RE: [CR]Herse and parts thread/now-"contructeurs?"

(Example: History:Norris Lockley)

In-Reply-To: <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jun 2002 17:04:35 -0700
To: "goodrichbikes" <>
From: "Jan Heine" <>
Subject: RE: [CR]Herse and parts thread/now-"contructeurs?"


It is not that nobody CAN make a randonneur bike in the U.S., but that nobody DOES (this is not true of Canada - Mariposa). Ernest Csuka of Singer said that he spends more time on the racks, stem and other parts than he does on the frame and fork. When three to four people worked at the Singer shop full time, they could put out about 100-120 bikes a year, and that was working 50 hours a week! Now you realize why those bikes are expensive!

Finally, Csuka himself said (quoted from memory, see my newsletter for the exact words): "It isn't art, it's nothing special. Anybody could take a Singer, look at it, and make a bike exactly like it. They just don't want to spend the time."

Also, randonneur bikes are not for everybody. They really are intended for mature riders who know what they want. A randonneur won't accept 700x54 knobbies, and you can't take the fenders off and race criteriums, either.

What you get is a bike that is wonderful for non-competitive riding on any terrain for any distance in any weather, during the day or at night.

On the other hand, you won't get a good randonneur (there were lesser French makers that didn't always stand up too well to close scrutiny) with racks that are 3 inches above the rear or front fender, or with fenders that are really close to the tire at the rear brake bridge and really far at the bottom bracket. You won't get brakes that move the fender when you apply them (this happens even with the new Shimano standard reach dual pivots). I am not saying that all those things are bad, it's just a matter of preference.

Most of all, you as the customer don't have to figure out the fenders, the dropouts, the placement of the bridges, etc. You tell the "constructeur" which model you want, which racks, which tire width (indeed, they ask - 25 or 28 mm usually), which lighting system, which color, which size and a few other things. Then they build the bike.

The main reason why I write those articles in the Rivendell Reader and even my upcoming newsletter is to share this information. I hope this will help create a demand for the work of true "constructeurs," so that you craftspeople can start offering those bikes. It has worked in Japan, so why not here? (And I am not suggesting hanging only old parts on the bike - I couldn't care less whether a quick release has an open or closed "C".) Maybe component manufacturers would start offering a center-pull brake again, and we'd go from there.

Enough dreaming!

Jan Heine, Seattle

>The Singer and Herse bikes were
>amazing but there's plenty of framebuilders that can make a randonneur bike.
>It's just whether someone is willing to pay for it.
>Curt Goodrich
>Minneapolis, MN