Concours de Machines: zoom in on the builder Paul Charrel

Concours de Machines: zoom in on the builder Paul Charrel

We have discovered Paul Charrel's work thanks to Christophe Courbou. This man from Auvergne has quickly joined the ranks of the organization of the Concours de Machines. He brought us all his knowledge on the history of the competition. Member of the judging panel, he is the root of the scoring scale, inspired by the one of the first editions. Charrel is one of his favorite builders. One day he came to see us at our workshop with a wonderful randonneuse that we will present you here.


The builder

Paul Charrel, a metalworker, opened a bicycle shop in Lyon in 1936. From the very start, his accomplished work with a finish and detailed technical solutions was noteworthy. By means of that, he was recognized as "Grands Maîtres Lyonnais du Cycle" (Grandmaster of cycles in Lyon). Like other builders at that time, he was also a racer but he has quickly turned away from the physical side to the long distance cycling. His bikes are the results of this practice. For instance, he has built some tandems or three-person bicycles, sometimes with sidecars for children. Always thinking about technique, he has registered two patents: the first for his Cantilever brakes and the second for a central chain drivetrain for tandem. Paul Charrel retired in 1979.

The bike

This bike is a model of the 1950s', once again enamelled in the 1970s' by Charrel. Apart from the dynamo, the pedals and the levers, all the components are the original parts.  This Randonneuse in 700c, size 56, only weigh 10,5 kg! Here are the feelings of Christophe about it:

" This bicycle is very simple but what a style! I find it very good drawn with its angles, more opened than the bicycles we see nowadays. But it is made for long rides. I admire  the sharpness of the tubing of the fork and the seatstays as well as the work of the fork crown which is alone a real chef d'œuvre. It was fillet brazed and the finish of the rear dropouts is so impressive! This bicycle, through its high quality of production, finishes and  performances on the road could take its place on the podium of a Concours de Machines! "

The components

This bike as others from Paul Charrel has got many homemade pieces. First of all, his famous Cantilever levers whose patented system enables to keep brake pads parallel to the rim. Back rack is at the same time sober and stiff. The front derailleur, the control of the dynamo or the front rack with its decaleur make of this bike a monument! As a lot of artisans offered it at that time, the routing of the electric wires and cables was made inside the tubing. However, the routing were designed to replace it quickly.

You can find more creations and information (in French) about Paul Charrel on the website "Anciens Vélos Lyonnais":


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