Chatellerault’s famous arms factory was established by a royal ordinance in 1819, and it dominated the area for the following 150 years. From 34 workers in 1819, it numbered nearly 8,000 a century later, dubbed the “Manuchards” during World War 1.
The ‘Fusil de Infanterie Modèle 1866’, better known as the “Chassepot”, was introduced in 1866 and supplied to the French army during the 1870 war with Germany. The ‘Lebel’ was made for French troops in World War 1, followed by various models of machine gun. At various times, as well as munitions, the factory made bicycles and sewing machines.
French inventor, innovator and entrepreneur Georges Lavrard was responsible for diversifying the factory’s production. After World War 2, the company name was amended to the MACC – ‘Manufacture of Arms and Cycles of Châtellerault.’ The factory closed in 1968.
1920s Truss-bridge Road Racer
‘Manufacture d’Armes et Cycles, Chatellerault’
Truss-bridge frames enjoyed a resurgence of interest in France in the 1920s due to their use in the Tour de France. This 1920s Truss-bridge Road Racer, made by ‘Manufacture d’Armes et Cycles, Chatellerault’, is in very good all-round condition. Its design is slightly different to the Labor; I’m not sure if it was built under Labor’s license, or if the Labor patent had expired by the 1920s.
These 1930s red tyres are no longer manufactured, so it’s nice to see them on a vintage bicycle. They are good for display and suitable for casual riding, but for regular use it would be better to fit new tyres. The top-mounted inflator pump looks good, as it accentuates the truss design. But I knocked it off a few times when dismounting until I got used to it being there.
TRUSS FRAME HISTORY
The Truss Frame was patented by Iver Johnson in America in 1900, and its design became popular in France after world champion cyclist Major Taylor used Iver Johnson bicycles when he raced in France to escape racial prejudice in America.
Labor introduced their own truss bridge bicycle in 1906, using Iver Johnson’s patent under license. Other French companies also marketed the model, some paying license fees to Labor and others ignoring the Labor license.
The Truss Frame continued to be sold in France throughout the 1920s. The illustration above shows Maurice Dewaele of Belgium, 2nd in the Tour de France in 1927 with his Labor.
1906 LABOR CATALOGUE EXTRACT FOR COMPARISON