Many consider Paris to be the most beautiful city in the world. I am one of them. Today, it is a very modern city, cloaked in glorious, age-old buildings and ancient history. During the 1930s, only 80 years ago, the great-grandfathers of Parisian messengers were delivering 15kg or so of daily newspapers on their racks and participating in sanctioned alley-cat races.
Martin Zeplichal is a designer and developer of interactive media systems located in Vienna, Austria. While he is focused on harnessing technology to enliven the human sensory experience, when it comes to bicycles he prefers to ride a tarnished Cinelli Criterium built up with a substantial front rack and a coaster brake hub, in the style of those debonair French porteurs.
Look closely and you might spot a few upgrades, like the steering dampener that can be found on modern cargo bikes, and a Paul front brake — but virtually all other components could be the same vintage as the frame. Sure, it’s a generation or two younger than the original porteurs of Paris in the 30s, but it still proves that a steel-framed bicycle is the ideal lightweight urban transport solution.
Special thanks to Martin, and Bengt Stiller for the marvellous photos. For more information on the French porteur races of the 30s, head to the BlackbirdSF site.