CHRISTOPHE’S VICTOIRE VOYAGE
CHRISTOPHE’S VICTOIRE VOYAGE
We met Christophe in 2016 on Bicycle Quarterly website, Jan Heine’s magazine with whom he regularly have worked. We were working on the first edition of the Concours de Machines then, and we discovered this cyclotouring passionate was living a few kilometers from our workshop. Christophe was one of the cornerstone of the revival of the event, drawing up the whole scoring scale from his numerous archives. It is also him who created the routes in 2017, scouting the roads and paths during all the winter.
When he asked us if we could host his son fro an internship to build his future randonneuse, we do not hesitate. This is the story of an interesting project.
Hello Christophe, can you talk us about your cycling experience ?
In my childhood, I was riding around my neighborhood. And then I go further and further. After a few years of racing and some mountain biking, I went for cyclotouring in the 90’s.
No more fast group rides on Sunday morning, I am now going alone for a whole day of riding, to explore the roads and paths less travelled of my region.
How did start this Victoire Voyage randonneuse project ?
Born in Clermont-Ferrand, France, and passionate of handcrafted bicycles, I could not miss Victoire. The occasion was perfect to get a bike designed and built locally. And my last bicycle, a Routens of 1979, started to get tired. Moreover I could not fit wide tires.
And Loïc, one of my son who is studying metalworks, had to do an internship in a company to produce a "piece". So, the occasion was perfect ! I talked about this project with Victoire and they agreed. A bicycle made in my hometown, by my son, in Victoire workshop, I did not hesitate !
It was interesting for Loïc to discover a new way of working metal, a different method to assemble the tubing, as he was more use to TIG or MAG welding during his studies. This project enables him to be familiar with the demands of framebuilding : patience, precision… Obviously it took time to get the final result. He first have to train on test tubes to get a minimum of experience before building the frame : fillet-brazing, cleaning, file handling… It was a really rewarding experience for him.
What were your demands for this bike ?
I have never been as well positioned as on my Routens, so I wanted to keep it, but with 26" wheels. I also wanted "light randonneur" specs, to ride all day long, but without lights. Classic and simple, with small diameter tubing. Not to stiff, just the right balance. It was also though to be disassembled, Rinko style, so there were some imperatives about cable routing or brakes.
Christophe pays a lot of attention to details. He has a great collection of parts and some are unique pieces. He chose among them the equipment of his Victoire, even customizing some of them. He details for us his choices :
I struggled to make a choice ! I hesitated between 650B and 26". I wanted wide tires to improve comfort on the paths, at least 42 mm. Then, I wanted to keep short chain stays, without bending, I do not like it. These two reasons made me chose 26", with 44mm Compass Naches Pass Extralight.
With disc brakes and new standards like 27.5" and 29", the 26" rims I can use with Cantilever brakes do not exist anymore. So I had to return a few years back to find my ideal, Mavic 517 28H rims, 375 gr, laced on Gir’s Satellite hubs. It makes a good allround light wheel set.
They are Bastia Dural, weaker than stainless steel but much lighter. For the rear one, I used two fenders to make the disassembling system.
The rear derailleur is French : a Mavic 851 from the 80’s, one of my favorite one, like the Huret Jubilee. I love its timeless and clean design. Moreover, you can completely disassemble it thanks to small snap rings. I customized it a bit by removing the paint and went for titanium bolts. This derailleur is activated by a Campagnolo Victory lever from the same period.
For the front derailleur, we have to go back in the 50’s. It was made by a local cyclist who gave me some items. In 1952, it was published in Le Cycle, drawn by the famous Daniel Rebour. The one I have used on this bike was raw, so I spent some time on it to make it work.
For the cassette, I mixed three to make one : a Dura Ace, a Miche Ergal and a TA Keops. Like I am not indexed, it works well.
The crankset is a Compass I took from another bike. I love compact crankset, very compact. The 26/38 suits well my style. Of course, I drilled it. Not really to save weight, but I love this style. It reminds me Luis Ocaña’s Motobécane, Merckx’s hour record bike, but also the MV Agusta motorbike of the 60’s. I have always done this and I never had any issue.
Obviously, I first went for the famous MAFAC Criterium brakes, made in Clermont-Ferrand. But then, I have got Compass René Herse Cantilever brakes. They are cleaner and lighter than the MAFAC, with their titanium and dural bolts. They are activated by Tektro RL levers, with a classic style.
I used a Rivet Independence leather saddle, combined with a custom seat post. The Victoire stem is tailor-made. It is combined with a FSA Compact handlebar and a cotton bar tape, the "French randonneuse" touch.
I will make myself a stainless steel front rack. The whole bicycle weighs 8.7kg but I already know where I will be able to save some grams !
I was lucky to see the different steps of the fabrication. I was able to admired the quality of the fillet-brazing before the paint, beautiful ! Once on the bike, it feels like home. I find back the position of my Routens, which was the most important for me. However, I have immediately felt that the Victoire is stiffer and more reactive.