The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles – en Français!

The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles – en Français!

Our first and best-selling book The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles is now available in a French edition. Published by Editions Vigot and printed by a quality printer in France, the new book turned out beautiful.
I am excited that the story of the constructeurs and their amazing bicycles is now available in its home country. As France re-discovers cycling, I hope the book has a similar influence as it has had in North America, where a new generation of young builders is crafting wonderful machines which are inspired by mid-century French craftsmen like René Herse, Alex Singer, Jo Routens, Camille Daudon, Paul Charrel and the many others featured in this book.
The book starts with some of the earliest cyclotouring bikes and their amazing gear changing mechanisms. Above is a Retro-Directe. There are two freewheels mounted side-by-side on the rear hub. The outer one works normally, when you pedal forward. The inner one is activated by pedaling backwards. See how pedaling backwards pulls on the lower chain run that goes over the larger freewheel?
This top-of-the-line Hirondelle has a front derailleur, too, so you get four speeds. I was able to ride this bike during our photo shoot – it rides very nicely, but my legs aren’t used to putting out power while pedaling backwards!
The bikes that we love today were developed during the classic age: 650B wheels with wide, supple tires; low-trail geometries; lightweight frames to offer a spirited ride… These bikes were perfected on the road, and that is one reason why they are so much fun to ride.
Even the porteur bikes of the newspaper couriers were designed for performance. Not only were the couriers paid for each run – the more newspapers they delivered to the newsstands, the more they earned – but they also had an annual race, where they fought for the title of the “Roi des Roule-Toujours” (King of the Always-Riding).
The constructeurs built many types of bikes. I am especially fascinated by their “camping” bikes: touring bikes designed to be ridden with a full camping load. There is so much to them – this 1985 Alex Singer has no fewer than five racks – and yet it’s all designed as a coherent whole to offer a wonderful ride.
The French edition is available through bookstores in France. We also have a few copies available in the Bicycle Quarterly bookstore. (Select the English version, and during checkout, you get a choice of language.)
After nine years and over 16,000 copies sold, the English edition of The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles is currently out of print. It will become available again next year. In the mean time, we have a few copies left – if you want it as a holiday gift, order your copy soon.

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Comments (5)

  • JPI

    Super nouvelle !
    La traduction est-elle la même que celle qui était fournie avec l’édition originale ?

    October 25, 2014 at 5:26 am
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      La traduction a été entièrement revisé, et le contenu a été mis au point en regard des dernières recherches qu’on a fait.
      The translation is completely reworked, and the contents has been brought up to date in light of our latest research.

      October 25, 2014 at 4:44 pm
  • Paul Glassen

    I love the photo of the motorcyclist crouching down to encourage the tandem riders on the pages, “1940-1959 L’age classique”. Already an avid pedal cyclist, I started motorcycling toward the end of that period. I remember both the motorcyclist’s “pudding basin” helmet and full coverage weather suit. Are the photos and layout just about the same in both the French and English language editions?

    October 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm
    • Jan Heine, Editor, Bicycle Quarterly

      It’s one of my favorite photos, too. We think it was taken by Daniel Rebour, since another photo at the same spot (published in the René Herse book) shows Simone Rebour standing by the roadside. To your question, photos and layout are the same.

      October 25, 2014 at 4:46 pm
  • alexmwilkins

    Excellent to see a quality localisation into another language. Are you considering translating it into any other languages? Perhaps Italian given the huge history of cycling there?

    October 25, 2014 at 11:53 pm

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