Célestin Auguste Ripet patented the use of special annular bearings in bicycle bottom brackets and hubs in 1933. Rousson & Chamoux were already producing a wide range of hubs, pedals, chainrings and crank arms under the trademark name RFG by then. (RFG stood for “Roulement Francais Garanti”). These two manufacturers would eventually merge three decades later in 1962 and the Maxi-Car name was trademarked by Rousson & Chamoux in May of that year.
The venerable Type 3 model hub was introduced a few months later, which Maxi-Car proceeded to exploit alongside the hub’s distinctive red label for 18 prosperous years until 1980. The Type 4 hub was introduced 10 years later in 1990. It was manufactured for a relatively short nine years until production ceased in 1999 and the final Maxi-Car hub rolled off the company’s St. Etienne assembly line, six decades of special annular bearings later.
Several MAXI, Car, MAXI-C.A.R., MAXI-CAR and even MAXI-Car hub models were manufactured and sold before the Type 3 model’s introduction by Rousson & Chamoux in 1962. Included here was a Type 1 model hub sold under the Maxi-C.A.R. name from 1946-1950. This hub model was manufactured by Société de Dépalle (also known as Etablissements Depalle, or just E. Depalle) and popularized by French illustrator Daniel Rebour in one of his prototypical assembly diagrams. The diagram details the Maxi-C.A.R. Type 1 hub body sitting prominently behind the hub’s oversize axle and distinctive annular bearing cartridges.
Also included here were a pair of Type 2 model hubs. The “Type 2a” model hub was sold under the MAXI-CAR name from 1950-1962. It was the last Maxi-related hub model manufactured with solid hub body flanges, which subsequently gave way to flanges that were drilled for style and weight savings. It was also the last hub model manufactured by E. Depalle. The “Type 2b” model hub was introduced concurrently in 1961 and sold for just one year. It is believed Rousson & Chamoux allowed E. Depalle to sell its remaining stock of Type 2a model hubs before assuming exclusive control of the Maxi-Car trademark with the Type 3 model hub the following year in 1962.
More information is available on the people, products and companies that came to define the “Maxi-Car” marque and all it stands for today. Here are some of our favorite and most memorable Maxi-Car images and photos, presented in chronological order starting with Célestin Ripet’s patent application in 1933:
Amir’s Wonderful Maxi-Car Timeline – https://flic.kr/s/aHskfNajEy
Frédéric Moreau – https://flic.kr/ps/2GtPkx
Bike Cafe Maxi-Car Article – https://bike-cafe.fr/2015/06/maxi-car-la-rolls-du-moyeu-vintage/
Blackbird SF Maxi-Car Article – http://www.blackbirdsf.org/maxicar/
Velo Orange Maxi-Car Article – https://velo-orange.blogspot.com/2007/01/maxi-car-hubs.html
Yellow Jersey Maxi-Car Tech Article – http://www.yellowjersey.org/maxtek.html