The Art of Bespoke Bicycles
Cycling has had a history of growth and style during the 19th century in Paris. Maison Tamboite, artisans in continuing the legacy and art of bespoke bicycles describe the art of cycling in Paris.
Since its creation in the 19th century—and wherever it is practiced—cycling has always been a pleasurable sport; it combines the enjoyment of discovering new landscapes and the thrill of simply riding. Cycle tourism is said to have been invented in France at the end of the 19th century by Paul de Vivie who started to drag his friends to long cycling tours regardless of the weather or the state of the roads.
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Nowadays most innovations in cycling are driven by competition, but it has not always been this way.
In the early days, cycle tourists and urban aesthetes were the ones who ordered bicycles to explore the wonders of technicality and design, climb the loftiest hills just to see what was behind, or simply stylishly cruise the city. Little by little, part of the techniques and technology developed for them has been taken over by mass production, but bespoke bicycles made by ‘artisan-builders’ have always stood at the forefront of the industry as an essential element of the French ‘art de vivre’.
Because they are hard work to build, these sought-after bicycles were created in small workshops which could only produce a few dozen or—at best—a few hundred pieces a year. Following the aftermath of World War I, these bicycles were worth on average three month’s salary. They were already rare at that time and are even more so today.
Founded in 1912, Maison Tamboite Paris is one of the very few remaining ‘artisan-builders’ that still create bespoke bicycles which are handcrafted in its Parisian workshop.
Aesthetic pursuit, technologic innovation and perfect craftsmanship are the mainsprings of an exclusive design ideal—which is an aspiration for all their creations.
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Inspired by ‘haute couture’, Maison Tamboite Paris unveils one collection per year, including urban models for men and women and others characterised by a sportive, and therefore, mixed design. Each creation is limited—only 50 are produced—exclusively made to order and tailored to measure for each client.
No fewer than 15 personal measurements are needed to custom-build a bicycle that perfectly fits each figure and cycling style—each bicycle produced by Maison Tamboite Paris is therefore unique.
For most of the models, clients can opt for a particularly innovative and flexible electric drive system. Connected by bluetooth to the owner’s smartphone, it is equipped with a power recharging system that provides almost unrestricted autonomy.
Deeply rooted in their legacy, and yet resolutely modern, the creations’ style is always characterised by a combination of noble materials such as steel, leather and wood which are carefully selected and treated by exceptional Parisian artisans. Frame builders, saddlers and cabinetmakers, but also chromers and enamellers, combine their skills and sincere love for craft to make each model a collective masterpiece of which every detail contributes to the overall feel of the design.
For four generations, their collections have celebrated the skills and talent of Parisian artisans and a certain notion of art at the service of urban mobility and Parisian elegance. Along with the likes of fine jewellery and prestige watches, their bicycles are genuine objects of desire and—for their owners—an unparalleled source of daily satisfaction as well as an unforgettable cycling experience.
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Faithful to its century-old tradition of confidentiality, Maison Tamboite Paris now serves its clients in the intimacy of its new Parisian showroom and workshop situated on rue Saint-Nicolas, 20.
It is in this very charming and secluded place that they usually proceed to the essential measurement sessions and introduce clients to the collections and the exclusive universe of the brand. However, for those who cannot travel to visit them, the ‘artisan-builders’ of Maison Tamboite are happy to travel to meet their clients at the location of their choosing—anywhere in the world.
This article on the art of bespoke bicycles is one of many modern collectables highlighted on Arts and Collections.