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...