Concours de Machines 2021: Aloueta, Gamory, Manivelle, Auguste, and Arko
In our third post about France’s Concours de Machines, we hone in on five builders, learn the story behind their bike and its design challenges, and share detailed photos of each of these unique rigs. What’s more, one of them is even for sale! See more here…
Now that the Concours de Machines 2021 has come to an end, we asked a number of framebuilders who entered the competition to talk us through the design considerations that went into their bikes, and share a bit about themselves.
If you haven’t already read our previous post that lays out an overview of all the bikes, and includes the history and the rules of the Concours, it’s worth familiarising yourself with how the event works before digging into this one.
For instance, note this year’s Concours required that the bikes arrive by public transport and had to conform to the size stipulations set by France’s high-speed TGV trains: just 1.2m long x 0.9 metres tall. Given that the theme for 2021 was ‘a self-sufficient trip between friends on a 2-3 days ride basis, among medium and high mountains’, each entry had to be able to haul a specific amount of gear, to include both new and old components, and be wired up for certain navigation requirements, like lights and a GPS.
When you’re ready, dig into the bikes below and marvel at all the clever solutions – be it folding frames, separable handlebars, the use of different materials, as well as lightweight and easily removed racks – that these talented makers dreamt up for the Concours de Machines 2021.
Aloueta is a new French brand of custom steel bike created by two passionate brothers. We’ve taken part in different bikepacking trips and races such as French Divide, Chamonix to Zermatt, and La Baroudeuse Unpaved 1000K. All the frames are handmade in the French Alps.
This bikepacking mountain bike is designed to have fun, even with all the bags attached to it. To achieve this goal, all the bags are positioned as close as possible to the frame and wheels. And with the rider’s fun in mind, the bike is equipped with a 150mm dropper post and has an “aggressive” geometry.
When the weekend is over, or during a multi-day trip, the racks can be quickly and easily removed to ride to work or to go for a little loop. This is achieved thanks to a “quick” rack system. At the front, the rack has four rods sliding into the fork, which are then locked into position with two fasteners. At the rear, the rack slides into the seatstays before being locked in place thanks to wing nuts. This “quick” rack system is tool-free!
To approach the start of the trip in an environmentally friendly way, the bike can be packed to fit the requirements of the French high-speed trains, thanks to its two-piece handlebar. By doing so, the frame stays intact, and there are no potential weak points caused by a folding system.
Gamory Cycles (France)
This bike is made for rough-terrain bikepacking. The purpose was to experiment with how far you can push the use of bamboo and have the full benefit of bamboo’s vibration dampening properties.
The truss fork with the integrated handlebar is 100% made of bamboo and carbon fiber. The frame is 95% made of bamboo and carbon fiber. These two parts easily split so you can take the bike with you in the train.
The bike is built around a “less is more” philosophy. Spare spokes are protected against the frame. The bivy shovel is also a mudguard. The headlight can be easily fixed at the rear to become a rear light. The frame bag helps you carry the bike on your shoulder.
Bags are made of barbour cloth, which has great tear-resistance and is waterprooof. They allow you to carry all the necessities for several days out in the mountains.
I first tested the bike on a two-day ride in “Monts d’Ambazac” close to my workshop. The downhill was on very demanding terrain, a great test for the truss forks. The second trip was for the Concours de Machines, another two days of riding in the Jura.
Here are some specs: the frame, truss forks, and handlebar are made from bamboo and carbon fiber. The frame is boost format, with 27.5+ Sunriglé wheels, 2.8″ Hutchinson Taipan tyres, a Shimano XT groupset 1×12, Shimano XT hydraulic brakes, Brooks C17 carved saddle, and Stronglight headset.
This is our first mountain bike, so we wanted to revisit the origin of mountain biking and the klunker style. The chainstays go all the way from the rear axle to the head tube, only welded on the top tube. This design allows a rigid front triangle to decrease lateral deformations induced by the loading and wide bars. And the rear triangle offers flexion thanks to the length of the chainstays, allowing several millimeters of travel (around 4mm for a standard jump reception with a system of 120 kg (bike+pilot+loaded bags). The rigid fork presents a long axle-to-crown of 460mm, as we also want to build up the bike with a suspension fork without modifying the geometry.
The geometry is designed to ease the handling on technical downhills, with an open headtube angle and quite a small fork offset (103mm trail). The rear triangle provides a fast-rolling bike on flat tracks and a good aptitude for climbing, with a 73° seat tube and a short base.
A mountain bike made for long trips needs appropriate handlebars with several positions. In particular, one for technical segments and one for straightforward sections. Our proposition is quite unique regarding the actual flatbar market: upsweep of 40° for a rise of 62mm, 20° backsweep, 780mm width. Assembled with a long stem of 105mm, it creates those two opposite positions. An upside-down gravel handlebar, so to speak.
Another crucial point is to get the bike loaded without reducing off-road capabilities. We wanted the rear rack to be independent of the frame for two reasons: first, it would stiffen the rear triangle. Second, a rack fixed only on the seat post allows a quite universal option for bikes without rear mounting points, like mountain bikes. The idea is not that far from the Caradice rack, but with two major differences: it’s way stiffer and it allows the bag to be placed further and lower from the saddle, giving freedom of movement to the pilot when he needs to put weight backward. The front rack is divided into two parts: a decaleur attached to the stem to create hand space on the center of the handlebar, and a minimalist rack installed on the fork crown, with a custom shape for the Shazam Bag and integrated light. There are two purposes for this two-part rack: using as little material as possible to get the lightest rack, and keeping the decaleur in place and usable when the rigid fork is replaced by a suspension fork.
The bags are made by Wizard Works as we love their work. We chose to combine Purple Cordura and Olive X-Pac for a classy yet funky set, including two Shazam, two Voila bags, a top tube Go Go bag, and a full set of custom framebags. The rear Shazam is the sleeping kit, with all the needed stuff to install a proper bivouac: mattress, sleeping bag, tent, night clothes, etc. The front Shazam is the easy access bag when we are on the bike, carrying all the regularly used stuff: warm weather and waterproof clothes, spares clothes, fresh food found on the way, and cooking pot. The left Voila bag carries peanuts, almonds, dried fruits, and other snacks. The right one is reserved for our Fuji X-T2 with a pancake lens, fitting perfectly inside and ready for action at any moment. The Go Go bag contains all the electronic stuff with a power bank, cables, phone, spare camera batteries. The upper framebag is the emergency bag with repairing tools, spare parts, and first-aid kit. The lower frame bag is split into two part, with the bathroom on the top (soap, toothbrush, suncream, towel, etc.) and pantry below (oats, semolina, dried vegetable, etc.). We love to cook while camping! Overall, we have a loading capacity of over 50 liters.
The bike already has 1,500 kilometres in the wheels, and we are really happy with it. We think that there are still many ideas to bring to the world of long-term mountain bike adventures, as it is still a quite new approach of mountain biking. For our part, it’s just the beginning, and we dig it!
Arko Bici (Slovakia)
I am an independent frame builder from Slovakia. Currently, we live right on the path of the Little Carpathians Mountains, so there’s plenty of opportunities for biking and hiking adventures. I’ve cycled quite a bit across Europe and in the UK and Ireland. I arrived at the process of building bicycles as it combined my outdoor interests and need for creativity.
The bike you see here was preordered by a customer, so all I had to do was to deliver some custom work and features for the Concours. I was already planning to make a bike light as possible and for the first time ever – as a concept work – so I’ve used carbon fiber tubes.
The frame is entirely handmade and done in four steps. First the frame and fork are made, then the fork blades and the seat tube are cut out, with curved lugs (bilam) bonded with carbon fiber. The seat tube is combined with carbon fiber too, the outside diameter is 32mm with a 2mm wall thickness. I made a thin shim for a 27.2mm dropper seat post. I painted a silver base, with a candy yellow topcoat, and I’ve used ceramic varnish to cover. The multicolor parts on the top tube are painted by hand by the bike’s owner.
There’s internal routing for the brake hoses, wire hose for a dropper post, and I’ve applied fully internal light wires. I used a Shimano XT Dyno hub – the wire enters the right blade, then it goes up to the fork crown, where there are two pairs of connectors for the front and rear. From here, the wire goes thru the hole in the tapered steerer (via a rubber grommet), enters the down tube (through an extra-large vent hole), through the bottom bracket into the left chainstay and exits at the dropout, where it’s guided to the rear light. It’s ready for a charging device such as a Sinewave.
I made four racks specifically for this event: two fork side bag holders, a front bag support, and a rear utility rack, for a stove, fuel canister, and pump. The front roll (3.3L) can be replaced with similar sizes of any bag. They all worked well, with no damages or bending. Racks are extra light, as I’ve used 6 × 1.0mm for the main arch and 6 × 0.5mm stainless tube for reinforcings the racks. They are glass-blasted and buffed. The rack is pushed under the rider for better weight balance. There’s no contact with the rider’s heels, for those who are curious.
The complete bike with pedals and racks weighs just 12.75 kg (28.1 lbs)! The rear rack is 400g and the front fork racks are 140g each. As for geometry of the bike, the wheelbase is 1035mm, the stack is 535mm, the reach is 375mm, the trail is 90mmm, head tube angle 68, seat tube angle 74, the length (center – top) is 437mm, and BB drop is 40mm.
I also reused a titanium stem and handlebars. The clamp is 25.4mm (they are from my bike 10 years ago) and I extended the handlebars from 580mm to 680mm with bonded inserts (end cuts from seat stays), with the ends epoxy bonded with old alloy handlebars. Finally, the bags are custom made by Rebelt.
Auguste Handmade (France)
I’m Victor Duchêne, and I run Auguste Handmade Bicycles. After five years in London, I am now based in the National Parc of the Cévennes, or more precisely on the plateau called Causse Méjean. Finally, I have the possibility to create steel bikes, bespoke and on order. One by one. The idea of making my bikes from scratch came naturally to me, opening up the field of possibilities and making each project a new adventure.
The “Campe & Décampe” is an adventurer made for the 2021 Concours de Machines. The idea was to make a bike able to go from simple bikepacking with friends to a long trip around the world. It is made of steel: Colombus Zona and SL tubes; fork, Reynolds 853 blades; brazed with bronze. My fillets are voluntarily left raw, my trademark and part of what makes the bikes unique. The frame includes internal routing in thin stainless steel tubes. Whether it’s the gear cables, the brake hoses, or the electrical wires connecting the dynamo, all are protected while allowing for easy maintenance and routing.
In the manner of all good camping equipment, the “Camp & Décampe” knows how to make itself small. Once the wheels are removed, it’s a case of opening the rear triangle near the seatpost attachment, and then you just need to slide the rear triangle on the front triangle (bearings around the bottom bracket), then place the two wheels on both sides of the bike, to form a volume of 100x70x30cm, which is less than the SNCF format.
Electrical autonomy is ensured by a dynamo hub that generates the energy necessary to recharge all kinds of devices. At the same time, it powers the bike’s front and rear lights to ride comfortably at night with a powerful headlight.
Cargo cages and bottle cages have been made of stainless steel tubes; silver brazed. The main carrier is used to support the front bag and integrates the front light and its protection. The cargo cages are adjustable in height and fixed to the fork.
All the bags were made in a used paragliding wing, the fabric being very lightweight while being waterproof and of high resistance. The different parts of the wing were separated and then reassembled, using the rigid parts as reinforcement and protection against wheel splashes. The lines were reused to close the bags and for the lacing to increase the capacity of the bags.
I would like to thank my partner Léa, who created and realized these different bags as close as possible to my imagination and while respecting the requirements of bikepacking. If you like this bike, you can actually buy it here. It’s a 59cm (bb to seat tube top). Make me an offer!
If you’re as stoked about the Concours de Machines and its format as we are, you’ll be pleased to know there’s still more to come! Coming up next, we’ll be posting another selection of bikes drawn from the 22 bikes at the event. And we’ll be following this up by further deep dives on the winning bikes, to join our post on the PechTregon Luguru. With thanks to all the frame builders for sharing their words and photos.
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