Paris Cycles was set up in 1943 or thereabouts by Harry Rensch, well respected in the cycle business before WW2 as the originator of Rensch bicycles – thoroughbred lightweights famous for their continental finishes, Massed Start frame design and novel construction, using lugless concepts made possible by a technique that the Rensch literature referred to as “bronze welding” but which is now better known as Sif-bronze brazing (a more controlled technique giving a stronger frame than normal brass brazing using lugs).
The pre-war bicycles were all true lightweights and most frames had Osgear rear ends needed for the gears used in Massed Start road racing. During WW2 Rensch was an oxy-acetylene welder in London’s shipyards. During this time he managed to continue bicycle trading but at some point decided to change the name of the firm to PARIS Cycles, probably in or shortly after 1942. It is thought that the change was to avoid the association of his own name with German interests, and of course there was at that time a violently anti-German feeling as a result of the London Blitz, particularly in the dockland areas. The new PARIS firm was set up in Rensch’s old home, 133 Stoke Newington Church Street in N16. The first publicity material came out in 1946 using this address.
The first frames advertised were the top of the line ‘Tour de France’ and the cheaper clubman-aimed Professional Road Racer, commonly known as the ‘Professional’. Demand for these bikes was considerable and to add to this pressure was the commercial success of a new model, the Galibier. This was a novel single main strut frame model with very attractive bilaminations at the head and strut joints. The Galibier had its detractors and many a fierce argument was had over this style guru’s dream machine. (Thanks to marque enthusiast Alvin Smith).
1947 Paris Rensch Tour de France
21″ Top Tube
Frame No 3445
The ‘Tour de France’ was Harry Rensch’s top diamond frame model. This example is an older restoration. There are a few scratches, but it’s otherwise in good condition. It retains two essential original parts that are hard to find – the seat post clip and its beautiful aluminium head badge.
RENSCH & PARIS MARQUE ALBUM:
Extracts from a Recommended Book
If you are interested in this marque, I recommend this book, obtainable through the Veteran Cycle Club.
The above review is from the 25th Cycle & Motorcycle Show at Earls Court in 1949. You can see the Paris Cycles stand – number 164 – in the plan of the show below.