One of the neat things about running Velo Orange is corresponding with other folks who love bikes and hearing their stories. For example, David e-mailed me asking for fenders for a brand of bike I had never seen, a Le Chemineau.
I asked about it and David wrote:
Be sure to look at the rest of the photos here; there are some great details. And here is a little about this particular bike:
"As I said, I really like the hammered fenders, but I had never seen any on 700C bikes until recently. Of course, when I got the bike, in 1955, it was very unusual. It seems almost everyone on the AYH rides were on English 3-speeds at that time. The person who first told me about the exotic French lightweight Le Chemineau bikes was my high school friend, Peter Lagerstedt. He bought one from James Armando, who was selling them out of his cellar in the south end of . Mr Armando was very instrumental in promoting cycle racing in this area, and is mentioned in Peter Nye's book "Hearts of Lions", along with Joe Tosi whom he coached.
Peter L. still has his Chemineau, which is similar to mine, except it has close-ratio gears with steel cranks, and tubular tires. Mr Armando thought these bicycles were ideal for racing because of the indexed shifting. However, as you can see from my bike, the frames were made for touring. He also sold "touring" Chemineaus that had 650B tires, hammered aluminum fenders, and front and rear racks. When I first put a rear rack on my bike and showed up for an AYH ride, Mr. Armando came over to me and said "can I interest you in a touring bike?" He was upset that I had put a rack on what he saw as a racing bike, even though the bike in question had been ordered with wide-ratio gears.
Anyway, I gave Peter call and asked if he could describe and measure his fenders, and he said they measured between 42 and 44mm, were smooth with longitudinal ridges. He said I should buy the smooth Honjos from you, but I think I'll go with the hammered ones. I was also thinking of changing the tires to 32mm. The 35mm ones on the Mavic rims don't seem all that wide, but I think the 32s would be a little easier to push up our New England hills.
I would be honored to have you post some pictures of my Chemineau, especially after I finish installing the fenders and rack(s). The Henri Gauthier saddle that I got from French is in need of some reshaping, and I am reluctant to try this myself for fear of spoiling it, so that is causing some delay. However, Peter Neiman is sending me another one from his collection, and hopefully it will be usable as is."
So here is someone still using a classic French bike he bought in 1955. Wow! This illustrates the wisdom of getting a sensible and good quality machine rather than chasing after the lightest and newest. I hope our customers use their Velo Orange bikes that long.