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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Paris Sport Bicycles.

When I was a kid in the late 1970's, under 10 years old, there was this little brick bike shop not too far from home in town that sold these great looking bikes called Paris Sport. One of them was orange (Eddy Rode Orange!) and had that tell-tale Reynolds 531 sticker on the seat tube. I was hooked. Of course I had no idea what I was gazing upon other than it looked incredibly well built and really fast.

The owner of the shop was super thin and really grumpy with old pictures and newspaper clippings of himself winning some road races. They hung on the wall next to the cash register. As I snooped around this fascinating place all alone I remember hearing an old lady, probably his mom, yelling from upstairs, "We Have Customers!" He would come stomping downstairs and ask with disdain in his voice what I was looking for. I went back a few times and those same bikes never left the walls, never sold. In fact, if you wanted to buy them the guy wouldn't sell. I tried to buy the orange one when I was older but he wasn't interested. I don't think he ever sold much of anything. He had a lot of stuff stocked in a back room though because once I did manage to snag a new tire for that Honda QA-50 of mine. Nobody in town had those! Much later, when I was probably close to 20, I noticed the shop had burned down and there were a bunch of melted/rusty brown frames laying in the alley next to the burned out shop. That was a sad day.

Here's a couple links to the history of this fine brand of bikes. Some of them were actually made in New Jersey. Who knew?!

Sheldon Brown - On Paris Sport. What a crazy and interesting story!
Dave Moulton - A Framebuilder for Paris Sport at one time.
Paris Sport - A little history lesson

7 comments:

tazio said...

Was the the place in Plymouth, PA?

John P. said...

Yes it was Tazio. The Plymouth Bike Shop.

Anonymous said...

I have a similar story but it the store was in/near Sucasunna NJ. Many people I knew had Paris Sports so when I was in ninth grade, in abou 1974 I bought mine. I still have it. I've put thounsands of miles on it. It was my main way of getting around until about 1987. I moved to Puerto Rico in 1990 and the bike ended up in an unfinished room with not floor in the basement of my home in PR for years. About I year ago I was going to throw it out, but first I put it back together for a picture. When I had it back together, I saw that everything still worked, so I fixed up some parts an started riding it againg.

lots of fun.

John P. said...

That's a really cool story, thanks for sharing it, nice to see you kept it. I've been casually looking for an old frame to build up as a knock-around bike.

Mike Langieri said...

I lived in Butler, NJ right off Rt23, and in the mid 70's I bought a "custom-order" Paris Sport from that same bike shop. I think it was actually in Boonton or Pompton Plains, its going back so many years... I seem to recall it being on the traffic circle maybe? Anyway, I haven't ridden mine in 15-20 years but still have it hanging from a rack. I used the bike to get in shape back then, and proceeded to return to serious running when we moved to MA. Gave up the bike for marathons LOL. It has sew-up tires which don't last long on the street. I never had the heart to convert to more durable tires/rims. So now I've decided its time to sell it, maybe eBay or Craigslist. But I'm in Massachusetts now, moved here 30 years ago.

John P. said...

Mike, Thanks for sharing this story. It is really a bike from a time in US cycling when only some real nuts rode and raced bicycle. I came along a bit later than that, but am old enough to appreciate what made those bikes and those people who raced them a great story.

Hope you find a good home for your bike. They're pretty darn cool.

Mark said...

The store selling Paris Sport bikes in New Jersey back in the 1970's was not in Succasunna NJ , but Ledgewood NJ next door. The store was called Andre's and I know this because my Paris Sport still has the stores decal on it. Its still going strong 40 years later .
Mark