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Valgan, Super Vitus 971

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Valgan, Super Vitus 971

Old 05-01-22, 06:49 AM
  #1  
ehcoplex
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Valgan, Super Vitus 971

I spotted this while trawling Craigslist, and while I sure don’t need another project in my life it wasn’t far away and the price was hard to beat, so… Apparently very little info out there about this odd marque (this thread seems to be about it). Too small for me, and I was really just kind of interested in the parts, but… Super Vitus 971 ‘extra legere’ tubing (at least the main triangle and fork- I sort of assume if the fork is 971, the stays would be too, but who knows..), Mafac Competition brakes, SLJ mechs (sadly the RD is missing jockeys and inner half of the cage), Stronglight BB, headset, 93 crankset, Atom pedals, AVA stem & bars, Malliard 700 hubs (axle/innards and cogs missing from rear) with mis-matched 27” rims, nice alloy SLJ seatpost.

Paint is peeling and in unredeemable shape- there was a terrible flood in the region in ’06 and the guy I bought the bike from mentioned having lost his house in it. From the bits of dried mud here and there I suspect the bike spent some time in contaminated water. It seems like a light and good quality frame, so I think maybe worth trying to salvage. The few comments I’ve found from people who have had a Valgan say they are nice riding bikes. Chrome has (at least…) surface rust. Tearing it down to see what’s what, and what to do with it.









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Old 05-01-22, 06:54 AM
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That bike has seen better days which make it a worthy project. How many posts will it be before someone says that the patina on this bike looks spiffy and please don't repaint it, ?
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Old 05-01-22, 06:56 AM
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The patina on this bike looks spiffy, please don't repaint it.
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Old 05-01-22, 08:19 AM
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I do wish it were my size- there's something cool about it being such an obscure 'brand'. Got it pretty much disassembled- except for the stem, which requires a 7mm allen wrench. I must have, oh, over 100 allen wrenches, but apparently no 7mm....?? Considering the corrosion (and my now near certainty it spent some time underwater in the '06 flood) I'm pleased with how easily it's all come apart. The surface rust on the chrome socks is mostly polishing off.
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Old 05-01-22, 03:11 PM
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Nice find! And it looks to be in not too bad a shape. Nice parts too. Looking forward to following your progress with this one.

BTW, the other Valgan thread is actually one of my favorite threads on this forum.
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Old 05-01-22, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by non-fixie View Post
Nice find! And it looks to be in not too bad a shape. Nice parts too. Looking forward to following your progress with this one.

BTW, the other Valgan thread is actually one of my favorite threads on this forum.
That is indeed a very cool thread! I was actually a little on the fence when I saw the Craigslist ad for the bike- do I really need this, even if the price is more-than-right? Ad didn't have the marque, but some stab-in-the-dark googling landed me on that thread and that was that. If it were my size I'd build it up keeping it more-or-less original. Needs wheels.. I test fit some 700c wheels with 35c tires which fit, the Competitions have enough reach, and there'd be room for fenders, too... I think I'll completely clean and polish all the components, do some research on DIY painting. Seems a shame to part it out/canabalize it and not keep it together..

First the PX-10, now this..... I was already a bit of a Francophile generally, but apparently I've been infected with Vintage French Bicycle Syndrome....
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Old 05-01-22, 04:22 PM
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Seat stays- look for vent holes
i think there will be a need to arrest internal rust there, maybe the fork and the rest of the frame too.
not to scare, but there will be work to do.
oxalic acid bath ?
but really pay attention to the fork and seat stays
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Old 05-01-22, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex View Post
That is indeed a very cool thread! I was actually a little on the fence when I saw the Craigslist ad for the bike- do I really need this, even if the price is more-than-right? Ad didn't have the marque, but some stab-in-the-dark googling landed me on that thread and that was that. If it were my size I'd build it up keeping it more-or-less original. Needs wheels.. I test fit some 700c wheels with 35c tires which fit, the Competitions have enough reach, and there'd be room for fenders, too... I think I'll completely clean and polish all the components, do some research on DIY painting. Seems a shame to part it out/canabalize it and not keep it together..

First the PX-10, now this..... I was already a bit of a Francophile generally, but apparently I've been infected with Vintage French Bicycle Syndrome....
I like French bikes as well. Vintage French racing bikes are versatile. They often have remarkably generous tire clearance and the gearing can be easily modified with a stronglight 99 crank. Even the 93 goes down to 37. Some of the short cage simplex RDs can handle a fairly large freewheel. Stronglight headsets and BBs tend to be survivors.
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Old 05-01-22, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by schwim View Post
The patina on this bike looks spiffy, please don't repaint it.
This made me laugh, because when I looked at the pictures, the first thing I thought was, "hey, it's still mostly covered with paint--I might just clean it up and leave it alone."

Like they say, "there is no bad paint original paint, just unappreciative owners,"

Okay, maybe it's just me that says that.
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Old 05-03-22, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Seat stays- look for vent holes
i think there will be a need to arrest internal rust there, maybe the fork and the rest of the frame too.
not to scare, but there will be work to do.
oxalic acid bath ?
but really pay attention to the fork and seat stays
The insides of the frame (what I can see, at least) actually looks pretty good. I sprayed some WD40 into the chainstays from the BB, let it sit for a while then drain out the vent holes by the dropouts and it came out looking pretty clear. Unlike my other bikes, there aren't vent holes at the top of the seat stays, and the ones by the dropout are very tiny, so I'm not sure how to deal with those- assume/hope that with the tops sealed it's unlikely much moisture got inside them?

It's a nice frame, though not notable/valuable enough to warrant an expensive restoration, so I'll try my hand at a DIY/rattlecan paint job with it. If I can find an axle & dustcaps for the Maillard 700 rear hub (and get the inner/remnants of the freewheel that's on there off... really hoping that maybe because the freewheel remnant is Suntour it means the threading is English....) I'll build up a wheelset with a pair of polished Sun M-13II rims I've got lying around. Decided to keep the build mostly original and I'll either pass it on to someone it fits or keep it around as an extra bike for when friends visit (assuming said friends can handle vintage/friction shifting!).
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Old 05-03-22, 06:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex View Post
(and get the inner/remnants of the freewheel that's on there off... really hoping that maybe because the freewheel remnant is Suntour it means the threading is English....)
Suntour did make French threaded freewheels. I think only the Perfect/Pro Compe, but they were noted by a stamping of "metric" and "34.7x1.00" on the remover boss. These can be quite useful, if not valuable, because they allow you access to the tons of Suntour cog options and still-decent availability, mated to a classic French hub.
Also, Maillard 700 hubs were available and maybe even common in English thread.
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Old 05-03-22, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Suntour did make French threaded freewheels. I think only the Perfect/Pro Compe, but they were noted by a stamping of "metric" and "34.7x1.00" on the remover boss. These can be quite useful, if not valuable, because they allow you access to the tons of Suntour cog options and still-decent availability, mated to a classic French hub.
Also, Maillard 700 hubs were available and maybe even common in English thread.
I'm actually hoping the hub is English threaded, as I have a couple english-threaded freewheels already, though I suspect that's unlikely as all else on the bike is French..... But then again, these bikes were apparently 'commissioned' by an American in partnership with a French friend, and the original wheels were 27", so who knows. Waiting on a Suntour freewheel removal tool so see if I can get (what's left of) it off....


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Old 05-03-22, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex View Post
I'm actually hoping the hub is English threaded, as I have a couple english-threaded freewheels already, though I suspect that's unlikely as all else on the bike is French..... But then again, these bikes were apparently 'commissioned' by an American in partnership with a French friend, and the original wheels were 27", so who knows. Waiting on a Suntour freewheel removal tool so see if I can get (what's left of) it off....

Based on the freewheel (It is a Perfect/Pro Compe) not having any "metric" markings, I'm going to say that either the hub is English threaded or the freewheel has been mashed onto the hub and it's all completely ruined. Let's hope for the former!

But there's a way to be dead-sure:
Maillard 700 hubs that are English threaded should have a groove machined in the unthreaded portion inboard of the freewheel threads, like so:


The French threaded equivalent lacks the groove, See below:


Finally, if you are having a hard time with a freewheel remover on that Suntour body, I have had success with a very large pipe wrench. You can usually get it to grip in the divots where the pawls used to be. Then, brace the wheel on the floor, against a wall, and heave!

P.S. those look like they might be butted spokes. Anyway, a nice wheelset - worth saving for sure!
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Old 05-03-22, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by scarlson View Post
Based on the freewheel (It is a Perfect/Pro Compe) not having any "metric" markings, I'm going to say that either the hub is English threaded or the freewheel has been mashed onto the hub and it's all completely ruined. Let's hope for the former!

But there's a way to be dead-sure:
Maillard 700 hubs that are English threaded should have a groove machined in the unthreaded portion inboard of the freewheel threads, like so:

Finally, if you are having a hard time with a freewheel remover on that Suntour body, I have had success with a very large pipe wrench. You can usually get it to grip in the divots where the pawls used to be. Then, brace the wheel on the floor, against a wall, and heave!
Ah, yes- the groove.... alas, none that I can see. It does seem likely that the FW might have been mashed on there and that is why there's only a portion of it still on the hub.... Well, when I get the tool I'll see if I can get it off anyway.
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Old 05-03-22, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ehcoplex View Post
Ah, yes- the groove.... alas, none that I can see. It does seem likely that the FW might have been mashed on there and that is why there's only a portion of it still on the hub.... Well, when I get the tool I'll see if I can get it off anyway.
ohh shi---

Good luck!!!
Here's hoping that you just can't see it or it was marked wrong or something.
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Old 05-05-22, 06:13 PM
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Weeeeeelllllll...... The Park tool showed up today and the freewheel remnants came off pretty easily. Lo-and-behold, though it lacks the groove, it is English threaded!! Seemed incredibly unlikely, but hey, I'll take it. So now I need and axle, cones, spacers, and a dust-cap.... Which leads to my next question for the collective brain.... I'd like to use a 7sp freewheel (not least 'cause I've got a couple of them...). Realizing that I'm introducing a potential weakness (though the frame is 55cm, so unlikely to have an excessively heavy rider), can I source an axle (& spacers) for 126mm spacing and use it with this hub to give me what I want (I know I'll have to respect & realign the rear triangle of the frame too)?
And here's another "huh?" The bearings that came out of the front hub are 5.5mm... I thought 3/16" was pretty much the standard for front hubs. Is it possible Maillard 700 front hubs came with 5.5mm bearings? Or more likely someone repacked along the way and used the wrong size?


Maillard 700

Maillard 700

Maillard 700 dust cap
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Old 05-09-22, 07:10 AM
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Chemically stripped the frame. Scraping, steel-wooling, sanding..... If I ever do another I think I'll find a blaster for it- my hands sure do ache, and I still need to do a little bit more..... Now to decide whether to try Spray.bike, or Rustoleum rattle-cans....




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Old 05-24-22, 11:43 AM
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Decided to give Spray.bike a try for this. The couple powder-coaters within reasonable distance from me weren't very, er, enthusiastic about doing a bike (all about muscle cars and customized Harleys 'round here- cyclists are rare and considered highly suspect....), and weren't cheap either. I think it's a decent frame, but it's not valuable or collectible, so nothing to lose by going this route. So far, so good. The surface is a wee bit 'rough' seeming so I may try a little very light sanding before I clear-coat it.



Initially I was going to try to recreate the original logos/stickers, but after working on it a bit I decided I wasn't really that thrilled with the original graphics so what the heck, I'll just make up my own.... Picked a font I kinda like, a Gallic rooster because..... France. Probably will tweak some more, and have to figure out where to get them printed up.

head-tube

Down-tube

seat-tube

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Old 05-30-22, 09:55 AM
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Hello, I'm new to this forum. I Googled Valgan because my Dad bought a Powder Blue Valgan, new in Scranton PA, in 1976. He rarely rode it and it has been in his garage ever since. He gave it to me and everything is original, it is in pretty good shape. This is my first post so I wont be able to post pictures yet.
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Old 05-30-22, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Guttooth71 View Post
Hello, I'm new to this forum. I Googled Valgan because my Dad bought a Powder Blue Valgan, new in Scranton PA, in 1976. He rarely rode it and it has been in his garage ever since. He gave it to me and everything is original, it is in pretty good shape. This is my first post so I wont be able to post pictures yet.

-----

Welcome to the forum!

We shall look forward to seeing your example.

If you go to your "member page" here at the forum there is spot over on the right margin marked "album."

You can upload images there without having made ten posts.

Readers can view the album and put the pictures into the thread.



-----
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Old 05-30-22, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Guttooth71 View Post
Hello, I'm new to this forum. I Googled Valgan because my Dad bought a Powder Blue Valgan, new in Scranton PA, in 1976. He rarely rode it and it has been in his garage ever since. He gave it to me and everything is original, it is in pretty good shape. This is my first post so I wont be able to post pictures yet.
Cool- looking forward to seeing pics of one in good condition! I await new decals so I can clear-coat my repainted Valgan (it was also powder blue, which it what I repainted it).

You've probably already found these threads, but if not there's more info there-

My annual plea for "VALGAN" French bike info.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stronglight/1328026840

I'm skeptical of the hierarchy of models in the former thread- Super Vitus 971, SLJ mechs, Maillard 700 hubs, etc seem like components on something a bit higher in the lineup...
Does yours have any sort of model name decal?
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Old 05-30-22, 01:11 PM
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Hang out and share pictures when you can, I look forward to seeing it!
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Old 05-30-22, 05:18 PM
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-----

plusieurs images -

​​​​​​
​​​​​​
​​​​​​

---

chainset: Universel by A. Duprat
pedals: Eclair
headset: RFG Crante Luxe Nr. 15
wheel rims: Rigida SuperChromix
extension brake lever adaptors: Bicycle Research Products
bottom bracket assembly: RFG
bottom bracket shell: Gargatte
chainstay bridge: ESGE
propstand: TAIWAN replica of ESGE
seat binder, stem binder, stem expander & crank wedgebolts: ALGI

---

date of manufacture appears 1973-74

you may discover a date marking on the cycle's Simplex Prestige gear mechs:





-----

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Old 05-30-22, 07:07 PM
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Interesting- same color as mine, though different components & no SV tubing decals. But really nice shape and will surely clean/polish up very well! If the paint on mine had been anywhere near that condition it I sure wouldn't have stripped and repainted. I'm curious about the sticker at the top of the seat-tube...

Also interesting that there are some brazed on cable guides on this one while mine has none, though mine has higher-level components. Seems like maybe the color-coded hierarchy noted in the older linked Valgan post isn't completely accurate.

Last edited by ehcoplex; 05-30-22 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 05-31-22, 11:37 AM
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Guttooth71
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Location: Eastern PA
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Bikes: Vintage Valgan , Giant Revolt Advanced, Trek 300

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Originally Posted by ehcoplex View Post
Interesting- same color as mine, though different components & no SV tubing decals. But really nice shape and will surely clean/polish up very well! If the paint on mine had been anywhere near that condition it I sure wouldn't have stripped and repainted. I'm curious about the sticker at the top of the seat-tube...

Also interesting that there are some brazed on cable guides on this one while mine has none, though mine has higher-level components. Seems like maybe the color-coded hierarchy noted in the older linked Valgan post isn't completely accurate.
The little decal on seat tubing says "Tubing 10/10 handcrafted in France". I really don't know much about vintage bikes, I plan on keeping this as original as possible, but I would still like to ride it even though frame is a bit to large for me. I'm hoping it just needs minimal replacement parts and a tune up. How should I go about cleaning this bike up? What Chemicals to use/not to use.? Should I use aluminum foil to remove the rust on the chrome?
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