It’s been a while. I seem to spend more time with bikes than with the blog.
This spring I’ll be listing some bicycles on Ebay.
Currently I have this new old stock Motoconfort Grand Touring listed. Straight from the Motobecane factory with zero kilometers, this 650B touring machine is in excellent condition.
Here are some new old stock Automoto cyclosportif bicycles. Peugeomotos, really. Badged Automoto, they were made by Peugeot in the early 1960s, right after they had bought their St. Etienne competitor. The bicycles all measure 55 centimeter (center to center) and have 700c wheels. Straight from the factory with zero kilometers.
Automoto by Peugeot, a set on Flickr.
I promised you bikes with zero kilometers, but I got distracted by this machine that’s seen quite a few. Some new old stock bicycles for sale should be up soon. Meanwhile let’s have a first look at this René Herse from my collection. Probably dating back to the 1940s, it looks like the bicycle was overhauled and repainted at Herse in the early 1960s.
The bike was found in Paris in rough shape, with makeshift wheels in the wrong size (650B instead of 700C) and a chainguard slapped on, but otherwise it still has most of the early 1960s components supplied by Herse. Judging by the beautiful rack it was probably for a gentleman who needed to carry a small, heavy load around town. A specialist mechanic with his tool box? A doctor with his leather bag?
I only just disassembled and washed it. Cleaning the frame with mild soap and water, it was a pleasure to see the wonderful lug lines appear from underneath the crud. Although it’s for simple single speed use – the frame has no provisions for any gearing – it has been an elaborate thing to make.
René Herse was meticulous. For good cable routing, there is a stop integrated into the seat cluster, and the cable guide at the front of the top tube sits at just the right angle. Threads for the fenders have been brazed on both the frame and rack. There are little tabs for the lights, and their wires run inside the tubes. Everything is nicely considered and finished. No straight twin lateral tubes here, they were bent into an exquisite S-shape.
It’s a nice bike, but the old finish is in bad shape. The frame will have a bath with an organic rust eater, and then I will reexamine the paint.
René Herse #109 29, a set on Flickr.
More new old stock bicycles will be featured here. Feel free to enquire.
Here’s a preview of a circa 1960 Automoto that was never even unpacked.
Should you wonder who’s the man with the wheel over his head, he’s the Grand Seigneur, Paul de Vivie. Better known as Velocio, patron saint of cyclists. I learned about this remarkable man through this lovingly written article. A recommended read.
Bicycles are for transportation and recreation. Paul de Vivie rode them for days on end without sleep to reach his destinations, but the purpose was recreation, in a profound sense.
A writer himself under the Latin name Velocio, he liked to read the Greek and Roman Classics before he went on a ride. Perhaps he read Plutarch, on Marcus Cato:
“…he would, now and then, when he had leisure, recreate himself…”
And so would Velocio, on his bicycle.
“…vigorous riding implies the senses. Perception is sharpened, impressions are heightened, blood circulates faster, and the brain functions better. I can still vividly remember the smallest details of tours of many years ago.”
In Latin, recreation simply meant the act of recreating, to revive. Its meaning shifted over the centuries, but Velocio must have understood the old physical and spiritual sense of the word. Work can wear you down, a recreational ride can revive your whole being. “Perception is sharpened…” – apparently Paul de Vivie rode the bicycle, again and again, to recreate himself.
Velocio, Grand Seigneur
by Clifford L. Graves, M.D.
When a throng of cyclists from all corners of France converged on Saint-Etienne one day last July as they had done for more than forty years, they were paying homage to a man who accomplished great things in a small corner of the world. He was a man who devoted a lifetime to the perfection of the bicycle and the art of riding it, a man who inspired countless others through the strength of his character and the beauty of his writings, a man who even in his old age was capable of prodigious riding feats; in short, a man who might well be called the patron saint of cyclists. (more)
This stately Sauvage Lejeune campeur from circa 1960 is one I sold earlier.
Found in Paris, France, it flew to Seattle, USA.
This bicycle was probably custom ordered by a tall gentleman. Big bikes this specific didn’t come rolling off an assembly line. It has twin lateral tubes to reinforce the 63 centimeter frame, and large racks on the front and rear.
I supplied it with two pairs of vintage Sologne bags that saw the road to Russia and back to France.
Here it is as found:
The Sauvage Lejeune was thoughtfully restored by its new owner Alex. In his own words;
…preserve what’s left of the original finish, stop the corrosion, build a new wheel set, change to lower gears, and then load it up and use it for a couple more decades.
It will be ridden as it was intended, to go camping.
Alex, enjoy the Cascade Mountains.
Finished just in time for spring, this machine was shown at the Seattle Bike Expo 2012.
Alex’ set on Flickr
Another 50 centimeter sized bicycle for your consideration.
This Alex Singer is from the mid 1970s. During the busy “bike boom” years Cycles Alex Singer had some frames made by CNC in Paris, including this one. It was built up in the Singer shop using nice components like Maxi-Car hubs and Spécialités TA cranks. The bike is in used-not-abused condition, as found. It measures 50 cm with a 52 cm top tube (both center to center).
Lots of photos in the Flickr set
Alex Singer 1970s, a set on Flickr.
Here’s a 1960s Sauvage Lejeune porteur in good used condition.
Sauvage Lejeune Porteur, a set on Flickr.
As a start I’ll be showing some French fendered bicycles with 50 and 52 centimeter seat tubes (measured center to center).
Here’s a boy’s 50cm Motoconfort with 650B wheels. It’s about 50 years old, new old stock with zero kilometers, and in “as found” condition. I haven’t even pumped up the tyres yet. A humble 3 speed but ever so stylish, it could make a beautiful light touring bike or vélo de ville for a smaller adult.
More photos coming up over the next few days.
And here it is freshly washed with the tires pumped.
Motoconfort 650B ~1960, a set on Flickr.
I attended the Stalen Ros bike show and parts market in Neerkant, the Netherlands. Hello again if we met, and if we didn’t, à la prochaine. It was a fine day.
This year’s exhibit featured French bicycles. I rode my Alex Singer there and parked it between the other machines for everyone to see. It stood next to a beautiful pre-war Alcyon sporting wooden rims.
There were quite a few bikes made in France, most of them racers. But in spite of the French theme they were almost outnumbered by Italian and italianised Dutch ones. I guess they’ve become traditionals at Stalen Ros, which saw its fifth edition.
The fully equipped French Lightweight with fenders, lights and luggage capacity is a rare beast, even at a show like this. If I hadn’t brought my own, the fine green Alex Singer belonging to Mr Roosen would have been all by itself. As far as I could see the two fendered bikes either went unnoticed or were carefully admired.
Stalen Ros 2012, a set on Flickr.
New to the blogosphere, I’ll be featuring bicycles and parts made in France.
Some will be for sale. I ship worldwide.
Enquiries welcome robvandriel(at)gmail(dot)com