1920s MAD French Cross-frame


A MAD French Cross frame 

21.5″ Frame

28 x 1 1/2″ Wheels

Bilis Freewheel

(Now sold)

I bought this unidentified French cross frame three years ago because it has a unique design. Cross frames were popular in Britain, and also Holland, but not generally elsewhere. This was the first French one I’d come across. Frames of this design were sold through the French cycle trade in the 1920s, to smaller companies for them to add their choice of fittings and their own headbadges.

The two extra tubes, which are half the diameter of the other tubing, join the headstock between the top and down tubes. They join the top and down tubes two-thirds of the way along.

The joint at the bottom bracket has a triangular metal brace; likewise the joint between the top tube and the seat tube. Small protrusions in the top and bottom triangular braces create points to mount an inflator pump. This machine was obviously designed with extra frame-strength in mind.

This being a somewhat incongruous affair, and unidentified, I decided to fit a loose badge I’d bought five or six years ago, which seemed appropriate because it says ‘MAD.’



1920s mad cross frame french 4




1920s mad cross frame french 7


1920s mad cross frame french 8















…The Bilis, a French expanding chainwheel introduced in 1925 and used by the winner of the Ploy de Chanteloup, soon faded from memory (Berto 2009, 128)

Bicycle Design; An Illustrated History, by Tony Hadland, Hans-Erhard Lessing

Bilis chainwheel 1925

The Bilis geared chainwheel, illustrated above, was this components maker’s best-known product. This mystery bicycle has a Bilis freewheel. By the way, the phrase ‘Brevete SGDG’ which you see under the Bilis name on the chainwheel above means ‘patented without government guarantees.’ It was a legal statement releasing the state from liability, a legal requirement until 1968. This text is the invention of Napoleon Bonaparte, according to the Decree of 27 September 1800.


1920s mad cross frame french 3


1920s mad cross frame french 5











1920s mad cross frame french 1