I’ve purchased another artisanal French bike to add to my collection, this one built by Robert Ducheron, who I had heard of but didn’t know much about.
While the bike arrived in a well taped box, charmingly covered with these oddball postage stamps, it had been packed using Styrofoam. I wish that product had never been invented. The stuff broke apart all over the frame and components, leaving its tiny carcinogenic particles embedded in every nook and cranny.
Unpacking the bike, I was amazed at the attention to detail at the drop-outs and seat stay. I can imagine the hours of file work needed to produce the beautiful crescents at each drop-out. The concave seat stay attachment was a Ducheron signature.
This is a step-through frame with a sloping top tube, not technically a mixte. The attachment lug of the single sloping top tube to the seat tube is a design I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to ride the bike and see how this method feels, and whether it helps to control the wobbly feel that some sloping top tube frames exhibit.
Other custom details include through the frame cable routing for the rear brake, and a custom from rack.
The condition of the paint surprises me, and I wonder if it has been re-painted. If so, someone did a fabulous job. The R. Ducheron logo is hand painted, and the rest of the sky blue paint is pristine.
I’m not sure how to date this bike. The components appear to be a mix of late 50’s to mid to late 60’s. The wheelset appears oldest, with the round hole Normandy hubs (logo in quotes), mated to yellow label Super Champion rims. The freewheel is a Cyclo 64. The crankset is a Stronglight with Dural rings. The drive train is Huret, with a rear Allvit, a derailleur which works very well but suffers from being regarded as low-end. The Phillipe porteur bars are a nice touch.
Some preliminary research into Robert Ducheron (b. 1910) bicycles indicates that he was an active builder before and through the WWII years, up to the late 50’s. There seems to be a hiatus, and then he reappears again in the early 1970’s. In the 1970’s advert, there is a reference to A.H.R. tubing, which seems to be a proprietary tube set developed by Ducheron, or exclusively licensed to him. I’ll be curious to see if I can determine the type of tubing used to build this custom frame once I get the bike disassembled for restoration.
Sweet Asterix stamps! I used to read those comic books.
So that’s what they are. Fun!
2019 is the 60th Anniversary of Asterix books..Stamps were released in June
What an awesome bike! A true work of art, indeed!
What a find! Bravo, Nola.
Although, I’m having a hard time believing that is the original paint job. You just don’t see metallic paint like that from the 50s/60s. Plus, it’s nearly flawless. Even on the dropouts.
I’d love to be proven wrong though and even if it is a respray, it is a very stately color and wonderful job.
I think you are right about the frame being repainted. I wish we had frame painters of this quality in the Portland area. The French are lucky in that regard.
Hi Nola, so it was you who bought this Ducheron! Congratulations.. I also believe this bike has been resprayed, as you don’t see any decals any more. Normally there would be a head badge in diamond shape. I own a Ducheron myself. I believe it to be 70’s. It has the same typical seat stay cluster. Greetings from Belgium! Karel
I agree about the paint. I have seen some Ducherons without a head badge, though. Glad to meet another Ducheron owner!
Nola, Wonderful bike! I love the lug work and attention to detail. This will go nicely with your “herd” in the stable.I could see a basket and an outing to the Farmers Market. Are you planning a ride soon? I know the weather up where you are is rainy ,but hopefully you get a break. I would be very interested to hear how it goes, Joe
It’s a bike that in “think” will just need a minimal refreshing. Hubs, BB, new tires etc. I hope that turns out to be true and if so I’ll be riding it soon.
Hey Nola, I’m so happy you got another bike for your collection. Please share your restoration experience with us if you’re going to do so.
AHR 115 was a French aeronautical tubing, used by Frances aeroplane and helicopter industry until the early 80s I think.
Interesting. I have read that Ducheron worked for a time at a tubing company.
A couple of French velo ancien discussion boards mention Ducheron and almost sure at least one of them has some info about AHR 115. Will look when I get a chance this weekend. I know that AHR 115 was also used in the Aloutte helicopter frame.
If you have not seen this…
Just a beautiful bike, enjoy the blog…
Lovely bike. Please keep us posted on the refurb.
wow, what craftsmanship! and lovely paint regardless whether its original or not. Chapeau!
I rode with Sumner White and he rode a Ducheron. My son and I visited Ducheron in Paris. I have enough tubing sent to me by Ducheron to build two tandems. AHR (Acier Haute Resistance) steel. Aircraft tubing. Incredible tubing. I own three Routens bicycles one a touring tandem.
Wonderful story! There’s an update on my Ducheron here: https://restoringvintagebicycles.com/2020/03/22/an-r-ducheron-city-bike/
Nice to hear about your experience with the tubing. I’m not sure of the tubing on the one I have, but it could well be AHR.
Wow I can’t believe I found your page!
I also have a Robert Ducheron. I am the original owner and I have never seen another until now. Please contact me.
Hi Chris. Yes Ducheron bikes are rare. What year is yours?
Mine is about a 1971. I bought it from an a velodrome racer who lived in England but latter moved to El Monte California and was selling off his collection to help pay for his cancer treatments. He found the bike when he was at a bike show in Paris and he was able to persuaded Mr. Ducheron to allow him to buy three of the ten of this model, and bring them back to the United States. I really enjoyed the information you had on the history of his work and I can fill in some of the blanks like information on the AHR tubing. Do you have and new pictures to show?
I converted mine to 650b and restored it from there. If you search Ducheron on my site you’ll find the post about the restoration. Please fill in any history that you might have. Thanks.