Unclear on the Concept


Maybe this simultaneously signals the apocalypse of pretentious fixies and uselessly precious and fragile “porteur” bikes, each lifestyle accessories for their own subculture: The leather wrapped fixie/porteur! Who woulda thunk?

A couple tidbits from the “Ateliers d’Embellie” site:

“This is a “Porteur bike”, which mix my passions : leather craft, urban style, fashion and luxury…
Entirely handmade with rare, vintage and NOS parts, this bike is unique.”

“In the streets, this bike mixes the agility & the reactivity of the track frame, to the comfort from the big tires or the large front rack.”

“Powerful as much as elegant with the chrome, the copper touches and the color scheme, which is a classic vintage grey with brown leather hand made detailing.”

A couple questions:
1. What happens to the leather seat tube when you move the axle forward from the rear of the rear fork pads?

1b. …or when the axle slips forward. Will that rear wheel really stay in place with those leather axle washers? Methinks not.

2. If you’re going to build a cost-no-object obsessa-bike why use such a crude frame and bottom of the line parts such as the cheap pedals and tires?

3. What does one actually DO with such a bike, besides show it to your friends?

20 Responses to “Unclear on the Concept”

  1. Dave Says:

    I’m guessing a popular answer to No. 3 would be: ride around town (when it’s sunny, of course) in skinny jeans, a hoodie, and sunglasses, small case of beer on the front rack, looking very smug and self-satisfied. At least, that’s the Portland version 🙂

  2. henry Says:

    The owner had better be sure to steer a wide berth around me because it’d probably stain the leather if I projectile vomit from seeing this scene. It just wouldn’t ever have the same cachet with that smell.

  3. Dave Says:

    Yeah, just picture this guy on it, only with sunglasses:


    Note: Mississippi Records is where all the bands that this guy has heard of, but you haven’t play and record.

  4. Ron Richings Says:

    Hi Henry

    Does look like a remarkably silly sort of bike. Perhaps fits in with our email discussion about ‘display’ cargo bikes.

    One thing, though. Although the tires look like cheap old wheelchair or similar versions, I suspect that they are Schwalbe ‘Fat Franks’ or something along that line. Hard to be sure given the quality of the photo, but probably Schwalbe’s.

    Takes me back to the days of vinyl (or leather?) covered car roofs back in the 1970’s or so. Now if only the bike guy had gone all the way and used padded leather we would have a real nostalgia item here. Might have even been possible to regard it as an ironic commment on car culture.

    Come to think of it, I have some bikes with naked frames. A bit of foam rubber, some suitable leather or perhaps naugahyde (what did they do with all those unwanted naugas ? Have they gone feral somewhere?) and I could have a fairly unique ride. Would be an excellent match for some of the ‘pub style’ furniture that I sometimes see by the side of the road.

    Ron Richings
    Vancouver, BC

  5. henry Says:

    Hi Ron,
    The tires are Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. They’re OK and we use them on WorkCycles bikes, but mixing Phil Wood or Chris King (or whatever) fixie hubs and the likes with Delta Cruisers is like… well I don’t know but it’s just lame. Surely this guy could have sewn his own white tires from the intestines of spring lambs or something like that.

    I totally agree that this bike would be totally cool if the leather was all puffy and padded, maybe even with a hot-rod-esque diamond-tuck pattern. THAT would be IRONIC and funny. But as it stands it’s just pretentious and pointless. Rather like those display “cargo” bikes at the North American Handmade Bicycle Masturbation Festival, only much less consistent in theme.

  6. Todd Edelman Says:

    The flask says it all.

  7. Dottie Says:

    Someone needs to put fenders on it, too, so nasty grit doesn’t end up on the bottom of whatever he’s carrying.

  8. henry Says:

    …or get on the rider’s bottom staining some one-off piece of merino woolen velocouture, or discolor that fine leather. But maybe they should just go ahead and wrap the fenders in leather too since nobody’s going to ride this thing anyway.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    While this bike is a fashion accessory, porteur racks are a handy and inexpensive way to allow any bike to carry loads up to about 50 lbs.

  10. louis Says:

    Oh hey now.. I think you’re being a little bit unfair to NAHBS cargo bikes. I’ve been a couple times and while some of the bikes have some bizarre decorative aspects, the vast majority (that I’ve seen) are also quite functional. When it comes to my own money, I’m with you and prefer a not too glamorous powder coated frame and a box I don’t mind drilling holes in as needed, but I wouldn’t dismiss NAHBS bikes so readily.

    I’m also a little bit cranky about people getting cranky at fashionable young people with silly bikes. Sure they’re silly…they’re young and fashionable. They’ll turn 35 or 40 and get bakfietsen or Big Dummies, or whatever… I much prefer seeing them on any sort of bike rather than behind the wheel of an SUV (fortunately becoming less fashionable).

  11. henry Says:

    Hey, I’m just being my sarcastic, cantankerous old curmudgeon self. For glowing reviews, gushing prose about the earth saving values of bicycling and star filtered photos of gleaming transposeur bikes in front of the setting sun you’ll just have to read any of a dozen other sites.

    Sure I recognize that the skinny jeaned, esoteric band listening hipster fixie rider will meet the tattooed and pierced, embroidered courier bag wearing hipster chick of his dreams. Sometime after we’ll find her considerably less skinny and carrying a baby, and him working hard to pay expenses and considering more practical transport amongst other less fashionable choices. Yes, said formerly hipster family might very well want to keep riding bikes and I’ll wager they’ll be much more likely to go for the simplicity and style of a Dutch bike, longtail or bakfiets than some horrid aluminium hybrid with suspension fork plus add-on plastic fenders, nasty racks and battery lights clamped on without grace.

    I’m also looking forward to the enormous stock of formerly known as hip fixie components that will be available when the fixie market implodes. I’d happily lace a checkerboard deep V rim into the front wheel of my city bike…

  12. Anon of Florida Says:

    This bike is ridiculous. But what I don’t understand is the generalized hate against porteur restyling of bicycles. The porteur extension from the fixed gear scene is subject to its internal flaws, however this is not the only source of interest for porteur stylings. I posit that porteur stylings is an attempt at approaching transportfietsen in the Americas from the seedstock of 10 speeds from the 70s and 80s. Yes, the urge comes from in part of the fetish among the hipsters of the bicycle messenger, but shouldn’t we glad that it is changing over to the more practical as part and parcel of the porteur style is the rack that leads to the fenders which leads to handlebars level and higher than the seat (compared to the yards of seatpost and handlebars by the front axles of the previous style de jour) a practicalization of the bicycle that is needed to be present in the collective mindset before Workcycles, Gazelle, Batavus, the zillion Chinese imitators can get through to them and sell their bicycles of choice. Now a lovely idea for the vintagier hipsters would be to dredge up the canals of Amsterdam and send the bicycles found theirn wholesale to Williamsburg to see what hipsterized horror of the dutch bicycle emerges.

  13. henry Says:

    I think a couple people are misinterpreting my ridiculing of decorative “porteurs” as a general dislike of bikes with a front rack added. That’s not at all the case. Of course a front carrier is an incredibly handy addition to a utility bike, for example an old “ten speed” dug out of the dust of a suburban basement for a new life.

    And there isn’t even anything wrong with building a new one. I just laugh at many of the overly fussy and fragile deco-porteurs being shown off.

    But even calling them “porteurs” smacks of pretentiousness since they’re being styled after an exceedingly esoteric archetype: the bikes of the midcentury French veloporteur competitions. These were basically just one-off acing bikes with front carriers, handmade in tiny quantities. Simultaneously many thousands of normal delivery boys throughout Holland, Belgium, France, Denmark, Germany, Sweden etc did their daily rounds on far more practical and less sexy machines.

  14. Apalone.F Says:

    Hello guys

    Here is the project, from a french forum contest with less money : https://www.pignonfixe.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=7207&page=1#Item_0

    It was just for fun ^_-, but the result looks good…

    Be cool, it’s just bike (^_^)

  15. Ken I Says:

    Snobbie also noticed this:


    See “Special Bicycle Curatorial Bonus Question” at bottom.

  16. justin Says:

    Hmm…would have been better in a Gucci print

  17. brad in bklyn Says:

    Okay, gotta say it looked ridiculous, but knowing it was done for fun and 200 Euros, I’ve switched my vote to it being kinda cool. A 200E fixie is more of a normal person’s bike than a $2500 big dummy…

  18. henry Says:

    I didn’t see the part about it costing only €200. Maybe if one already had almost all of the parts in their bins… but I immediately spy several hundred euri worth of old parts even if one is hunting them down on ebay or the likes.

    But sure I’ll second that such a bike is no more useless to the average rider than a €2500 Big Dummy, €4000 custom “townie”, or a €7000 unobtanium racing bike. All bikes that sit unridden are useless so they might as well at least be cheap and/or decorative.

  19. ablejack Says:

    This bike was not done for 200 euros. The TA crankset alone cost about that much. And whomever said the frame, tires, and pedals were bottom of the line; check out the prices for Schwalbe tires. This is not in any way a cheap build.
    /except that it’s a fixie.

  20. Chrispis Says:

    Greatest looking bike I have ever seen. Haters will always hate.

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