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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:15 am
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I am the owner of a 1992 Didier Louis bicycle with a monocoque (unibody) carbon frame.
How did such a thing happen ?
It all began in 1992 on a rainy afternoon, as weather often is in this part in north of France where I am from. A weather I do like, I imagine because I grew up in those grey sky rainy days, muddy pathes, foggy horizon... A Cleland bike would have been perfect for my bike practice. But in 1992 I didn't know they existed and moreover it would have been very difficult to get one as I think they were more exclusive than a Rolls Royce at that past time.
I was very enthousiast about the Haro Extreme with aluminium frame, elevated chainstays. And with that enthousiasm I took the road to the suburbs of Paris, where was located a bicycle shop with Haro stock, what was uncommon in 1992.
Man is self-contradictory or is it the life ? I shall never be the owner of a Haro bicycle !
In the shop the seller was not very attentive in spite of the high price I was ready to pay ; in that year 1992 the price of such a bike was some 11.000 francs, which is the equivalent of 2300 euros / year2013.
They didn't have the Haro Extreme all aluminium in stock and wouldn't get more, they just had chromo ones, but they were expected those Haro Extreme with the aluminium/chromo frame. But they didn't know when they would arrive... In those days one had to buy what was in the shops, because special orders meant a long long long waiting. They had a Klein that served as a test model, selling it at the price of a new one for the pretence it had automatic pedals... They also had in stock some swiss mountain bikes with T-frame but they were mainly downhill bikes.
And they had Didier Louis carbon frame bikes. I knew of those bikes because of some review in a french mountain-bike magazine and because of an article I had read in Mountain Bike Action ( a magazine they selled only in one shop in Paris ), about the monocoque carbon frame of those Didier Louis.
In 1992, there were only 2 moutain bikes with monocoque carbon frame : the Kestrel MXZ, and the Didier Louis. The Didier Louis monocoque carbon frame mtb appeared on the market in 1991 or maybe 1990 ? The Kestrel had appeared some 2 years before.
As Adam, I succumbed to the temptation. The frame had soft curves, attractive color, and some top of technical sophistication in term of frame construction. And Shimano DX components with a touch of Zoom. I bought it.
The frame is surely one of the most uncomfortable frame I have ever rode. More rigid than the rigidity, it is also as inert as fossilized wood. I have to say it is very stable but one has to hang on firmly because due to its rigidity the bike is more agitated than a wild horse.
The Shimano components are good, but in muddy pathes the front and the rear derailleur and the chain lock just after some 3 or 4 kilometers. The Zoom components are also good, but because of the very thin contact surface of the seatpost with the saddle rail, the saddle always slip back after some kilometers. If the path has some rut, the stem systematically turns on its axle.
Life is a travel in the winter and in the night !
I have to say that The Continental super cross Tyres are great, outstanding efficiency on wet and dry pathes. And being now 21 years old the bike is in very good condition. I wasn't a rough rider, more an all weather path tourist cyclist.
Some words about the Didier Louis brand. Didier Louis began as an amateur bicycle racer. In 1975 he opened a bicycle shop. He was also director of his own bicycle team. In the early 1990 he bought an american business and factory in the state of Maine ( USA) which produced carbon frames. Just before he bought that factory, Didier Louis was the importeur in France of those american frames.
In 1995 end of that business ; Didier Louis threw the baby out with the bath water. He went to the race horses industry and is now a purchase and sale council of race horses, in joint ownership ( owner of race horses have supportive tax laws in France ) His site : http://www.didier-louis.com
May be I would have done better to buy a horse...

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 8:26 am 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2006 1:03 pm
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Location: Returning
What a brilliant story ,love your writing style

Un-usual bike ,never seen or even heard of those before
Were they branded up for other companies ?

Welcome btw

Mike


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 16, 2013 10:15 am 
BoTM | Gold | PoTM
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Joined: Thu Jan 19, 2012 2:20 pm
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Location: Sunny Cornwall
As Mikee said, I loved reading this. Love the story behind you buying it, a common fate before the internet let us buy what we want, when we want it and one I'm sure most of us can relate to. I also like your honesty about your own bike. Have you put it out to pasture then :wink:


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 4:31 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 16, 2013 6:15 am
Posts: 3
Hi,

Thanks Mikee and Raidan for your comments, and here some clarifications,

The Didier Louis carbon frame was first imported from the USA by french bicycles seller Dider Louis and then he bought the american factory. The US factory produced two sorts of carbon frames : the mtb frame as I have and a racing frame ( photo below ). he kept to import them in France ( beeing the exporter and the importer ! )
Didier Louis sold bicycles with those frames and also sold the frames to other bicycles sellers, for them to make bikes with that frames as special orders or small line of products. So that frames can appear with other names ; for example even the french red of sport supermarkets " Decathlon " sold racing bikes with that frame and the logo Decathlon.
About the racing frame, it had some large success in France, because of a price cheaper than other carbon frame brands. But as one can read on french forums, it occured a lot of breakings of the bottom bracket on those racing carbon frames. I have read somewhere that Didier Louis, after he bought the american factory, changed the manufacturing standards of those frames, not for the best...
Didier Louis also sold steel racing bikes under his brand. I don't know if he was the builder or if the building was subcontracted.

You can visit the following link (to a french forum ) to see the 1991 Didier Louis range. The carbon is the last one, the others are steel frames. http://veloretrocourse.proboards.com/th ... r-louis-91

As Raidon suggested it could be a nice idea to convert my mtb as a bicycle-pet, and to put it in some meadow for it to have a quiet aging...

Best regards

The Didier Louis bicycle with monocoque carbon racing frame around 1992.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 10:15 am 
.o.T.M Triple Crown Winner
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Joined: Sun Dec 31, 2006 12:59 pm
Posts: 3135
Location: Sunny South of France
Didier Louis was known in France as a shop and as a road steel frame builder. When he wanted making mountain-bike, he prefered to import these carbon fiber frames made in the USA.
I've got 2 articles from VTT magazine and Mountain bike action. I scan them for you as soon as possible :D


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 2:51 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2006 6:39 pm
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Location: Durango CO, USA
Carbonbik later known as Aegis.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 17, 2013 3:02 pm 
Gold Trader / PoTM Winner / RB Rider
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Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2005 7:45 pm
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I have the road bike version in the garage . I bought mine in France in 1992 . They were also sold in Decathlon .


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:20 am 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:10 pm
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Location: Froggie
here is a didier Louis road steel frame in Columbus EL -
nice fillet brazed frame 8)
I confess, it lost its "scary multicolour" initial paint when I rebuilt it :roll:
equipped in full Dura Ace 7400 range ( apart from stem and seatpost)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:21 am 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 3:10 pm
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Location: Froggie
here is a didier Louis road steel frame in Columbus EL -
nice fillet brazed frame 8)
I confess, it lost its "scary multicolour" initial paint when I rebuilt it :roll:
equipped in full Dura Ace 7400 range ( apart from ITM stem and Shimano 600 seatpost)

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 9:27 pm 
Gold Trader / MacRetro rider
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Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:05 pm
Posts: 5650
Location: Aberdeen
A great story, and I really like that bike, it's like a proper time-warp back to 1992! The pink bottle cages and yellow seat definately help in that department :D


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