[CR]Singer gossip

(Example: Framebuilders:Doug Fattic)

In-Reply-To: <CATFOODYeXvWMWpaslT00003744@catfood.nt.phred.org>
Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 04:50:18 -0700
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
From: "jan heine" <heine@mindspring.com>
Subject: [CR]Singer gossip

Singer started shop in 1938. His name is pronounced by all French randonneurs, including Ernest Csuka, the French way.

Singer was in hiding during the war, supposedly because he was working with the Resistance.

Ernest Csuka started in 1942, his brother Roland shortly thereafter. During the 1950s, there was very little work (200 high end bikes made between 1952 and 1962). Roland may have gone back to work elsewhere. (There were other, lower-end bikes made that used different serial numbers.)

Singer retired (died?) in 1964. But long before then, the bikes had been designed by Ernest and Roland. Singer mostly procured the parts, which seems to have been difficult at times. There was a fourth person working there in the late 1940s, when business was brisk. (1000 bikes between 1938 and 1952, but consider that Singer couldn't build much during the war.)

Roland died in 1994 - he had worked until his death. So Douglas, both your bikes were made by Roland. Serial number 29xx was in 1990, and now they are in the high 3200s.

Maria Singer (Singer's wife) died earlier this year. She was in her 90s. Ernest and Roland Csuka's mother died a few days before or after Maria.

Ernest Csuka's wife died sometime in the late 80s, I believe. She was part of the team, taking care of the books, orders, etc.

One of Ernest's sons is 37 or 38. Word in Paris has it that he'll take over once Ernest retires. He doesn't deny it nor confirm it.

That is all I know about the family.

Ernest Csuka talks of himself as French. He complains about "our country," "high taxes," etc. He sees the Singers as French bikes. If he has a religious affiliation, it has never been mentioned by him, nor anybody close to him. Since I've heard all kinds of other gossip, I doubt it plays an important role.

To make this relate to bikes: I've only ridden "Csuka" Singers, and they are the most wonderful bikes of all. However, they are/were true custom bikes, with tubing, geometry and components designed for the rider and intended purpose. So getting a used one makes it hard to replicate its original feel, unless you know the original owner and are similar in build and riding style. New ones, of course, still are available. Csuka miters the tubes, welds and solders the lugs, prepares everything and sends it to the framebuilder, who brazes the frame. Ernest then puts on the brazeons and gets the frame ready for chrome and paint. Ernest also makes all the racks and stems. These now are absolutely wonderful - the best fillet-brazing I have seen.

The current bikes are very nice and ride wonderfully. However, they are hand-made, and if you are used to a modern bike, such as a Rivendell, with cast lugs, etc., you may find the Singer a bit, well, hand-made. I have imported three so far for friends and customers, and they all are quite happy. Even during the best of times, finish was a bit variable - "preferred" customers' bikes always seemed to benefit from a little extra filing and cleaning up.

If anybody wants one, contact me off the list...

Jan Heine, Seattle (but going for a ride in sunny Toronto in a few minutes on a 1970s Olmo)