Jo Routens: Randonneur de l’Excellence

Joseph “Jo” Routens was one of the greatest makers of randonneur, cyclotouring and cyclosportif bicycles in all of cycling history. The only other name regularly considered alongside his more aged contemporaries, Rene Herse and Alex Singer, Routens was distinct from these seminal influences in his unwavering commitment to the everyday cyclist. Initially through his partnership with…

Idéale Saddles: Behind the Leather Curtain

Idéale saddles are among the least understood bicycle components given their standout prominence and frequently exorbitant value. The dizzying array of models they produced continues vexing even the most ardent collectors, who seem to enjoy the punishment received when combining obscurity of fact with broad product offerings and potential stratospheric price appreciation.

Cycles Automoto: Setting the Standard

Cycles Automoto History Cycles Automoto was a pioneering French manufacturer of bicycles and motorcycles founded at the turn of the 20th century. Well regarded for thoughtful design and meticulous construction, Automoto grew in popularity until merging with the Peugeot group in the early 1960s. Nicer Automoto bicycles — of which there certainly are some — are…

Terrot: Forging the Way

From its 1887 beginnings as a modest textile workshop built by Charles Terrot in rural Dijon, France, the Terrot enterprise grew to become a resoundingly popular manufacturer of bicycles and motorcycles over the next three-quarters century. Terrot successfully combined ground breaking product, aggressive marketing and regularity on the podium to rise above a crowded field…

Caminade: The Circle of Cycle

Hearing it might shock the average rider of your swoopy, parrot-painted Italiano-alluminio wonderbike, but many such bikes are actually way, way old skool. In fact they’re so old skool they still spell it “olde school.” Aluminum frames? Octagonal tubes? Coupled bikes that disassemble with a few twists of a wrench for easy traveling? How about…

Gitane: The Dark-Eyed Wanderer

“Gitane” is an unutterably lovely word if you speak French, both in sound and meaning. It is pronounced “zhee-TAHNN” and represents the more romantic of the French words for “gypsy.” There could not be a more evocative or euphonious name for a bicycle in all the history of pedal powered transport.

Stronglight: Eyes on the Future

When first contacting Stronglight for information about the company, I received a charming but curious response. My requests had included, naturally, a timeline, a list of events the company sees as particularly important in its history, the position the company sees itself occupying in the present and future of cycling, a bit about its marketing practices,…

Système D: How We Do Repairs of Steel Rims

“Système D” is a delightful “how-to” publication dating from the early 20th century in France. What started out as a weekly newsprint guide for metropolitan Parisians has since grown into a glossy monthly magazine now enjoyed by practical, resourceful do-it-yourself types from all corners of the globe. The term “le Système D” originated as a shorthand response to challenges that require the ability…

Tech Specs: 1937 Caminade Caminargent Bordeaux-Paris

Caminade Caminargent Frame Octagonal Aluminum-Magnesium Tubes Matching Lugs With Custom Bolts Caliper Brake Bridge Fender/Rack Mounts Cable Guides Caminade Caminargent Fork Aluminum-Magnesium Tubing Matching Lugs With Custom Bolts Elegant Crown Caliper Hole Fender/Rack Mounts Stronglight Headset (French, 25mm Diameter) Stronglight Chainring (48T) French Freewheel (Single Speed) Caminade Brake Levers (Open Back) LAM Brakes (Sidepull Calipers, Brass Hardware) Caminade Handlebar (Aluminum) Caminade Stem (Aluminum) Stronglight 49D Crank (Aluminum)…