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What's so special about French bikes?

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What's so special about French bikes?

Old 02-28-17, 09:47 PM
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What other nationality would invent a tool to take off the hub on one end and be a bottle opener on the other end?
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Old 02-28-17, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
Vitus of course. But you're missing the point, it's construit avec Reynolds and that makes all the difference,
Which would you rather have on your bike?

a) freewheel
b) roue libre

Try another one

a) fenders
b) garde boue

Crankset remover?
a) 23.35mm (rare and cool)
b) 22mm (boring)

Owning a vintage French bike means never a boring day looking for parts that fit it.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone
"Vitus" I think there's a Cream for that. It may even be French. So back to my Question... Did the french ever produce their own Frame set? Or did they just use Reynolds and Columbus and make it so you have to bend over backwards to find the correct fitting parts for?
Vitus history by Norris Lockley

Vitus 979 was very cool stuff. Mavic stuff is totally kickass. The older stronglight cranks are impressively lightweight. The maillard 700 stuff was very fine. I did a cross country tour with a huret duopar rear derailleur; it was one of the better touring derailleurs of its generation. There was no better headset ever made than the stronglight A9.

Last edited by bikemig; 02-28-17 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:52 PM
  #29  
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The French. Like it is said about women--you can't live with them; and you can't live without them.

But, where would we be without them is the question? They've been different for so long. I play music, so I know. In fact, my name--Scarbo--is the name of a movement of one of Maurice Ravel's greatest piano works of the 20th century; a work that I've been enchanted with since I was really young and that I love to play. But even way before then--and not to indulge in a subject about which I know to the depths, thereby boring one and all--in the Baroque period, French music was typified by the most exquisite, yet maddeningly difficult ornamentation and nuance. The French don't give up their secrets without a fight!

A French bike? Go for it! They stand alone. As the French do. And, so ends my rhapsody on the matters Gaulois.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Scarbo
The French. Like it is said about women--you can't live with them; and you can't live without them.

But, where would we be without them is the question? They've been different for so long. I play music, so I know. In fact, my name--Scarbo--is the name of a movement of one of Maurice Ravel's greatest piano works of the 20th century; a work that I've been enchanted with since I was really young and that I love to play. But even way before then--and not to indulge in a subject about which I know to the depths, thereby boring one and all--in the Baroque period, French music was typified by the most exquisite, yet maddeningly difficult ornamentation and nuance. The French don't give up their secrets without a fight!

A French bike? Go for it! They stand alone. As the French do. And, so ends my rhapsody on the matters Gaulois.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:03 PM
  #31  
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Here ya go, a French project bike, touching some bases here (Motobecane, Vitus 979):

RARE VTG 1983 MOTOBECANE PROLITE Profesional Road/Racing Bike VITUS 979-SURVIVOR | eBay
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Old 02-28-17, 10:08 PM
  #32  
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It's the ride.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:10 PM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by oddjob2
What other nationality would invent a tool to take off the hub on one end and be a bottle opener on the other end?
Are you sure it wasn't a Corkscrew on the other end? I don't think the french do Beer. If they did they would have to order it in from the UK. Just like the 531 Frame sets.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:24 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by johnnyace
Oh, they're horrible! Send me all your unwanted 57-59cm vintage French road bikes. Especially any that say "Rene Herse" or "Alex Singer" on them.

But seriously, I really like my 1972 Gitane TdF.
That bike is smoking hot.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:34 PM
  #35  
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Originally Posted by johnnyace
Oh, they're horrible! Send me all your unwanted 57-59cm vintage French road bikes. Especially any that say "Rene Herse" or "Alex Singer" on them.

But seriously, I really like my 1972 Gitane TdF.
Again English Tube Sets. So much for french originality.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:38 PM
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As France’s Towns Wither, Fears of a Decline in ‘Frenchness’

Just published

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/28/w...T.nav=top-news
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Old 02-28-17, 10:45 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Wileyone
Did the French ever have their own tubeset?
...can't tell if serious ?
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Old 02-28-17, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...can't tell if serious ?
That's the Italian in me.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:57 PM
  #39  
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.
...I like them, and have had quite a few French bikes, because like most really olde people, my first road bikes were all production Peugeot from the late 60's/early 70's. That said, at the co-op I used to try to steer the faint of heart away from them as just too difficult for beginners.

For some reason over the last four or five years here, there have been a slew of Motobecane GR and GT bikes here in my size, at prices substantially lower than PX-10's. I guess all the loose PX-10's got bought up and these were all sitting in garages somewhere in NorCal awaiting new riders.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
.
...I like them, and have had quite a few French bikes, because like most really olde people, my first road bikes were all production Peugeot from the late 60's/early 70's. That said, at the co-op I used to try to steer the faint of heart away from them as just too difficult for beginners.

For some reason over the last four or five years here, there have been a slew of Motobecane GR and GT bikes here in my size, at prices substantially lower than PX-10's. I guess all the loose PX-10's got bought up and these were all sitting in garages somewhere in NorCal awaiting new riders.
That's a heck of a fleet. I think I have around that many vintage Treks but older European bikes are not that common in Iowa.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:16 PM
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Got some French stock in me, so somehow even with the flaws, I would like to get a French Bike at some point. The higher-end mid 70's to mid 80's Moto's ,Peugeot's, Gitanes appeal to me.

I was looking at this Team Champion that sold, but didn't like the build. Not sure how he got 27 1/4 Weinmans to work on the bike either.

motobecane Team Champion | eBay

This Peugeot PZ10 frameset was interesting, couldn't quite pull the trigger, gone now I guess, but was up for awhile.

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Old 02-28-17, 11:19 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
That's a heck of a fleet. I think I have around that many vintage Treks but older European bikes are not that common in Iowa.
...classic bikes are like real estate. Location, location, location.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by johnnyace
Here ya go, a French project bike, touching some bases here (Motobecane, Vitus 979):

RARE VTG 1983 MOTOBECANE PROLITE Profesional Road/Racing Bike VITUS 979-SURVIVOR | eBay

that is one sweet Vitus !

Shame he wont ship to NZ . Would look good next to mine !
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Old 02-28-17, 11:31 PM
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Originally Posted by 3alarmer
...classic bikes are like real estate. Location, location, location.
You're just doing this to hurt me, . I like pugs a lot. I worked in a peugeot shop in the 80s. We moved a lot of UO 9s and 10s and higher end ones as well. But usually when someone wanted a racing bike, they'd get something Italian
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Old 02-28-17, 11:32 PM
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I've found a few Gitane TDF's here...

.
...but very few in my size. My favorite is this Stella. My first road bike with a butted tubeset was a lesser Stella. They don't appear very often, but can be pretty solid riding bikes (even the lesser ones).
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Old 02-28-17, 11:34 PM
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For a long time, French bikes could be pretty easily identified by their geometry.
Even as they evolved, they were distinct from the solutions the Italians employed.
"Good for the cobbles" was the consensus at the bike shop 40 years ago.
When the Italians used 73 degrees, the French used 72, or 72.5 as my LeJeune has.
French bikes had by and large longer wheelbases, yes there are exceptions.
They were known for poor chrome, I think a result of econonomics and that the French did not have African colonies that had chrome mines, like the British did in Rhodesia.
Hard to beat British Empire chrome.
The French aside from the constructeurs, selected nice lug patterns and avoided taking files to them.
A typical French frame to me with paint removed shows no gaps, no overheating, probably some excess brass, they got in worked fast and got the heck out to the next joint. Solid, not fancy.
Many French brands accepted foil adhesive graphics, fast and direct vs slow as varnish fix transfers require.
I lament that, so easy to mess up.
I have eight French bikes, I own more Italian made bikes, but the French bikes are rewarding, the most all purpose I would sum up.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:01 AM
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Because the French are an enigma. They helped develop modern bicycle technology and built some of the most gorgeous, practical, and also speedy bikes ever. Just look at what the consructuers could do (e.g. Alex Singer, Rene Herse).

They could also make some of the crappiest equipment (Delrin shift lever anyone?), and the best ever made (you can have my Retrofriction levers when you pry them from my cold dead hands!)

Yes they were quirky with their non-conformist dimensions and odd affinity for plastic parts, but perhaps that is why we love them with their "damn you, I'll do it my way!" attitude.

Plus, their bikes ride like a dream. My wife and I love our Gitane TdF's, and I'm hoping my daughter loves her Gitane Super Course this summer.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:13 AM
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they are niche, lightweight, and require passion to keep on the road. for the right person, these are all attractions lol.

when I built up a early 60s french roady I swapped in a spindle off a 90s mountain bike (that has the same raceway spec) to open up my options while keeping the original cups. a alloy seat post was easy to find on eBay, although the stem was a lot trickier as I'm picky. BB lock ring tightens in the WRONG DIRECTION btw, make sure you keep an eye on that.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:33 AM
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When I got into cycling, French bikes were dominant. If you wanted something that performed well, that's what you got. Italian bikes were out there, sure, but they were rare and so ridiculously expensive that real people could not afford them. Anyhow, French bikes only seem weird now because they are long gone, having been out competed by Japanese bike companies in the 80s. What was once commonplace is now rare and unusual.

Many of the advances in cycling technology and lightweight bicycles in the 20th century had their origins in France, to be sure.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:38 AM
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NPR's Klick and Klack on the French: "They're to proud to copy anyone else and nobody copies them!" Maybe so, but I'm keeping my Grand Jubile, Don
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