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Rack eyelets on a race bike?

Posted Mar 08 2011 9:00am

I was recently sent pictures of a Paris Sport bike that I built in 1979. The new owner Andy Katz was given the bike by his uncle who was the original owner.

Andy asked me, “What are these eyelets for? I can’t imagine rack eyelets on a race oriented bike like this.”

Indeed, hard to imagine today, but not back in the late 1970s when this bike was built, and I can assure Andy that these eyelets would not have been added by me, had they not been requested by the customer.

When the cycling boom hit the USA in the 1970s, it was immensely popular to load up a bike with front and rear pannier bags and go “Trekking” across the country. I am pretty sure this is where the Trek Bicycle Company got its name, as it was founded during this period.

Also at this time, Jim Blackburn founded a company that bears his name today. He made aluminum racks and pannier bags for bikes. It was not unusual to have brazed-on fittings on a bike frame to accommodate these racks.

This was an American thing, alien to me coming from Europe where if you built frames as I did, they were either racing frames, built for that purpose, or a touring bike with rack fittings.

The eyelets on the old style "Long" Campagnolo rear drop-outs, (Right.) were actually fender/mudguard eyelets that were often left on a race bike so mudguards could be fitted for winter training.

When I first came to America I rode in a few races, it was quite common to see guys riding a criterium race with a Blackburn rack still attached.

They couldn’t be bothered to take the rack off for the race, because at that time when training, even on relatively short rides, it seemed necessary to take your entire tool kit with you, even spare parts, and a change of clothing.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that American cyclists finally realized that you didn’t need to carry all this stuff with you on a single day ride, and the trend became as it is today, to have maybe a small bag under your saddle, and the rest goes in your pockets.

My advice to Andy with regards to his Paris Sport with the eyelets. Leave them be, they are a conversation piece, and period correct.

On another point, this Paris Sport frame is unusual in that it has my four “m” logo on the seat tube, Mike Fraysse who painted the frames did not usually do this. I was employed by his company, they were Paris Sport frames, not ‘dave moulton’ frames. However, if the customer whined enough insisted, Mike would compromise and add my logo.

The original owner of this bike moved to Florida, where the bike ended up in storage for many years. Interestingly, Andy Katz, the new owner lives within ten miles of Ridgeville Park, New Jersey where this frame was built in the Paris Sport shop.

It has come home, so to speak.



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