LE POULAIN ENGINE
1952 Selection ‘Select 52′ le Poulain Cyclemotor
A New-old-Stock cyclemotor found in 2006 in a Paris warehouse
Only five of these Select 52′s exist. The model has a great story attached to it.
in 2006, a warehouse was discovered in Paris with 14 bicycles and 5 cyclemotors. They were all new-old-stock, still in their delivery wrappings, and all made by a bicycle manufacturer named ‘Selection.’ A cycle shop had closed down in Paris soon after taking delivery of them in 1952, and they had been put in storage, where they remained for all that time.
A friend of mine in Paris bought one of the cyclemotors, a black one, and I subsequently purchased it from him. After I heard the story I did some research, and I eventually found the chap who’d bought the rest of them. He lived in Rouen, and I visited him and bought two more. One I sold to a friend, and the other is the one you see here, this red Select 52.
It’s powered by a le Poulain engine. This company supplied proprietary engines for many different cyclemotor companies, either front-mounted over the handlebars (their first models) or centrally mounted such as this one. These engines enjoy a good reputation and spares are not hard to find. The name is stylishly displayed on the crankcase.
Selection Cycles of Paris was an upmarket bicycle manufacturer (I have one of the 1952 bicycles from the same collection, also stylish and well made).
Whereas we may now look down on mopeds as cheap vehicles for people who can’t afford a motorcycle, in the early fifties some of them were actually expensive machines more upmarket than motorcycles.
This Select 52 is a delightful little machine. The word ‘moped’ had not yet been coined when this was built, and it predates the design – as did quite a few different French cyclemotors – of what we now know as a moped.
It has bicycle gears. The trigger (above) is on the petrol tank.
There is a strange damping mechanism set up on the handlebars so that when you press down on them it provides some sort of suspension. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before, and it takes a little getting used to – the handlebars bounce! – but it’s a great talking point.
The handlebars have become tarnished during its years of storage.
The paintwork is generally good and, despite signs of age, its overall appearance is very attractive.
The saddle is like new.
During its storage between the fifties and the 21st century the rings had stuck in the piston. I was given a new piston when I bought it, and Peter Stratford (the Cyclemaster spares man) supplied new rings. I took a video recently (March 2011), which you can see by clicking on the link below:
In that video we used a dummy petrol tank to start it, as we’d drained and cleaned the petrol tank on the Select 52 ready for packing it and sending it abroad.
I fitted some smart new French tyres, and it runs well.
The only minus point is that recently during storage the paint on chaincase peeled off. I had it resprayed but the paint is not an exact colour match.
And as there are only five Select 52′s still around, this machine is just about as rare as you can get. Three of them are back, two are red.