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My annual plea for "VALGAN" French bike info.

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My annual plea for "VALGAN" French bike info.

Old 01-06-08, 01:46 AM
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My annual plea for "VALGAN" French bike info.

For nearly 2 years, I have inquired everywhere I could think of for information about one of my favorite bikes... with no luck at all.

I picked this up as a frameset in March 2006. It was bought by the previous owner at an estate auction in upper New York State in 2005, and he then parted out the bike on eBay. He had sold just the gold Simplex Super LJ rear derailleur from it for almost the $135 which I paid for the entire frameset along with with its mint condition Stronglight S-5 headset and Stronglight bottom bracket. The original components found on the bike were all mid to late 70s top-end gold anodized and French made. All threading on the bike is French.

Frame Height: 58 cm (c-c) = 59.5 (c-t).
Frame Weight: only 5 pounds, 13 ounces (or 2,635 Grams)- not bad for an old steel frameset.
The complete frameset is actually lighter than any of my other full d/b 531 French bikes of similar sizes.

Tubing... Super Vitus 971 Extra Legere (extra light) - which is also rare enough in its own right and seldom seen.
Metric French diameters, of course, with 28.0 seat tube...
Seat post size is 26.6 - which is exactly comparable to a 27.2 post on standard tubing.
Lugs... Prugnat Professional.
Bottom bracket... Gargette, stamped "RGF"
Dropouts... Simplex forged with typical French non-threaded 9 mm derailleur hanger and threadless eyelets, and these have 3 mm wheel adjuster screws.

All data on this "phantom" Marque seems now completely lost over the passing years. Someone only recently had pointed out to me that the stylized logo (now pretty much rubbed off of the head and seat tube foil stickers) almost appears to be a vague lower 48 USA outline, with a line of the lower case letter "i" crossing it, like a stylized picket fence. This leads me to suspect even more now that it had been made by a small anonymous French contract builder and was originally intended for direct sale to a small US importer, or possibly even a small US shop which could then resell the bikes at a better profit than by going through the usual network of Manufacturer -> Exporter -> Importer -> Distributor.

Really one of my nicest riding bikes I have owned - EVER. And, one which I will always cherish, in spite of its total lack of any known heritage, and no fancy famous racing laurels to its name.

Here is a complete group of photos of the bike as I have it currently built up. Mostly vintage French components, but I made no effort to "restore" it to the build-up as the previous owner had found the bike, or even to set it up as "period correct": VALGAN "Chambord"

The low 4-digit serial number suggests to me that few bikes were produced by whoever the mystery builder may have been. Nevertheless, he put a lot of attention into the subtle details of this modest bike's construction which resulted in a nicer bike than any of the more fancy well known French manufacturers' top-end production bikes of the era.

So, ... once again, ... here is my plea for any info at all about the bike or perhaps even a now long extinct Northeastern US bike shop which may have once sold these bikes... probably around 30 years ago.

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Old 01-06-08, 02:39 AM
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No info but that is a very pretty bike, is that a chopped brooks?
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Old 01-06-08, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by yellowjeep
No info but that is a very pretty bike, is that a chopped brooks?
Yep. For $10, a damaged but otherwise "New" Brooks B-17 which had a chunk torn out of one side skirt when some construction materials had fellen on it... otherwise I would not have messed with it. Worked out nicely though (for me, not the shop).
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Old 01-06-08, 09:25 AM
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Perhaps mainducoyote can assist you. He is a new BF member so he probably hasn't seen your Valgan. He speaks French and has a cousin in France. Send him a PM.
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Old 01-06-08, 09:27 AM
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Oh, I forgot something. That Valgan is a fine looking bicycle.
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Old 01-06-08, 11:07 AM
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Nice bike. If you haven't done so already you may want to add a similar thread in the regional Europe discussion area. And a photo of the headbadge sticker in that photo album may help too, even if faded.
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Old 01-06-08, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob Barker
I'm curious. I have a repainted French frame that I've also been unable to identify. It's 531db, but also has the Simplex drops and use of cable clamps everywhere but the chainstay stop. Does your BB have any drillings? Mine has two 6mm holes. Does it have a DT shifter clamp stop and what shape is it? Mine is on the bottom side of the DT and is shaped just short of a half-circle.
No drillings on the BB and no clamp stop on the down tube. And, the only braze-on at all is a cable stop followed by a housing guide loop on the chainstay. This is the barest frameset I can think of for a bike of this late an era.

But, I'm really impressed with the build quality. I have other bikes with the same lugs, but these have obviously been hand filed to thin down the long points. And, the brazing of the stays at the seat lug cluster is very cleanly finished - noticeably more nicely finished and filed after brazing than any Motobecane or Peugeot or Raleigh Pro I've ever seen. If you have any nice quality production bikes you'll notice there are still sharp steep shoulders where the lugs meet the frame. This is how lugs are supplied, and it is rare that anyone would ever bother to touch them any further.

This frame even has the bolt hole through the rear brake bridge "sealed" inside where the bolt passes. This is only seen with the brake removed and then you find not a raw drilling through a hollow tube, but a cleanly painted tunnel through which the brake bolt fits. I'm guessing a wooden dowel may have been inserted before the bridge was brazed onto the stays, then it was drilled and then lastly painted. Someone seems to have taken unusual pride in their work and devoted quite a bit of unnecessary time and effort to build this outwardly very plain looking frameset up with little details which nobody would ever really look for or even notice ('cept fer me).

This is just crazy stuff you might expect from a custom builder, but certainly not on any unknown virtually generic bike. Just lots of little pleasant surprises... on what I had figured might be just a decent bargain frameset, in a good size for me, even though with a tubing I'd never heard of. I later found a couple archived posts from several years earlier including one by builder Brian Baylis who asked if anyone knew of a stash of the tubing anywhere because he really liked working with it and the way it built up. Reading that was real icing on my cake!
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Old 01-06-08, 12:23 PM
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It is a very nice frame, though I've never heard of it. However, I would not automatically assume that it was French. Belgium, France and Spain also used French thread standards and metric tubing. In this case, a Spanish origin has some credibility, given that valgan is a Spanish word that, I believe, translates to value.
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Old 01-06-08, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by retyred
Perhaps mainducoyote can assist you. He is a new BF member so he probably hasn't seen your Valgan. He speaks French and has a cousin in France. Send him a PM.
I don't think I can be much help here, all I can say is that Chambord is a city in France .Maybe you can try contacting a bike shop in this city, I could translate your email if you want.
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Old 01-06-08, 05:12 PM
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I'm guessing this was posted to CR list?
THE authority on French Bikes appears to be Norris L.
did he respond? He is back in the UK again and answering email.
I'd send Norris an email and see what he says about it.

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Old 01-06-08, 07:21 PM
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I'm going to take a guess and say this bike is from a small shop and is at least semicustom. There's too much attention to detail in it's build. I just posted a query on OldRoads to see if anyone there knew anything about it, by the way. If I get any emails on it, I'll let you know.

Here's a link to the thread if you want to keep an eye on it.
https://oldroads.com/d_ltw_ra.asp?OQI...um=24298&RID=0
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Old 08-30-10, 08:07 PM
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Son of the importer of the Valgan Bikes

The thread that you wrote about Valgan bikes was very special to me because it was my dad Anthony Gance who was the importer of this bike series into the United States in the 70's. My dad and his partner Valante imported the bikes from France, and the name Valgan was borne out of combining the first three letters of both partners last name - Valante and Gance (Valgan). The Valgan bikes were hand made in France and I remember touring the factory with my dad when I was only 10 years old. All the detail on the bikes was hand painted. Wow, thank you for the memories.......
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Old 08-30-10, 08:29 PM
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Valgon Son

It was just by chance that I came across this website and your thread. I received a call tonight from an old friend of my dads who wanted me to have 2 of the bikes that he purchased from my dad back in the 70's. After I got off the phone with this very dear friend of my parents, I got the itch to do a quick Google of the word Valgan to see what came up, and one of the first hits was the website with your thread. If you would like to know more about the history of this bike, feel free to email me at thepartners@sbcglobal.net.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:33 AM
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The two posts above this are the coolest things I have ever seen in my life. Lucky. Awesome. Great.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:38 AM
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Most of the times a 2+ year old thread is resurrected it's at the most unhelpful and often just a guy who wants to sell his model bike that was referenced in the thread. This is not one of those instances. I sure hope the OP sees your response, Valgan Son.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:50 AM
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I PMed and e-mailed the OP, this is just too cool for him not to have an immediate heads-up.
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Old 08-31-10, 12:54 AM
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First time I've seen this thread.
First time I've seen this bike.

In no time, I've fallen in love with that bike.

-Kurt
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Old 08-31-10, 01:23 AM
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It is rather stunning isn't it?
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Old 08-31-10, 02:57 AM
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bravo!
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Old 08-31-10, 12:47 PM
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I can't believe the recent response on this old thread. FINALLY a bit of data on such an obscure bike. I'll definitely be contacting the son of the importer to see if I can coax any further fragments of information from his memories. How rare it is to EVER blunder across such close contact to an original source for an old bike.

I still have the bike and it remains virtually unchanged from the earlier posted photo. Still original paint and decals, of course. And it remains one of my very favorite rides.

I'll definitely keep this forum posted should any further info surface. This is definitely a rare and valuable incidence for an old bike enthusiast and casual velo-archaeologist like me. Yippee!!!
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Old 08-31-10, 01:09 PM
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Hi Bob, I hope you didn't think I was spamming you but I saw your last post at BF was back in April so I didn't know how closely you might be checking the forums here. I figured you might want to know about the response right away.

Please let us know how it works out...this is so very interesting.
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Old 08-31-10, 01:13 PM
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Nice
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Old 01-28-12, 10:47 PM
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VALGAN What do you need to know

Your bike was likely sold at my shop Two Wheel Transit Company in Endicott, NY between 1974 and 1977. There were only a couple of us who sold them. The importer was Anthony Gance. Combining 1st 3 letters of his last name with his French Partner Andre Valenta and you get Valgan. Would love to share any info you need. I sold about 90% of those that were imported.
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Old 01-28-12, 11:01 PM
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the Chambord was full Super Vitus tubing. derailleurs were Gold Anodized Simplex Super L J. Seat was Ideale 2002 leather, Simplex Micro-Adjust Seatpost, Stronglight Headset, Stronglight 93 Cranks, Maillard Competition hubs, Atom Pedals with Christophe Clips, Mavic Bar and Stem (if memory serves me), Mavic Tubular Rims 36h 3X, Chambord was the top of the bike line. Morlaix, Briancon, Fontenay, Vendome and then Chambord. (been years so I may some spellings wrong). That is a GREAT quality and handling frame.
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Old 01-28-12, 11:51 PM
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Thanks so much for posting that information. It is indeed a great riding bike! I was initially attracted to the "unknown" French marque when I saw the frameset offered on eBay because it was unfamiliar to me and then noticed that the components and the tubing were all top notch French for the period. I have not been disappointed. It will remain one of my most cherished bikes.
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