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1970s Manufrance - Unsure of Year - Many other questions to come

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1970s Manufrance - Unsure of Year - Many other questions to come

Old 05-20-23, 08:40 AM
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1970s Manufrance - Unsure of Year - Many other questions to come

I picked this up last week for $25, purchased from the original owner. Seems to have been a pretty well cared for bike when in use, but like most of these languished for many years in a garage. What I've noted that appears to be non-original is the derailleur cables/housing, handlebar tape, tires, front derailleur (now Suntour) and that's about it. I have quite a few questions about the bike (and more detail pictures to follow), but for now I'll keep it simple. Main question is what year is this bike? I've attached a picture of the derailleur pulley cage stamping, but as you can see, what looks like the '2' stamping isn't exactly crystal clear. My other question for now is what type of frame tubing would this bike have used? There are no stickers or other indicators on the frame, except there is a chrome 'touring' sticker toward the rear of the top tube, so I'm assuming this was intended as a touring bike. The owner told me he rode it from Minot, North Dakota, to somewhere in the state of Michigan, and back, in the 1970s, so I guess it really did get used as intended. I intend to do a light restoration and make the bike functional again though it doesn't seem to really need much. Thanks in advance for any info. the in-house Frenchy experts can provide.



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Old 05-20-23, 09:05 AM
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congratulations, you found one of the nice ones!

yes, the date marking on the cycle's Simplex Criterium rear derailleur is February 1972; you have a "boomer."

possible it may be a 1973 model bicycle rather than a 1972 as that was the first year we saw any Stronglight model 49D chainsets coming through with the allen key chainwheel bolts. prior to that they were hex head.

would expect it may be constructed with some form of quality plain gauge tubing, perhaps one of the sets from Ateliers de La Rive... one check you could make is to measure the saddle pillar diameter. a quality plain gauge size would be 26.2mm. it may have carried a tubing transfer ex-works which has been lost to time.

the machine's Tron et Berthet I-frame saddle is quite valuable.

slightly odd that it was supplied with a Criterium model rear mech yet was fitted with Prestige level shift levers. such were the conditions of the boom that manufacturers had to build with what they could get.

for refereene here is a 1971 catalogue page from Simplex showing the individual pieces of the Criterium gear ensemble -



when new, your rear derailleur's upper pulley would have exhibited teeth to match the lower one. riders who insist on pedalling with the derailleur's chaincage out of alignment with the cog can grind away the teeth.

have a 1974 model Manufrance hanging in me racks which is one model down from your example. it is silver and has a cottered chainset.

firm much larger in terms of unit volume than realized by many. the bulk of productive capacity went into contract manufacture for chainstores and distributors where the cycles were marked with house brands. another owned name by Manufrance is that of Hirondelle.

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Last edited by juvela; 05-20-23 at 09:29 AM. Reason: addition
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Old 05-20-23, 09:36 AM
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juvela, thanks so much for all that info. and also confirmation of the model year. I will have to measure the seat post diameter when I get a chance. Unless there are any identifiers on it, looks like this is the kick in the pants I need to finally acquire a caliper.

When you say quality plain gauge tubing, what would the material be? I'm assuming high tensile, but possibly chromoly? I'm wondering for curiousity's sake.

Interesting about the saddle. I have some more detailed shots of it I will post once I've uploaded all the photos to my computer. It has two '9s' on the chassis, which I believe may indicate the model. I gave it a light treatment with leather conditioner a few days ago but do have some questions about if or how you could rejuvenate it to mold to your own butt (if that's possible) as I've never owned a leather saddle like that before. Or if I should just store it and put something else on there in the meantime.

I've done quite a bit of reading about Manufrance and St. Etienne since buying the bike. It seems like they were the first, or at least one of the first, companies to sell mail order bikes, as early as 1892 from what I gather. The Manufrance catalogues I've seen remind me of the old Sears catalogs.

Great to hear from a fellow owner. Funny enough, another Manufrance has popped up in the local classifieds, for sale in the same town I bought this one out of. That one is what looks to be a Candy Gold color, but with the same decal scheme as mine, so likely from the same era or close to it.
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Old 05-20-23, 10:35 AM
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Neat bike and well worth restoring. Given the quality of the components, I would guess that that this would be a decent quality frame tubing. Is there a remnant of a frame decal on the fork blade? Perhaps the seller might have an idea if he or she is the original owner.

French bikes are cool but they do have their differences.

You will need a stronglight puller to overhaul the bottom bracket. https://steintool.com/portfolio-item...nk-extractors/

You may want to replace the downtube shifters; the inexpensive simplex shifters don't tend to last. If you want a set of the simplex criterium shifters, you can put up a WTB in the C&V for sale forum. Something might pop up and it will be less expensive than anything you find on eBay. A campy downtube shifter wouldn't be a bad choice either.

It looks as if the front derailleur has been replaced. The rear derailleurs are actually pretty good and have a very decent capacity.

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...ba4fd&Enum=108

You may want to sell that saddle since it does have a value but it is a bit of shame to break up the bike as it is a survivor. That's your call.

Are the hubs Normandy Sport or Luxe? The Luxe were nicer and it would not surprise me if that is what they are. They have a gold label and they are a PITA to overhaul as the dust cups aren't really removable. The Sports are much easier to work with and you can find cones for them given how common they were.

Here is the info on the Luxe hubs:

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...a8ec4&Enum=110

Kool stop makes replacement brake pads for the Mafac racers. You likely will want to replace them:

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...a8ec4&Enum=110

Be careful and keep track of the small parts. That's a good thing to do with any old bike but the bits and pieces for French bikes tend to be of different dimensions and can be hard to replace.

Since you now have a French bike, you might enjoy this thread:

What's so special about French bikes?

It will be fun getting this back on the road.

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Old 05-20-23, 10:41 AM
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the saddle's alloy frame was manufactured by the firm of CEGEDUR

they are a producer of alloy parts for both bicycles and motorcycles





for information on saddle care & restoration seek out the postings of member rhm


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Old 05-20-23, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
Neat bike and well worth restoring. Given the quality of the components, I would guess that that this would be a decent quality frame tubing. Is there a remnant of a frame decal on the fork blade? Perhaps the seller might have an idea if he or she is the original owner.

French bikes are cool but they do have their differences.

You will need a stronglight puller to overhaul the bottom bracket. https://steintool.com/portfolio-item...nk-extractors/

You may want to replace the downtube shifters; the inexpensive simplex shifters don't tend to last. If you want a set of the simplex criterium shifters, you can put up a WTB in the C&V for sale forum. Something might pop up and it will be less expensive than anything you find on eBay. A campy downtube shifter wouldn't be a bad choice either.

It looks as if the front derailleur has been replaced. The rear derailleurs are actually pretty good and have a very decent capacity.

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...ba4fd&Enum=108

You may want to sell that saddle since it does have a value but it is a bit of shame to break up the bike as it is a survivor. That's your call.

Are the hubs Normandy Sport or Luxe? The Luxe were nicer and it would not surprise me if that is what they are. They have a gold label and they are a PITA to overhaul as the dust cups aren't really removable. The Sports are much easier to work with and you can find cones for them given how common they were.

Here is the info on the Luxe hubs:

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...a8ec4&Enum=110

Kool stop makes replacement brake pads for the Mafac racers. You likely will want to replace them:

https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...a8ec4&Enum=110

Be careful and keep track of the small parts. That's a good thing to do with any old bike but the bits and pieces for French bikes tend to be of different dimensions and can be hard to replace.

Since you now have a French bike, you might enjoy this thread:

What's so special about French bikes?

It will be fun getting this back on the road.
Thanks for all the links, bikemig! I had already noted elsewhere the Kool Stop brake pads being a good replacement. I notice the rear pads on the bike now are white and molded with 'GT' on them, so definitely not correct.

I plan on replacing anything that need replacing (the rear brake lever is stiff and seems to need new cable/housing), and beyond that grease and repack bearings. In looking over the bike last night it seems like none of the bearing housings anywhere are loose, so hopefully everything just needs a repack. Initial goal is get it ready to ride and tackle the more serious maintenance shortly afterwards.
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Old 05-20-23, 12:34 PM
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Juvela, here's a shot of the the saddle's frame, along with a gratuitous shot of the saddle after a light treatment with leather conditioner.



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Old 05-20-23, 12:36 PM
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Bikemig, here's shot of the front hub (pretty sure the back is matching). All I can make out is script that says STAR. What do you think?

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Old 05-20-23, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Maxey
Bikemig, here's shot of the front hub (pretty sure the back is matching). All I can make out is script that says STAR. What do you think?

snip . . .
Not Normandy hubs, maybe New Star, https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...9a630&Enum=110

If the cones are bad, there are plenty of 27 inch wheels with high flange hubs floating around. The wheels from the Peugeot UO 10 series are very good (Normandy sport high flange hubs with Rigida 16-22 rims); you can find a donor bike and swap wheels.
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Old 05-20-23, 12:44 PM
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That's a nice bike, you got a winner. Looks very lightly used.

New tires and brake cables / pads for sure.

"Manufrance" was the maker of Gitane and Bertin bikes, possibly some others. Located in St. Etienne, in their time Manufrance made sewing machines and guns during the war.

Clean it up, ride it and share a pic.

/markp
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Old 05-20-23, 12:50 PM
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New Star brand bicycle hubs are a product of the firm Etablissements Perrin

this manufacturer best known for Pelissier brand products

another brand name they own is that of Exceltoo

they are also the actual maker of Maillard 700 model bicycle hubs -



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Old 05-20-23, 01:02 PM
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Thanks for all the info. about the hubs, guys. One more question (for now! - and thanks for your generosity in taking the time to answer my questions). In reference to what Juvela posted earlier about the Simplex Rr. Derailleur, is mine supposed to have one wheel with teeth and one smooth one? I can't really see both in the awesome drawings he posted earlier, so am left wondering. Again, thanks everyone for taking the time to answer all my questions. Part of it simple curiousity, but the main part is I like to know everything can about original specs, as I've restored a few motorcycles, and always endeavor to keep everything as original as possible.

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Old 05-20-23, 01:05 PM
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Here's a couple rear derailleur shots. Again, I'm wondering about the one toothed pulley and the one smooth one. I was surprised and impressed with the transparent rubber looking cover over the Simplex logo!

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Old 05-20-23, 01:44 PM
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​​​​​​

​​​​​​https://velobase.com/ViewComponent.a...108&AbsPos=574


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Old 05-20-23, 01:47 PM
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Thanks, Juvela. Looks like I need to track down new pulley wheels, might as well do 'em both.
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Old 05-20-23, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Maxey
Thanks, Juvela. Looks like I need to track down new pulley wheels, might as well do 'em both.
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any bicycle co-op (or dump!) is sure to have plenty of broken Simplex derailleurs which can be cannibalized for spares...


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Old 05-20-23, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by juvela
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any bicycle co-op (or dump!) is sure to have plenty of broken Simplex derailleurs which can be cannibalized for spares...


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I will most likely have to rely on the interwebs to get some as I am in North Dakota. There are hundreds of farm co-ops here, but no bicycle co-ops, and I'm not likely to find any in dump either. I see on Ebay they have some what they're calling Simplex Suntour jockey wheel pulley conversion kits, but the one that I did look at didn't seem to list my particular Simplex model for compatability and said:These bushings and caps will fit your vintage Suntour or Simplex derailleurs that use 6 mm, outside diameter, jockey wheel bolts.

I also found these, described as Simplex Brevette Derailleur Jockey Wheel Pulley Set NOS Vintage Road Bike, but have no idea if they're compatible with mine:
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Old 05-20-23, 03:10 PM
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The OP is in North Dakota so not sure whether he lives near a bike co-op. Pulleys from a suntour derailleur should work.

Simplex/Suntour/Shimano Pulley Wheel compatibility

Finding BB parts is not difficult as French square taper bottom brackets had a long production run and old parts are still floating around. The most likely bit to be beat up in a bottom bracket is a spindle and used stronglight spindles are available.

Hub parts are likely unobtainium assuming that a cone is bad or the hub itself is scored. Just repack and ride and look for replacement wheels.

The headset is likely fine; they tend to last as long as not ridden too loose or too tight. Replacement French headsets are available if needed.

If looking for parts, put up a WTB in the C&V for sale forum. You'll get better prices than on eBay.

Also when looking for replacement tires, get wired on clinchers as they're cheaper than folding tires. Your rims may not have a hook or a bead given how old they are in which case you must run wired on clinchers and not run them much over 75 psi. Panaracer Paselas are a good tire and they look right on an old bike.

https://www.modernbike.com/product-2...RoC5p4QAvD_BwE

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Old 05-20-23, 03:53 PM
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You're correct, bikemig, no bike co-ops here, but 100s of farm co-ops!

Thanks for the link to the pulley wheel compatibility thread, looks like any of the suntour 6mms will work, so off I go.

I also like those tires you linked to. I was thinking of switching to gumwall tires as I like that look on the vintage bikes, though I'm pretty sure the tires the bike came with are nearly new, notwithstanding how old they probably are. They still have the molding flashing on the center of the tread, so I think they must've been installed just before the bike took its long slumber.
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Old 05-20-23, 04:22 PM
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If you have trouble locating the pulley wheels, send me a PM. I likely have a set you can have for the price of shipping. I like old French bikes and I've rescued a few over the years. I have a Mercier 300 I need to rebuild one of these days. You have a good one on your hands.

I had the pleasure of riding across North Dakota when I did the Northern Tier cross country ride. I drank some of the worst coffee I've ever had in ND with some of the nicest people I met on that ride. In fact, in almost every small town, people would explain to me why I might want to settle down there once I finished my ride.

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Old 05-20-23, 06:02 PM
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Very nice bike. I think there may be remnants of a decal on the fork blade near the fork crown. The shape of the outline could offer a clue as to type of steel.
I donít think youíve done any harm with a light coat if conditioner but be aware a leather bike saddle should not be treated with any leather conditioner. The reason is because in this case the leather is also acting as a structural member like a hammock. If treated with typical conditioner the leather will likely stretch when you use it. Instead there is a special treatment just for leather bicycle saddles. Easiest to find is Brooks Proofhide. Use sparingly. Over time with use the saddle will shape itself to your body. Also be sure not to let saddle get wet from rain or when washing. This also can lead to permanent deformation.
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Old 05-21-23, 04:08 AM
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That's a nice bike in really good condition. I'm not sure how instructive these photos I'm sending prove-to-be, but it is the same model as yours. This one is owned by one Gary Keim, who is the owner of the Facebook page Vintage UK. He cites his as a 1972 model. I would like to add that Vitus 172 came out in 1972, and the early sets had a 26.2 internal diameter to the seat-posts. we see no tubing sticker on Gary's bike, either, so maybe Durifort. My Manufrance is the best-riding bike I own.


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Old 05-21-23, 06:30 AM
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Wow, that saddle cleaned up beautifully!
It looks like the pulleys are the kind with loose bearings in them- they're kinda neat, but IME can be hard to get apart. I had a Simplex RD that had a similar toothless pulley- I assumed the toothed part had broken and come off, but Huret made RDs that had one (or both?) toothless pulley, so maybe it's supposed to be like that?... Velo Orange sells those red aluminum sealed-bearing pulleys which can be made to fit by carefully slightly drilling out/enlarging the plastic fitment bushings. And also, Wayne Bingham at Velo Classique has NOS Simplex pulleys (or at least he did as of about a year ago).
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Old 05-21-23, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig
If you have trouble locating the pulley wheels, send me a PM. I likely have a set you can have for the price of shipping. I like old French bikes and I've rescued a few over the years. I have a Mercier 300 I need to rebuild one of these days. You have a good one on your hands.

I had the pleasure of riding across North Dakota when I did the Northern Tier cross country ride. I drank some of the worst coffee I've ever had in ND with some of the nicest people I met on that ride. In fact, in almost every small town, people would explain to me why I might want to settle down there once I finished my ride.
Thank you for your kind offer, bikemig. I'll see what I can't source on my own, but will keep your offer in mind.

I've never owned a French bike 'til now, but it seems natural I should own one as I have a French last name. French people are probably the smallest minority group in North Dakota!

That's so funny about North Dakota coffee, and true! I'm not sure why it's like that, but I attribute it to the large German and Scandinavian population here, where bland is the order of the day. Just looking at a Jalapeno will darn near kill most of these people.
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Old 05-21-23, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Slowride79
Very nice bike. I think there may be remnants of a decal on the fork blade near the fork crown. The shape of the outline could offer a clue as to type of steel.
I donít think youíve done any harm with a light coat if conditioner but be aware a leather bike saddle should not be treated with any leather conditioner. The reason is because in this case the leather is also acting as a structural member like a hammock. If treated with typical conditioner the leather will likely stretch when you use it. Instead there is a special treatment just for leather bicycle saddles. Easiest to find is Brooks Proofhide. Use sparingly. Over time with use the saddle will shape itself to your body. Also be sure not to let saddle get wet from rain or when washing. This also can lead to permanent deformation.
Yep, I had no idea about it, but had a sneaking suspicion I shouldn't go overboard with the conditioner. I'll look into the Proofhide, thanks for the tip.
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