Cinelli Porteur

Cinelli Porteur

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.

Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur
Cinelli Porteur

  • jeremynorth

    Fantastic machine with its patina. I love the account of the porteur races. There is a small typo as regards the time of the winning rider, it was 57 not 37 mins, but still very impressive.

  • Dainius

    jeah.. love the looks very much ‘my kind of bike’ but…. with this coaster brake you gonna ruin a really nice Cinelli track bike frame… the front fork.. is not belong there at all.. you can make a nice ‘porteur’ bike of the much much less exclusive frame.. in this case-shame on you…

    • Virgil Q Staphbeard

      I imagine the fork is there to provide more rake/lower trail in order to be more stable with a front load.

      • Dainius

        for sure,but this is not about the fork.. GWLS

    • Nicolas Ponroy

      I agree, I mounted mine with a road frame of the same period, no need for a track frame, and you can keep the original fork.
      A mafac racer front brake will be more “authentic” than the Paul copy.
      But the front rack is really nice, I would love to know the model!
      Same for the Stem (I have the same on my porter), the fenders, Stronglight crank set, handle bar and CLB brake lever, perfect parts choice

      • Virgil Q Staphbeard

        Rack appears to be a Velo Orange, stem appears to be a Titan.

  • SSS

    Love it

  • Martin

    Hey guys.
    The frame is not a track frame. It’s a “criterium” frame, which means it has more spacing for the rear wheel, moderate geometry as well as a mount and spacing for a rear break. Unfortunately the original fork is lost, so I equipped it with a fork providing enough rake to ride well with a loaded porteur rack.

    Also: The frame doesn’t have a Cinelli-typical serial number but the lugs are doubtlessly made by Cinelli. Some experts here in Vienna think it might have been a Cinelli frame-building set built by somebody else. It’s a very interesting frame nevertheless.

    The porteur rack is made by Velo Orange. The stem is a nice steel stem made by “Titan”.

  • Bill

    Really nice build up – I dig theese kind of bikes really deep and love to see more and more stylish townies appear! This ones got a beautiful patina!
    What kind of bar is this? Looks he has the right shape – but seems hard to find.
    Tha saddle is which model?

    • tsetse

      Thanks! 🙂
      The handlebar is a slightly shortened Velo Orange Milano Bar.
      Saddle is an old Brooks Professional from the 60’s. They are occasionally on eBay or google for Mr. Hilary Stone in the UK. He’s selling some…