23 April, 2007

Pelissier and his Hubs ?


We have found a small stock of Pelissier hubs right here in the US. Pelissier was a very old and respected French firm, many say they once made the best racing hubs in Europe. Maxi-Car of course made better touring hubs, but their cost put them out of reach of most cyclists.

At some point the company was sold to or merged with Maillard and Pelissier hubs continued to be produced. I assume the company was somehow associated with Henri Pélissier, the winner of the 1923 Tour de France and 29 other rces. Or it may have been started by his brother Francis Pélissier, a two-time winner of Bordeaux-Paris and winner of two stages in the Tour de France. Here is an interesting aside from Wikipedia:

"Pélissier was one of four brothers, all of whom became professional cyclists. He began racing professionally in 1911 and amassed important victories before the First World War, including the 1912 Milan-Sanremo and three stages in the 1914 Tour de France.

After the war he resumed competition, winning Paris-Roubaix in 1919 and entering the Tour de France for the next five years. Prior to the 1921 Paris-Roubaix, Henri and his brother Francis demanded that their sponsor pay them more than the pittance that racers usually received. Their request was rebuffed and they chose to enter the race as independents without team support. Desgrange vowed that they would never again appear on the front page of his newspaper l’Auto, only to eat his words when Henri emerged the champion. After another spat in early 1923, Desgrange wrote "Pélissier will never win the Tour. He doesn't know how to suffer.” Pélissier then handily won the 1923 Tour. The following year he withdrew from the Tour after a penalty he considered unjustified. In an interview he again protested Tour conditions, saying “we are treated like beasts in a circus." The reporter, Albert Londres, coined the term “convicts of the road,” which has been applied to cyclists ever since.

Pélissier was notorious for being argumentative and hot-tempered, often inciting teammates and others in the peloton. After his retirement in 1928 his combative personality led to a quick deterioration in his life. In 1933 his wife Léonie despaired of living with him and shot herself to death. Two years later his new companion, Camille Tharault, shot Pélissier to death with the same gun after he slashed her with a knife during an argument."

A French fellow I chat with is a virtual encyclopedia of old European cycling gear, having spent his life in that business. He knows every, hub, dérailleur, crank, and saddle made since 1930 and has used most of them. Of the rare Pelissier 2000 sealed bearing hubs he told me "Those are the best hubs ever!" I assume he meant racing hubs.

We now have two models of Pelissier hubs in the store. There is the lovely high-end model 1000 with sealed bearings for 6-speed freewheels. And we have some more ordinary 5-speed high flange hubs. In our next shipment we'll get a few sets of the legendary model 2000. I'm keeping the first set for myself, but we'll have some to sell too.

Finally, I got a few Nervex QR skewers which are, to me at least, a real mystery. Has anyone ever seen these or know anything about them?

7 comments:

Matthew said...

Is the rear spacing 126? Can it be respaced?

neil berg said...

Why would you assume the "he meant racing hubs"? Let's not let biases and hearsay possibly get in the way of the truth.

Chris Kulczycki said...

The rear spacing seems to be about 124 on the 1000 and 122 on the high flange. It looks like they use standard axles so re-spacing should be a snap.

Neil, It's because we have discussed Maxi-Car hubs which I know are his first choice for tandems. I'll ask his opinion about touring hubs.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the name should be
Velo NOSrange. ;)

Personally I'd rather ride nice looking, contemporary components.
How about sourcing a bunch of the getting-hard-to-find 9 speed 105/Ultegra/DA hubs in silver? I'd imagine they would be godd sellers.

neil berg said...

After poking you with a sharp stick, I actually read the Henri Pélissier bio. Jeez, he was enough of a S.O.B. that that alone makes me want the hubs. But then I'd had to build another bike to use them.

Alan said...

Neil, my sentiments exactly.

Anonymous said...

I have recently purchased a cyclemotor while on holidays in France..its lable shows it was made or supplied by Francis Pelissier Cycles Paris.! does anybody know anything about this company or is my purchase a one off.?? I can list some photos ..regards Paul Mc Carthy email : paul@eskerlodge.net