*Quaix/Chartreuse Mountains, France*
In the Chartreuse Mountains, close to Grenoble, monks produce a tasty liqueur with colouring inspired some highly visible Rapha pieces. Francois Cau lives in the very same area and produces handcrafted steel frames known under the name Edelbikes. Besides fillet-brazing steel tubes in his basement, the handy electronic engineer can also be found ski-mountaineering the surrounding slopes which he tends to shred with his mountain bike in summer.
Francois selected an elaborate mix of different steel tubes to balance comfort and power transfer: Columbus down tube, Renyolds 853 top tube, Dedacciai seattube, TrueTemper integrated head tube, chain and seatstays being stainless steel Reynolds 931.
What inspired you to build? What does the craft and the material you are using mean to you? Is it a job, a passion, an attitude?
It happened a little bit by accident, seven years ago. I had just bought a nice collectable mountain bike frame, with a downtube broken in two, when I discovered that my local bike shop welder had just retired. So I started to search for some info, and quickly discovered the framebuilders’ mailing list, where people like Richard Sachs or Darrell Llewellyn were sharing their knowledge with so much generosity. I started reading everything I could find, then I repaired my frame, started building a fillet-brazed 29er, and a second one, and from that moment, I was hooked. People started to ask for frames, there was no way I could stop building.
How do you make a bike? What’s important to you in the process and what is it that sets you apart from other builders?
Framebuilding is still a part-time activity for me, so building a frame often takes me a few weeks, split in little sessions. It allows me to take some time to think about things between two sessions, to exchange with the customer, adjust little details, etc. I mostly sell to remote customers, so it’s important for me to establish a good relationship with them, to make sure I build exactly what they want and need. I like simple and clean designs, something which I think goes well with the techniques I use: fillet-brazing for smooth transitions, powder coating for a durable finish, etc.
What does the Rapha Continental mean to you and to the bike you’ve built for us?
I’m a big fan of guys like Tony Pereira, Signal, Ira Ryan, as I followed them more or less from the start. So being asked to build a Rapha Continental bike after them really means a lot to me. It really pushed me to go a little bit further (stainless steel rear) but also made me rethink what could really represent my style (like my custom dropouts).
Tell us about your favourite bike ride.
My favourite road ride is a nice, not-so-hard ride along the Belledonne range, just above Grenoble. It’s perfect in spring: you just start from the city, climb a little bit until you’re half way up the mountain in the middle of the meadows, with the snow being above you. Then, you follow a little road along the side of this range, staying more or less level all the time. By the time you’re tired, you just have to take the first road left and descend back home through the valley. Perfect for a training ride.
In our journey to explore the Hidden Europe, where do you think we should go and ride and why?
Greece! I just love Greece, the people, the food, and there are some really, really nice roads to be found.
What would you do, if you weren’t building bikes?
Woodworking. I like making furniture, or try to reuse old pieces of wood to make new stuff.
For more information visit: edelbikes.com