Concours de Machines 2021: Jolie Rouge
Jolie Rouge’s gravity-inspired rig, which placed third in France’s Concours de Machines 2021, was designed for fun with friends on bikepacking trips and to keep up with maker Julien Fritsch’s trail goats in the French Alps. Read on to find out about the whimsical, creative, and off-the-wall ideas behind this gorgeous build, enjoy a fantastic set of photos, and see how well the Monster Goat keeps up its little goat sisters…
Following our previous posts on the Concours de Machines 2021 – which you can dive into at the bottom of this post – we bring you Jolie Rouge’s fabulous “Monster Goat.” This gravity-intended bikepacking rig was built in France’s mountainous Savoie region, in the Alps, so Julien Fritsch can keep up with his goats on his after-work ride. Yes, you read that right. He has trail goats. Just watch Neil’s video below, because seeing is believing!
Of course, the Monster Goat was also built as a bikepacking rig, one that can both carry all necessities for a weekend away in the high country, and one that’s intended to be enjoyed ripping around with friends at camp, as per the theme of this year’s Concours. Not only that, but it’s a bike that was ranked third in this inventive competition, after being scrutinized by technical judges to ensure it meets the Concours’ criteria – the details of which we outlined here.
We’ll hand you over to Julien Fritsch to learn more about the inspiration behind the bike, some of its unique details, and how it’s packed for alpine adventures.
I’m Julien, and I fell in love with the feelings of freedom that bike trips can bring. When I started, 15 years ago, the most common adventure bikes looked like world-touring bikes with heavy payloads. Little by little, I saw folks bringing back awesome stories and pictures, riding new kinds of adventure bikes. And I understood how the diversity of bikes can bring new kinds of adventures.
At the same time, I worked a globalized job. Based in Taiwan, I had the chance to see how the bikes I dreamt of as a child were made. But bit a bit, I became disappointed by the difference between the passion of the rider and the bike industry. On the one hand, humans use bikes for an enriching experience. But on the other, these fantastic bikes are often made with little love. From my framebuilding experience, I know now that it isn’t so complicated to give the power of choice to my customers. We can do better!
“Rouge comme le drapeau des Pirates, criants “Pas de quartiers”, Jolie comme une embarcation écumant les embruns de notre planète.”
Red like a pirate’s flag as they cry “No mercy”, pretty like a craft skimming the spray of our planet.
My workshop is located in the French Alps, at the foot of the Chartreuse Massif. It’s hard to say that I am working alone, because my wife gives me such strong support. It is a tiny shop on a farm that we bought with 10 friends. There are artists, woodworkers, engineers, musicians, and climbers. It’s a warm living and working place. But it’s an even warmer place after my friend Antonin brought me two baby goats to help us mow the lawn (read about Antonin and the bike he made with François at Edelbikes in our Reader’s Rig). Antonin makes bike movies, such as Onboard TCR, and great cheesecake. He is also a master cheesemaker, being the dad of 40 goats in the Cevennes. I named the girls Cheese (the white one) and Cake (the little brown one).
We never know how far love can go! I made this bike for the Concours de Machines 2021 but primarily it was for my two lovely growing baby goats. You can’t imagine how fast the two girls are on the steep singletrack! The daily 30-minute, after-work goat ride is a pure moment of freedom! My first wish was to make a bike fast enough to follow these two teenagers. I have to say that Cheese and Cake have the steep mountains in their blood, so it’s hard to keep up with them. I had no choice, I had to make a fast bike!
Well, 2021’s theme is perfect! I mean, how many kinds of off-road adventure bikes can exist? It’s such a rich and diverse practice. If I understood the specifications sheet of the Concours properly, I just needed to make a bike to enjoy the mountain with friends. Let’s do a gravity bike with enough load capacity to stay some days high in the mountain, then!
One hundred percent of the frame, rack, and stem are home-cooked, with special love dedicated to tube bending and machining parts. Starting from scratch, we made the bike that fits my needs. My wish was for “small wheel size” 27.5 and short front and rear travel of 140mm.
Rear suspension turns around the machined T47 bottom bracket with four big bearings. Quite simple kinematics offer easy maintenance, great lateral rigidity, no kick-back chain effect, and it’s singlespeed friendly!
The bike is made with a Columbus Zona tubeset with internal lug reinforcements. At the welding joints of the down tube and top tube, an internal piece of steel is welded inside the tubes. This increases the thickness of the tube in high-stress areas. All frame accessories are made with 304 stainless steel.
Frame seat angle: 73.5°
Bottom bracket height: 350mm
Frame reach: 486mm
Stem length: 42mm
Effective top tube: 630mm
It’s a plug-and-play front rack, made to measure, creating the possibility of riding without reducing off-road capabilities. The rack weight goes to a special front axis made from 7075 aluminum.
The aim is to take off the front rack when you arrive at base camp. This gives you the chance to enjoy a little bit more of the gravity bike sensation during the steep riding days around camp. All the stuff inside the front bag is used for the bivouac and can stay behind. The tent is an ultra light model handmade in France, by Tipik Tentes. Xavier gives you the chance to go into every detail of your shelter, including the fabric, colors, tent peg fixing system, and whether to have a zipper or not.
Left bag: Sleeping pad
Right bag: Warm night clothes
Top bag: Tarp and 0°C sleeping bag
Fixed to the rack: Stoots front light / battery
Making a handcrafted bike is the opportunity to give creativity to those around us. I love sharing the possibility of optimizing bikepacking bikes with my customers, especially when the ideas are easy to incorporate into the project.
For instance, instead of storing your mug inside your bag, or dangling it off your bags, why not use it to hold the bag in place? In this case, the stainless steel mug has two brazed fittings that are plugged into the front rack. The bag slots in and is fixed in place by two straps. Cheap and easy solution. Why not!?
After some biking and mountain biking trips together, Rodolphe – the creator of Helmute Equipement – and I decided to team up on handcrafted works. He makes the bag, I make the bike. All the bags are made to measure with white Dyneema fabric. We’re glad bikepackers help us enjoy our ability to create bikes and bags that fit their needs.
The paint job is a good way for a framebuilder to really finish the work. It offers us unlimited possibilities. All challenges are welcome! I have to say that it’s quite an enjoyable task.
From my experiences with this bike, I realised how difficult it is to choose your own finish. I now understand my customers when they’re choosing the final touch of their projects! You can choose political messages, draw stories, or just make shiny paint with great color effects.
This bike has some Kabul kites, fires, flames… The paint was quite difficult to get right. First it was too bloody… so I sprayed some flakes above the blood to bring some hope. Even shiny paint is made to be damaged.
Concours de Machines is about having quality time to share the passion of handcrafting bikes. Behind each bike of the event, there are riders, frame builders, painters, bag designers, adventurers… It’s a wonderful family, born to enjoy times on bikes and around campfires. Longue vie aux Concours de Machines!
With thanks to Jolie Rouge for the use of imagery and to Magali Paulin for the studio shot from the Concours. You can check out the rest of our coverage below. If you’re hungry for more, check back soon, as we have one final post – on this year’s winning bike – to share.
In our latest video Neil talks about the history and format of the Concours de Machines. He also takes a look at 3rd place winner Jolie Rouge and the Monster Goat, with fabulous footage of Julien riding with his insanely fast trail goats. A must watch!
Our roundup of the Concours de Machines 2021 so far...
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