Some may wonder whether such a pristine bike should be ridden at all, or whether it should be sealed away hermetically. I agree that it should not be allowed to deteriorate, but much of what makes such a bike special can be accessed only by riding it. Bikes like the 1962 Alex Singer have inspired Bicycle Quarterly’s vision of what a bike can be, both functionally and aesthetically.
– Jan Heine (Bicycle Quarterly)
Prior to riding our brevet 600 in Flins-Sur-Seine we visited French artisan builder Cycles Alex Singer. Olivier, bike shop owner, and avid randonneur, is the proud owner of a newly built Alex singer and an older tandem. The shop is still located in the same premises in Levallois Perret in Paris where it all started 80 years ago. New frames are still being built there now by Olivier Csuka, son of Ernest Csuka. Ernest joined his uncle, Alex Singer, at the age of 16. Alex had been building frames and bikes only 6 years earlier. By competing in technical concours with their bikes in the past Alex and Ernest pushed innovation into cycling. Today Olivier still keeps on innovating by competing in this years Concours de Machines where the bike has to compete in Paris-Brest-Paris.
When we entered the shop Olivier was just out getting some beers because he was expecting us. I had the chance to look around and look at the bikes on display in the shop. All perfectly conserved and most of them were in the family for years. When Olivier arrived he almost immediately took us to his workshop where he had just finished the bike for the Concours de Machines. You could breathe the history being in his workshop and it was great Olivier allowed us to have a look.
I was looking around and I imagined bikes being built here 80 years ago. When we were in the workshop the doorbell rang and Olivier went to the shop front. It wasn’t a customer but a reporter from Radio France looking to interview Olivier. At one point she even started interviewing us and when we went upstairs to the old kitchen of the Alex Singer apartment for beers she joined us and we discussed cycling in France and in Belgium. The kitchen was now used for socializing with friends and customers as the rest of the apartment was used as storage. Everywhere you looked you could see the history …
After more than an hour, some friends arrived to socialize and we decided to leave for our hotel. I almost forgot we were in Paris to ride a brevet 600. I made some more pictures and let them speak for themselves.
Thank you Olivier from Fietsen King for inviting me. Thank you Olivier Czuka for allowing me to have a little peak in the history of Alex Singer. I now understand the cult following of the Alex Singer brand and why Olivier had just ordered a new bike.