The Loire Valley is often referred to as the “Garden of France.” In this garden, impeccable grapes are fermented to make fine wine, succulent fruits are picked for gourmet preserves, and world-class, handmade bicycles are harvested for cyclists seeking customization and attention to detail. The company that’s producing these artisanal bikes is CYFAC (Cycles Fabrication Artisanale de Cadres or craft-made bicycle frames).
Just like the quality of terroir affects each wine, infusing it with its unique set of qualities, so does CYFAC with their bicycles. The company’s founder, Francis Quillon, has drawn inspiration from the vineyards around him and has been creating his bikes with meticulous attention to detail since he began building frames in his garage in 1982.
Of course the company has come a long way since the 1980s. When carbon came onto the scene, Quillon decided that CYFAC should adapt its old-world ways. It was then that he stepped away from the manufacturing arm. He realized that this new material required a technical expertise with which he was not familiar and that this material was going to revolutionize the making of frames.
It was 2002, Quillon was nearly 60, CYFAC as it existed was too dependent on him. Loyalty to the company he founded yielded to the vital need for change and development to preserve the identity and the integrity of the company, based on the core idea of customizing.
So CYFAC adapted, and, after first using carbon lugs, two years ago switched to wrapping for the joints. Now layers of Kevlar, that when teased apart are as fine as spiders’ silk, are applied and glued. The layup process is crucial to the way a carbon fiber bicycle behaves. The quantity, direction, and type of fibers, along with the amount of resin added to the matrix, all have their part to play in dealing with pedaling forces and road conditions.
The construction of the bike isn’t the only thing that’s customized either. The paint job is taken just as seriously. CYFAC has a palette of some 30,000 colors and shades to choose from. The painting and finishing is done wholly in-house, often incorporating many personal and intricate designs tailored to the customers’ wishes.
That’s why their admirable attention to detail and slogan “made by hand in Fuye” aren’t just empty words; they’re the very essence that makes this company and their bikes truly unique.
This brief portrait of CYFAC was adapted from its chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.
The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.
In chapters featuring some of cycling’s greatest craftspeople, The Elite Bicycle offers up a conversation with the men and women who make the most coveted bicycles. Lavish, oversize photographs and personal interviews invite readers into their workshops to show the melding of old-world craftsmanship with space-age materials in fascinating studios and factories that fabricate superb machines.
The Elite Bicycle is both an homage to the bicycle maker and a collector’s piece in its own right, celebrating the stories behind the greatest bicycles and components in the world.