I met Fanny on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice, France where she finished 14th overall and the first female finisher of the Three Peaks Bike Race.
Although most riders were on carbon racing bikes, Fanny had made her way from Vienna on her gorgeous handmade steel bike.
In the podcast we recorded on the beach, she admitted being better at riding than explaining bike specs, which was a good opportunity to talk with Julien, founder of Jolie Rouge.
Hi Julien! Splendid bike, Fanny made the right choice by coming to you!
Not at all! Actually, I was the one who approached her.
I thought “I have my small bike brand, why not be like the big ones and have an ambassador?” Just a wild idea.
I come from a touring bike and MTB background. I love the long distance scene but I cannot ride enough to create content, which Fanny does, so this was a natural union.
I wanted someone who doesn’t show off, who matches my vision.
I would not sponsor someone who throws his power gel wrappings by the road.
It took us a short year to build the bike.
At the time we started discussing, two years ago, she was pretty new to this! She had been riding for three years. I didn’t know she was this stubborn, I’m impressed!
Imagine you are a child.
Your parents offer you a matchbox, saying “be careful, playing with fire is bad!”
Whose fault will it be when the house burns?
Can one legitimately blame the child?
Parents know what’s best for their kid and act consequently, even if some get angry.
They are responsible for the house, the kid and the toys they give them.
In the same way, the government is responsible for what is allowed in its country.
Making overpacking, 2 tonne cars or domestic flights legal is like giving kids matches, hoping they won’t use it.
If your government is not capable of protecting your health and our planet, it is time to change it.
What’s so special about this bike?
We started off with a long distance design: comfortable but still lively.
We always adapt the bike to the rider : If I made a bike for Sofiane (Sehili, multiple Divides winner), it would have to handle a 35km/h average speed!
Fanny’s key point is time in the saddle. She does ride hard and does not get off the bike.
So the clear goals were:
- Stay on the bike
- Lights (even though that’s never enough)
- Long trail
- Longer wheelbase
- Slightly slacker head angle for descents
- Stable on the flat, above 25-30km/h, even though this means a little less reactivity
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This is the main difference with a performance road bike.
We pushed all the aspects to one side while still maintaining the features of a racing machine, keeping away from a touring bike build.
Which tubes did you use?
The bike is entirely made of Columbus Life. I could have used Spirit -as their mechanical properties are identical- especially with Fanny being a lighter rider, and she doesn’t hop sidewalks etc… Yet Life handles being loaded more.
We aimed for reliability.
Tell us about the build
It is built around 30mm tyres. She can fit up to 36mm if needed, even though I’m sure she never will!
Transmission: she always told me she liked the set up on her Genesis, so I fitted the same 11-32t cassette with a 50-34 chainrings. She still likes it but she asked me for a slightly larger cassette.
Obviously when riding 2 000km with 30 000m ascent, that would be welcome… I should not have given her the option!
She did ride all the cols of the 3PBR, clearly through pure mental strength.
I have plenty of ideas for long distance bikes and discrete, light bag fixings, but she wanted a pretty plain bicycle, that’s why we stuck to bikepacking bags.
Still, I think I’ll add top tube direct mounts to her bike one day.
What’s this rear light? Integrating it is pretty crazy!
I treated myself with a small CNC machine! It’s effortless, I love it!
I keep making more pieces like that, bottom bracket cups, headtube braces, dropouts…
My production will soon be 100% french. It was a small whim of mine!
I can imagine you are proud of these homemade parts!
Yes, I am of those who appreciate that kind of details, like Rizzo who makes his own eyelets and headtube cups.
Framebuilders today only have two choices : either buy from Ceeway (Asian production. It’s okay but could be better) or from Paragon. They sell great stuff but then there is no difference from one framebuilder to another, that’s a shame and there’s the US import taxes.
Fanny's Jolie Rouge
• Frame tubes: Columbus Life
• Fork : Columbus Futura
• Shifters: Shimano Ultegra
• Brakes : Ultegra hydraulic
• Crankset : White Ind. 50/34
• Rear hub : White Ind.
• Front hub : Dynamo Son 28
• Rims : DT Swiss RR421
• Bags : Helmut Equipement
• Headset : White Ind.
• Front light : Sinewave
• Derailleurs : Ultegra
• Stem : Thomson X2
• Seatpost : Thomson Masterpiece
• Saddle : Ergon SR pro women
• Tri bars : 3T Ultimate Performance
The beautiful tulip-shaped clamp
Fanny told me this is one of your first paintjobs, it’s beautiful!
Well this isn’t my very first attempt, I have done some more for friends. I like how it looks but for the moment, it’s not sturdy enough, I’m working on it. For now, I just can’t sell that.
I have to improve my paintjobs. First, one has to learn how to weld, then bike fitting, customer relationship… Now, I’m learning how to paint. I’m having fun, painting is cool!
Framebuilders who also paint are rare. People usually hand their bikes to professional painters…
You’re right, in France, we all have our paintjobs done by Cyfac or Victoire.
I have a painter who uses epoxy powder ; this is better suited for touring bikes and people who care a little less. It’s tougher.
As a pilot and fan of the early air mail pioneers of the Aéropostale, Fanny asked to have biplanes painted on her bike.
I have this dream for french framebuilders : There would be one or two in every city.
When meeting cyclists at the top of a col, it would be great to see different handmade machines, each with their own personal details…
What future do you imagine for framebuilders?
French production will come back. We can see it increasing. We are enthusiastic about it, there is space for everyone and we will achieve great things together!
It would be so nice for our little community.
Even for a pretty common bike, a framebuilder offers a true added value behind which is a story to be told.