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Book review: “Rebour” by Rob Van Der Plas & Frank Berto

The French artist Daniel Rebour is perhaps the best-known and certainly the most prolific bicycle artist/illustrator of all time. His works appeared in advertisements, magazines, product catalogs, and wherever else one could find detailed component and bicycle drawings. If you’re a fan of vintage bicycles and components, it is almost certain that you’ve seen the masterful technical illustrations of Daniel Rebour.

In Rebour: The Bicycle Illustrations of Daniel Rebour (San Francisco: Cycle Publishing/Van Der Plas Publications, 2013), authors Rob Van Der Plas and Frank Berto, both mechanical engineers, expose the life and work of Rebour. You may remember Frank Berto from our original book review “Books for Bicyclists”, as he was the author of The Dancing Chain: History and Development of the Derailleur Bicycle. Many of Rebour’s illustrations were used in the publication of The Dancing Chain.

rebour

Daniel Rebour got his start when he was hired as a test rider and illustrator for the motorcycle publication Moto-Revue. He went on to do technical writing for them as well. His detailed technical drawings next appeared in Le Cycle, which expanded its scope to cover mopeds, motorcycles, and scooters as well as bicycles. As I mentioned earlier, Rebour’s illustrations were used in the print catalogs and advertisements for some of the biggest French cycling brands, such as TA, Lyotard, Simplex, and Maxi-Car. Rebour’s artwork is exquisite — detailed pen-and-ink drawings of the most subtle details of bicycles and their components. Perhaps my personal favorites are of the cutaway drawings, showing the inner workings of such complex assemblies as bottom brackets and headsets.

rebour_illus

Authors Van Der Plas and Berto provide a brief introduction of Rebour’s work and life, and then the rest of the book is devoted to the illustrations themselves. Brief commentary appears with some the reproduced illustrations. The book is divided into the major components, from derailleurs, to lighting, to suspension systems and tools. It’s pretty clear that Rebour was incredibly prolific with illustrating all aspects of the bicycles and other machines he studied. There’s a lot to enjoy here; the illustrations are wonderfully reproduced, and the glimpses into the artist’s techniques are a joy to behold.

This book is ideal for anyone who appreciates vintage bicycles and components, or those who study illustration and technical drawings. The book retails for around $30 from a variety of online book sellers, and makes a fine gift for the vintage enthusiast in your life.

Interbike 2012 Salsa Fargo Mini-Review

“Got any commuter bikes?”

“No.”

This is what my interaction was like when I walked up to the Salsa Bicycles booth to test-ride one of their bikes. Awkward, kind of, but I can see why the booth employee said no. The company labels their bikes to be “Adventure Bikes” and not before long, I found out why. I chose the “Fargo” bike as it looked cool and reminded me of a cross between a Randonneur bike and a Cyclocross bike.

Salsa Fargo Sram Apex

Another reason why I chose the Fargo was because it had a really cool-looking handlebar. I ride mostly road bike or singlespeeds so I wasn’t quite used to the “rad” styling of the handlebar at first. I rode on the top. I rode on the drops and even tried to ride with my hands on the brake hoods. All three positions were uncomfortable at first but as I kept on riding, it became more comfortable–I no longer noticed my discomfort.

Salsa Woodchipper 2/Salsa Gel Tape

Perhaps I stopped noticing because of the heavy foot traffic at Interbike that I had to feverishly avoid or perhaps it was because I became more focused on finding hydration booths to keep myself from getting dehydrated. Either way, I eventually fell in love with the handlebar. I know it’s impractical to swap out my road handlebar with the obviously less aerodynamic handlebar on the Fargo because I can’t go as fast. But I know that most of the time when I’m riding, I just cruise and this handlebar was perfect for it! This is something I know most commuters can appreciate.

I love steel frames. It’s technology that hasn’t really needed to be advanced and can most of the time combine the stiffness of an aluminum frame but has damping qualities closer to a carbon frame. I ride a Reynolds Steel-framed road bike and this Cro-Moly frame rode very comfortably.

Salsa Fargo Main Triangle

I know that I’ve got to factor in the “Thudbuster” seat post that naturally damps the vibrations of the road/path and the thicker tires but I gotta be honest…the Fargo rides very smoothly compared to my road bike with 700×23 slicks installed.

Thudbuster

Another plus about the frame is that it had plenty of eyelets, as demonstrated by the front fork, to use for front racks. (The rear also has eyelets for a rear rack but not as many as the front)

Four!

While I was riding the bike on different terrains like gravel, dirt, pavement and mud, I found the gearing to be very wide and sufficient for all applications.

Wide Range of Gears

I didn’t get to go on a steep dirt climb but when I did take it up a steep street, it rode more like a hybrid and a lot less like a mountain bike. I even took it down a long and windy bike path where I’m sure I easily hit 20 mph. When I did go off-road, the bike maintained its smooth ride–I went over rocks, potholes in the dirt and it was not a shocking, vibrating experience. In other words, no matter what terrain I put the bike in, the ride was very smooth.

Lastly, I didn’t really get to test the brakes all that well. I mean, they were disc brakes so they stopped on a dime but I mainly focused on the ride quality and whether it would be a bike that commuters should consider. As I said before, I mainly commute on road bikes but I would definitely recommend this to anybody looking for a commuting bike, especially those that commute over a combination of dirt and street.

Company Link: Salsa Fargo

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