Early in June this year, Le Concours de Machines was held in Ambert, in the Auvergne region, for the first time since 1949. The event is a Technical Trial to further develop and establish the bicycles used for randonneuring, or Audax rides and the winner of the latest edition was Victoire Cycles.
Just as in 1949, the trials consisted of a number of tests of machine and man. In 2016, these trials were three: A 235km long-distance test was held on Friday the 1st — with 4200m of elevation; on Saturday the 2nd was an uphill time-trial of the col du Béal — carrying a 3.3kg load made up of ten issues of 200 Magazine.
The third trial was a rolling 73km ride with 1200m of elevation over a mix of dirt and asphalt, which tested the rider’s skills and the robustness of their bikes. Although Victoire Cycles were a part organiser of the Concours, no bias was involved in establishing their bike as the winner.
The bikes were judged by a few pre-eminent types of the touring bike scene, such as Caren Hartley and Jan Heine, editor of Bicycle Quarterly magazine. Votes were also counted from the public and builders. The criteria were as such: quality of construction, reliability, weight and average speed of the contestants.
The French custom bicycle industry is close to the heart of Victoire Cycles and they pushed their skills to the limit to make this bike the best representation of it. The frame is built from stainless Reynolds 953 steel with a triple-triangle design to increase stiffness and response, a 36mm head tube and internal brake cable routing.
The forks and stem are just as extravagant as the frame: the forks were made from stainless Reynolds 921 blades with a 55mm rake and a completely custom crown, while the stem was perfectly fillet brazed from a pair of Columbus MAX seat stays. To keep things concise, a fixture to attach the brass bell was attached the the right side.
The judges also considered another criteria: the number of home-made, French or European parts used. Victoire utilised cranks, hubs, bars, seatpost and bottle cages from Tune’s Black Forest workshop, Compass Bon Jon Pass tyres, carbon Swarf Cycles fenders, Supernova lights and a Swift Industries Hinterland Ozette Randonneur Bag.