Re: [CR]A long reminiscence Re:Paris Sport

(Example: Production Builders:LeJeune)

In-Reply-To: <001701c5baf1$f7fb8db0$0c0110ac@D7FBDM41>
References: <001701c5baf1$f7fb8db0$0c0110ac@D7FBDM41>
Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 17:24:22 -0400
To: <>
From: "Sheldon Brown" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]A long reminiscence Re:Paris Sport

I get occasional inquires about this brand. Would you mind if I were to add the information in this posting to my Website? I would, of course, credit you, and provide a Web link if you would like.

All the best,


At 12:08 PM -0700 9/16/05, <> wrote:
>Dear Listies,
>In reference to the confusion about Paris Sport and the numerous
>framebuilders that worked at the Fraysse's shop over the years I
>thought I might add a little of what I remember.
>Paris Sport was a house brand of the Fraysse's shop in Ridgefield
>Park, N.J. The family has a long and VERY significant involvement
>with bike racing in the United States. At one time or another I
>believe Mike, father Vic, and grandfather Emile were all presidents
>of the USCF/ABLA, etc. and they were all very experienced racers of
>"the old school", i.e. heavily into track and old six-day lore, and
>of course, their local bike club, the North Jersey Bicycle
>Club(NJBC). They often managed / coached the Olympic/World
>Championship trips abroad during the "dark ages" of adult cycling in
>the US (the 40's to the early 70's).
>Some of the confusion over the brands and wildly different quality
>levels comes from the fact that the Paris Sport shop imported MANY
>different frames and bikes which they re-badged and decalled as
>"Paris Sport". This is a very smart way to differentiate your bike
>shop from others, and is a common strategy once a shop acheives the
>size to bankroll such importing and wholesaling. The bikes ranged
>from the somewhat generic $150 ten-speed bike boom special/UO-8
>clones all the way up to Vitus glued aluminum frames. There were
>also many different levels of steel frames brought in from the
>myriad of smaller bike companies which still existed in France. One
>of them was a company named Bernard Dangre', I believe. I can recall
>going downstairs at Paris Sport, into the frame shop at the very
>rear of the LOOONG store (it was once a bowling alley) and seeing
>dozens and dozens of road and track frames hanging up from the
>ceiling all primed up in flat green, just waiting for a buyer's
>choice of top-coat. None of them was exactly top-notch, they were
>all just production grade decent beginner to mid-level frames. I
>think the Fraysse's used to do a fair amount of wholesaling to other
>bike shops around the bike-boom, so this is also why they would have
>had so many of these kind of things around. They would sometimes
>decal these frames as "Vigorelli" or "Star Nord". The Vigorelli's
>were the better quality frames back in the 80's.
>The aforementioned framebuilding shop was located all the way
>downstairs and at the very back of the store. Here is where the
>likes of Pepe' Limongi, Ramon Orero, Dave Moulton, and
>Andres/Francisco Cuevas made and repaired frames. Apologies to the
>other names I have missed. There were a myriad of builders who
>worked there because the frame shop was operated as a sort of
>separate entity - it was rented to the various builders and the
>Fraysse's would try and steer a lot of business to whoever was
>building there at the time. Sometimes the frame shop didn't have a
>full-time builder. Mike and Vic offered to set me up and rent me the
>shop when I was a youngster trying to learn how to build frames back
>in the early-mid eighties. I was very inexperienced but that didn't
>seem to daunt Mike or Vic - who sort of encouraged me and promised
>that I would "learn as I went" (!) and that they would send lots of
>business my way. In retrospect, I probably should have tried it, but
>it all seemed like there were an awful lot of vague verbal
>assurances and promises, and I was pretty aware of my marginal
>skills at the time.
>So the frame shop would sometimes feature transient builders who
>came over to the USA for a time and they would build for a while,
>get homesick or whatever, and then they would move on. Because Paris
>Sport was located a very short distance from New York City the
>foreigners were always relatively close to the various vibrant
>ethnic neighborhoods where they could feel a part of the community.
>It was all a very different world in the bicycle business back then.
>A much, much smaller, more insular world where having good contacts
>abroad was perhaps not as easy to acheive as nowadays. The number of
>decent bike shops the size of Paris Sport were very few in the US
>during the 40's to 70's. Especially ones that had experience with
>high-end equipment and clothing.
>One additional aspect of Paris Sport that really impressed me at the
>time was the training and weight room that they had on premises. Now
>that was truly unusual at the time but such a brilliant idea for
>keeping people involved with the bike club and the shop during the
>winter months when business would slow.
>It was all part of an intelligent well-run bike club scene where a
>new rider could rub elbows with experienced riders/racers and "learn
>the ropes" of the arcane, dangerous, and little-known world of bike
>racing at the time. A rider could try their hand at club racing and
>activities BEFORE they entered the fray of "organized" craziness
>that passes for the domestic sport nowadays.
>The lack of clubs like the NJBC, with their year-round activities
>(time-trials, road races, training rides, roller races, award
>dinners, social dances, interclub soccer matches, etc. etc.) and
>ability to transform a newbie into an experienced and knowlegible
>dedicated bicycle rider/racer - is what so hampers the current bike
>scene in the US, IMHO. Lots of people riding very expensive
>bicycles, but with very little skill or expertise.
>I think Mike Fraysse retired and sold the shop in the early to
>mid-1990's. He went on to purchase and renovate the old Singer
>family (Sewing Machines AND Bicycle company fortunes) estate in NY
>state. His family and him run this as a B&B/retreat and supposedly
>it is a wonderful joint. A good friend of mine went there a few
>years ago and said there is excellent local riding on rural roads
>with little traffic. Hopefully someone on the list knows more about
>this and can provide additional details. It would be great if he
>would join the list ! He would add a wealth of knowledge of bikes
>and the bike world to our humble list, although I understand why
>someone with so much involvement with bikes might want to keep a
>little distance from the topic. So if you do locate him please don't
>pester him with silly questions regarding how to wrap cloth
>handlebar tape, or whether cheapo Atom hubs were better than cheapo
>Normandy hubs !
>Mike Fabian in San Francisco

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