Charles Idoux and Lucien Chanel established the company ‘Manufacture d’Articles Velocipedique Idoux et Chanel’ (MAVIC) possibly in 1889 in Saint Trivier sur Moignans, north of Lyon.
In 1934 MAVIC introduced their signature product - the aluminium rim for tubular tyres. The legend goes that Antonin Magne won the Tour de France using these rims but that they were painted to look like wooden rims, because aluminium rims were banned.
Over the next 70 years MAVIC established themselves as the preeminent manufacturer of high quality bicycle rims - a position that they occupy today. They have a deserved reputation for precision, quality and finish.
MAVIC claim that they introduced their first complete groupset, including rear derailleur in 1979. This does not match with my own memory, or with those of various acquaintances who were racing at the time - we remember the derailleurs as appearing later, probably in 1982. It is more than possible that MAVIC supplied the French market in 1979, or possibly only supplied pro teams at this time.
MAVIC’s first derailleur design was extremely conservative in terms of geometry, but pleasingly radical in terms of its eccentric modernist styling. The advent of the Shimano Dura-Ace 7400 seems to have knocked the confidence out of MAVIC’s designers, and the 840 series is rather boring and conventional. To compound the offence, the 840 series appears to have been manufactured by Simplex, and Cycling even reported in January 1989 that Mavic had bought Simplex.
But have no fear, the lunacy returned with the electrically controlled ZAP and Mektronic designs.
Frank Berto claims that the MAVIC Mektronic was probably the last derailleur to be manufactured on French soil - and I consider that it is fitting that it should be a Darth-Vader-look-alike styling tour de force, at the cutting edge of science fiction technology and notoriously fickle and unreliable. What are national stereotypes for, if you can’t have them reinforced every once in a while?
MAVIC has a history section on its web site.