Three things are clearly apparent after visiting Jaegher in the heart of Flanders, Belgium. The first is quite obvious; they make incredibly nice refined steel bikes. The second is less obvious; the company is based upon generations of artisan frame makers. The third took us a by surprise; they have a rich vain of artistry running through the company.
We often refer to frame makers being artists. Whether that is more often based on their ability to convert frame angles and dimensions to a bike that rides like no other, or whether that is like an artist using the bike as a canvas, or even combining the two such as Dario Pegoretti.
It isn’t so apparent when you look at Jaegher bikes that they would fall into that latter category. They don’t have the wild paint splatters of a Pegoretti, instead they have a choice of block colours and a zone on the top tube for a custom message. These are very elegant and refined machines.
The first sign that we should have picked up on informing us of their difference was the recent 1:1 catalogue; a wonderful large format book filled with scaled photographs of their work alongside photographs of Flemish cobbles and the pre and post rituals of a bike ride. If you haven’t seen the book, take a look at the video produced to help explain it.
Another testament to the artistry lurking under the surface was the series of works they created during the 2014 Tour de France. Below is a video they made of a piece where the names of each rider was placed on a canvas with red or green paint drops released with each second lost or gained during the three week tour. The final piece now hangs in the showroom.
Creating fine racing machines goes back four generations when Odiel Vaneenooghe got hooked on bike racing. Passing down the passion and craft to his son Etienne and then Luc, who made the bikes that Eddie Merckx won just about everything possible. These days it is Luc’s son Diel that runs Jaegher, with the same passion and attention to detail of his predecessors. Except Diel also brings a background in jewellery design and sculpting, which might explain the artistic undertones of Jaegher.
For a company with such a history, it is unusual that the brand name is not based on family’s name, but then Vaneenooghe would not be so easy to pronounce. Instead Jaegher (correctly pronounced with a soft ‘g’, but now accepted as being pronounced like the famous energy drink) is Flemish for ‘Hunter’, as well as being the name of a famous pilot.
It is this connection that then goes on to inform the naming convention of the bikes they produce all being based on planes; the mitered Columbus Spirit steel Interceptor, the Phantom with it’s Columbus Spirit lugged frame, the Columbus XCR stainless steel Ascender and finally the Raptor track bike.
Prices range from €1,900 to €2,700 for a frameset using either stock Jaegher sizes or a custom service with a fitting either at their location in Belgium or with fitting information sent. A completely custom paint option is available but comes at extra cost.
Producing only in steel and stainless steel, Jaegher go to great lengths to explain it’s benefits over more mainstream materials like carbon. Stainless steel builds are getting lighter and lighter. Recent stiffness testing of their Interceptor proved it to be comparable with machines from BMC, Canyon and Focus (that’s not even taking into account that they make a ‘superstiff’ version as well).
Jaegher believe they offer some of the best racing machines around, combining a balance in weight, stiffness and comfort and seeing the cobbled roads that they regularly race on we think they probably know what they are talking about!