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Gitane 1973

Old 07-11-22, 03:29 PM
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Gitane 1973

I have my dads 1973 Gitane road bike. It hasn't been ridden in recent years, and I am looking to update what I can. I have never worked on a bike and am new to the hobby, but I am eager to learn. I just need to be pointed in the right direction. Advice or suggestions welcome

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Old 07-11-22, 04:25 PM
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Gita next 1973

Since you don’t have any experience with bikes, I suggest one of the older how-to books that cover bikes
and components from that era. “The New Complete Book of Cycling” by Eugene Sloan covers many
components and bikes from the 1970’s. I still use my old copy when working on vintage equipment. That book
is available for low prices on the online auction sites. And the Bicycling magazine books are pretty good too.
I am sure the information is available on line , but sometimes it is helpful to have a low tech book for
reference. Bill
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Old 07-11-22, 04:38 PM
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I completely agree with Bill. Pick up one of many books out there. I recently got one of Bicycling magazine bicycle repair books. Great instructions on bicycle repair with lots of pictures. I got one back in 1990 and recently picked up a more updated version off eBay.
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Old 07-11-22, 04:57 PM
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If you update your profile you can list where you are located.

If near a city, that city may have a co-op which can be an incredible resource. Staff are usually very knowledgeable and patient with beginners.
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Old 07-11-22, 05:27 PM
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Ch3ss Welcome aboard
good suggestions, above books and hands on at the Co-op
Also Youtube is your friend.
Check out RJ the bike guy for instructional videos.
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Old 07-11-22, 05:37 PM
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Tell us what model you have; might be listed on the fork or one of the frame tubes.
You can upload photos to an album and someone will post a link to them. Once you reach 10 posts, you can attach pix to your posts.
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Old 07-11-22, 05:57 PM
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Welcome to a wealth of knowledge here. Pics will help.
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Old 07-11-22, 08:05 PM
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A word of advice, check to see if your cranks are Stronglight brand. They likely are, if this is a high-end bike. If they are, then be very careful to use the right tool to remove the cranks. Stronglight used a unique 23.35 mm thread for the extractor, so use only a Stronglight remover, or one made to fit such as a Stein or Var.

Many folks have ended up stripping out the threads on the cranks by using a 23.0 mm remover, which is the size for TA brand cranks. Even bike shop personnel often don't know the difference, especially now that the cranks have been obsolete for nearly 50 years.

If your bike is a cheaper one, it might have cottered steel cranks. Working on cottered cranks is a bit of a lost art. No one who works in most bike shops knows how to do it right, though some will say they do and they aren't lying, they just don't know what they don't know. Those steel cranks are really heavy too, with not much good to say about them, so maybe just upgrade them to aluminum cotterless cranks. There are a few of us here that can give you advice if you want to stick with the cottered cranks though, for whatever reason. Sentimental attachment? A 1950s or older bike with cottered cranks should be kept original, but by '73 only cheap bikes had them, and those don't need to be kept original IMHO. If I sound like a bike snob, it's probably because I am.

Your pedals are probably 14 mm thread, which is not interchangeable with modern pedals that all have a 9/16" thread. So hang on to the original pedals. French cranks can be tapped to 9/16" though, if you want to upgrade the pedals. You just can't go back to 14 mm after the cranks have been tapped.

Your handlebar stem is nominal 22.0 mm ("French" size), not interchangeable with English/Italian/Japanese stems that are usually 7/8" (22.2 mm). Yes 0.2 of a millimeter makes a difference! 7/8" stems can be reduced in size to fit a French steerer.

Your hub has a thread-on freewheel, and it is metric threaded too. If you put an English-thread freewheel on there, it can seem to fit, but then you'll strip the threads on the hub on the next steep hill, ruining it. It's possible to find French-threaded freewheels, but not new, you'd be looking at used stuff from another C&V person or ebay. (Old stuff that was never used is called NOS for "new old stock", but NOS metric freewheels are extremely rare.) You can also replace the rear wheel with one with English threads, or one with a cassette freehub, the more modern type. The latter will probably require bending the rear triangle out wider, because most freehubs are wider than the old 5-speed standard on your frame. Ask for advice here before attempting to widen the spacing, most people do it wrong if not taught the right way.

Your bottom bracket bearings (that the crank spindle turns in) and the headset (that the fork steerer turns in) are also metric threaded, not interchangeable with English/Italian/ISO/JIS threads. French-threaded parts are still available if you need them, both new and NOS.

Working on an old French bike is more challenging than working on most other old bikes, for the reasons I've listed and a couple more. They can be really nice-riding bikes though, and a lot of us love them and seek them out. Should you choose to sell it, you'll likely find a buyer here, especially if it's one of the top-of-the-line models. Do make a note of the forum rules for selling bikes though, you can't list it until your membership is upgraded, and then only in the For Sale forum.

Have fun, and welcome to the forum.

Mark B
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Old 07-11-22, 08:59 PM
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Welcome Ch3ss. Mark has given some great advice and pointed out common pitfalls. Here is another resource Take your time and ask advice first just like you’re doing
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Old 07-11-22, 11:17 PM
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Bulgie 100% correct about the challenges of working on French bikes from the 1970s. To be clear, however, there is nothing inherently wrong or bad with French stuff, and Gitane sold good bikes within their respective price ranges. It's just that the French had lost the thread-standardization wars by the end of the1980s. In terms of sales, Japanese companies (Suntour and especially Shimano) started crushing pretty much everyone, but especially the French, in OEM parts, and the Japanese had adopted the British threading standards years before. (The Italians also had their own threading standards that still survive because Campagnolo survived, primarily because of its reputation with high-end racers and the trickle-down effect of that). Bottom line: don't take any of bulgie's warning as indications that French-threaded parts are bad - they aren't - just that they are relatively uncommon and you have to make a special effort to find them.
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Old 07-11-22, 11:54 PM
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Some good advice has been given so far but if you plan on riding the bike be sure it fits you or it’s eventual recipient properly before you do anything at all.
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