Reyhand Tandem ‘Road King’ c.1936

This Reyhand Tandem was built by the legendary Lyon maker André Reiss. Reiss had a short career, beginning constructing bicycles under his own name around 1934. Sadly he was killed in action in the Second World War in 1940. Reyhand won the Critérium Cyclotouriste des Alpes four years in a row from 1934. In 1935 the bicycle piloted by Bernadet covered 643 kilometres and 11,000 metres of elevation. The machine weighed just 10 kilograms. Reiss also won the Concours de Machines (or Technical Trials) of the Groupe Montagnard Parisien three years in a row from 1935 to 1937, and the Grand Prix Duralumin. The emphasis of these events was lightness combined with quality of construction and reliability. His machines used the newly available Duralumin components to achieve light weight combined with strength. Reiss’s exceptional quality bicycles and tandems quickly became highly desirable, and his machines were in the very top price bracket, such was their cachet. His tandems employed the twin diagonal bracing which he patented.

Reyhand produced a ‘Week End’ model tandem which was made from Durifort tubing, weighing 24 kilograms fully equipped, but his top of the range machines used Reynolds 531 and duralumin components to achieve a very low weight of approximately 16.5 kilograms, very light indeed for a 1930’s tandem. This is one of the more expensive lightweight machines, designated ‘Road’s [sic] King’ in the 1938 Reyhand catalogue.

Parts include early Stronglight cranks, cantilever brakes, 5 speed Cyclo gear, Lefol brake levers and mudguards with Comodo rear rack, Maxi rear drag brake, Mavic alloy rims, AVA stem and handlebars. Non-original parts include the front wheel and the the chain rings (I’m looking for a ‘Cyclo Rosa’ double chain ring set if anyone can help please?) Other nice features include the bracing on the non drive side rear to add strength for the rear drag brake, and the internal cable routing for this brake.

It’s likely that this machine was ‘updated’ later by the addition of cantilever brakes replacing the original Jeay calipers, and re-painted. It also seems likely that these works were done by the Reyhand shop, since the finish and lining decorations are very similar to Henry Chaix’s Reyhand on p.30 of ‘The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles’, and the person who did the work had access to the Reyhand transfers.

The original paint finish was silver but unfortunately it has been coated with a badly applied coat of brown varnish, presenting a big problem to remove this coating without destroying the original lining. Preserving this wonderful tandem will be a long term project!

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Le Cycliste, April 1936

Old copies of cycling magazines are wonderful sources of information. In this issue of Le Cycliste (the premier cycle touring magazine of France) from April 1936, the adverts show us that the Cyclo Rosa chainset was available at that time in triple configuration in steel, either nickel or chrome plated. Fusion welded steel frames were available from the great Nicola Barra, whilst Reyhand were trumpeting their victory in the 1935 Criterium des Alpes. Another page includes the innovative bicycle design of Jacques Schulz, Le Chat front derailleurs, and Lefol mudguards. Lastly, for amusement, is the advertisement for Hutchinson’s new tyres for Tandems.

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