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  1. #1
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    Vintage Tandem Gitane, Weight load and tire advice?

    I have been waiting to find a vintage tandem for a while to use for an up coming family-charity ride (and general family fun), and happily picked up this vintage Gitane on local craigslist. It obviously needs some TLC and a long way to go before back out on the street; I don't care what it's worth since it will now never leave my family ownership, so I didn't put this inquiry/appraisal thread. I am seeking advice/experience with a reasonable weight load to expect with it? In reading through past threads, I've read some about flex and weight load concerns with these (though I don't think this is the model of concern since it has the supports from the head tube). I'd ideally like to have two smaller to medium build men on it-- say 300-320 total lbs. Wondering if anyone has experience with these or other vintage tandems to comment? Also, advice on tires and/or replacing the wheels to help be able to carry that load? Some seemed to recommend 40 spoke wheels, this doesn't have them.

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice or expertise on this (or any other tandem concerns I should have, since I am new to these). Thanks!
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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    I have Gitane tandem as well, but it's somewhat different from yours. Mine is flexible with two adults, but it doesn't have the two sets of laterals that yours has. Mine has a curved stoker seat tube to give the stoker a little more room. It also uses oversize fork blades, has 40 spoke wheels (stock) front and rear with oversize axles (12mm rear, 10mm front), and a 4-pawl tandem grade freewheel, MAFAC "Tandem" cantilevers and a rear Atom drum brake (The cantis run off a single, dual-cable MAFAC brake lever; the drum brake has its own single cable MAFAC lever). I run 700C x 35mm Specialized "Tandem" tires on it; not sure if they make these anymore.

    It doesn't get ridden much any more, but was a fun bike for many years. I had a "kid-back" bottom bracket on the stoker seat tube for a long time. My son rode stoker and we pulled a trailer with my daughter (5 years younger) behind. When she got big enough, I used to take her to kindergarten using the kid-back. Quite a hit with the other kids!


  3. #3
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    I can't comment on that particular bike except to note that it seems to have twin laterals for both sets. That should add stability.

    My wife and I have ridden over 4000 miles now on our Peugeot tandem, seemingly a similar frame but not with the mixte style for the stoker. We weigh total about 275lbs. We run Pasela TGs, 700C x 32mm, have not had any tire problems but did finally replace the rear at maybe 3000 miles. Our rims are A319, 32 spokes in front built by a local bike shop, and 36 spokes on the rear built by me 1000 miles ago. The rear wheel as we got it had unknown history, had been built by a shop (not quite so local but close enough) but not so well. When it broke its second spoke I noticed that the rim (a Matrix) was starting to crack, so I rebuilt it. The front wheel has had no problems at all.

    We've taken two short tours on ours with the normally 40lb bike loaded to 100lbs or more. The bike, wheels, and tires performed well. So you should be okay, I would think, if your bike is at all comparable to ours.

    The biggest issue I've had with ours is with the headset. They take a beating and parts aren't easy to find. And we've had cranks bearings go bad.

    Do the maintenance though. Bearings in hubs, headset, cranks, brakes, cables. The usual suspects. Enjoy the ride!

    I was just reading JDT's note. Ours also has the Atom drum brake on the rear, and the cables are strung with the right hand working both cantilevers and the left operates the drum. I just use both hands for most braking. I believe ours has a 12mm rear axle but I've never measured it. It is probably oversize compared to the original because it doesn't fit easily into the DOs. Finally, we also have a Suntour tandem FW. I found it on ebay while looking for gearing changes. Not only did it have the gears I wanted, but it also was stamped "tandem" on the body and the seller never mentioned it in his text. I scooped it up immediately.
    Last edited by jimmuller; 02-15-14 at 05:49 PM.
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    [QUOTE=jimmuller;16499152]I can't comment on that particular bike except to note that it seems to have twin laterals for both sets. That should add stability.

    My wife and I have ridden over 4000 miles now on our Peugeot tandem, seemingly a similar frame but not with the mixte style for the stoker. []




    Thanks for the info. Wondering if you have a pic of your Pugeot tandem? Would love to see. This one has the double drum brake in the back, with both controls running to/from the right level, so sounds similar; though mine doesnt have cantis there, just a mavic mounted Mixte style. I'm going to start scouring the forums for info on servicing the drum style brake. THat's new to me.

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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnmkpedals View Post
    This one has the double drum brake in the back, with both controls running to/from the right level, so sounds similar; though mine doesnt have cantis there, just a mavic mounted Mixte style. I'm going to start scouring the forums for info on servicing the drum style brake. THat's new to me.
    It's not hard. Once you remove the left locknut from the axle, the brake assembly slides off and exposes another locknut and the actual cone and bearings. Service as you would any other cup-and-cone hub, taking care not to leave any grease in the drum. The only problem is the brake pads -- I have no idea where to source replacements if they wear out. I have one set of NOS pads here, but beyond that, good luck.
    Last edited by JohnDThompson; 02-16-14 at 08:42 AM.

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    Senior Member Lascauxcaveman's Avatar
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    Cool, I saw that on the Seattle CL last night. Seems like a decent risk for the $150 asking price. I halfheartedly considered making an inquiry of the seller, since that's one of the few tandem designs I've seen that looked like it could comfortably accommodate both my short wife and her tallish hubbie. But in our situation, I think getting her out on tandem rides is a bit of pipe dream. She still hasn't straddled the beach cruiser i got her a couple Xmases ago

    Be sure to post some good pix when you get it cleaned up and presentable.
    ● 1971 Grandis SL ● 1972 Lambert Grand Prix ● 1972 Raleigh Super Course ● 1972 Peugeot UE-18 Mixte ● 1980 Apollo Prestige fixie ● 1982 Motobecane Jubile Sport ● 1983 Nishiki Landau ● 1984 Peugeot PH10LE ● 1984 Bianchi Limited ● 1985 Peugeot Vagabond ● 1985 Trek 600 ● 1985 Shogun Prairie Breaker ● 1985 Raleigh Elkhorn ● 1986 Univega Nuovo Sport ● 1987 Schwinn Tempo ● 1996 Kona Lava Dome ● And a Bike to Be Named Later ●

  7. #7
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnmkpedals View Post
    Wondering if you have a pic of your Pugeot tandem?
    Since you ask...I've posted lots of pics over the last few years.

    But first, caveman, you might be surprised. My wife stopped riding her solo bike too and the idea of a tandem appealed because she wouldn't have to make any decisions about traffic and stuff. It takes a little work to get your team act together, and the stoker has to be comfortable yielding all control to the captain. But it can be done!

    Some pics:




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    Senior Member Lascauxcaveman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    It takes a little work to get your team act together, and the stoker has to be comfortable yielding all control to the captain. But it can be done!
    AND it gives me an excuse to buy a tandem! I like the way you think, sir.

    But seriously, we're both Scorpios, we're both control freaks, we're both convinced that we're absolutely correct 100% of the time, we're both voiciferously outspoken (to each other, anyway. Ask any of our acquaintances about each of us separately and they'd probably say we are, apart from each other, the very soul of sober, diplomatic moderation). I think I'm going to try to get her on going on her own first, and to that end I've got a bright yellow Peugeot mixte in just her size I am refurbishing. We did ride together a bit when first married, and then she was happy enough on a very crappy Sears 3-speed, so I think a dialed-in 10-speed might do the trick.
    ● 1971 Grandis SL ● 1972 Lambert Grand Prix ● 1972 Raleigh Super Course ● 1972 Peugeot UE-18 Mixte ● 1980 Apollo Prestige fixie ● 1982 Motobecane Jubile Sport ● 1983 Nishiki Landau ● 1984 Peugeot PH10LE ● 1984 Bianchi Limited ● 1985 Peugeot Vagabond ● 1985 Trek 600 ● 1985 Shogun Prairie Breaker ● 1985 Raleigh Elkhorn ● 1986 Univega Nuovo Sport ● 1987 Schwinn Tempo ● 1996 Kona Lava Dome ● And a Bike to Be Named Later ●

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
    Cool, I saw that on the Seattle CL last night. Seems like a decent risk for the $150 asking price. I halfheartedly considered making an inquiry of the seller, since that's one of the few tandem designs I've seen that looked like it could comfortably accommodate both my short wife and her tallish hubbie. But in our situation, I think getting her out on tandem rides is a bit of pipe dream. She still hasn't straddled the beach cruiser i got her a couple Xmases ago

    Be sure to post some good pix when you get it cleaned up and presentable.


    Yeah, this was one of those cases where fate kind of led me to the bike I think. I hadn't been on c list for the longest time, then on thursday opened the list out of boredom, and poof it was at the top of the list, added 20 mins earlier. I had just been talking to my father (he's getting up there and not a cyclist) about him coming out and doing the Obliteride ride with me this summer if I found a cool tandem for him to come on with me. He was game and I pretty much pounced the moment I saw it. Price was right and seller was totally awesome. I figured it had to have been on the radar of some BF up here in the area. Needs some good love, but pretty solid shape actually. I will be outfitting it for the comfort of a 70 yr old on back. Joked with him I'm thinking red bar tape and grips for some replacement mustache bars back there. We'll see, and yes, I'll post some pics for sure once it's more presentable.

  10. #10
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    The Gitane you have is a lighter duty tandem... they can get a little whippy under a heavier team or when you are riding more aggressively and this seems to be a trend with many French tandems from this era unless they were higher level bikes.

    The eccentric bottom bracket can be a an absolute pita to work on, they can often be seized up pretty tightly and were not machined to exceptionally high tolerances... swearing sometimes helps them along.

    But other than that... they can also be really enjoyable rides for folks who are not loading up for a trip or racing... the degree of frame flex can be quite astonishing when viewed from the rear.

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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post
    The eccentric bottom bracket can be a an absolute pita to work on, they can often be seized up pretty tightly and were not machined to exceptionally high tolerances... swearing sometimes helps them along.
    The one on my Gitane tandem isn't really "machined," just a couple crescents of stamped metal welded onto the tube holding the bottom bracket. That said, I haven't had any trouble with it... yet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    It's not hard. Once you remove the left locknut from the axle, the brake assembly slides off and exposes another locknut and the actual cone and bearings. Service as you would any other cup-and-cone hub, taking care not to leave any grease in the drum. The only problem is the brake pads -- I have no idea where to source replacements if they wear out. I have one set of NOS pads here, but beyond that, good luck.

    Ok, so in my eagerness to start cleaning up the bike, removed wheels and got to work... now realizing I should have taken pics of the drum brake set up and attachment system. Can't seem to find close up pics or schematics of it online and wondering if you have a close up shot of the orientation of the drum brake while on the bike? As you know, the outer cap comes off, spins, the lever arm, with it and no matter how long I fiddle, can't get my head around it. Literally, in this case, I don't know up from down! If you have a pic of the set up, while mounted that would be a huge help, if it's not a pain.

  13. #13
    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnmkpedals View Post
    Ok, so in my eagerness to start cleaning up the bike, removed wheels and got to work... now realizing I should have taken pics of the drum brake set up and attachment system. Can't seem to find close up pics or schematics of it online and wondering if you have a close up shot of the orientation of the drum brake while on the bike?
    Does this help?


  14. #14
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    mnmkp, the thing to understand about the drum brake, or any brake of this sort, is that when you hit the brakes the spinning wheel will exert a torque on the part that is supposed to remain stationary. In this case the drum will try to rotate forward. Something must prevent it from doing so, which in this case is that lever arm on the left in JDT's pic. The bolt through the slot prevents the arm from rotating downward. (There is a name for that slot on the frame, but I don't recall what it is, something peculiar IIRC.) When you install the rear wheel, pull the axle back as far as it will go still keeping the wheel centered, but don't tighten the axle nuts fully. You need to be able to rotate the arm into place and insert that bolt. Once it is in, even if just loosely, you can center the wheel and tighten down the axle nuts, then tighten that bolt on the lever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    There is ofter a small deli hidden in those panniers.

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    You know it's going to be a good day when the stem and seatpost come right out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    mnmkp, the thing to understand about the drum brake, or any brake of this sort, is that when you hit the brakes the spinning wheel will exert a torque on the part that is supposed to remain stationary. In this case the drum will try to rotate forward. Something must prevent it from doing so, which in this case is that lever arm on the left in JDT's pic. The bolt through the slot prevents the arm from rotating downward. (There is a name for that slot on the frame, but I don't recall what it is, something peculiar IIRC.) When you install the rear wheel, pull the axle back as far as it will go still keeping the wheel centered, but don't tighten the axle nuts fully. You need to be able to rotate the arm into place and insert that bolt. Once it is in, even if just loosely, you can center the wheel and tighten down the axle nuts, then tighten that bolt on the lever.
    That makes sense, and think I have solved the spacing issue between the drop outs that I was having. The kink seems to be that the stationary part (the faceplate for the drum brake with the lever arm assembly) on mine are more of a cap to the hub than an insert as the one seems to be in JDTs pic above. When the wheel is mounted, there's far too much friction between the two to allow for smooth rotation of the wheel.

  17. #17
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mnmkpedals View Post
    The kink seems to be that the stationary part (the faceplate for the drum brake with the lever arm assembly) on mine are more of a cap to the hub than an insert as the one seems to be in JDTs pic above.
    I'm not sure I understand what you meant. But as long as you do...

    Don't know what your drum is like but I had to do some creative tool-tweaking to service mine. The drum is held to the hub with a 15mm nut but it is recessed into the drum body. A socket would work except that the axle has to go through the socket drive hole. A cone wrench won't work because of the sides of the drum. I ended up bending a Park Tool 15mm cone wrench to fit down inside the drum with the handle sticking up at an angle of maybe 45deg. It wasn't easy! Those tools are danged tough.

    On the other side, my FW tool won't fit over the axle so I have to remove the axle from the left to get the FW off.. To do that I have to remove the drum from the axle. Maybe if the FW tool would fit I wouldn't have had to pull the drum off the axle at all.
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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    On the other side, my FW tool won't fit over the axle so I have to remove the axle from the left to get the FW off.. To do that I have to remove the drum from the axle. Maybe if the FW tool would fit I wouldn't have had to pull the drum off the axle at all.
    What kind of freewheel? I had to ream out my Phil "Atom" freewheel remover a little to allow it to fit over the oversize axle, but beyond that had no problems.

  19. #19
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    What kind of freewheel?
    Well now, if you'd read the whole thread you know that, wouldn't you?

    It is a Suntour tandem FW, and the Suntour FW tool is one I've owned for a long time. Our rear axle must be 11mm diameter. The tool's hole measures a bit over 10mm.
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    Old fart JohnDThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Well now, if you'd read the whole thread you know that, wouldn't you?

    It is a Suntour tandem FW, and the Suntour FW tool is one I've owned for a long time. Our rear axle must be 11mm diameter. The tool's hole measures a bit over 10mm.
    Re-read the whole thread, you mean. I apologize for not memorizing your bike's spec list.

    You ought to be able to ream the opening, as I did with my Atom remover. It doesn't affect how it works on standard axles, in my experience, and if it does for you, those removers are still abundantly available.

  21. #21
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
    Re-read the whole thread, you mean. I apologize for not memorizing your bike's spec list.
    I was just yanking your shift cable.
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    [QUOTE=jimmuller;16503181]I'm not sure I understand what you meant. But as long as you do...

    Don't know what your drum is like but I had to do some creative tool-tweaking to service mine. The drum is held to the hub with a 15mm nut but it is recessed into the drum body. A socket would work except that the axle has to go through the socket drive hole. A cone wrench won't work because of the sides of the drum. I ended up bending a Park Tool 15mm cone wrench to fit down inside the drum with the handle sticking up at an angle of maybe 45deg. It wasn't easy! Those tools are danged tough.]

    I'll take a picture of my assembly tomorrow, but I didn't have any issues with servicing mine-- and here's the difference I don't think I did a good job of explaining in my post-- my model is clearly different than yours, and most of the others I can find pictures of. The front piece of the drum on mine (the part that has the lever arm and mounting arm on the outside, and has the mechanism and pads, etc... on the inside) is more like a cap, fitting over/on a lip on the actual hub, rather than inset into the hub/drum, as seems the case in your pic. Its that point that seems to be the problem with the wheel spinning freely. I'll take pics tomorrow in the light.

    sorry for poor explanation, like I said, this whole mech and assembly is new to me. I was surprised there wasn't already a drum brake dedicated thread in the archives that I could find.

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