MAISON TAMBOITE / SPRING/SUMMER 2017 / ISSUE SIX / NOTES MAGAZINE
Fancy a cycle tour of the boulevards of Paris?
We have just the machine for you
Photo courtesy of ©Mr Benoit Teillet
After hostilities ceased our hero started afresh and by 1928 Léon, who had by now been joined by his son Henri, took over a cycle business run by a former star competition cyclist; Maison TAMBOITE was born. The combination of a competitor’s technical savvy and an artist’s aesthetic drive gave Maison TAMBOITE the ability to produce beautiful custom-made high-performance cycles that appealed to a clientele who appreciated the mix of French craftsmanship and Parisian flair that the machines symbolised. And what a clientele! Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Sarah Bernhardt, Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf all featured on the order books of Maison TAMBOITE.
This is rather like stumbling across the records of a venerable tailor or shoemaker and finding glittering names from Hollywood and royalty peppering the pages. Not so very different in fact because today MT not only treats its clients to a similar regime of careful measurement, choice of materials and fabrics and custom fabrication as Huntsman, Charvet or Brioni, it is also just as discreet as these august houses and would not dream of divulging any details whatsoever of its clients.
Maison TAMBOITE exhibits an extraordinary combination of old-fashioned service, exquisite craftsmanship, cutting edge technological development, hand-finishing and computer-aided analysis of an individual’s unique style, shape and cycling technique to produce its machines. Take perhaps the surprising choice of steel for its frames for example.
But not just any steel: This is lightened tubing developed specifically for competitive racing, comparable in weight to aluminium or carbon fibre but with greater flexibility to absorb bumps more effectively.
Every now and then as a designer, you come across something so achingly gorgeous, so beautifully made and so innocently seductive that it is all you can do not to order one on the spot. The first time I saw one of Parisian cycle maker Maison TAMBOITE’s exquisite creations I nearly forgot that my cycling days are long behind me. “Want one” kept floating unbidden through my mind.
Despite having spent some part of every one of my schooldays on a pushbike (yup, that’s what we called them) I haven’t ridden one in anger for many a long year. Not for me the lycra-wrapped and Klingon-helmeted hordes that swarm over hill and dale nowadays. That’s the point: Cambridge and its surrounding countryside (where my callow youth was spent) is flat as a blistered pancake; West Yorkshire, where my most recent years have been passed, only seems to go up and down and has forgotten what ‘along’ means.
Maison TAMBOITE has a heritage stretching back to the very early twentieth century. A young artist who we will call Léon was studying painting in Paris in 1904 when one evening, walking with his young wife he visited the Salon du Cycle. Legend has it that he fell, Toad of » Toad Hall like, deeply in love with cycles and cycling. So much so that in 1905 he went to work at Francaise Diamant, manufacturer at the time of some of the best high-performance bicycles in France, where he rose to become manager. Leon continued his painting studies and met another artist, Maurice de Vlaminck, who shared Leon’s passions of painting, aesthetic experimentation and cycling.
Inspired by their conversations, Leon finally set up his own business in 1912 and created his first line of bicycles: les cycles Rich. A second shop was opened in 1913, such was his success. Then the First World War intervened.
Josephine Baker, Marlene Dietrich, Sarah Bernhardt, Maurice Chevalier and Edith Piaf all featured on the order books of Maison TAMBOITE.
Customers lusting after one of these luscious creations are invited to the company’s very private Paris showroom in a secluded hideaway off Faubourg Saint Antoine just a stroll from Place de la Bastille.
MT also offers machines with an electric drive system - one that resulted from a research programme at Politecnico University of Milan: the Zehus© system. This incorporates all of its electric drive components into a rear hub weighing less than 3kg - including batteries!
Customers lusting after one of these luscious creations are invited to the company’s very private Paris showroom in a secluded hideaway off Faubourg Saint Antoine just a stroll from Place de la Bastille. It is totally hidden from passers-by because safeguarding the privacy of clients is as important to MT as ensuring their machines are perfectly adapted to their users’ anatomies and cycling styles.
Should you be unable or unwilling to travel to Paris (what a hardship!) then MT will come to you, wherever you happen to be to take your measurements and allow you to indulge your personalisation choices.
I find it gratifying that a company like Maison TAMBOITE exists and is thriving in 2017. After all, exquisite though its products are, they remain bicycles, not raucous in-your-face opportunities for conspicuous consumption.
The pleasure of owning an MT bicycle is probably closer to that felt by a connoisseur acquiring the work of an artist he has admired for many years. Personally I will never know but I can savour vicariously the joy that taking delivery of one of these beautiful creations must engender.
If you appreciate beautiful things then you owe it to yourself to explore Maison TAMBOITE. After all you never forget how to ride a bicycle…
"Beauty and elegance are our priorities."
- Fredéric Jastrzebski, President, Maison TAMBOITE