[CR] Helyett Speciale

(Example: Production Builders:Peugeot:PX-10LE)

Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2011 01:27:29 +0000
From: "Norris Lockley" <nlockley73@gmail.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR] Helyett Speciale

It seems to me that, apart from some fairly light oxidisation, this Helyett of Alex's seems to have weathered the years quite well. That apart the bike. although looking the part at first glance does, on closer inspection, leave a great deal to be desired.

Living part of each year in France, only half-an-hour's drive from Sully-sur-Loire where the later Helyetts were manufactured, I have seen quite a lot of them and have also several in my collection including a 1963 Speciale...which is nothing like this machine that Alex is selling.

For a start the frame is a light powder blue, but has the same transfers ; that is as far as any resemblance between the two frames goes. My Helyett has the Helyett-specific variation on Nervex Pro lugs..not the almost Oscar Egg look-alikes on the Ebay frame. My Helyett also sports, if that is the correct word, a pair of though dreadful deeply fluted crude top-eyes - some of the worst fitted to any French frame of that or later eras, whereas Alex's frame has a pair of very neatly made top-eyes. Where Alex's frame has cheaper, possibly even pressed Simplex rear drop-outs without a gear hanger, my frame has Simplex forged ones with integral hanger. Alex's frame has a plain but neat forged fork crown, but mine has a very attractive (my opinion) semi two-plate one.

I am not too certain whether all the equipment on my bike is original, but the spec provides a Stronglight 57 chainset, Simplex 543 rear mech, Mafac Dural Forge brakes, Pivo stem, steel plain seat pin, Brooks saddle, and Campag L/F hubs.

In earlier years when Anquetil had won the Tour, Helyett launched a version of the Speciale model to celebrate and to cash in on their investment. On those occasions the model was called the 'Demi Course'. Aimed at would-be racers it featured a Stronglight steel chainset with Simplex rings, Mafac Dural Forge brakes, S/F hubs of an inspecified brand, Pivo stem, and a set of Simplex gears ( that actually looked like 543s).

I wonder if if Alex's bike is just such a Replica model and whether the frame is a standard one produced and used for lower echelon bikes ie the firm's Amateur Course model. Once again the lugs appear to be a Helyett unique design...have never seen them on any other manufacturers' machines. The frame is interesting in that it looks to have been brazed up quite well with some attention being paid to producing neat top-eyes (for once) However the same complimemt cannot be paid to the finishing of the seat and chainstays at their junctions with the rear drop-outs.

As for the use of the MAFAC Top 63 brakeset - which is now rare and very expensive - I wonder whether they were just stock clearance because the model was never ever popular in France..and Anquetil never used them and I doubt whether MAFAC would have ever seen them as anything other than a replacement for the Dural Forge - no big deal really.

Norris Lockley

Settle UK