>I keep reading and hearing the bikes referred to as touring or
>randonneuring bikes and I don't think this is correct. As I stated
>above these started as racing bikes at the core.
I think you raise an interesting and often overlooked point here, but I'd replace RACING with PERFORMANCE. Indeed, the goal of the constructeurs was the optimum in performance. That meant the optimum in speed, the optimum in reliability, and associated, the optimum in comfort. It meant challenging preconceptions, such as how light a bike could be (1940s randonneur bikes usually were a lot lighter than the bikes the pros used), what made a good front-end geometry, and even how a bike looked ("funny" frames in the British vein and even recumbents were tried in the 1930s in search of more performance). Unbound by rules and convention, the constructeurs searched for the ultimate tool. The elegance usually came from "What is right usually looks right," similar to many classic racing cars.
Unfortunately, in recent decades, "touring" bikes often have been cheaper, uglier, slower and less fun adaptations of racing bikes. The constructeur idea is that these caveats do not need to apply. Certainly, the Peter Weigle Randonneur I have been testing for the next issue of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly can keep up with any racing bike, both uphill and downhill.
This is not to diminish the history, coolness and fun of collecting and/or riding historic racing bikes. They are great and I love mine dearly. -- Jan Heine, Seattle Editor/Publisher Vintage Bicycle Quarterly c/o Il Vecchio Bicycles 140 Lakeside Ave, Ste. C Seattle WA 98122 http://www.vintagebicyclepress.com