Terrot & Cie.
Cycles Motorcyclettes Voiturettes 1914

Terrot & Cie - Cycles Motorcyclettes Voiturettes 1914 front cover main image

Despite being produced in the fevered run-up to the First World War, this is an elegantly designed and classily produced catalogue. I particularly like its clean typefaces, generous use of white space, clear images and the subtle colouring. The decorative style may be from another era, but there is plenty here that puts many modern catalogues to shame.

Most importantly, in terms of derailleur history, it shows the Terrot Modèle HT and its 4 speed derailleur system. This was the crowning glory of Terrot’s derailleur development programme - and remained in production for decades.

Yet again this catalogue includes a mass of fascinating detail and demonstrates the extraordinary range of transmission options Terrot offered:

  • Page 1 claims that, as well as having a distribution network in France, Terrot exported to Russia, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and... Alsace. Alsace, in 1914, was a bone of contention - under German control, but not regarded by the French as part of Germany.
  • Page 24 and Page 25 show Terrot’s Touriste and Touriste de Luxe models, which are offered with Terrot’s own two speed hub gear, or a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed hub gear.
  • Page 30 features the ground-breaking Terrot Modèle HT, with its 4 speed derailleur system. This model continued to feature in Terrot’s range until the end of the 1930s. It appears from the gear ratios shown that the system might have used a 14 - 30 tooth 4 speed freewheel.
  • Page 31 describes the 2 speed Terrot Modèle TC. This had a chain, freewheel and chainwheel on each side of the bicycle, with different gear ratios on each side. A cable controlled clutch mechanism determined which ‘side’ was transferring power - and hence which gear ratio was in use.
  • Page 32 and Page 33 show Terrot’s Rétro-Directe models. These use a double freewheel and looped chain set-up that gave one gear ration when pedaling forward (directe) and a different (usually lower) gear ration when pedaling backwards (rétro). If the pedals were kept still the bicycle freewheeled. Terrot also offered this rig with their 2 speed hub gear - giving four ratios - two when pedaling forward and two when pedaling backwards.
  • Page 34 and Page 35 describe Terrot’s Levocyclette system. By 1914, this was a 10 speed lever drive system that was surprisingly popular. For the sake of your own mental health, you should sit down before looking too closely at the tandem version. This not only has two sets of lever drives, it also has two sets of linked handlebars so that both riders contributed to steering.
  • Page 37 features the sprung cable saver mechanism used on the Terrot Modèle HT and Terrot Modèle TC. Like oval chainwheels, sprung cable savers have been an obsession of bicycle transmission designers throughout recorded history. I wouldn’t be surprised if Leonardo Da Vinci is soon discovered to have made an exquisite but slightly vague drawing that may or may not show a bicycle transmission featuring both an oval chainwheel and a derailleur system using a sprung cable saver.
  • Page 41 shows an image that is designed to sell mudguards - but accidentally features a 6 speed Terrot Modèle H - viewed from the non-chain side.
  • The section showing motor cars offers the tantalising prospect of buying just a chassis and making your own body work. As you might expect of a bicycle manufacturer, lights also seem to be an optional extra.