Tag Archives: French golden age of bicycles

Jan Heine: A Randonneur’s Long Rides and Strong Words

Jan Heine riding Naches Pass in the Cascade Mountains. Photo courtesy Jan Heine.

Until we spoke on the phone last week, the only things I knew of Jan Heine were from others’ stories online and in the relatively-small Seattle cycling world. Among them: that Heine was an incredible ultra endurance cyclist, notching very fast times on up to 1,200km rides with a no-nonsense approach to time management and little tolerance for those not riding the same way. That he was a deep devotee to the mid 20th-century French constructeur bikes (low-trail, 650b randonneuring bikes. And that he was unwavering in his convictions and often espoused unpopular opinions as Editor of Bicycle Quarterly with little regard for what other people thought of him. It’s something of an intimidating portrait.

It also turned out to be inaccurate. There is truth to his talents as an endurance rider, devotion to old French bikes, and willingness to express unconventional wisdom, but Heine is affable, funny, and humble–a far cry from intimidating. Over the course of our conversation, we talked about his history in cycling, his love of randonneuring, his magazine Bicycle Quarterly and company Compass Bicycles, mainstream cycling media, and much more.

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A Look Inside Alex Singer’s Shop

Alex Singer was a French frame builder in the post-war “Golden Age” of constructeur bicycles. Focused mostly on building touring and randonneuring bicycles, the constructeurs considered bikes a holistic unit and built racks, fenders, and lights to complement their framesets as such.

Though Alex Singer himself has long since passed away, his grand nephew Olivier Csuka continues to carry on his legacy at the Alex Singer shop outside of Paris. A Belgian filmmaker put together a short video tour of the shop set to music. Sadly, it doesn’t show any frame building (they don’t build on Saturdays so that they can accommodate all the customers coming to visit the shop), but it is nonetheless a neat look into an important landmark in cycling history.

Alex Singer Cycles from hanckxlife on Vimeo.