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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, 06:59 PM
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What's so special about French bikes?

I'm thinking about my next project bike and I think I should find something French. There is just something very cool and funky about French bikes. They can be a pita to find parts for, most derailleurs may or may not work with the rear drop outs, most stems may or may not fit without some alterations, your crank removal tool is likely to strip the crank, the cranks may not work with any of your existing pedals, French threaded freewheels are as rare as hen's teeth and many work poorly, you are likely to have no idea whether the damn bottom bracket is French or swiss which is an unbelievable pain when trying to get the fixed cup out, and, last but not least, you know you just have to run sew ups with them which is another pita. What am I missing here?

Am I going to get a lot of pics of gauloises and baguettes on this thread?

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Old 02-28-17, 07:08 PM
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"What's so special about French bikes"?

Nothing. They have to be different. To different for my liking.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:20 PM
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You could save yourself all that grief and just get a French girlfriend.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by 3speedslow
You could save yourself all that grief and just get a French girlfriend.
A Girlfriend you can't communicate with. Maybe I can finally get some Peace.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:28 PM
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EVERYTHING


Viva la difference


Find a frame that allows the use of a derailleur hangar - the older ones from the early/mid '60's and back commonly had no integrated hangar, even on higher end models, thus allowing a choice of popular derailleurs to be used - and besides, older is cooler, right? I love riding my early '60's Peschi, very responsive, comfortable and fun, and I know I will not see another when riding around. I finally managed to get a period correct Stronglight 49D crank set installed to replace the Nervar Star shown, she is now pretty well complete.

Since I had to start with a bare frame and just a wheel set I went with early Campagnolo Record rear derailleur and pedals as I got them for next to nothing, no doubt the bike was all French originally but at least I am keeping in the spirit of the era.


By the mid/late '60's it was more common to see a French bike sporting Campagnolo components and lastly, the earlier frames usually had a longer wheelbase and very gracefully curved fork blades which I find aesthetically pleasing and they tend to give a very compliant ride too. I use Challenge 25mm tubulars and i find the bike is quite smooth, even on rougher roads due to the frame's ability to absorb and flex, it tends to "float" as any good frame will.


It is true that the stem diameter ( 22.0 mm ) handlebar clamp diameter ( 25 mm ) and threading is unique but just requires a bit more awareness, finding the necessary components is not really problematic, especially with Ebay France. Of course, the more complete the bike the better! I found a perfectly usable Atom 14 - 26 French threaded freewheel at a local bike co op for next to nothing, looked after they are long lasting. Most French components are actually well thought out and designed.











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Old 02-28-17, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by VintageRide
EVERYTHING


Viva la difference
I would be willing to bet your wearing a Beret, waving a surrender Flag and eating stinky Cheese.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by VintageRide
EVERYTHING


Viva la difference
Je suis tout en d'accord!!
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Old 02-28-17, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
I'm thinking about my next project bike and I think I should find something French.
Simple process of elimination to avoid much grief for sport-tourers: Motobecane.
Straight, well finished and if "Grand-anything" buy one, if it fits.

For a vintage race bike: Vitus 979, accept no substitutes.

-Bandera

Last edited by Bandera; 02-28-17 at 07:40 PM.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:42 PM
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The idiosincracities is what makes them endearing. I'll throw in the TdF, Michelin, Simplex, Stronglight,
Huret, Mafac... Their classic bikes and componentry have a distinctive elegance and performed as good or better than what was available globally. Having said that I don't own a French bike (already at N+2) and having enough trouble with proprietary Raleigh BB's, axles, headsets and Whitworth sizes.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:45 PM
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The French beheaded royalty for getting uppity, Italians are dirty fascists. Except for Bottecchia.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mzr
The French beheaded royalty for getting uppity, Italians are dirty fascists. Except for Bottecchia.
The Italians have cleaned themselves up since then. The French answer was "Let Them Eat Cake". Viva La Revolution.

I do like Mavic Rims though that's about as French as I get.
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Old 02-28-17, 07:58 PM
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Its like asking..."Whats so special about French Cheese".
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Old 02-28-17, 08:01 PM
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You are in for some headaches. I you want to sell your french parts, good luck with that. If you want to buy french parts, bonne chance!
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Old 02-28-17, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring
Its like asking..."Whats so special about French Cheese".
I like French Cheese. Unfortunately you need a Special French Knife to cut it.
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Old 02-28-17, 08:10 PM
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Now behave yourself!

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Old 02-28-17, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by crank_addict
Now behave yourself!

Wow, what the heck is that? Is that fake news? Because if it is, I believe it!
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Old 02-28-17, 08:23 PM
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Constructeurs and their trickle-down ilk.

The little annoying eccentricities of french racing bikes are forgiven in the face of the original designs and sheer numbers of all of those magnificent red-fat-tired bikes ridden by just about everyone. Maxicar, Lefol, 650B, you know what they look like. Look at @MiloFrances tandem posted today.
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Old 02-28-17, 08:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
Simple process of elimination to avoid much grief for sport-tourers: Motobecane.
Straight, well finished and if "Grand-anything" buy one, if it fits.

For a vintage race bike: Vitus 979, accept no substitutes.

-Bandera
As above.
There's also a Gitane Super Corsa and a Moto Grand Jubilee out in the barn, a Moto Grand Record frame and fork waiting for time and parts, and a Peugeot PX 10 in process.
If you don't go for the Al Vitus, look for metric 531 and you'll be amazed and not disappointed.

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Old 02-28-17, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
Wow, what the heck is that? Is that fake news? Because if it is, I believe it!
Campagnolo had a factory in France for many years.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera
Simple process of elimination to avoid much grief for sport-tourers: Motobecane.
Straight, well finished and if "Grand-anything" buy one, if it fits.

For a vintage race bike: Vitus 979, accept no substitutes.

-Bandera
un de plus

70's era lugwork is excellent for a production frame. The french decaled 531 tubeset, the two tone paint jobs, the pinstriping and lug lining, sweet!

The oddity of having a Campy rear dropout, spec'ed by Ben Lawee so they could use the technically superior SunTour derailleurs, but Swiss BB? Gotta have some of that French Funk somehow.

The Grand Record is an underrrated frame. We had one of those black and red ones in my frame size in an LBS I worked at, I thought it looked pretty cool, but Italian road racing bikes ruled the day. I've had a couple come through Atelier Gugie, they make great 650b conversions.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie
un de plus

70's era lugwork is excellent for a production frame. The french decaled 531 tubeset, the two tone paint jobs, the pinstriping and lug lining, sweet!

The oddity of having a Campy rear dropout, spec'ed by Ben Lawee so they could use the technically superior SunTour derailleurs, but Swiss BB? Gotta have some of that French Funk somehow.

The Grand Record is an underrrated frame. We had one of those black and red ones in my frame size in an LBS I worked at, I thought it looked pretty cool, but Italian road racing bikes ruled the day. I've had a couple come through Atelier Gugie, they make great 650b conversions.
I see they used an English tubeset. Did the French ever have their own tubeset? So they used English Tubes Japanese Derailleurs Swiss BB, Campy Dropouts. So where is the french "Funk?
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Old 02-28-17, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone
I see they used an English tubeset. Did the French ever have their own tubeset? So they used English Tubes Japanese Derailleurs Swiss BB, Campy Dropouts. So where is the french "Funk?
Vitus of course. But you're missing the point, it's construit avec Reynolds and that makes all the difference,
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Old 02-28-17, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone
I see they used an English tubeset. Did the French ever have their own tubeset? So they used English Tubes Japanese Derailleurs Swiss BB, Campy Dropouts. So where is the french "Funk?
English sized tubeset, the decals in french made them ride faster.
Reynolds made a metric tubeset as well.
It's funky cause of the combo of parts.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:45 PM
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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.
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Old 02-28-17, 09:47 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,
"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?
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