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

(Example: Books:Ron Kitching)

Date: Fri, 16 Sep 2005 20:12:25 -0400
From: "Joe Bender-Zanoni" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]A long reminiscence Re:Paris Sport
In-reply-to: <001701c5baf1$f7fb8db0$0c0110ac@D7FBDM41>
References: <001701c5baf1$f7fb8db0$0c0110ac@D7FBDM41>

A nominee for top ten post of the year. Every once and a while we get this info (like Ted Ernst) from the people who were there. This is nor an attaboy but actually an idea for a top ten informative post concept.

Joe Bender-Zanoni Great Notch, NJ 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 !
> Cheers,
> Mike Fabian in San Francisco