Monthly Archives: December 2014

Warning – French Book

Sometimes the internet and its weird machinery let you despair, more often they make you laugh out loud – like in this case. In preparation for this post I researched the availability of this

DCoverbook, and found a few copies can be had from various sources – at a price, however, and not everywhere. The selfsame book from the selfsame seller is $38 on US Amazon, and £68 on UK Amazon – that´s the despairing part, but the sales blurb headed by this post´s title definitively is the lol one. Lucky me – I bought my copy years and years ago for a few Francs in a French fleamarket.

So, why write a post on this volume? Easy, because it´s nice. It gives you a 40 year plus old view on cyclotouring and randonneuring, and shows that not much has changed. Sure, electronics such as GPS weren´t around, but reading up the basics like nutrition and what your bike should be like hasn´t changed much. Matter of fact, reading Jan Heine or Delore isn´t much of a difference at all – Jan even re-manufactures Mafac brakes now, and leaving the current 650B fashion aside, the drawing of this

DHerseHerse bike (is it by Rebour?) just makes any 2014 brevet rider drool. Well, most.

In 1978, when the third edition of the 1973 original appeared, the book must have been a mine of info, what with dozens of addresses, clubs, and more than 60 pages of ride descriptions alone.

DFlechesDDiagonThis wealth of info came at a time when cycling had just been re-discovered as a pastime after the havoc wreaked on it by the car craze during the two preceding decades. In his preface, Guy Bossière, the then president of the French Audax Union, even writes that Delore is the first complete book on its subject at all. This is blatantly untrue, but at the beginning of the seventies any contemporary well-written and well-researched book on randonneuring must have seemed a godsend to the few serious randonneurs who were still around or were just discovering the sport. Many will have appreciated to be told what to think of in the morning before a long ride, how to read a map looking out for cyclists´ needs, how important mudguards are, the pros and cons of tubs versus wired ons, etc.

From today´s point of view it´s sad that there are not more photos of bikes or parts as the book relies more on the written word than on pictures. Those few which are there, however, are worth regarding, like these showing triplets:

DTriplAlso the single page on the then-fashionable F-frame Moulton

DMoultfullhas a great illustration of a Speed model with the re-designed rear fork and suspension point.

DMoultdetBuilt up with French (Stronglight, Allvit) parts, this must have been a very special machine, showing, by the way, that Allvits were not alway  considered cheap stuff at all.

However, the many vivid descriptions of what you can do with something like this


is what you will remember of the book.

DDisciplAnd wouldn´t we all show as much discipline as humanly possible if we could join this bunch right now?

M-Gineering Tubes and Coffee II

Another year has passed, and here we are for the second time (first time here: in Marten Gerritsen´s workshop for another dose of apple crumble, vegetable soup and bike talk.TAppleforkleg

Having driven up from Germany together with two friends and my son (who actually did the driving, and who is shortly to publish a video of Marten´s open day on youtube), I enjoyed the get-together greatly, talked a lot to the many participants, stroked the cat

TKatand had a good helping or two of Marten´s delicious apple crumble.

TfoodfullAs before, the atmosphere was friendly, and an always helpful Marten was confronted with a number of questions by his customers, or perhaps visitors. One had brought the sorry remains of a BSA parabike, which took the idea of the folding bike to new heights.


This looks quite a normal parabike b/b, painted over, true.


And a beautiful wing nut is securing the two halves of the frame. Here´s the rear dropout,

TBSAreardoand here´s the horror:TBSABreak

TBSAFolderMarten´s comment was that he would see what he could do. Brave man. Obviously some bad welding had damaged the braze joint decades ago.


Not easy to ride with the cranks at this weird angle, and the shark fin teeth are witnesses for the hard life the bike must have had.


But of course there were much nicer bikes to be marvelled at. The BSA was a cheapo even when new (one bystander remarked that it was never meant to last, but to be shot at). This one, Marten´s show bike to be taken to trade fairs, is a completely different matter. Just look at the first rate fillets and the constructeur-like parts such as the rear dropouts.

TsilverdtransfTsilverfull  Tsilverseatcl TsilverS+Scouplers TsilverRohlcomm TsilverRofltwgrip Tsilverreardodet Tsilverreardo Tsilverrack  Tsilverftdo Tsilverforkcr TsilverFillet TsilverextTsilverVeloOsaddleThere was one frame, bilaminated for good measure, which had just been completed and could be contemplated before painting. This was a great opportunity to see what things in frame building should be like. If it were mine, I´d probably just have it clear coated with some durable, but transparent paint.

Tworksbarebb Tworksbareseatcl Tworksbarefillettophead TworksbarefilletlwrheadThen of course it was very nice to be able to delve into the secrets of a frame builder´s workshop, with all the small, but important bits and pieces spread before you.


Tworksforkcrns Tworksboxbits Tworksblockforkbl Tworksblock Tworksbits

M-Gineering are the Dutch importers for SON products, so we were able to regard some unusual demonstration objects.

TSONbunt TSONdemoint TSONdemoblau

By the time we had had a good look round the shop, some more specimens of Marten´s work had arrived outside.

TBluefull TBlueladreardo TBlueLadexc


Neither were other marques absent, just one example:

TSalsabucketfull TSalsaforktransf TSalsadttransfAnd what would Tubes and Coffee be without some choice veteran bikes, serving as eye candy as much as objects of comparison, expertly explained by Marten. Take this Graftek for example, with its carbon fibre tubes bonded into stainless lugs. Rare lightweight equipment completes the bike.


TGraftekbrake TGraftekseatl TGraftekrearder TGraftekpedal Tgraftekheadb TGraftekfrontend  TGraftekchainMarten isn´t forgetful about the Dutch cycle making history, either. Ko Zieleman was one of the more famous Dutch builders.


Tzielcrank TZielseatcl

The wrapover tips – accident or joke?

TZielReyn  TZielforkcrAnd this was what guided the way onto Marten´s yard:

TKopPedfull TKopPedheadbLastly, I just can´t resist to post a photo of the unusual village Marten lives in, and of the equally unusual vehicle one of the visitors arrived in.

TCanal TCXI just can´t wait for the next edition of Tubes and Coffee.

A Wonderful Mercian

Having been a Mercian owner myself for the best part of three decades (see, I couldn´t resist snapping this one when I met it and its owner at Marten´s place today.TMercdowntubetransf

Very nice framebuilding, well-thought out detail and equipment, it seems to be a very able touring bike. Its owner has already taken it over half of Europe. Here are some photos which don´t need much comment.

TMercfullTMerccrankTMercforkcr TMercftderTMercheadb TMercupperheadl TMercstem TMercSON TMercseattransf TMercseatclrear TMercseatcl TMercreardo TMercrearder TMercrackeye TMercrack TMercmudflap TMercMafac TMerclwrheadl

Cycling in Münster

The other day I had the opportunity to visit Münster again, situated in Westphalia, north of Dortmund, and my old haunt from university days. Münster is known for its huge percentage of cycle related transport, according to different sources 35 or even 40 per cent of all trips are made by bike, making it one of Germany´s foremost cycling cities. Reasons for this are the absence of hills, and the town´s social structure with about one quarter of its inhabitants being university students.

Consequently you find parked bikes everywhere.


There´s old wrecks, sadly left to rot although they might still be saved, like this fifties Adler with its stylized Bauhaus eagle,



ubiquitous Dutch roadsters,

XMGazCornerwell-heeled moms´ bikes (Or maybe is she lucky enough to able to dispense with a car and to buy a decent bike instead?),


as well as fantastic handmade luxury bikes.


XMRohlhubYou find them parked along the newly opened and very grand Landesmuseum which houses artefacts from several centuries,

XMLandesmus2 XMLandesmusand on former car parking spaces.

XMParkBikeNeither is Münster´s heart, Prinzipalmarkt with its Lambertikirche, exempt.

XMLambertiBefore you rush to Münster expecting to wallow up to your hips in Renaissance buildings: All the town houses you see have been built in the fifties, to look similar to their predecessors destroyed in WWII, but to be much more habitable inside.

The bikes that happen not to be parked, frequently use the

XMPromSchild which is a combined foot- and cyclepath rounding the inner city, using part of the space created by the razing of Münster´s city walls in the 19th century. It even incorporates structures like this underpass

XMPromUnterfmaking cycling much easier for those who want to cross this

XMPromUnterfKreuzgroad. More typical, however, is this sort of view,

XMPromturnor this:

XMPromQThe fotos were taken on a cold and inhospitable day during low traffic volume time; more often than not Promenade is filled to the brim with cyclists.

More infrastructure always is close by; cycle shops abound, too. Some have hire bikes on the streets ready to be used.

XMLuftstation XMLeihräder XMLeihraddetXMHansenXMOstma

Walking through the city my impression was that the fixie craze seems to be abating. I only saw a few of them being ridden, and only one parked, and that was a horrible specimen built on the basis of an old Motobécane or Hercules frame and only used to advertise a nearby shop.

XMMilchreardo XMMilchrearbrake XMMilchfull XMMilchdttransfQuite close to this horror, another one, perhpas ever worse, was lurking. In a shop window, this thing pretending to be an early fifties Dürkopp racer, was presented to disbelieving passers-by.

XMDürkfullXMDürkseatcl XMDürkrim XMDürkreardo XMDürkpedalXMDürkfrontdohub XMDürkbbWatch the El Cheapo rims, cranks, and hubs, as well as the drilled out holes in the rear dropouts. Also the b/b axle seems to be much too long. At least the people presenting the bike had the good sense to put it wrong side out, with what I believe to be Suntour derailleurs turned away from the street.

Couldn´t mar my day in Münster, though.