RE: [CR]Third World Classics? ( Long Story from "Darkest Africa")


Example: Framebuilders:Alberto Masi

From: "Ron Thompson" <ron@motive.co.za>
To: <brianbaylis@juno.com>, <teaat4p@yahoo.com>
Subject: RE: [CR]Third World Classics? ( Long Story from "Darkest Africa")
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2004 22:02:18 +0200
In-Reply-To: <20040413.204325.27939.327977@webmail02.lax.untd.com>
cc: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org

We have had "classic" bikes built in South Africa for at least 50 years. Arguably the earliest were those built by Hans Huth in response to post-war import restrictions, which limited complete bikes but were more lenient on tubing.

Self taught, Huth used the old method of pinning then brazing up over heated coals. Most of his top class bikes (only about 10% of a total production of some 7000 spread over some 30 years) were bespoke bikes. They were called DHC for Deale and Huth cycles.

The retail shop of the same name sold other makes and with the lifting of import restrictions we were able to get Cinellis, Legnanos, Frejus and British bikes like Carltons, Viking, Falcons etc.

Except for the bespoke orders of top bikes from England the other Brit bikes were mostly off the peg, made for export models, OK in their way but nothing like a custom built, 531, Nervex lugged DHC.

The profit is never honoured in his own land and as production waned in the face of affordable exotics Huth sadly turned to making hospital furniture before closing down production.

We have had other builders and Peugeot frames made by Gottie Hansen (now the boss of the South African Cycling Federation) or Le Jeunes by Francois du Toit are the equal to their Top French counterparts.

The American preoccupation with gruppos and complete bikes having to have the same equipment as they were sold with is foreign (if you will excuse the pun) to the people who raced out here. This is a 70's phenomenon. We bought a frame in our colour choice and hung the equipment of our preference on it.

We then updated the equipment seasonally, if we could afford it. It is ironic that one of the best steel frame builders of recent times in this Country, Bill Lange, learned his trade in the States and had a high regard for the Custom builders there.

Unfortunately the uninformed impression that imported French or Italian "Names" must be better or at least more "prestigious" (think Gucci, Porche, Rolex, Nikon and you get the picture) and the price at which Such bikes could be bought, put an end to Bike building out here.

The last of the steel bike frame builders Duncan Macintyre left the stage only recently. We have some innovative new builders in Aluminium but that's off-topic.

You have a contingent of Brits over at Cirque now, amongst whom is one Alex von Tutchek. He lived in S.A. for many years and can give some first hand insight into the scene as it was. Wish I was there too. Hope to get there eventually and perhaps bring along a DHC to show that Third World can be First Class. Ron Thompson. Motive Power Movement/(Cyc-Ous) Brackenhurst 1448 South Africa Phone: (011) 8671618 Cell: 0825703650 Email :ron@motive.co.za