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Thread: Louison Bobet

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    Louison Bobet

    My wife saved this from the crusher at our local community recycle day. I was working on getting pictures of something else together to post here, but this took precedent. There is a teaser of what I've been working on included in the gallery.

    Any French experts give me some pointers on this bike?

    http://www.gallery.unvoiced.com/main.php

    Thanks,

    John, The OFG

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    Bike Junkie roccobike's Avatar
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    John, I know ZIP about french bikes, however, Eugene Sloane's "The Complete Book of Cycling" published in 1970 lists Louison Bobet Pro C-35 as "Highest Quality Deraileur Bicycles" along with the Schwinn Paramount P-13, Falcon and Frejus. He lists the Louison Bobet C-34 as a "Good Quality" Deraileur Bicycle along with the Raleigh "Carleton" DL-100. He lists the Louison Bobet "Sports" as a Low-Cost Quality Deraileur Bicycle along with the venerable Peugeot UO-8 and Raleigh Record. Thats all I've got to share.
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    Keeper of the SLDB BobHufford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy
    Any French experts give me some pointers on this bike?
    I'm no expert, but I'll chime in. Bobets are rebadged Merciers. See the similarity in the headbadges here. Bobet rode a Mercier to a TdF win in '55. The models of both marques were pretty much in sync. This one is fairly low on the totem pole ...

    A fun bike to play around with though. You gotta love a bike with a TdF winner's pic on it. Kinda like the Eddy Merckx by Falcon. Plus, everyone should have at least one French bike.

    Bob

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    vjp
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    OFG,

    Back in about 67/68 one of my older brothers bought a used Louison Bobet and it was a pretty big deal in the neighborhood as it was pre bike boom and there were not many "racing" bikes around. A couple of years later I slammed the seat down and would ride it around the block on my tip toes. I loved the metallic green paint and the decals.... your pics have really brought back some fond memories, thanks!

    vjp

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    Here is mine,looks to be the same vintage.The man i bought it from said he bought it in the early 60's.I think he is likely correct about it's age.
    About 20 years ago I stoped at a garage sale where there were two bikes for sale this bobet and a man's fiorelli,25 dollars each.I had enough for one only and bought the similar vintage fiorelli.I thought about going back for the bobet but did not.A couple of weeks later I regretted not going back for the bobet but it was too late to do anything about it at that time as the sellers were moving the week after the garage sale.
    Forward two years and I stop at another garage sale in the same town.Leaning on some boxes on the side of the garage is a bobet.I ask how much,she says $10. and i buy it.The lady said it was given to her by a friend when she was moving.I get it home thinking it is the same bike I saw two years earlier,sure enough comparing the bikes both of them have the same out of state bicycle shop decal.
    Last edited by schwinnderella; 06-30-07 at 07:56 PM.

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    woops forgot the pictures.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    schwinderella,

    Yours looks remarkably similar to mine. I'm assuming mine is a 1973, since 73 is stamped on the seat lug.

    BobHufford,

    I'm not sure I really want to own an old French bike. I'll see if it cleans up and try to sell it, I take it the parts are low range items? The seat and saddle bag are kinda cool, and I do like the old fenders.

    I take it a thorough cleaning and oxalic acid on the metal won't detract from the value, since it is not top flight to begin with?

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    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Bobet also had a 15-speed touring version.
    While yours is not a top-o-the-line, it still has some great nostalgic value!

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    Senior Member Grand Bois's Avatar
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    I like it a lot, but I've always liked French bikes.

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    Keeper of the SLDB BobHufford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy
    I'm assuming mine is a 1973, since 73 is stamped on the seat lug.

    BobHufford,

    I'm not sure I really want to own an old French bike. I'll see if it cleans up and try to sell it, I take it the parts are low range items? The seat and saddle bag are kinda cool, and I do like the old fenders.

    I take it a thorough cleaning and oxalic acid on the metal won't detract from the value, since it is not top flight to begin with?
    The 73 is not a date stamp. It's either a lug angle or just a lug part number. These parts were fairly high end at one point in time (well, maybe not the brakes), but at the time this bike was built they had filtered down to the lower price tier. Cleaning and polishing won't hurt the value of these or higher end parts. The leather saddle always has value and the bag is way cool!

    Bob

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    Quote Originally Posted by zonatandem
    Bobet also had a 15-speed touring version.
    While yours is not a top-o-the-line, it still has some great nostalgic value!
    This is a 15 speed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobHufford
    The 73 is not a date stamp. It's either a lug angle or just a lug part number. These parts were fairly high end at one point in time (well, maybe not the brakes), but at the time this bike was built they had filtered down to the lower price tier. Cleaning and polishing won't hurt the value of these or higher end parts. The leather saddle always has value and the bag is way cool!

    Bob
    Thanks Bob,

    It has an old Detroit bicycle license dated 1972 & 1977, so I thought perhaps the 73 was a date. I will get a better look at it tomorrow, any ideas on how to date it? Will the dérailleurs or hubs have date codes somewhere? I can see that the hubs are Normandy.

    Thanks for your help. I'll post more pictures as I clean it.

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    Here's the real deal a 1954 Stella. Yours looks like a cheaper copy of the same bike, obviously marketed to cash in on Louison Bobet's T de F victories in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Never-the-less an interesting find.
    History, photos and tech articles on my website. Also check "Dave's Bike Blog."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Moulton
    Here's the real deal a 1954 Stella. Yours looks like a cheaper copy of the same bike, obviously marketed to cash in on Louison Bobet's T de F victories in 1953, 1954, and 1955. Never-the-less an interesting find.
    Dave, It's an honor to have you comment on the crusher save.

    I took it mostly apart today. I haven't tried the bottom bracket, though it is remarkably smooth as is.

    I haven't been able to get the stem out. Everything else came apart nicely. Right now the stem has penetrating oil soaking into it. Since the stem has an opening in the rear, I dripped more Liquid Wrench down there. Do I recall something about lye with an alloy stem and steel frame?

    It looks to me like the bike hasn't been ridden too much for awhile. The cable to the front dérailleur was broken and most of the wear is to the small ring because of that. There is basically no wear to the larger two rings.

    The rear drop outs are crazy long. I hope to get the stem out tomorrow and give it a WD 40 bath and take some more pictures. There is very little rust, in spite of being in Michigan for most of its life.

    Does anyone know if there is a source for the brake hoods used on the Mafac levers? I will take a picture tomorrow, but they are white rubber/plastic pieces that clip to the top of the lever, rather than a full hood. It appears as though the adjusting screws fit into them.


    Thanks for the help so far,

    John, The OFG


    PS--I really don't want a French bike, someone please steal it from me.

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    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    John, yours looks like it's probably in the third category that Eugene Sloan (whom I've never heard of before, and who seems a bit addled from the cited quote) mentions. In this case, I think he's correct about it being about as good as a U-08. I wouldn't turn my nose up at a free U-08, and the Bobet is a lot less common. You and the lady done good.

    Good luck finding those half hoods. I think that if you do find any, they'll either be in rotten shape, or cost a small fortune. I spent some time this past winter trying to track down the equivalent for GB SuperHood brakes, with no luck whatsoever.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy
    Thanks Bob,

    It has an old Detroit bicycle license dated 1972 & 1977, so I thought perhaps the 73 was a date. I will get a better look at it tomorrow, any ideas on how to date it? Will the dérailleurs or hubs have date codes somewhere? I can see that the hubs are Normandy.

    Thanks for your help. I'll post more pictures as I clean it.
    That's a 2nd genration Huret Allvit derailleur. Assuming it is original would place your model from 1961-1968.

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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro
    You and the lady done good.
    +1

    Thanks to her for saving it from the crusher.

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    I have finally gotten the stem off, and am now contemplating removing/rebuilding the bottom bracket. The dang thing spins silky smooth as is. Am I looking for more trouble than it is worth removing the cranks, etc?

    (Sorry for the photo quality)



    Check out the rear drop outs, screams fixie

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    Quote Originally Posted by USAZorro
    John, yours looks like it's probably in the third category that Eugene Sloan (whom I've never heard of before, and who seems a bit addled from the cited quote) mentions. In this case, I think he's correct about it being about as good as a U-08. I wouldn't turn my nose up at a free U-08, and the Bobet is a lot less common. You and the lady done good.

    Good luck finding those half hoods. I think that if you do find any, they'll either be in rotten shape, or cost a small fortune. I spent some time this past winter trying to track down the equivalent for GB SuperHood brakes, with no luck whatsoever.
    Any suggestions as to what to use? The half hoods have the cable stops built into it. Anyone know a full cheapo brake hood that would cover the whole thing?

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    Señor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy
    Any suggestions as to what to use? The half hoods have the cable stops built into it. Anyone know a full cheapo brake hood that would cover the whole thing?

    That's going to depend on the shape of the metal. Perhaps Modolo's would work. They did make some half hoods, and I think those appear occasionally.
    The search for inner peace continues...

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    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    My Dad and Mom got new Louison Bobets back in the early 70s. Hers was an Emerald Green Mixte, and his was a Burgundy racer if I recall correctly. At the time they were some of the nicest road bikes you could buy in the U.S. I rember them riding them when I was a kid I especially remember them riding them around Mackinac Island. I think they told me it was a house brand of an importer in Michigan.

    Maybe I can get my dad to chime in, and tell what he remembers about the importer and the bikes when they were new.

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    I have a 1970 "Cyclo-Pedia" catalog from Cadillac, Michigan, that features the Louison Bobet line. Yours looks to me like the "Sports" model, with 15 speeds. If you are interested, I'll try to scan a copy of the page for you.

    David L

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    I just acquired a Louison Bobet today (sorry, no pictures yet). The bike has been sloppily repainted, so the multi-digit serial number on the bb is mostly unreadable, but the last 3 digits are clearly C35. I'm guessing this may correspond with the model designation. I bought this from the second owner, who thought it was from the 60's, but had been updated and raced by the original owner into the 80's. Judging by the ride quality and weight it certainly seems on a par with a French Reynolds 531 Dilecta touring bike that I have, and the componentry is mostly high end - Campy Nuevo Record, Cinelli Stem and Giro D'Italia bars, Campy rims (though the front is laced onto a Nashbar hub!) & shifters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Fat Guy View Post
    I have finally gotten the stem off, and am now contemplating removing/rebuilding the bottom bracket. The dang thing spins silky smooth as is. Am I looking for more trouble than it is worth removing the cranks, etc?

    (Sorry for the photo quality)
    John, you have a cotterred crankset. Undoing the nuts is trivial, getting the cotter pins out is not, and getting them back in is even less trivial. There are antique special tools, but I don't have them. Matt might.

    The brakes sound like old Mafacs. The UO-8s that were around in the late '60s had that half hood. Same brake was often used on other entry-level French steel (carbon steel, not chome-moly or manganese-moly) bikes.

    If you don't have to dink with the BB, maybe you shouldn't.

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    My first 10-speed was a Louison Bobet found in disrepair and rebuilt in the kitchen with my stepfather. Lasted me through most of my first year of college, but one day I came out from class and it was just gone, no longer in the bike rack even though it was locked.

    Mine was your basic uneventful French bike, similar as you pictured but green. Nervex lugs as I recall.

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