Identifiable branding is a vital component of business marketing. Over the years, some cycle manufacturers created frame styles that were immediately recognisable as their product. Others used new innovative components to distinguish their bicycles from the crowd. But the most satisfying form of product recognition was – and still is – undoubtedly a unique logo.
The devil was employed as bolt-on mascot for cars, motorcycles and bicycles by accessory companies in England and America, described variously as a ‘speed demon’ or ‘cock-a-snook.’ It signified a driver or rider who did not obey the law.
But the French went further, and used devilish figures to advertise their products. Perhaps French riders were keener to stick two fingers up at authority, because two French cycle companies actually had the devil in their head badges …Lucifer and Arliguie. The latter went further and fitted the most stylish chainguard ever made by a French company (above). It is eagerly sought by collectors these days as a period decorative item. Below, you can see both a red cock-a-snook (top right of the picture) and Arliguie chainguard on a custom bicycle project currently in my workshop…
1950s Velo Arliguie Femme
This Arliguie with the devil chainguard is a rare survivor of the marque; later ones (‘Arliguie Special’) were fitted with a chainguard without the devil motif. This example still has its original paintwork and transfers (decals) intact. It’s a typical postwar French ladies’ shopping bicycle, with a pannier (‘sacoche’) fitted to the rear carrier. That’s nice enough, though hardly exceptional – it is the manufacturer and its branding that makes this rare machine stand out. The devil, As they say, is in the details…
Born on 22nd January, 1911, in Paris, Rene Arliguie participated competitively in various sports, including athletics, boxing and swimming before cycle racing. He signed his first runner exclusive contract with Cycles Helyette in 1935.
The team photo below is from 1938. Rene is in the centre.
For some great photos and more details about Rene Arliguie, please click here