What a weird bike. My dad and I bought this bike from a guy and his son up in Mchenry, Il. They seem to stumble on bike for resale and usually give us a courtesy call when they are listing a new bike on Craigslist. This particular bike wasnt listed because they had just picked up and we just happen to see it while there buying a Schwinn World.
They quickly showed up the unique feature on the bike, a cam that is actually integrated with the with the bottom bracket cup.
I had no idea what kind of bike it was or where it came from and neither did they. I thought it may have been a German or Belgian bike with a name like that but it turns out that Houdaille was an American company.
To my understanding this is the only bicycle Houdaille Industries made. What makes this such a rare bike is not only the manufacturer but the Powercam crank, which is conjured in competition with Shimano’s Biopace technology.
The bikes Powercam crank is definitely different. From what I read it was designed to help the rider at their weakest extension while cranking, improve cadence, and build muscle. After riding locally on the Houdaille, and getting use to the strange relief motion you experience when your leg is furthest forward while cranking, I can agree that it has the ability to build muscle quickly while ‘kind of’ making it easier on the rider. You can definitely build and maintain speed very easy with this bike without exerting as much energy as a conventional crank. I think the primary reason this technology did not take off is because of how different the riding experience is. Its definitely not a bike I would take our leisurely. It is meant to for performance applications like competition and racing.