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View Poll Results: What should I do with this bike?
what are you kidding? it's french! it's like carbon: a timebomb about to explode! 1 2.13%
I wouldn't ride it if you payed (paid?) me! 3 6.38%
toss it in the garbage! 3 6.38%
i'd ride it into the ground and trash it. 1 2.13%
meh 1 2.13%
I dunno. Whatever. 2 4.26%
turn it into a Fixie! 3 6.38%
it's worth maintaining. 18 38.30%
it's worth upgrading. 5 10.64%
what are you kidding? it's french! They practiclly invented the bike! it's a masterpiece! 17 36.17%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 47. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-02-07, 11:46 PM   #1
JBD
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France: wonderous land of bicycles or black hole of technology. Alternatively: Follis

Stepping over from the vicious road forum. hope you guys don't bite... hard

relatively recently, a Follis has made its way into my possession.
As a direct result, I have done a limited amount of research into the matter of the bike's origins and such. my searches turned up mostly dry aside from sheldon brown's page and an old ad on cyclingrendevous. What can you tell me about my bike?
a quick description:
it's a green lugged steel bike that has been sitting in the back of a garage for the better part of 20 years... um... a rusted chainstay, and a few other spots of rust. the headtube lug has BCM stamped in it. lugs have a shoddy gold-ish brown pinstripe around them. the rear dropout has a number stamped in it (serial?) which I will show in a picture... the fork looks to be a traditional style fork, lugged with a foil cap over the lugs. the bottom third of the fork is chromed and paint is slightly chipping. finally, there are a plethora of decals on the bike, the head tube has a decal of a shield with the words lyon and follis on it, the TT simply says Follis (a corner is starting to peel) but the down tube may have the most useful information. a long silver reflective decal with a globe and a list of races: tour de france, etc. and below that is a yellow decal which says something along the lines of exp lot sept __ 1978 and below that in large font the number 6573 (this yellow stickere is covering up a white sticker, but I didn't want to remove anything due to my ocd...) I can't think of anything else of note but pictures may reveal more than my words.


pictures will follow shortly, but until then, a list off the top of my head on the components:
plastic simplex dt shifters (clampon)
simplex FD
Suntour honor RD (seemingly new, the mold's joint is still visible on the rollers (may not be original))
cherry brakes with suicide levers
kmc chain
NISI steel rims (27 X 1 1/4 tires)
simplex qr(also may not be original)
Racer brakes


what I would like to know is what steel this is made of, if it's worth keeping/maintaining/upgrading/etc. an idea of its value, and pretty much any other information anyone happens to have on the bike.

Thanks all.

Last edited by JBD; 07-02-07 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 07-03-07, 12:25 AM   #2
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No decals hinting as to what the alloy is? I'm of Sheldon school, and I've found most of his assessments of French stuff to be pretty right-on. Mafac racer brakes are actually pretty good. The simplex derailleurs here are pretty good, too.

In general, I think many turn a cold shoulder to French bikes because they used their own dimensions for all the major parts. This obviously shouldn't he held against them, because it was arbitrary that the cycling community chose to adopt a certain standard over this one and that the French standard is now obsolete. If you can deal with all the upkeep yourself and are patient about waiting for parts to come in from odd online distributors and/ or making up some creative workarounds, then I think you should certianly keep it and upgrade some stuff, most notably the wheels, shifters, brake levers, and chain. If you are a little more stubbornly sensible and want complete interchangability, which is more than understandable, then go for another ride. Either way, I think you should ride it as is and see if you like how it feels and assess accordingly.

Enjoy!
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Old 07-03-07, 12:55 AM   #3
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Stepping over from the vicious road forum. hope you guys don't bite... hard
We will not hurt you unless you fail to provide photos.



And I love your poll choices. I am working very hard on choosing an option.

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Old 07-03-07, 03:46 AM   #4
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"practiclly invented" is not the same as invented, but I voted for it any way. It would be like me claiming the bike I found at the dump was the first safety bike built in America, but all the antique experts have said it was built about 1888-1892. Unfortunately it is missing a few things and the paint job is a mess. Do you think I should repaint it?

I do find that the French chrome plating on early '60s era Huret pieces is rather lacking. By the '70s they had improved.
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Old 07-03-07, 04:03 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
"practiclly invented" is not the same as invented, but I voted for it any way. It would be like me claiming the bike I found at the dump was the first safety bike built in America, but all the antique experts have said it was built about 1888-1892. Unfortunately it is missing a few things and the paint job is a mess. Do you think I should repaint it?
Not to do a hijack, but how is that bike doing, Pastor Bob? We need an update on your thread .

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Old 07-03-07, 04:30 AM   #6
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It's been doing "nothing" except resting comfortably on my basement floor under the other bikes, i.e. dump finds and yardsale bikes hanging from the ceiling. I'm trying to find it a home because I don't need it and my basement floor is not the best place for it. Copake Auction House believes it might sell in the $2500-$4500 range. Mertz Bicycle Museum in NJ believes it was built about 1888-92, which makes it a very early safety. Thanks for asking.
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Old 07-03-07, 05:33 AM   #7
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You forgot the poll option most of us would pick? "Send it to a C&V member", should be right below "What're you kidding, it's French",,,,BD
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Old 07-03-07, 06:08 AM   #8
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I dont have any useful info to add. I like the wierd french stuff. I just redid a Peugeot uo10. Changed to shimano 600 for the drive train, the cups and spindle fit no problem. The only problem was/is the Superbe brake levers dont clamp small enough for the thin diameter french bars. If your not fond of the classic french stuff then maintain it so it runs the best for what it is. If it turns out you like riding it then upgrade til you get the balence you like and keep riding it. If it turns out you dont like it sell it, theres a good healthy market for classics. DO NOT TRASH IT unless you tell us when trash day is and give us your address.

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Old 07-03-07, 07:48 AM   #9
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I voted for toss it in the garbage.

Please PM me when and where.
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Old 07-03-07, 08:08 AM   #10
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Probably not a high end Follis, but who cares? At least if the price was right....

I have not owned a Follis but am on my second Gitane. My first was a lower end one, which didn't seem to make it unpleasant to ride. Yes, the French chrome was horrible (it peeled off the fork) and the paint was thin, but I got my $15 worth and then some.

I now have a Gitane Tour de France in my fleet. I absolutely love the ride quality. It still has the deplorable French chrome, though. It definitely has a different feel than any of my other bikes.

I'd probably keep the Follis and enjoy it for a while.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:00 AM   #11
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By the time my Peugeot PKN10 came to live with me, it had none of the original Huret/Simplex/Mafac stuff, just a mishmash including Ofmega, Shimano, and Dia Compe, with a couple of Campy bits. Now that it's all dressed up with '70's Campy and a Brooks Professional, while I can't speak to how it rode as originally equipped, I can tell you that it was a hell of a lot of fun to ride to my office this morning. In fact, it's leaning against the bookshelf across the room as we speak, pleading with me to start the holiday early.

Summary: I like my French bike.

Serious addendum: I've researched Follis bikes a couple of times when they've come up on eBay, but never bought one. From what I know, it sounds like yours is low- to mid-range (based on the description of the Simplex stuff, and the existence of suicide levers)... but the people who own them seem to like them a lot. As the saying goes: ride that thing like you stole it, and let us know how you like it.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:30 AM   #12
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First off, you said "Racer" brakes. Not necessarily Mafac Racer brakes (I'll have to shoot a picture or two later today to show the difference). If the word Racer is engraved in the alloy, they're Mafac's. If it's on a red background, they're a copy of the Mafac brake, which usually showed up on cheap bike boom 10-speeds. Not that they're bad brakes. A set came on my Magneet (minus good levers) so I replaced them with Weinmanns, may switch back yet. They do stop well.

French bikes in general: You'll usually run into two difficulties, headset threading (if the headset is together and functioning, don't worry about it, how often do we ever replace headsets?), and bottom bracket threading (which can be stepped around by just keeping the original cups should you ever decide to upgrade the crankset).

I've always considered bicycles to be the height of French technological perfection of, one of the few things they do as well as express their national ego and attitude. Invariably, no matter what price range, you'll find yourself with a bike that that been well constructed although the fit and finish are typical of what you'd expect from a unionized worker on the day before the World Cup final, a paint job that is thin and shoddy but still looks surprisingly good - at least from a foot away, and a ride quality that is usually just shy of absoutely delightful.

At present I've got seven bikes in the garage - and only one French, a '71 Gitane Tour de France. Even though it's the second newest bike in my collection (I built it last year while watching the '06 Tour, finished the main assembly during stage 17), it has the highest mileage (954.20) of any of them. And I expect to pass the 1000 mile mark before this Saturday's London time trial.

I think that's about as good an explanation of a French bike that you can get - no matter how low in the range it is, fix it up and enjoy it. You will. Quick, cheap upgrade: Find a second-hand set of 27" alloy-rimmed wheels, go to high pressure 27x1 tyres (or, if you really adventurous, try a set of 700c tubular wheels), and you'll be amazed at the difference in performance and handling. And a second-hand set of wheels won't set you back all that much. The SunTour RD should serve you just fine, the Simplex FD is OK although finding a used SunTour front will be better, and definitely look for a set of SunTour levers (preferably the rachet/friction ones). They'll make shifting much easier - those Simplex lever are probably the most excreable component on the bike.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:46 AM   #13
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I'm not a big fan of French stuff, except those buttery pastries and Ricard, though its a wonderful place to visit: I do have a mid-level 60s Raphael Gemniani in my fleet that ain't too bad... I still have bad memories of the 1971 bottom of the barrel Gitane I bought new for $90. to go off to college.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:53 AM   #14
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I had one Follis (the only one I owned) that was a very nice bike. It was all 531 and had some really distinctive lugs with the words FOLLIS and LYON pierced through the top and bottom headlugs...it also had an aluminum headbadge which seemed a little "overkill". If yours was a top-end Follis, I'd say restore it to its Gaullic Glory and ride it. Given that Follis also made a load of mid-to-low-end stuff (and that's more likely what you got) then make it a fixie or a frankenbike, long as it stays out of the landfill and gets ridden by SOMEbody.
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Old 07-03-07, 09:58 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by tmoneygetpaid
No decals hinting as to what the alloy is? I'm of Sheldon school, and I've found most of his assessments of French stuff to be pretty right-on. Mafac racer brakes are actually pretty good. The simplex derailleurs here are pretty good, too.

In general, I think many turn a cold shoulder to French bikes because they used their own dimensions for all the major parts. This obviously shouldn't he held against them, because it was arbitrary that the cycling community chose to adopt a certain standard over this one and that the French standard is now obsolete. If you can deal with all the upkeep yourself and are patient about waiting for parts to come in from odd online distributors and/ or making up some creative workarounds, then I think you should certainly keep it and upgrade some stuff, most notably the wheels, shifters, brake levers, and chain. If you are a little more stubbornly sensible and want complete interchangability, which is more than understandable, then go for another ride. Either way, I think you should ride it as is and see if you like how it feels and assess accordingly.

Enjoy!
No idea what any of the numbers on the decals mean, thus, I was hoping you guys could tell me something based on the clues on the bike (BCM lugs and various numbers).

as long as things like the bearings and such don't wear out, I can manage, possibly fixing things as they fall apart. as such, I've already more or less torn the bike apart, cleaned, and regreased the majority of the bike and wheels.

two quick photos of the most likely sources of information:

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Old 07-03-07, 10:04 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by East Hill
We will not hurt you unless you fail to provide photos.



And I love your poll choices. I am working very hard on choosing an option.

East Hill
pictures will be forthcoming as for the poll choices, I had some more clever options, but my wit left me late in the wee hours of the night.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:08 PM   #17
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I had a bottom of the line Follis, until I gave it to a friend last year (it was a little too large for me). If you don't have issues with the bottom bracket or the pedals, tune it up and enjoy it. Your bike sounds like it is better than mine was. Here's a link to a flyer from the bike boom: http://www.classicrendezvous.com/Fra.../follis_ad.htm

I figured I had a 072 Gents. The crankset was an atrocity, but other than that, the bike was not bad. Presuming they didn't mess with their line-up too much, you may have a 072GL, or a 172.

After looking at your pictures, I'm leaning towards it being the 072GL. I don't think they'd have put those dropouts on a Reynolds tubed bike.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:08 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by pastorbobnlnh
"practiclly invented" is not the same as invented, but I voted for it any way. It would be like me claiming the bike I found at the dump was the first safety bike built in America, but all the antique experts have said it was built about 1888-1892. Unfortunately it is missing a few things and the paint job is a mess. Do you think I should repaint it?

I do find that the French chrome plating on early '60s era Huret pieces is rather lacking. By the '70s they had improved.
the Practically invented was a bit of a cop out on my part in the slim chance I was wrong, seems covering my rear made me wrong as well

I think I misspoke when I said the chrome was chipping on the fork, I meant that where the fork was chromed and then painted over, the paint seems to not have adhered particularly well.
(dont have a picture of it off hand, but one will be forth coming.)
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Old 07-03-07, 10:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bikedued
You forgot the poll option most of us would pick? "Send it to a C&V member", should be right below "What're you kidding, it's French",,,,BD
the first or last option? and the polls were limited to 10 choices

Last edited by JBD; 07-03-07 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:17 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by tolfan
I dont have any useful info to add. I like the wierd french stuff. I just redid a Peugeot uo10. Changed to shimano 600 for the drive train, the cups and spindle fit no problem. The only problem was/is the Superbe brake levers dont clamp small enough for the thin diameter french bars. If your not fond of the classic french stuff then maintain it so it runs the best for what it is. If it turns out you like riding it then upgrade til you get the balence you like and keep riding it. If it turns out you dont like it sell it, theres a good healthy market for classics. DO NOT TRASH IT unless you tell us when trash day is and give us your address.
maintaining it is fairly straightforward, not too much to break on something built like a tank (weighs as much as one too but that's to be expected) that aside, I dont mind it's uncommonness around these parts as the majority of other road bikes are "ghettoed schwinns" that stated, I'm not too sure if this is a true classic or a gas pipe bottom of the barrel model (thus turning to the C&V wisemen/wisewomen)
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Old 07-03-07, 10:18 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by raverson
I voted for toss it in the garbage.

Please PM me when and where.
we'll see how the polls turn out
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Old 07-03-07, 10:19 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Rabid Koala
Probably not a high end Follis, but who cares? At least if the price was right....

I have not owned a Follis but am on my second Gitane. My first was a lower end one, which didn't seem to make it unpleasant to ride. Yes, the French chrome was horrible (it peeled off the fork) and the paint was thin, but I got my $15 worth and then some.

I now have a Gitane Tour de France in my fleet. I absolutely love the ride quality. It still has the deplorable French chrome, though. It definitely has a different feel than any of my other bikes.

I'd probably keep the Follis and enjoy it for a while.
keeping it sounds most likely at this point, at worst, it doesn't hurt to have another bike sitting around does it?
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Old 07-03-07, 10:24 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by MajorA
By the time my Peugeot PKN10 came to live with me, it had none of the original Huret/Simplex/Mafac stuff, just a mishmash including Ofmega, Shimano, and Dia Compe, with a couple of Campy bits. Now that it's all dressed up with '70's Campy and a Brooks Professional, while I can't speak to how it rode as originally equipped, I can tell you that it was a hell of a lot of fun to ride to my office this morning. In fact, it's leaning against the bookshelf across the room as we speak, pleading with me to start the holiday early.

Summary: I like my French bike.

Serious addendum: I've researched Follis bikes a couple of times when they've come up on eBay, but never bought one. From what I know, it sounds like yours is low- to mid-range (based on the description of the Simplex stuff, and the existence of suicide levers)... but the people who own them seem to like them a lot. As the saying goes: ride that thing like you stole it, and let us know how you like it.
do you have any pictures of your Peugeot? I'd like to see what potential my bike has at both ends of the spectrum.
I figure I could get around $20.00 for the bike if I sold it... for the suntour RD as it does seem to be the lower end of the scale. thus it seems to be more feasible to, as the saying goes, "ride it like I stole it"
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Old 07-03-07, 10:52 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by sykerocker
First off, you said "Racer" brakes. Not necessarily Mafac Racer brakes (I'll have to shoot a picture or two later today to show the difference). If the word Racer is engraved in the alloy, they're Mafac's. If it's on a red background, they're a copy of the Mafac brake, which usually showed up on cheap bike boom 10-speeds. Not that they're bad brakes. A set came on my Magneet (minus good levers) so I replaced them with Weinmanns, may switch back yet. They do stop well.

French bikes in general: You'll usually run into two difficulties, headset threading (if the headset is together and functioning, don't worry about it, how often do we ever replace headsets?), and bottom bracket threading (which can be stepped around by just keeping the original cups should you ever decide to upgrade the crankset).

I've always considered bicycles to be the height of French technological perfection of, one of the few things they do as well as express their national ego and attitude. Invariably, no matter what price range, you'll find yourself with a bike that that been well constructed although the fit and finish are typical of what you'd expect from a unionized worker on the day before the World Cup final, a paint job that is thin and shoddy but still looks surprisingly good - at least from a foot away, and a ride quality that is usually just shy of absolutely delightful.

At present I've got seven bikes in the garage - and only one French, a '71 Gitane Tour de France. Even though it's the second newest bike in my collection (I built it last year while watching the '06 Tour, finished the main assembly during stage 17), it has the highest mileage (954.20) of any of them. And I expect to pass the 1000 mile mark before this Saturday's London time trial.

I think that's about as good an explanation of a French bike that you can get - no matter how low in the range it is, fix it up and enjoy it. You will. Quick, cheap upgrade: Find a second-hand set of 27" alloy-rimmed wheels, go to high pressure 27x1 tyres (or, if you really adventurous, try a set of 700c tubular wheels), and you'll be amazed at the difference in performance and handling. And a second-hand set of wheels won't set you back all that much. The SunTour RD should serve you just fine, the Simplex FD is OK although finding a used SunTour front will be better, and definitely look for a set of SunTour levers (preferably the rachet/friction ones). They'll make shifting much easier - those Simplex lever are probably the most excreable component on the bike.
from your information, I am fairly certain that my brakes are copies and thus my bike is a "bike boom" bike. I dont seem to be having any trouble with stopping with the brakes, more with quickly removing the wheel when I want to transport the bike without tearing the sidewall of the tire. I've solved this by adjusting the brake housing screw to be in the fully extended position with the breaks in the correct position and shortening the effective housing allows me to squeeze the wheel out without deflating the tire. (I suppose my wording could use a bit of work, but I hope you get what I'm saying.) In any case, is there a better alternative to what I'm doing?

the headset appears to be fine currently, however the bottom bracket may be upgraded with the cranks at some point in the distant future. My question: I believe I have cottered cranks and the spindle is not likely compatible with other cranks, if I wish to replace the cranks, what parts would have to go (bearings, etc.)

I don't suppose I'll have too many problems with the frame, it may see a repaint at some point if I am up to it/it is worth the hassle. but as it is, I am neither heavy nor powerful enough to feel out many weaknesses. the frame is a tad on the large side for my size, I have not yet gotten around to measuring it yet, although I constantly tell me that it is fine as it will be "a french fit for a french bike."

do you think a set of 700cc wheels would fit? I suppose a narrower tire such as a 23 coupled with the current clearance I have to the seat tube would be sufficient for the additional 1/2 in or so in radius, but would the reach of my current brakes adjust to the new rims, similarly, would a new set of brakes require Sheldon brown's fix for the reach?


I have found that I am capable of flexing the simplex plastic in the process of shifting the front chainring, so I suppose those could handle an upgrade. the FD seems to be preforming its function without too much issue, so I may hold off on upgrading that for the time being

Last edited by JBD; 07-03-07 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 07-03-07, 10:54 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by dbakl
I'm not a big fan of French stuff, except those buttery pastries and Ricard, though its a wonderful place to visit: I do have a mid-level 60s Raphael Gemniani in my fleet that ain't too bad... I still have bad memories of the 1971 bottom of the barrel Gitane I bought new for $90. to go off to college.
With no offense to you, I do hope my experience with the french will be better than yours
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