I think the idea of an additional resource for British and French bikes is a good one. There is certainly a lot of British stuff on the CR web site - I just counted 68 British marques there, versus only 40 marques represented in the Italy section. Plus British bikes have been the theme of the last two Cirques, so I think no one can accuse Dale of slighting British, or for that matter, French machines. However, the fact remains that there is a far greater volume of list messages about Italian machines than any other nationality, perhaps more than about all other nationalities combined. I think this just reflects the preference of most of the more active members for Italian bikes and equipment. In some cases this is because several members, including Brian and Jim, were personally involved with California Masi production, and it would be bizarre if they did not show interest in that marque. To expand on my last posting, however, I think most members view Italian machines as the dreams of their youths, most of which coincided roughly with the US bike boom. What we actually rode may have been a PX-10 or Raleigh Supercourse, but what we coveted was that all-Campy Cinelli, DeRosa, Guerciotti, Masi, or Colnago reviewed in last month's Bicycling! The hot-shoe racers had all-Campy Italian iron, and that was what we dreamed of owning. And now, 30 years later, we have the money and by damn we're going to possess those youthful dreams.
Nothing wrong with this - I'd personally like to have that '62 Corvette I dreamed of as a teenager, when all I really had was a 6-cylinder '57 Chevy sedan. But in the meantime, some of us have developed different bicycling interests. And some, such as those in UK, never shared our youthful preoccupation with all things Italian.
I've come to regard the Italian "dream bikes" of the 70's/ early 80's as a bit - dare I say it? - boring. That is, there was a rather rigid formula that applied to most of them - All Campy NR/SR, steep angles, short wheel base, short rake, fender eyelets only in the early part of the era, pantagraphed parts, Italian long point lugs with logo cutouts. As I've said before, sometimes it seemed the only difference between the Italian marques was whether the lug cutouts were clubs, spades, or hearts. Plus the top Italian makers limited their output pretty much to road racing and track bikes. Very few touring, audex, fixed gear road, or tandem machines. On the other hand, the British and French had a much wider variety of frames for every use from loaded touring to track sprinting. And many, like the PX-10, could serve in a variety of roles. There were all sorts of specialized brazeons, stays varing from direct brazed to full wraparound to Helenic to "vibrant", elaborate hand-cut lugs, and a mix of bits from Campy, Williams, GB, Stronglight, Simplex, Zeus, TA, Maillard, Weinmann, and many more.
I think a site to display some of this amazing variety, in addition to the considerable material already on the CR site, may stimulate more British/French bike discussion to complement the perfectly valid Italian postings. I have to accept some blame for the drop in French postings in the last year, as I have been too busy after my move to ride, build or comment on bikes as frequently as previously. I hope to get back into the French/British discussions, though this activity may have to compete with my need to build up a circa 1980 Falcon, a team issue Holdsworth, a new Caygill audex frame, a Gitane Tour de France, a Mercier, and - least anyone think me anti-Italian - two Bianchi TSX's.
> Take it from me - the horses mouth !
> Bruce and I decided to form this group because of a distinct lack of support
> from anyone else on this list in respect of questions or discussions in
> relation to British or French bikes, particularly those concening anything
> outwith the American bike boom years. Much of this is as a result of bulk
> of the membership of the lists familiarity with all things "Italian" during
> a very narrow time period, or limited to those common exports from, as you
> say, Raleigh, Peugeot and Jack Taylor - again from the bike boom years that
> you are happy with.
> There are distinct "cycling" connections between the British and French that
> were established more than 70+ years before the American bike boom. Almost
> all of the smaller British concerns produced continental touring machines,
> along similar lines, typified by those of A.S.Gillot and many others.
> Whilst I agree that Herse and Singer did produce beautiful machines however
> they were small volume manufacturers producing an expensive and exclusive
> product, at a time when the bulk of production in France was of plain
> ordinary "utility" machines or basic tourers from the likes of Peugeot,
> Hurtu and Cycles Radar. Where we had Coventry / Birmingham, the French had
> St.Etienne - all producing classic machines of all shapes and sizes, not a
> million miles apart - in fact merely 22 miles of water seperate us. Much
> plagerism from both sides ensued.
> Aside from all this, there is no intention in this group to get into
> arguments over comparisons between Britain and France. Clearly we can leave
> that in your safe hands on this list, and get on with the business of
> raising each countries profile - seperately together !
> If you are not happy with what we are doing, you don't have to join - we
> won't condem you for it.
> Bob Reid
> Scotland (The Auld Alliance anyone ? )