18 July, 2019

Rustines Factory Visit

by Igor


Rustines is a company with very deep roots. They started in the early 1900s by offering patches, boots, glues, and other tire and tube repair products for bicycles and early automobiles. Louis (great, great grandson of the the original Louis Rustine) told me that in the heyday of their factory's patch and kit production (now they undertake many more and diversified rubber projects), they were cranking out over 36 million of patches alone PER MONTH. That's on top of their Rubber Grip production for upright and drop handlebars. During our recent trip to France, a visit to the Rustines factory was high at the top of our list.

In the 1930s the factory moved from Paris to a small village outside Le Mans, right on the Loire river. It's a picturesque view and location. Being right on the river, they even have a hydro-electric generator which mainly supplies power to some of the local farmers and villagers.



While Rustine's main product today is rubber and silicone seals and sealing solutions for trains, refrigeration, and air conditioning, Louis still offers the bicycle line as a labor of love and an homage to the company's heritage. He cycles everyday, wears the Rustine's jersey (even while riding his carbon fiber road bike), and is a headline sponsor of Anjou Velo Vintage. Cycling is an integral part of his bloodline, so he's proud to continue the tradition.


Louis even gave me a peek into the unofficial Rustines museumcomplete with original photos, tins, products, and competitor patch kits from the era. Forgive the first few photos, I knocked the ISO button on the camera and shot them at 204k! It actually lends itself well to the vintage style.




This particular, simple, stamped box was supplied to mechanics and vehicle drivers during WWII. It was packed with everything soldiers would need for roadside repairs to continue missions.


We were lucky enough to be there while the production of our current (recently re-stocked, by the way!) order was being made. Specifically, we watched a worker making the Constructeur Grips, a design that hasn't changed much since the '50s.

The process starts with the natural rubber from various rubber tree sources. Rustines ensures that their sources offer high quality and sustainable product. Some folks have asked about the difference in colors between our gum offerings. It's a natural product, so shades can vary slightly due to a variety of factors including climate, humidity, and season.


Once color pigments are added, and the rubber is prepped, a worker lays one layer, the tool, and another layer of rubber. The roll at one end is for the knobby edge of the grip that requires more material.



The machine closes, presses, and cures the rubber into the near final form.


The worker removes the grip from the tool with an air hose and finishes the product by removing excess material.


Louis also had a Lejeune-made road bike with a whole bunch of fancy components and 531 steel in his office.





Rustines is a fascinating place. Any other company would have ceased production of these parts long ago, but Rustines has capitalized on their knowledge and manufacturing acumen and has evolved, without losing sight of what made the "Rustines" marque. And we're proud to be their #1 worldwide distributor.

16 July, 2019

2019 Anjou Velo Vintage Festival and Ride Report!

by Igor

The Anjou Velo Vintage event is not just a ride. It isn't just a festival. It isn't even a vintage flea market. It's a celebration of all things vintage, fun, refined, and rough around the edges. Folks don their finest vintage-inspired attire, give their moustaches a twirl, have a bottle of Rosé mixed in with fresh cut flowers on a Porteur Rack, and ride a metric century with a few thousand new friends. AVV was truly a remarkable event filled with dancing, delicious food, ogling classic bikes and parts, and a good mid-day sweat session through French farm country, tiny villages, and landmarks in and around Saumur.








I posted this hammered fenderset on one of our Instagram Stories and it garnered a ton of interest and I think it requires a bit more information. In the pursuit of complete and total integration by Constructeurs, the builders would create these platformed rear rack/fender combinations. They are extremely difficult and time consuming to make. They aren't simply flattened, they are formed around a positive tool and beaten into a shape that maintains tire clearance. Some makers would create internal structures under the fender to keep the shape, others would let the fender stand. They cannot take as much weight as a Constructeur Rack can, but they can support simple tool rolls, blankets, light panniers, etc....


Few know that Shimano 600EX is one of Theo's favorite component groups.

Mini-Velo Fenders!

In case you forgot your suspenders

Film dispenser!
This Alex Singer was an exceptionally interesting ride that Enzo of La Bicyclette of Paris brought to the show. While it appears as a traditional French Randonneur, it features heavy influence from Italian designs from the 70s. The bike features a 56cm seat tube, a 54cm top tube, and a rather long stem. It also has no internal lighting accommodations, rather opting for heavy, battery operated flashlights that were to be mounted on the sides of the front rack. The front end also has a higher trail, making it more stable for unloaded and lightly-weighted riding.



Tubeset is 531c (competition grade). I am working on an old Trek that has the same tubeset, so I'm pretty excited.



Maxicar hubs front and rear.


A tremendously smooth shellac job done by Enzo.




The event rides offered ranged from 30km to 100km, so whether you wanted to bring out your weirdest bike and impractical riding outfit or sport-up with a tubular around your shoulders and nailed-in cleats, there's a ride for you. I opted for the 62km route, which was a great combination of mileage, chill time at rest stops, and opportunities to see more of the French countryside that would otherwise be missed.





























The route even took us through the Saumur Zoo!





The last half of the ride got really hot. 95*F with hardly any shade. A cold water hose was a welcome reprieve from the heat.





Here's my full video review from the saddle towards the end of the ride. Thanks a ton of having us Anjou! See you next time!