Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Classic & Vintage
Reload this Page >

What's so special about French bikes?

Notices
Classic & Vintage This forum is to discuss the many aspects of classic and vintage bicycles, including musclebikes, lightweights, middleweights, hi-wheelers, bone-shakers, safety bikes and much more.

What's so special about French bikes?

Old 12-12-18, 10:21 AM
  #126  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 20,494

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 178 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5872 Post(s)
Liked 3,427 Times in 2,056 Posts
I started this thread almost 2 years ago. It turns out that 2018 was the year of French bikes, at least in Des Moines. You'll have to excuse the crummy pics given that it's winter but I will have 3 French bikes to build next year:

1983 Peugeot PXN 10. The bike is close to factory spec and really does not need much if any work as it comes from forum member, @Steve Whitlatch
1973 Motobecane Grand Record.
1970s Mercier 300.

It looks like I'm set for an Eroica ride, And no, I'm not looking for a Gitane TdF . . . .



Last edited by bikemig; 12-12-18 at 10:30 AM.
bikemig is offline  
Likes For bikemig:
Old 12-12-18, 11:24 AM
  #127  
Senior Member
 
Slightspeed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 2,257

Bikes: 1964 Legnano Roma Olympiade, 1973 Raleigh Super Course, 1978 Raleigh Super Course, 1978 Peugeot PR10, 2002 Specialized Allez, 2007 Specialized Roubaix, 2013 Culprit Croz Blade

Mentioned: 68 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 741 Post(s)
Liked 816 Times in 420 Posts
Heres my first Frenchie, '78 PR10 (I think) from local CL back in August. I've got Italian, British, American-Taiwan, and now French. It has great ride quality, 531 main triangle, and racy geometry. Similar to my Super Course, but feels more lively somehow.


As bought, funky brake levers, missing FD, stripped pedal thread, but beautiful!


Now, Campy aero levers, Sugino 52/34 crank, Shimano Exage FD, still beautiful!

Last edited by Slightspeed; 12-12-18 at 11:28 AM.
Slightspeed is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 05:43 PM
  #128  
Senior Member
 
jcb3's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Irvine, CA
Posts: 611
Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 140 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by bikemig
I started this thread almost 2 years ago. It turns out that 2018 was the year of French bikes, at least in Des Moines. You'll have to excuse the crummy pics given that it's winter but I will have 3 French bikes to build next year

It looks like I'm set for an Eroica ride, And no, I'm not looking for a Gitane

You sure about the TdF? If you are coming to Eroica, I’m looking to get rid of a swap meet find for well less than the $40 i paid. Problem is the fork and i keep thinking about fixing the fork or finding another fork and building it up. You would save me from my primal urges.

Joe
jcb3 is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 07:12 PM
  #129  
Senior Member
 
Chombi1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 4,424
Mentioned: 102 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1616 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 801 Times in 519 Posts
I thought I had my fill of French bikes for a while, with two Peugeots, a Vitus and a Gitane, but the French N+1 bug bit me again last night when I put a bid down for a very nice condition 1984 Gitane Supercorsa frameset at eBay. Did not really make sense cause I already have my 1984 Gitane TdF and the frames are pretty much identical except for a bit of chrome on the DS stays and dropout on the SC and the quintessentially 80's Gitane blue paint on it (Which frankly, could be what pushed me over to bid on it), but there I was, last night, bidding on the French frameset....
A bit glad in the end the bids went over my max and did not win the auction as I think I need a break from full builds for a while and really do some maintenance work on my bikes this winter......, but it just proves that a Francophile C&Ver can never have enough French bikes....
Chombi1 is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 08:01 PM
  #130  
Senior Member
 
ollo_ollo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Soviet of Oregon or the NW Florida Redoubt
Posts: 5,323

Bikes: Still have a few left!

Mentioned: 48 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 456 Post(s)
Liked 481 Times in 246 Posts
2018 was a banner year for French n+1, so I can answer O.P.'s question, "what's so special?", with a couple samples:
Don
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
IMG_2638.jpg (697.0 KB, 608 views)
File Type: jpg
DSCN1588.jpg (1.70 MB, 603 views)
ollo_ollo is offline  
Old 12-12-18, 09:01 PM
  #131  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 20,494

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 178 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5872 Post(s)
Liked 3,427 Times in 2,056 Posts
Originally Posted by jcb3



You sure about the TdF? If you are coming to Eroica, I’m looking to get rid of a swap meet find for well less than the $40 i paid. Problem is the fork and i keep thinking about fixing the fork or finding another fork and building it up. You would save me from my primal urges.

Joe
I'd love to do the Eroica ride one of these days but I guess I'm saving myself from picking up another French bike by not going this year, .
bikemig is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 03:37 PM
  #132  
Senior Member
 
Andy_K's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 14,773

Bikes: Yes

Mentioned: 517 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3222 Post(s)
Liked 3,817 Times in 1,427 Posts
I looked back to see what I had said on this thread.

Originally Posted by Andy_K
You should make an offer on this before it ends up in my garage: https://www.flickr.com/photos/115397...h/32209277963/
In case anyone is wondering, that bike did end up in my garage. It's back at the Atelier now as I've asked @gugie to give it a little more Gugificazione. Is it possible for a craftsman of Italian descent working on a bike in America to make the bike even more French than it was originally? That's kind of what we're going for.

Since @ollo_ollo shared his lovely Stella, I'll also share some pics of its near twin.



A few of my favorite details will help answer the original question of what's so special about French bikes.


(Tour de France? Yeah, a Stella rider won a couple of those.)


(Why, yes, that is a Columbus decal with French text. The seat stay wraps are pretty cool too, no?)


(In case you wondered what other races have been won by someone riding a Stella...)


(I still haven't gotten around to taking a picture with the head badge that @rhm made for me installed.)

I think the word "panache" could be properly applied to what I'm getting at with these pictures.
__________________
My Bikes
Andy_K is offline  
Likes For Andy_K:
Old 12-13-18, 03:47 PM
  #133  
Steel is real
 
styggno1's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Posts: 1,103

Bikes: 40 - accumulated over 40 years

Mentioned: 47 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 374 Post(s)
Liked 1,066 Times in 301 Posts
They are "special"...

I love my special French bike.





styggno1 is offline  
Likes For styggno1:
Old 12-13-18, 03:57 PM
  #134  
Bike Butcher of Portland
 
gugie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 11,603

Bikes: It's complicated.

Mentioned: 1295 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4645 Post(s)
Liked 5,659 Times in 2,245 Posts
Originally Posted by Andy_K
Is it possible for a craftsman of Italian descent working on a bike in America to make the bike even more French than it was originally?
My mother claimed she had a bit of French blood in her.

So I've got that going for me.

"The Butcher of Beaverton"
__________________
If someone tells you that you have enough bicycles and you don't need any more, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
gugie is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 06:06 PM
  #135  
Full Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Desert Southwest
Posts: 221
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 72 Post(s)
Liked 100 Times in 62 Posts
In answer to the original question: in comparison with other 1970s factory-manufactured steel frame bicycles, the French frames seem to be lighter and their bicycles have a more pleasing road feel for many aficionados. The mid-range offerings were superior values in their performance-to-cost ratio.

Replacement parts in French thread (headset, bottom bracket, French hub cones) are relatively less common and can be more expensive than their BSC counterparts. Stems are less common, smaller outside diameter on the quill, and you can easily sand a 22.2 diameter aluminum alloy stem to fit correctly in a 22.0 French steerer.

If you are curious about vintage French bikes, I hope you will try one.
cyclophilia is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 06:21 PM
  #136  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 20,494

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 178 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5872 Post(s)
Liked 3,427 Times in 2,056 Posts
Originally Posted by cyclophilia
In answer to the original question: in comparison with other 1970s factory-manufactured steel frame bicycles, the French frames seem to be lighter and their bicycles have a more pleasing road feel for many aficionados. The mid-range offerings were superior values in their performance-to-cost ratio.

Replacement parts in French thread (headset, bottom bracket, French hub cones) are relatively less common and can be more expensive than their BSC counterparts. Stems are less common, smaller outside diameter on the quill, and you can easily sand a 22.2 diameter aluminum alloy stem to fit correctly in a 22.0 French steerer.

If you are curious about vintage French bikes, I hope you will try one.
See post no. 126,
bikemig is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 07:49 PM
  #137  
Banned
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 7,150
Mentioned: 93 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1361 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 422 Times in 282 Posts
Originally Posted by styggno1
They are "special"...

I love my special French bike.





Wowza!!
Thats one I think Alain Prost would ride.
crank_addict is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 08:57 PM
  #138  
aka Tom Reingold
 
noglider's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York, NY, and High Falls, NY, USA
Posts: 40,580

Bikes: 1962 Rudge Sports, 1971 Raleigh Super Course, 1971 Raleigh Pro Track, 1974 Raleigh International, 1975 Viscount Fixie, 1982 McLean, 1996 Lemond (Ti), 2002 Burley Zydeco tandem

Mentioned: 505 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 7217 Post(s)
Liked 2,255 Times in 1,326 Posts
Originally Posted by cyclophilia
In answer to the original question: in comparison with other 1970s factory-manufactured steel frame bicycles, the French frames seem to be lighter and their bicycles have a more pleasing road feel for many aficionados. The mid-range offerings were superior values in their performance-to-cost ratio.

Replacement parts in French thread (headset, bottom bracket, French hub cones) are relatively less common and can be more expensive than their BSC counterparts. Stems are less common, smaller outside diameter on the quill, and you can easily sand a 22.2 diameter aluminum alloy stem to fit correctly in a 22.0 French steerer.

If you are curious about vintage French bikes, I hope you will try one.
Yes! I don't have any French bikes now, but I've had some and loved them. The UO-8 rode better than other bikes at its price, and the PX10 rode like a great bike, and it was not expensive for what it was. Same for the other models.
__________________
Tom Reingold, tom@noglider.com
New York City and High Falls, NY
Blogs: The Experienced Cyclist; noglider's ride blog

“When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments.” — Elizabeth West, US author

Please email me rather than PM'ing me. Thanks.
noglider is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 10:48 PM
  #139  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 2,000
Mentioned: 28 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 457 Post(s)
Liked 42 Times in 33 Posts
I've see the light

Well, it may be heresy to admit I once did not appreciate French bikes, but my eyes have been opened. Though maybe not as impressive as other posters pics, the attached shows a couple details that have caught my attention.


vintagerando is offline  
Old 12-13-18, 11:43 PM
  #140  
Senior Member
 
rjhammett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Posts: 2,397

Bikes: 85 De Rosa, 92 Merckx MX Leader, 99 Tommasini Sintesi, 08 Look 585, 89 Merckx Corsa Extra, 72 Holdsworth Professional

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 358 Post(s)
Liked 538 Times in 236 Posts
I have owned a Gitane TdF, Peugeot Triathlon and I currently own a Look 585. I haven't been too impressed with any of them. If it was asked "What's so special about Italian bikes?" I would be on board.
rjhammett is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 05:33 AM
  #141  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 20,494

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 178 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5872 Post(s)
Liked 3,427 Times in 2,056 Posts
Originally Posted by rjhammett
I have owned a Gitane TdF, Peugeot Triathlon and I currently own a Look 585. I haven't been too impressed with any of them. If it was asked "What's so special about Italian bikes?" I would be on board.
This is sacrilege,

You know you haven't really tried drinking the French kool aid until you've rebuilt a classic gas pipe Frenchy like a UO-8. Just sayin. . . .
bikemig is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 08:59 AM
  #142  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Greenwood SC USA
Posts: 2,340

Bikes: 2002 Mercian Vincitore, 1982 Mercian Colorado, 1976 Puch Royal X, 1973 Raleigh Competition, 1971 Gitane Tour de France and others

Mentioned: 55 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 822 Post(s)
Liked 1,387 Times in 690 Posts
I've owned a bunch of PX-10s, a PR-10, two Gitane Super Corsas and three Gitane TdFs. I keep coming back to them because there is just something about how French bikes ride that I really like. It may be the metric tubing dimensions, I'm not sure. My latest revelation has been a humble gaspipe Liberia that I bought for the Clunker 100 Challenge this summer. I made period-correct parts changes - replacing the rusted Samir Saminox steel rims with some used Weinmann alloy units and completing the switch from worn Simplex Prestige to alloy SunTour derailleurs and shifters (which came stock on a '75 Motobecane GT!) and I was shocked by how well this bike rides. I keep meaning to replace the crap tires with some Paselas to see where that gets me. It's all in the frame design and the tubing dimensions, I think ...
rustystrings61 is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 09:44 AM
  #143  
Bad example
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Seattle and Reims
Posts: 2,925
Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 775 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 20 Posts
Yep, I am another person who discovered how nice old French bikes are to ride! My old AO-8 triggered my fascination with how good cheap French bikes could be, and I now have two bottom of the line Motobécanes, a even more bottom of the line Astra, a couple other low end Peugeots, etc . . .
@rustystrings61, definitely try out good tires on your Liberia. I use Compass tires on my AO-8, and they are perfect.
__________________
Keeping Seattle’s bike shops in business since 1978
Aubergine is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 10:09 AM
  #144  
Senior Member
 
ollo_ollo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Soviet of Oregon or the NW Florida Redoubt
Posts: 5,323

Bikes: Still have a few left!

Mentioned: 48 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 456 Post(s)
Liked 481 Times in 246 Posts
Tires make a huge difference in the ride and overall weight also. Here's my entry level 1973 Gitane mixte from the same Clunker challenge.

As pictured, with the 45 y.o. Michelin tires on steel rims, and Pryma saddle, it had surprisingly good handling and ride. Weighed about 30 pounds. After Substituting alloy wheels and new Kenda tires, but also changing back to the original, sprung saddle, it was only a few ounces lighter.

Better stopping power in wet conditions was offset some by a poorer ride with the cheap Kenda's. It was still good for an entry level bike, but with the better Michelins, this "Gypsy Lady" compared quite well with my much lighter, and much more expensive Grand Jubile mixte. One of my "best bang for the buck" rides for sure.

My grand daughter gets the bike this Spring. Mods so far are Co-op stuff: a more comfortable Avocet touring saddle + pedals with reflectors. Don
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
DSCN1604.jpg (1.87 MB, 502 views)
ollo_ollo is offline  
Old 12-14-18, 11:01 AM
  #145  
Senior Member
 
Chombi1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 4,424
Mentioned: 102 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1616 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 801 Times in 519 Posts
Originally Posted by bikemig
This is sacrilege,

You know you haven't really tried drinking the French kool aid until you've rebuilt a classic gas pipe Frenchy like a UO-8. Just sayin. . . .
Yes, it seems like the cheaper the French bike is, the more guarantee that it will be a very good riding bike.
Take my lowly Peugeot PH10s that I owned in the 80's, made with Peugeot's Carbolite 103 tubing. Lugless construction with stamped dropouts and stem shifters, basic model Simplex derailleur and rat trap pedals.
I did mod it up with better wheels and components, but it was the frame that provided the magic on that bike. It remains one of the best riding bikes I ever owned. Even compared to the top of the line bikes I now have. Sure it did not handle like a criterium or stage race bike, but there was just something about how it "sings" under you, when you are motoring at speed on the road. And you feel a nice twang from the frame when you put the hammer down that felt really good plus it tracked laser straight and quiet. It also had a satisfying "whoosh" to it when you stand on the pedals and accellerate.
Should have never sold that bike!
I hope it's still alive out there bringing smiles to its owner everytime it is taken out for rides.
Chombi1 is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 12:40 AM
  #146  
tantum vehi
 
mountaindave's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Flathead Valley, MT
Posts: 4,538

Bikes: More than I care to admit

Mentioned: 153 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1164 Post(s)
Liked 944 Times in 474 Posts
Originally Posted by rjhammett
I have owned a Gitane TdF, Peugeot Triathlon and I currently own a Look 585. I haven't been too impressed with any of them...
You talking to me?! You talking to me?!
mountaindave is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 02:55 AM
  #147  
Senior Member
 
Andy_K's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Beaverton, OR
Posts: 14,773

Bikes: Yes

Mentioned: 517 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3222 Post(s)
Liked 3,817 Times in 1,427 Posts
Originally Posted by styggno1
I love my special French bike.

What are you doing with that new-fangled electronic shifting on the C&V forum?
__________________
My Bikes
Andy_K is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 06:04 AM
  #148  
Death fork? Naaaah!!
 
top506's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: The other Maine, north of RT 2
Posts: 5,303

Bikes: Seriously downsizing.

Mentioned: 49 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 552 Post(s)
Liked 608 Times in 269 Posts





Three aces and a jack.

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

(looking for a picture and not seeing it? Thank the Photobucket fiasco.PM me and I'll link it up.)
top506 is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 06:52 AM
  #149  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
bikemig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Middle Earth (aka IA)
Posts: 20,494

Bikes: A bunch of old bikes and a few new ones

Mentioned: 178 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5872 Post(s)
Liked 3,427 Times in 2,056 Posts
Originally Posted by top506
sniip

Three aces and a jack.

Top
These bikes are beautiful. Once you start down this road, it's hard to stop.
bikemig is offline  
Old 12-15-18, 07:28 AM
  #150  
What??? Only 2 wheels?
 
jimmuller's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Boston-ish, MA
Posts: 13,451

Bikes: 72 Peugeot UO-8, 82 Peugeot TH8, 87 Bianchi Brava, 76? Masi Grand Criterium, 74 Motobecane Champion Team, 86 & 77 Gazelle champion mondial, 81? Grandis, 82? Tommasini, 83 Peugeot PF10

Mentioned: 189 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1222 Post(s)
Liked 641 Times in 232 Posts
Another thing so special about French bikes

__________________
Real cyclists use toe clips.
With great bikes comes great responsibility.
jimmuller
jimmuller is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.