1935 Manufrance Super Hirondelle Retro-Directe Model 32 Two-Speed
The Manufrance Hirondelle Retro-Directe is one of my favourite bikes. You might expect bicycles with such a curious gearing arrangement to be temperamental. But I have never had a problem with them, and have always been able to amaze passers-by and other cyclists with the machine’s fabulous party trick …pedalling backwards.
Below, you can see the Manufrance in my display at the Amberley Museum Veteran Cycle Show (1952 Rollfast Hopalong Cassidy behind).
Patrick was over from Paris for the Amberley Veteran Cycle Day. Here he is demonstrating the Retro-Directe.
There were several models of Retro-Direct available in this year. This Super Hirondelle is distinguished by its mudguards, which have brackets for lamps. (The chain-guard is missing). Compare it with the ordinary Hirondelle, below.
The one illustrated below is the top-of-the-range Super Hirondelle 4-speed.
(Below) I’ve enlarged part of the above page so you can see the different pedal crank on the 4-Speed.
Here’s a 1939 chart showing the various pedal cranks. You can see the crank on this Retro-Directe 2-Speed is different from the derailleur models.
Finally, some more marketing strategy – the last two pages are for the Super Hirondelle ‘Selection’
Here’s the Retro-Directe when it first arrived, before I accessorised it.