Weekend C & V: Eroba Le Grand Prix
Now. Now I wish I had paid more attention to this one. Saw it at the farmers' market last Sunday, stopping just long enough to snap this one quick shot.
Eroba was a Dutch manufacturer of bicycles, who built in the city of Echt between 1920 and 2005 when the company became insolvent.
In the 1950s to 1960s Eroba sponsored a racing team - Eroba-Vredestein, and whose biggest name rider was Dutchman Wout Wagtmans. Wagtmans was a widely popular racer, but no more so than in his home country. He was also one of the most successful Dutch riders of the era. In his first Tour de France (1953) he won two stages and finished fifth overall. The following year he captured another stage victory in addition to wearing the Yellow Jersey for seven days. Adding to those wins were two stage victories in the Giro d'Italia. In 1955 he won another stage at the Tour, and wore Yellow for two more days. 1956 saw him in Yellow for another three days of racing, another stage in the Giro as well as a ninth place overall finish in Italy for a second consecutive year.
I don't believe that Le Grand Prix was Eroba's top of the line model, that distinction may belong to the Race, but at the same time I don't believe Le Grand Prix was the lowest (although with an 80 year span of building, this is made difficult to determine without hard/fast dates). Looking at this bike, I would say somewhere middle-range. The company was founded by two brothers, frame builder Jef, and Harry Geurts. The name Eroba, in actually an acronym - Echter Rijwiel Onderdelen en BAndenfabriek (the Echt Bicycle, parts and tire factory). Initially they had a quite respectable reputation for quality and were able to attract many top Dutch racers to their bikes. Over time, though, the strategy of quantity over quality gained more traction, they began to mass produce out of their factory (600,000 per annum) and sell through non-bike specialist retailers, such as supermarkets. As a quest for ever greater profit took hold, quality and detail continued to decline; experimenting with plastic parts did not help their reputation. Within a span of a mere six years, the company went bankrupt three times, the final time shutting the doors for good.
I would date the bike shown above to the 1970s. It certainly predates the company decline, and shows evidence of a certain tradition of quality and detail. I only wish I had taken more time to study with a little more attention. The only other photo of an Eroba Grand Prix I have seen shows an Eroba sticker on the seat tube, as well as a steel material sticker near the top tube junction; this one has neither, though there appears to be residue from a sticker down on the seat tube near the bottom bracket. Most of the information on the Eroba company, presented here, came from this one source.