A conversation with Julien Leyreloup about the recent Victoire’s 10th anniversary limited edition.
And the relation between Victoire and Columbus.
It has been a big anniversary last 2022: ten years from the foundation. And you celebrated it by designing and producing a special Anniversary dedicated frame. Can you tell us more about it?
So… 2011 would be the year of foundation of Victoire. And in 2012 we did our first frame. So 2022 is ten years since the first frame was made.
We started producing 2 types of fixed gear hubs and cogs. machined in France and we also wanted to design frames but were looking for a maker to build the frames. Back in 2010 you had not many makers in France and we were not able to find one. So I started to make the frames on my own. Again, the main idea was not to produce custom bikes but plain fixed gear frames and bicycles. The first customers were my friends, then the people around and I did one fixed gear, then one road bike, one MTB… and after 20 frames there were 20 kinds of bikes!
And here came the decision of following the made to measure path.
And do you remember which tubing did you use at the beginning?
The thing is that the 1st ever Victoire frame was made of Columbus Spirit. This is not exactly the right way to start. I learnt to weld from scratch. Yes, from scratch. I am an engineer, not a maker, so it was mainly a matter of testing, it works, it doesn’t work.. For the first frame, I did all the machinery of the tubes, all the concept and project and then I went to the workshop to weld it and then we had a welder in-house our workshop. And after that we kept growing in time. Nowadays we are nine people working at Victoire. Do not know if it’s pretty big or not. The fact is that we started working with Columbus and we still do.
And do you also use other brands of tubings? And if so, why do you choose Columbus?
I believe that nowadays, for classic steel tubing, you can find almost the same quality from different brands of tube producers in Europe. But there are two main reasons why we choose one instead of the other. First of all, we work with Columbus because of the strong relationship we have with Columbus: we know Adriana and Federico and come to visit Columbus. So it’s a matter of people and relation. And the other is the material: the high quality Columbus XCr stainless steel tubing. You know, us at Victoire are among the most experienced in working with XCr, as we have been producing stainless steel bicycles since ever, since 2013/14. Stainless steel is precious and delicate to work with but we are confident and know all about it.
So, people and material, the relation and the stainless steel.
Which were your inspiration, needs and requests when it came to designing Victoire 10th anniversary limited edition?
As mentioned, relation and material. We came to visit Columbus in 2019 and asked Federico what we could do to have custom tubing. In that year it was Columbus 100 years anniversary and you made the dedicated Serie Cento and we had very good results with that tubing. But for Victoire’s anniversary we started thinking of something different and we wanted the best material and an exclusive shape. When I asked Federico, I thought I already knew the answer and it would be no. But Federico said yes! So we did ten series of tubing for 2022 anniversary. We just have one series of anniversary tubing left. All the others are now beautiful bicycles.
So now we must think about the next limited edition.
You quite enjoyed the limited edition experience.
That’s the best way, adding exclusivity to the product…
So, which are the special features of this 10th edition and which is the process when I order a Victoire bicycle made with the 10th anniversary tubing?
The most important feature of this frame are the shapes of tubing: the top tube and the down tube. This is how we succeed in providing the feeling we want to obtain, for a really fast and aggressive road frame. We made race bikes only from the anniversary series. Both, rim or disc brake. But only road.
We are talking about made to measure frames. So you must come to our workshop in Beaumont for a fitting day and to work together with me on the details of the frame. This happens usually and happened with the 10 years anniversary frames of course. Collected all the information, I design the frame in order to have the feeling the customer wants from this frame.
Afterwards, there are four frame builders in-house, and each of them follows the project literally from the very start to the end, in the entire process, from the machinery of the tube, to the welding to the polishing..
Finally, it’s painted in-house by me.
Ah, we only sell complete bikes: this is the only way to be sure that everything is perfect.
It takes 18 to 20 months to deliver a complete custom made bike. Both for the anniversary edition and for the other bikes.
Most of the time, when the bicycle is ready, you come back to the workshop to pick up your bike.
Julien, can you make your customer identikit: who is the customer of Victoire’s 10th Anniversary bicycle?
We have different kind of customers but all and each of them is deeply passionate about cycling and also of things made by hand and wants to know what is made by who. This is also the reason why it’s so important to come and meet the team and know that one person, one single frame builder, takes care of the bicycle from the first moment to the end. To me this is the only way also for the frame builder to put passion in his work. And personality.
Any particular technical aspect of the anniversary frame?
We only braze frames with silver. This is the most difficult kind of brazing you can do with stainless steel because silver becomes very liquid when heated so it’s a very difficult operation to be done but we believe it’s also the best way to obtain perfect joints.
We only do brazing because in this way we don’t heat the tube too much and the tubing keeps all its strength and characteristics.
After that we polish by hand each brazing. Out of around 40 hours of work on one 10th anniversary frame, 10 hours are basically dedicated to polishing.
Did you number the 10th anniversary edition frames?
Each frame has a number, but we didn’t make a dedicated number for the limited edition, so the decision is up to the customer. If you want a number we will put it but if you prefer a pure naked bike with minimal marking we will leave it without.
The dedicated logo for the 10th Anniversary. Who made it and which is the concept behind?
My friend Vincent did it and he’s the person behind all the latest Victore image and aesthetic – from the badge to the website… When we started working on the anniversary concept I asked him to do a logo and it went really well since the first he made: it’s very much Victoire and Columbus together. It’s specific for the 10 years anniversary and painted by hand on each frame.