I’ve noticed that, more often than not, people who are ‘interested’ in bicycles don’t give my French bikes a second look. It’s actually something that I rather like, because these bikes don’t shout…. like, say, a Hetchins ‘Magnum Bonum’ does… they speak in a quiet voice, and I prefer that. At a time when British builders top end benchmark was ‘fancy lugwork’ and ‘flamboyant’ paint schemes, the French constructeurs were building subtle, understated machines of the highest quality, bristling with beautiful details…. integrated racks, internal cabling and dynamo wiring, internal expander seat stems, fabricated front derailleurs etc.. Lugwork was restrained, but crisp and functional, fillet brazing superbly finished to make the lightest of frames. Ernest Csuka, not long passed away, was perhaps the last of the great constructeurs, and he carried on the traditions up until the last. These details from my 1980 Alex Singer 650b Randonneuse built by Ernest Csuka serve to illustrate the point…. In the third photo, the wiring for the front lamp passes through the slender tubes of the rack and is entirely hidden. In the last, the pump peg is neatly incorporated into the extended point of the BB lug.
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