Clambering over rock beds and through snowfields on fully-packed fatbikes is all well and good, but surely nothing can compare with the glory of carousing French roads on a full-dresser randonneuse. Talk about champagne cycling.
Victoire Cycles are based in Clermont-Ferrand, in the Auvergne region. It is an area geographically populated by the Chaîne des Puys, in the Massif Central: an ideal location for cycle touring, and they just finished the perfect vehicle for it.
We’ve seen numerous bikes from Victoire Cycles on these pages over the last few years, and one thing becomes obvious: they aren’t restricted by a particular genre of cycling. Whatever the project, it is finely crafted with French pride.
Whether it’s a tandem built for touring, road bikes built for speed or climbing, street fixies, cyclocross, mountain bikes, polo or gentlemen’s bikes, their engineering is superb, with prominent fillet brazing under tinted clear coats.
Their latest project is a tribute to one of the most famous and respected French frame builders: René Herse. Monsieur Herse was known as a constructeur of the ‘complete bicycle’; that is, every component of the bike was considered as part of the whole.
The randonneuse is a challenge for any frame builder, in that there are so many more elements and braze-ons that need to be added to the frame, like extra bottle and rack mounts. Not to mention embellishments such as custom racks and stems.
The aim was to create a tribute to the Golden Era of frame building, but with modern conveniences; A Rohloff internal rear hub, for instance, with it’s natty handlebar-mounted twist-shifter, and the SON dynamo front hub and lights.
Victoire’s Julien Leyreloup tells us: “(The) fenders, saddle and luggage come from another man that we admire a lot: Gilles Berthoud. The saddle is, for us, the most beautiful saddle in the world. It costs approximately the price of a Brooks, but the finish and details are top notch (and it is fully made in France).”
The frame is made with Reynolds 853 tubing, with a mix of lugs and fillet brazing. “The head tube is stainless,” Julien continues, “and the lugs are fully modified and linked together, then fillet brazed to the main triangle.
Each lug or component is heavily modified to obtain clean lines. The rear triangle is made with Reynolds 953 stainless tubing and the pearl navy blue is only applied to the steel parts.”
The Pacenti fork crown was lightened and modified aesthetically before being attached to Reynolds 853 blades and stainless Paragon dropouts. Even the racks are stainless steel, made to measure for this particular bike.
That gorgeous stem was fillet brazed from steel tubes, in the style of René Herse. Victoire even machined extra flanges for the front hub so they could use the same spokes length on both front and rear hubs.
Without luggage, the weight comes in at 13.4kg, complete with pump, lights, fenders and racks. That’s pretty comparable to any modern tourer, but as far as style goes, Victoire’s Randonneuse takes the gâteau.
Special thanks to Nicolas Joly for the photos.