August 3rd, 2011

A French Connection

A lot of clients ask us “who designs your bikes?”  We do.  The geometry of the design is founded on function and comfort. All of our frames have an upright ergonomic ride. Everyday people, of all shapes and sizes, guide our design process. Professional racing is not the intent; PUBLIC bikes respond to the everyday utilitarian rider.  What sets them apart is the attention to practical and quality details such as fenders, chain guards, smooth shifting systems, and comfortable seats.

Our role models are classic European bikes of the 20th century, embodied in this French Mercier Meca Dural 3 Speed Randonneuse – i.e. a cool Parisian bike from the 50’s. This aluminum bike adorns our South Park studio.

Looking at the Mercier is inspirational – a constant reminder that good design is timeless and that form, function, innovation, and style can be built into an everyday city bike. The mixte frame, constructed of aluminum tubing, was very radical and technologically innovative in the 1950’s. The geometry of the mixte frame suited both men and women. Back when ladies’ slacks were not in style in Paris, the Mercier’s unisex frame invited women to bicycle in a skirt or a dress. Some of its most striking qualities are the handsome hammered fenders, a sexy chair guard, visually integrated front and rear lights, a shock-absorbing seatpost, and a nice splash of color (the red tires). Practical necessities were incorporated into the functional design: a bell, rack, light, and chain guard.

The French have been designers of mobility for centuries.  Their love affair with the invention and refinement of the bicycle continues today with the amazing Vélib’ bike-share system that set a standard for the rest of Europe in 2007. But bikes aren’t the only mode of transportation the French have pioneered. Their Metro amazed the world in 1900 and is a landmark in urban transportation design.  The Deux Chevaux car is as iconic as Chanel #5. And then there’s the SST Concorde, 1976.  Just as with style, the French have an obsession with speed and mobility. So it is no surprise that it is home to the Tour de France.

Our “M” series has a French Heritage
The Mercier frame was a precursor to the “mixte” – the frame style made popular by Peugeot and many other followers. It became one of the most fashionable city frame styles in history. Countless vintage mixte bikes can still be seen on the streets here and abroad. The lightly scaled tubing is especially elegant, and the structure has a special appeal to architects and designers.  This was the inspiration for our PUBLIC mixte frame bikes – the M models – that continue to be our most popular internal hub bikes. It’s a unisex style that works on city streets as well as on hip corporate campuses that provide bikes for employees.