A Visit to Alex Singer, March 2004

By Donald W. Gillies

Figure 1. The Alex Singer Shop.

New! Alex Singer now has its own website, Alex Singer Cycles of Levallois with photos and prices of the various models. Figure 1 is the Singer Shop in Paris - Left-side view. The shop is on Rue Victor Hugo, in the town of Levallios, in the northwest part of Paris. On the left hand side, there are two bikes; On the far left is a Singer with full Dura-Ace componentry. Closer to the entrance is a Singer with a Blackout paint scheme, Campagnolo Record components, Mavic Kysrium SL wheels, and TA Carmina cranks, depicted in Figure 2. This bike has a Red Sticker indicating Reynolds 531 professional tubing. All the bikes in the window are samples, and according to Jan Heine they are not for sale. All but one bike used Reynolds 531/753 tubing The exception to the rule will be presented later.

Figure 2. An Alex Singer Racing Bicycle.

By looking in the window of the shop (below), you can see the range of bikes that Singer makes. About one third of the bikes use old-fashioned componentry ( TA CycloTourist Cranks, Simplex or Spidel Gears, MAFAC 2000 brakes, Maxicar hubs ). Several of the newer bikes use Campagnolo Centaur components. There was a single bike in the shop with Campagnolo Record parts, and I saw no bikes with Chorus componentry. Two or three bikes (of 20) used ShimaNO Dura Ace or Ultegra parts. By clicking on this picture, you can see that several bikes were 100% chrome, or had chromed head tubes, or at least chromed forks.

Figure 3. Randonneur bikes on the right side of the shop.

Four out of five bikes on the right side were Randonneur bikes, with front Singer racks, and three out of five had Lacquered handlebar tape. Bike number two is a full Campagnolo Centaur bicycle. All the bikes use MAVIC rims, and many were Mod. 58 (used to be Super Champion) or Open Pro rims. Here are the parts for sale at both sides of the shop entrance.

Figure 4. Brakesets.

Figure 5. Cranksets.

Figure 4 depicts MAFAC 2000 Calipers, Shimano Calipers, and Spidel Calipers. Figure 5 depicts a TA Alize crankset, and a Stronglight Ironlight Crankset (no longer made.) Many of the bikes inside had TA Zephyr Cranksets. Below is the view as you walk in the front door of the shop.

Figure 6. View upon entering the shop.

Energy drinks and Shoes !!! It seems that the reality of an over-saturated bicycle market has affected even Alex Singer! Now for those of you who are interested in Vintage Energy drinks, I am sorry but I did not make a note of what was available. You will just have to click on the picture and figure that out for yourself. To the left of this display, Singer sells a great many types of Jerseys, Shorts, and Hats that say, of course, "Alex Singer". At the end of my visit I purchased a pair of shorts and a hat.

My host for this visit was Beatrice, a young woman who showed me around, and asked me if I knew Jan Heine of Vintage Bicycle Quarterly (showing me about 10 copies of VBQ). I had to say "no, but Jan did help me on my visit, and I am a member of the ClassicRendezvous@bikelist.org mailing list, and know Dale Brown at Cycles D'Oro in North Carolina.) Beatrice understood and let me have a run of the shop, including the back "construction" area, to take pictures. Ernest Csuka, is the constructeur of the shop, which means he manages the shop. He also builds the bikes and owns the shop, but other constructeurs such as Rene Herse had people working for them to build the bikes. Ernest was busy with other customers for most of my visit. Beatrice told me that most bicycles cost between E$4000 and E$6000 to construct (roughly $5000 - $7500 US dollars.)

My main regret is that I failed to take a photograph of Ernest and Beatrice together at the end of my visit. I was there for almost 2 hours (they reopened at 2pm and closed at 4pm) and Ernest was talking to people for most of the time

To be be continued with ... More than 75 Closeups of Alex Singer Bicycles !!!

- Don Gillies
San Diego, CA

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