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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Other People's Bikes: The Funky Mixte

It is well known in these parts that I hate the descriptor "funky" when it has nothing to do with either a) music or b) stench. I can't stand it when it's used to mean "offbeat, unconventional or eccentric". This is mostly because it is used by every guide in the universe when they talk about the street I work on: SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, Oregon, Us-a. It's almost like they cant' not call Hawthorne funky. And funky here is usually used in conjunction with "bohemian". "Hawthorne Boulevard! It's funky and bohemian!" Argh. Can't people think of a different term?

And now I'm going to use the term funky to mean "offbeat, unconventional or eccentric". Why? Well, because this bike was spotted not on Hawthorne but on it's slightly-less funky* neighbor to the south, SE Division Street. And because funky is apt here, because we will indeed talk about a bike that is "offbeat, unconventional or eccentric".

Behold this mixte.

It's labeled as a "Paris Sport", and made by "Cycles Victor" in Paris. I did a little digging and found more information about Paris Sport at everyone's favorite bike resource,** Sheldon Brown:

    Paris Sport was a house brand of the Fraysses' shop in Ridgefield Park, N.J. The Fraysse family has a long and VERY significant involvement with bike racing in the United States...Some of the confusion over the brands and wildly different quality levels comes from the fact that the Paris Sport shop imported many different frames and bikes which they re-badged and decalled as "Paris Sport"...The bikes ranged from the somewhat generic $150 ten-speed bike boom special/UO-8 clones all the way up to Vitus glued aluminum frames. There were also many different levels of steel frames brought in from the myriad of smaller bike companies which still existed in France...None of them was exactly top-notch, they were all just production grade decent beginner to mid-level frames. I think the Fraysses used to do a fair amount of wholesaling to other bike shops around the bike-boom, so this is also why they would have had so many of these kind of things around. They would sometimes decal these frames as "Vigorelli" or "Star Nord". The Vigorelli's were the better quality frames back in the 80's.

And to my not-that-educated eye, this mixte looks to be more in the range of the "somewhat generic $150 ten-speed bike boom special/UO-8," by the looks of things. The decals are very much decals. The cranks cottered, and the derailleurs looked generic. The lugs look nice but nothing fancy. But everything looks good and functional, in that no-nonsense city bike way.

But what caught my eye was the frame itself. I don't think I've seen this style of mixte frame before. Most of the mixtes I've seen have a pretty straight "top tube" from headtube to rear axle, but the "swoopiness" of the "top tube" here is quite striking. A looker, if you will. Even though this was an entry-level road bike back then, you probably didn't see too many of them looking quite like this.

So if this bike is so funky, why is it on Division when it should go to "Funky Town" itself, Minneapolis Hawthorne?

*For now.
**To be truthful, I did find the link to Sheldon Brown via bikeforums.


  1. That is a "berceau"-stye mixte, where the lateral tubes are curved to form a "cradle." The berceau design is very much a French thing (or was). Traditional American mixtes use straight lateral tubes. Cool bike.

  2. Very cool bike. I have never seen the curvy frame like this. I am on the look-out for something like this to do a re-build for my wife to get her interested in cycling again. Beauty!

  3. This brings back memories. Back in the mid-70's I received a Paris Sport ten-speed for my 12th birthday. My first multi-speed bicycle. I had been riding around on a hand-me-down bike from my sister...a balloon tired Schwinn Typhoon. My family was living in Pittsburgh at the time. Ironically a second generation Italian owned a bike shop in Pittsburgh and carried Paris Sport branded bicycles from the Fraysse's bike shop. Mine had cottered cranks and wing nuts on the front axle. It was an entry level bike. My brother was racing on one of their higher end racing frames. I spent the summer of my 13th year racing my entry level Paris Sport 10 speed in the local club races. Won a few too. Fond memories, I lived on that bike for two summers.

  4. This EXACT same bike just showed up on A Better Cycle's fb page. Such a small world.

    A Better Cycle - Timeline Photo - Starnord Paris Sport. Hotness.


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