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Gitane Frankenbike? Help ID

Old 11-19-16, 07:45 AM
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Gitane Frankenbike? Help ID

Greetings,

In my haste to ride a lighter bike, a local CL seller offered a "Gitane." When I called to ask him about the model, he said it was a "Reynolds 531." He then said he didn't know much about the bike (which was the first warning sign) but he said it was original except for the seat. Not knowing much about Gitanes, I told him I thought 531 referred to the frame material but I decided to take a drive at 9:30pm to check out the bike.

The frame had numerous nicks and scrapes, the Fuji seat had a hole in it and the tires were rotted. I couldn't test ride the bike. I asked the owner to lift the back of the bike up while I turned the crank. Everything seemed smooth but the bike would only stay in one low gear. The Suntour shifter wouldn't stay in place. The only decals remaining on the bike is what you see in the pics. No 531 decal on the bike but it seemed to be in the low 20-lb. range when lifted. Regardless, even though the bike seemed to suggest "stay away." I purchased it for $80.

Upon inspection under the light, I could only find these numbers on the rear dropout: 193 and 177. I can't find any other numbers. It appeared the bike may have had some decent original parts on it but were now long gone. I found Campagnolo hubs attached to what appear to be lightly used Mavic Module E wheels and new spokes. Wheels are true. I'm guessing it had Campy quick release axles but were changed out for the bolt-on type. The handlebars appear to be steel. The front fork is chrome with the top of the fork painted the same pearlescent blue as the rest of the bike. It has a Huret rear derailleur and Suntour front derailleur. Brake are Weinmann "Semi-Automatic" with aged hoods but work well. Crank is Sugino Maxi.

Again, I don't know much about these bikes but it seems to me there isn't much original about the bike but I think it could be a nice rider. Having said that, does anyone know what this bike was originally born as? Is this bike worth even putting cheap Kenda tires on? Is there any way to find the correct touch up paint? I've not tinkered with Suntour stuff before. Any ideas how to keep the shift level in place (it shifts well, just won't stay in gear because of the shifter cable tension)?

Any thoughts or other comments welcomed.








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Old 11-19-16, 07:58 AM
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Stamped dropouts suggest an entry-level model. Not likely to be Reynolds 531, or if it is, just the three main tubes and possibly straight-gauge rather than butted. It may very well ride decently, and could make a nice beater or FG/SS conversion project.

Re: the derailleur slipping. Have you tried tightening the wing-nut on the shift lever to increase the friction?
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Old 11-19-16, 09:23 AM
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+1. Looks like late '70's decals. The Suntour FD is likely a replacement of the original Huret. Check out the Girane catalog section of Gitaneusa. You might find what you are looking for.

If there isn't a little sticker verifying Reynolds 531, or evidence that it has worn off, then it likely is simply high tension steel. It's not fancy, but should be a fine rider. For $80, you got a fun project. I'm thinking threading may have fallen in line with British standards by this time, but you will want to check before you try to force the drive side cup out. Check Sheldon Brown's page on French bikes and their eccentricities.
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Old 11-19-16, 10:07 AM
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I think you did very well. Very nice looking frame in a beautiful, classic Gitane colour. Not high end but it doesn't matter, I've yet to find a Gitane, high or low, that didn't ride well. The nice thing is you don't have to worry about originality or tiny scratches, this is a perfect candidate for a daily driver. Definitely worth new tires. If I may, I don't think tires are the place to skimp, they have a huge impact on the ride. I'd be careful with touch-ups, to me they often look worse than the expected scrapes and scratches. I have a feeling this bike will look just great once it's waxed and the consumables have been replaced. Do you have enough of that Benotto tape to re-wrap? The colour looks nice on the frame. Or you could go for yellow Benotto. Anyway, I would've bought it in a heartbeat, provided it fits. Don't worry about the tubing, geometry and fit are far more important.
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Old 11-19-16, 10:10 AM
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Could it be an Interclub? Or, more unlikely, it shares the same crank as my Tour de L'Avenir. Both frames made with unremarkable tubing that provide a remarkable ride.
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Old 11-19-16, 10:36 AM
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What is the seat post diameter? I presume the seat tube outer diameter is 28.0mm (very French!). A seat post diameter of 26.4 or 26.6mm would indicate high-quality butted main triangle tubing, where straight gauge would take a smaller diameter, and plain carbon steel, smaller still.

I am not a fan of Sugino Maxy cranks, but they are better than cottered steel, and at least yours are the later version with a replaceable outer chainring.
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Old 11-19-16, 10:59 AM
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The ID of the seat post tube appears to be 25mm (couldn't find my calipers). The OD appears to be 32mm.

Nice eye on the tape. It's Benotto. With a bit of heat, I had enough to cover one side of the bars. I snipped a piece off and with some minor surgery, added it to the shorter piece and was able to cover that side as well. As you noted, it's almost a perfect match for the paint.

I'm thinking the same thing about the touch-up paint. I used some Meguire's 105 cut to bring back the color and it's coming along nicely. I'm going to leave it with battle scars.

As for the tires, any recommendations? I don't want to break the bank on this one but I'd like to avoid cheapo Kendas as well.

Thanks to all for the feedback.
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Old 11-19-16, 02:41 PM
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The head lug is nicely thinned for a lower end frame. Much nicer work than on my early seventies TdF. The bike boom was over and they had to try harder.
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Old 11-19-16, 10:25 PM
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What size are the tires? 27" or 700c? I'd get the widest Paselas you can fit in there. Nice comfy ride.
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Old 11-20-16, 01:13 AM
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It's a kluged together ~1974 Gitane, maybe a late 1973 Interclub frame - maybe a European version.

Gitane switched from foil decals to the yellow or green clear film stickers like on this bike at the beginning 1974. During the switch over in late 1973, there were some cross-overs in components.

From at least the early 1960's ALL Gitanes with Reynolds 531 tubing, either just the 3 the main tubes or full Reynolds had forged dropouts: Simplex, Huret or Campagnolo. Never stamped steel dropouts.

The Interclub models from the bike boom to the mid 70's had brake cable clips on the top tubes rather than brazed on cable stops that were used on the lower end models.

Gitane used Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs on ~1972-1976 Tour de France bikes not on Interclubs. Someone changed the Nuovo Tipo QR axles to nutted axles**********?

Interclubs had alloy bars not chrome plated steel bars.

I've never seen those style Weinmann side pulls on a Gitane.

Gitanes didn't come with quill style pedals except on a few top end models.

The Sugino Maxy cranks may have come with the frame.

The frame is probably made of medium weight carbon steel. They took 25.8mm seatposts (or there abouts).

These larger frames ride pretty well because they can flex more that smaller ones and will absorb road shocks well.

A head tube decal would be a good indicator of the year. The first picture shows a 1974 sticker, the second is from 1975-76.

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Old 11-20-16, 05:21 AM
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Originally Posted by verktyg
Gitane switched from foil decals to the yellow or green clear film stickers like on this bike at the beginning 1974. During the switch over in late 1973, there were some cross-overs in components.

These larger frames ride pretty well because they can flex more that smaller ones and will absorb road shocks well.

A head tube decal would be a good indicator of the year. The first picture shows a 1974 sticker, the second is from 1975-76.
Yet again, you are a library full of knowledge. You could write a book on this stuff. You've helped me date the Gitane that is the foundation of my frankenbike - same head badge, foil stickers, all of which were binned prior to the repaint. I did not care for HotWheels stickers. I've assumed mine was a 75 Gypsy Sport but now assume it was earlier (I'll never know). Cottered cranks, steel bars, Weinmann CP brakes, Simplex transmission - well that's what was on it as I lifted it back out of the dumpster at the transfer station. Being a 60cm frame it does ride nicely and I like it. Thanks Chas.

OP: I'll bet this will be a very worthwhile project. Part of the fun of my frankenbike project was finding ways to keep the costs way down. The spray paint was the most expensive purchase. I'm glad it did mine and it turned out to be a better ride than I expected.
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Old 11-20-16, 10:13 AM
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Great intel gents. Much appreciated.
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Old 11-21-16, 02:33 PM
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After rerouting the chain correctly (at least I think I have it right - see pic) and after a couple of hours dropping f-bombs to fix the shifting issue, I took apart the FD shifter to compare it to the problem RD shifter. I found the outer washer with the oval shape ID was seated deeper than the RD washer. After finding a bit of metal (guessing it was leftover when the PO pulled the original components) and an unneeded spacer in the RD shifter, I put it back together and seated everything tightly. When I attempted to shift, I heard the nice "ratcheting" sound from the shifter and the bike shifted as it should.

While I attribute success to the multiple F-bombs dropped, I'd like to thank everyone again for your info.

I ordered a pair of Pasela Panaracers today and hopefully weather will get a bit above 20(F) so I can see what decent tires do for a bike.

Please take a look at the pic and let me know if I've routed the chain correctly. The PO had it routed over the sprocket without the spring. The derailleur spring uncoiled a bit but I was able to wind it back up. Everything seems to work fine.


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Old 11-21-16, 10:55 PM
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Looks good. Nice work on the shifters - those can be buggers!
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Old 11-22-16, 10:14 AM
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I pulled the crank and found a grimy mess. The bearing cap on the non-drive side of the bike came off fine. The drive side won't budge. I soaked it overnight through the non-drive opening with Liquid Wrench and will try removing it again. I know the threads turn clockwise to unscrew but could this cup/ cap be pressed in?

Also, on a three piece crank, I forgot. What side does the longer end of the spindle go on (forgot to look).

Finally, if I can't get the drive side cap off, I plan on packing it with grease from the non-drive side opening and sticking the new bearings into the grease. Any other ideas?
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Old 11-22-16, 01:58 PM
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We all like to guess until Chas comes in and drops some knowledge bombs in us.

If it is a '74 like he says, then the drive side is likely a right hand thread (which is wrong for the drive side!). So lefty loosey on that one. Check out Sheldon's fixed cup removal tool. It got my '73 Gitane's fixed cup out after 40 years of being in there.
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Old 12-10-16, 08:57 AM
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We all like pics so here's one of the semi-finished product. Replaced all bearings, installed Pasela Panaracers, rubbed out and waxed the paint and went through a bit of Mother's Mag and Aluminum polish. Not sure what to do about the saddle but here you go:

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Old 12-10-16, 09:33 AM
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Nice bike! You don't need to remove the right BB cup to clean it. If it looks okay and not pitted, leave it. Check that you have enough chain so that i hou accidentally shift to big big combination it won' break.

For saddle everybody has a favorite. I say get an inexpensive WTB Speed V. Comfy, not prone to water damage.

Recheck your seat tube And seat post diameters with a caliper. Your numbers are extremely unlikely.

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