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.