISRAELI DOCUMENTS

Loubeyre

French Patent 245,148 - Loubeyre La Polyceler main image French Patent 245,148 - Loubeyre La Polyceler main image French Patent 245,148 - Loubeyre La Polyceler main image


see also French Patent # 245,148 1895

see also French Patent # 245,148 1895

French Patent 245,148 - Loubeyre La Polyceler thumbnail


see also TCF Rev Mens 01/1911 - La Bicyclette au Salon

see also TCF Rev Mens 01/1911 - La Bicyclette au Salon

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle January 1911 - La Bicyclette au Salon scan 1 thumbnail


see also TCF Rev Mens 03/1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon

see also TCF Rev Mens 03/1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon

T.C.F. Revue Mensuelle March 1913 - La Bicyclette hors du Salon scan 1 thumbnail

If you are French you regard Jean Loubeyre of Paris as the unquestioned inventor of the derailleur. Loubeyre patented his ‘La Polyceler’ system in 1895 (see French Patent # 245,148), beating Edmund Hodgkinson’s 1896 patent for the first design of Gradient derailleur by one year. No less an authority than Paul de Vivie (Vélocio) regularly credited Loubeyre with being the the very first in the field.

There are a number of possible spellings of the name of Jean Loubeyre’s derailleur including La Polyceler, La Polycelere and La Polycélère. The patent mainly (but not exclusively) uses the spelling La Polyceler - and so shall I. I think that the word ‘célère’ roughly translates as ‘speed’, and ‘polycélère’ and its derivatives might therefore translate as ‘multi-speed’.

Loubeyre’s La Polyceler was a 2 speed system using a fork derailleur operated by a rod controlled by a lever near the seat lug. I believe that the transmission used fixed cogs (as freewheels had not yet been invented - or at least popularised) and had a chain tensioner on both the top and bottom chain run. It is possible that it need both chain tensioners so that you could brake by pushing backwards on the pedals - as on a single speed fixed bike.

I also believe that there is some evidence that Jean Loubeyre actually manufactured this fine device. I think that he had some form as a manufacturer of other cycle parts, possibly including brakes, and so would be well able to construct a derailleur system. Frank Berto repeats a common claim that a bicycle equipped with La Polyceler featured in the 1896 catalogue of the Compagne Générales de Cycles. However I have never seen any evidence for this - which is strange given the frequency with which La Polyceler features in histories of the derailleur.

Finally I have never seen any photos of rusting examples of La Polyceler and, unlike most other early derailleur systems, I could not find any small ads for bikes fitted with the device in magazines like the TCF Revue Mensuelle. This general lack of evidence for the concrete existence of La Polyceler leads some over-excited Britons to claim Edmund Hodgkinson’s Gradient as the first real, genuine, authentic, production system. You have to ask: Who cares?

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