1920s Le Chemineau Bicyclette Dame

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1920s Le Chemineau Bicyclette Dame 2

1920s Le Chemineau Bicyclette Tourisme

Ladies’ model

3 speed Derailleur

20.5″ Frame (52cm)

26 x 1 1/2″ Wheels

Henri Gauthier saddle

Frame No 96286


There are only a few surviving Le Chemineau bicycles, and this is the only ladies’ model I’ve found, featuring their famous 3 speed derailleur. I assume it to be from the 1920s as the headbadge is the first pattern. Everything about it is top quality. Apart from an old repair to the front mudguard by the stay, it’s in excellent original condition all round.

I like the original Chemineau gear trigger (slotted so the gear change can be accurately selected), the head badge showing the distance from St Etienne to Paris and Marseille, the attractive brakes and pedals, the first class build quality and, of course, it’s main feature, the wonderful early derailleur design. It’s undoubtedly a museum piece, but also a lightweight machine that is fully functional and ready to ride.








Joanny Panel was the first to introduce and market a successful derailleur gear system for bicycles, fitted to his own brand ‘Le Chemineau’. He was a friend and follower of Paul de Vivie, who had developed a functional derailleur prototype, and Panel’s 1912 derailleur patent incorporated those innovations. Derailleurs are not my specialisation, and I’ve used information and pictures from the excellent website ‘Disraeli Gears’ to provide the necessary details.

[Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website]


















Le Chemineau is the brand of Joanny Panel, one of the great early derailleur innovators. Le Chemineau translates roughly as ‘the tramp’ in the sense of a penniless wanderer. The following information is largely drawn from ‘The Dancing Chain’.
Joanny Panel was a friend and disciple of Paul de Vivie, who was better known by his pen-name ‘Vélocio’. Vélocio is generally considered to be the father of the derailleur and was the leader a small group of French cyclists, known as ‘L’Ecole Stephanoise’ (‘The St Étienne School’), who were actively involved in experimenting with derailleurs to facilitate cycle touring.
Panel worked at Rivolier Père et Fils, a gun maker in St Étienne who had started to make bicycles. Here Albert Raimond (who was also a friend of Vélocio and went on to found the Cyclo company) was in charge of bicycle manufacture. Unlike many of the other early derailleur innovators Panel and Raimond had experience of how bicycle manufacturing worked.
In 1911 Joanny Panel left Rivolier Père et Fils to set up his own Le Chemineau company, also in St Étienne, manufacturing good quality touring bicycles. In 1912, working with Claudius Bouillier, he patented a design for his Le Chemineau derailleur. This was a development on one of Vélocio’s designs and the design was patented with Vélocio’s blessing. You can make a strong argument that the Le Chemineau derailleur was the first genuine modern commercial derailleur and that the Le Chemineau bicycle was the first genuine modern commercial derailleur bicycle.
Over his long career, Joanny Panel was associated with three different derailleur designs:
  • By far the most important was the 1912 Le Chemineau derailleur, discussed above. This was a low-normal, pull-chain, twin pulley, chainstay mounting design that greatly influenced many of the designs of the following decades. It continued in production in a basically similar form until 1949.
  • Next up was the 1927 Chemineau L’Izoard. This was designed to be retro fitted to any bicycle – a response to the growing demand for Le Cyclo derailleurs, introduced in 1923, that were seen as interchangeable cycle components.
  • Finally, in 1933, Chemineau showed a three speed, single pulley, racing model operated by a lever behind the saddle pulling a cable that runs down the right seat stay. I have never seen a picture of this design and I don’t know if it made it into production.






Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website




























Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website, recommended for further reading –