“We manage to build in France from A to Z a nuclear submarine which is one of the most complex devices to develop.
Why wouldn't we succeed in manufacturing a bicycle entirely in our country?
»It is in Romilly-sur-Seine, in the Aube, in the Cycleurope factory that the deputy (LREM) of Val-de-Marne Guillaume Gouffier-Cha decided to start his Tour de France that we could baptize "In search of the tricolor bike".
While bicycle sales are soaring (+ 25% in 2020), French companies are struggling to meet all demands.
The deadlines for ordering the various components (frame, derailleur, cassette, semiconductors, etc.), most of them from Asia, are getting dangerously long to reach two years for some parts.
A shortage that is hitting the full force of a sector where demand is high and whose dependence on its suppliers is ever greater.
Here is the 48th and last episode of season 1 of "Biclou", with a beautiful subject on the decline and rebound of the bike 100% made in France, by @ LauraWoj1 (with @yannforeix @theodorafragia).
Thank you for your loyalty, and we are already thinking about season 2!
- Biclou (@Leparisienvelo) May 2, 2021
The Cycleurope factory in Romilly, typical of the charmless architecture of the 1970s, was once a high place for the manufacture of French biclou.
This is where the famous Peugeot bike was produced, which is now torn apart at the Saint-Ouen flea market.
"Up to 900,000 copies were released per year from the assembly lines", supports the owner, Jérôme Valentin.
The director of the Cycleurope factory, also at the head of Union Sport et Cycle (USC), which brings together companies in the sector, is very happy this Monday morning to receive the delegation of elected officials but also Pierre Serne, the president of the Cycling Towns and Territories Club.
"Jobs that cannot be relocated, that speaks to the State"
After the manufacture was sold to Swedish and then Canadian investors in the 1980s, the Aube site is now operating at full speed with an annual production rate of 100,000 units for the Peugeot, Gitane or Bianchi brands. The Véligo, the bicycle rental from Ile-de-France Mobilités well known to Ile-de-France residents, for example left these chains. Twenty thousand copies were assembled there. Just like the two yellow wheels of the Post Office capable of carrying tens of kilos of mail.
On the assembly lines, the 130 employees and the 60 temporary workers of the plant are working hard, assembling an average of a thousand machines per day, mainly electric-assisted bicycles (VAE) which pull the entire industry behind them with a 29% market growth (or 514,600 sales out of a total of 2.7 million bikes sold in 2020). But many of the pieces that pass through their hands come from across the world. Starting with the heart of the bike: the frame. “On this specific piece, the know-how is gone, admits Cédric Consigny, head of the study office of Cycleurope. It is on this point that the French and European industry must succeed. ”
Because once the manufacturing of the frame is relocated to the Old Continent, failing to be in France, this return could lead to that of the other components.
Portugal and Poland have started to embark on the adventure but are not yet in a position to compete in volume with the Asians.
"When the frame manufacture returns to France, the equipment manufacturers will follow," says Jérôme Valentin, whose site includes both assembly workshops but also a frame design and certification laboratory.
The example of Mercier who aims to revive in the Ardennes the mythical mauve setting dear to Raymond Poulidor goes in the direction of the rebirth of this know-how in our country.
"In France, the bicycle market can reach 8 billion euros"
The high-end brand Lapierre, based in Dijon (Côte-d'Or) and which equips, among others, the Groupama-FDJ training of Thibaut Pinot, also works mainly with executives from this part of the planet.
But it will launch the manufacture of a fully carbon made in France part for one of its MTB models.
“Making ten copies of a framework that requires know-how is within everyone's reach,” summarizes Thierry Cornec, CEO of Lapierre.
But as soon as we enter into an industrial logic, we change dimension.
We are talking about tools that are efficient enough to fight at a certain level with Asian producers.
Read alsoBiking in Ile-de-France, a business that is running smoothly
“It is absolutely necessary to recover the executives. By cycling, we can see what deindustrialisation and dependence mean, notes Guillaume Gouffier-Cha, who also quotes the pharmaceutical sector. At the end of the visit I also understood how problematic the loss of patents was. “His tour of France will take him in July to the Vosges manufacturer Mustache before a last hook by the other big assembler in France alongside Cycleurope, Arcade in Vendée. From these three trips, the elected representative will draw a report which aims to propose the establishment of a French sector.
"When we talk about a sector that could create jobs that cannot be relocated, it speaks to the State, believe me", suggests the one who co-chairs the Club of national elected officials for cycling with Mathieu Orphelin, environmental candidate for the regional in The Pays de la Loire. "In France, the bicycle market can reach 8 billion euros and go up to 20 billion with indirect income, we must really relaunch this sector which is essential for mobility and capable of creating thousands of jobs, aims Pierre Serne. It is exploding everywhere and we should not limit the phenomenon to the construction of cycle paths. Cycling culture is taking hold in France. As proof, there are now 72,000 km of cycle paths in France, against 40,000 in December 2017.