Jan le Grand rode as an independant professional for Raleigh, a manufacturer for which he went on to play a very important role, be it not as a rider. His trackrecord shows he was not without merit in particular on the track. The real fame however came by the raceframes he built which still count as highlights in the Dutch frame construction.
During his active cycling years, he built his own frames. In the late ’60s, when he stopped racing he joined as a frame builder at mister Stroober’s (Presto). In the mid 70s Peter Post asked if Le Grand would like to become chief mecanic for his newly formed TI-Raleigh team. Le Grand teamed up with Post and stayed untill the end when the teanmname was changed to Panasonic. At Panasonic, he was involved in the development of PR-6000 Panasonic teamcycles.
Besides his work for the cycling Le Grand also makes frames on special demand. He built the lightest bike ever in the world for Roy Schuiten , perhaps the best time trialist of his time. Schuiten did two attempts in Mexico in 1975 to break the world record set by Eddy Merckx. Both attempts failed. It wasn’t the bike Le Grand made. There was a lot of pressure on Schuiten and he simply resigned. ” I had no life of my own, the only thing I had to do was get on that bike but I really didn’t want to anymore,” Schuiten said in ‘The secret of Raleigh‘.
Le Grand is one of few Dutch builders certified to build with Reynolds 753 tubing. Each frame builder who wanted to use it was a test set of 753 tubes with a bottom bracket, silver solder, flux and instruction. A test frame had to be made which was returned to the UK where Reynolds did five tests to establish the skill of the builder. Only if you passed all five tests you did get the certification.
After the break-up of the Post team Le Grand had a difficult time. He lived and works between his bikes in the old Sturmey-Archer building in Amsterdam. When he had to leave the building he went into a heavy depression. Fortunately, as we have heard, Jan is doing well at the moment and you can talk about anything BUT NOT ABOUT BIKES, which is now a taboo word for him.