1920s Le Chemineau Bicyclette Tourisme (3 speed Derailleur)

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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.

This bicycle is an early model of Le Chemineau, I assume to be from the 1920s. The headbadge is the first pattern, there’s a ‘Le Chemineau’ cartouche on the steering head and it has brazed-on pump clips.


Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website

1920s Le Chemineau Bicyclette Tourisme

3 speed Derailleur

21.5″ Frame

26″ Wheels

(Now sold)

This rare bicycle came out of long-term storage in France. Its wheelset was single speed, so I replaced it with these wheels to provide a functional system. It’s unrestored cosmetically, with just a few traces of the original box lining on the down tube near the steering head. It would originally have had mudguards and the catalogue illustration shows a front brake fitted to the ‘Tourisme’ model; I assume a previous owner removed these for a ‘road racer’ style.






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








Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website






















Info & publicity photos with thanks to Disraeli Gears website

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