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What Model Is This Gitane?

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What Model Is This Gitane?

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Old 07-06-12, 10:22 AM
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What Model Is This Gitane?

Not that it really matters much to me. I'm not restoring it. In fact, I'm going to build it up as a single speed. But, it's a slow Friday and I'm curious.

Class act nlerner was kind enough to alert me to the sale and collect it with his porteur. Tres Francois!







It was sold as a Tour de France model, but astute member Rootboy noticed a few details that aren't correct. The paint doesn't look all that great, but someone put a nice set of decals on it. It has Campagnolo dropouts and hanger. Threads are French. Neal kindly took some measurements for me.
  • rear brake reach = 55mm,
  • front brake reach = 50mm
  • rear end spacing = 123mm
  • chain stay = 43cm
  • wheelbase = 102cm
  • seat-tube angle = 73 degrees
  • head-tube angle = 75 degrees (!)
  • 26.4mm seat tube ID











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Old 07-06-12, 10:44 AM
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I'll bet there's chrome under them thar seat stays, fork ends and crown. Campagnolo dropouts? I'll bet it's a Super Corsa. Very nice frame set.
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Old 07-06-12, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
I'll bet there's chrome under them thar seat stays, fork ends and crown. Campagnolo dropouts? I'll bet it's a Super Corsa. Very nice frame set.
+1 It does look like someone painted over the chrome details on this bike.
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Old 07-06-12, 10:50 AM
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We need LeicaLad and Grand Bois , and any other Super Corsa owners to chime in with some detail pics.

Here's a blurb from the GitaneUSA site regarding the Super Corsa;

"Identifying a SC frame is done by examining the dropouts, which were Campagnolo instead of Simplex, as used on the TdF. Generally, the welds near the dropouts and the finish work was slightly better and “cleaner” on the SC. Another factor in differentiating between the two was the shape of the fork crown, which differed in design. While the TdF used a shorter, more curved Vagner fork crown, the Super Corsa was outfitted with a design which featured a long “spike” down the center. In some models, the “spike” was missing altogether. All fork crowns were chromed, with a bottom third chromed fork and partially chromed chain/seat stays on both the TdF and SC.

Unfortunately, the sticker system used on all Gitanes at the time was also employed on the SC. Even worse, is that some used stickers meant for the TdF frames and thus mislead owners as to the true identity of their framesets. For example, on the right fork blade of the TdF, Gitane applies a yellow and blue sticker in the shape of France, saying “Tour de France” on it. These stickers showed up on both SC and TdF frames, even though catalogs show that the SC should not have displayed that sticker. Also, head tubes, which in catalogs were shown to be completely silver on the SC, often were not (in fact, an example has never been seen), thus further confusing owners years later as to the true identity of their frames. "

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Old 07-06-12, 11:30 AM
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despite the Campy DOs, if that 531 decal is original and correct this is a "3-tube" frame made with (maybe) plain-gauge 531tubing which was the spec for TdF bikes before they went to all-531. The forkcrown is also "more correct" for a TdF and there's no hiding that centerpull brake braze-on on the rear...also a TdF feature, not something you'd need on a Super Corsa or Super Olympic which should have sidepull brakes (and be ALL 531).
Gitane was famous (or infamous) for going off the rails with actual bikes that don't follow their published specs, and there have been examples of TdF frames made with Campy DOs...I think that's what you have here.
EDIT: Re-read your post and if the decals were added after a repaint, that 531 may be a red herring...plus the 26.4 would be correct for a metric 531 DB seat tube...I think a plain-gauge ST would be thicker walled and use a smaller post.
I withdraw my "TdF" verdict awaiting judgment from experts...
PSS: but that shifter-stop is not the right shape for a Campy shifter band...it IS right for a Simplex band...Gitane sure makes this fun!!

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Old 07-06-12, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
...Gitane sure makes this fun!!
Oui!
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Old 07-06-12, 05:28 PM
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The Reynolds sticker means nothing since it's obviously a repaint and the sticker is much earlier than the frame appears to be. He probably got all of the stickers from Greg Softly. Campy dropouts are not unheard of on a TdF. Everything else points to TdF, so my guess is that it's a TdF. It doesn't seem likely that someone would change the Campy crank and headset on a Super Corsa to a Stronglight 93 and P3, does it?

Ask Verktyg or Sandranian at gitaneusa.com for an expert opinion.

I've noticed that some people that ride large frames like that complain that metric 531 frames are too flexy. Please let me know what you think. Ilove the way my TdF rides, but it's a small frame, actually too small for me.

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Old 07-06-12, 05:38 PM
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I'm going with the Super Corsa theory. I'm an optimist.If I recall correctly the Super Corsa's could also come with center pull brakes. But my mind doesn't work like it used to.
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Old 07-06-12, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
The Reynolds sticker means nothing since it's obviously a repaint and the sticker is much earlier than the frame appears to be. He probably got all of the stickers from Greg Softly. Campy dropouts are not unheard of on a TdF. Everything else points to TdF, so my guess is that it's a TdF. It doesn't seem likely that someone would change the Campy crank and headset on a Super Corsa to a Stronglight 93 and P3, does it?

Ask Verktyg or Sandranian at gitaneusa.com for an expert opinion.

I've noticed that some people that ride large frames like that complain that metric 531 frames are too flexy. Please let me know what you think. Ilove the way my TdF rides, but it's a small frame, actually too small for me.
+1

The headset is the defining difference between a TdF and a SC - not the DO's. In any case Verktyg will give you the low down.
Nice bike BTW... Oz sure there's chrome on them thar stays!
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Old 07-06-12, 06:29 PM
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I asked the seller and he stated that the decals applied after the paint were "exactly what was on there". He also confirmed that the fork was half chrome. I'll buy the TdF decals, but the tubing decal seems unlikely. It's en route to me now and I'll post better pics next week.

Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
I've noticed that some people that ride large frames like that complain that metric 531 frames are too flexy. Please let me know what you think.
I found that my 62cm Jeunet 620 was probably the most flexy frame I've ridden. This Gitane is a tad smaller. We'll see.

I'm surprised at the geometry of this bike. I haven't done any calculations, but it would seem to have very low trail.
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Old 07-06-12, 06:45 PM
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Super Corsa would be my guess as well, but Gitane was noted for using what was on hand to build bikes on any given day, rather than what the spec sheet said.
In any case, the 531 Gitanes really are something special. My Super Corsa is the one bike I would keep if restricted to one.

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Old 07-07-12, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ColonelJLloyd View Post
I asked the seller and he stated that the decals applied after the paint were "exactly what was on there". He also confirmed that the fork was half chrome. I'll buy the TdF decals, but the tubing decal seems unlikely. It's en route to me now and I'll post better pics next week.



I found that my 62cm Jeunet 620 was probably the most flexy frame I've ridden. This Gitane is a tad smaller. We'll see.

I'm surprised at the geometry of this bike. I haven't done any calculations, but it would seem to have very low trail.
But the Jeunet 620 is metric gas pipe.
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Old 07-07-12, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by satbuilder View Post
I'm going with the Super Corsa theory. I'm an optimist.If I recall correctly the Super Corsa's could also come with center pull brakes. But my mind doesn't work like it used to.
Very interesting stuff. BTW, my early '70's Gitnae catalog states "MAFAC Racer Luxe" brakes as spec for both the TdF and SC, with "Campagnolo optional" listed on the SC.

It sure does look like a TdF in all aspects other than the dropouts and fork ends. Interesting to contemplate; if it is/was a TdF, that would mean it was supplied with something other than a Simplex Criterium derailleur. Maybe a Velox or Valentino?
I like French bike mysteries.

It looks like he, or whomever, got all the stickers right, except for the "531" of course, and, why he put the little foil strips that say "Professional Tour de France" on the top tube is beyond me. I've always seen them mounted on the downtube, just below the shifters.

Neat frame Colonel. Heck, there's fifty bucks worth of Cyclomondo decals on that thing!
I'm looking forward to your impressions.

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Old 07-07-12, 07:27 AM
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BTW, there was another model listed in the old Gitane catalog that had Campagnolo dropouts. The "Grand Tourisme", a touring machine that came with racks and lights and Campy Gran Turismo derailleurs. Never seen one myself.
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Old 07-07-12, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
But the Jeunet 620 is metric gas pipe.
I have a Jeunet 620 and really like the ride despite being gas pipe. It rides great for a street bike with a comfortable yet solid feel to it. As for the Gitanes I have owned a couple of ones with vintage 531 frames and they did feel a bit flexy going downhill.
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Old 07-07-12, 07:49 AM
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I love my 620.



I also love my Gitane TdF.


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Old 07-07-12, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
But the Jeunet 620 is metric gas pipe.
Yes it is. I meant to write 630.
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Old 07-18-12, 04:25 AM
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My it's a Tour de France, my guess is a 1972model, here's why:

The headset is the defining feature between Super Corsa and Tour de France frames. The SC frames had Campy headsets while the TdFs used Stronglight P3 headsets. There is an 8mm+ difference in the stack heights. The P3 has a 33mm stack height while the Campy is 41mm!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/2826722...7625424641013/

A few TdFs came with Campy dropouts on the rear. They also used at least 3 different styles of Simplex dropouts plus some European frames used proprietary Huret dropouts that only worked with Huret derailleurs.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/2826722...7624014562729/

Many TdFs and SCs had Huret fork ends which were identical to Campy dropouts.

After 1972 Gitane discontinued the brazed on rear brake cable bridge. That was the peak of the bike boom and it was a time saver. They also switched from long point Prugnat S4 lugs to medium point Bocama Pro lugs.

Gitane discontinued the brazed-on willow leaf shaped seat stay caps after 1971 and switched to swagged tops.

The decals are repops from Cyclomondo (Greg Softly) that are sold on eBay. The paint looks like a rattle can job. The socks (lower parts of the fork blades and rear triangles) were 1/2 chrome plated on pre 1974 TdFs and SCs. They've been painted over probably because the chrome was rusted.

Chas verktyg
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Old 07-18-12, 06:33 AM
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You've got me wondering how I managed to make a tall Stronglight A-9 work on a TdF that originally had a P-3. I wonder if my fork was originally intended for a Super Corsa. It has Campy ends. It's been so long since I built it that I can't remember if the P-3 had extra spacers.
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Old 07-18-12, 09:28 AM
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My kind of thread. Great find, Justin.

I’m late to this one because I’ve been on one of those flights from hell. Missed connections, long lay-overs, screaming babies, etc. I’ve just finally landed in Entebbe. Here a few days, then thru Dubai to Jakarta. A couple more days, then thru Bangkok and back home. Whew.

AND, I just wrote a long reply to this, but got logged off and lost it. Figures.

Well, I’m gonna agree with Chas, but I don’t agree with all of his logic.

First, I believe he is spot on the timing: 1970-1972. I’d vote a tad earlier because the rear stays scalloping looks a bit more carefully done than was showing up by 1972. But that is a faint bit of evidence from one oblique photo.

The 531 decal is simply a wrong choice. Others are applied in the wrong place. Who cares?

Chas is correct that some TdF frames came with Campy dropouts. They were essentially the same frame and, as he describes, they did use a range of dropouts during that and the subsequent window. My guess is that this was built as a Super Corsa, but built up as a TdF as it headed out the factory door.

Where I consistently disagree with Chas regards the fork and stack-height issue. I think that half of the argument is correct: Many TdF forks were cut to match the P-3 headset. Which is to say that IF the fork is so short as to demand a P-3 or equally low stack height headset, then it is a TdF. BUT, the converse is not a guarantee: Not all of the TdF forks were cut so short. My ’71 TdF purchased new came with a P-3 headset that I changed to a Campy NR as soon as I could afford it. It’s still there.

The fork crown on both of my ’71 Gitanes are exactly alike.

The dropouts often helped to distinguish, but it was really them PLUS the components. My ’71 Super Corsa does NOT have the rear brake bridge, but it was ordered with the optional Campy brakes (still there). Standard were the Mafac Competition… and the brake bridge.

But, once we’re in this close, the components tell the rest of the story. The SC bike was all Campy except for the optional brakes. IF this frame came with both that P-3 AND the Stronglight 93, then it’s pretty much guaranteed to be a TdF.

Oh, yeah. And the rattle can respray did cover the chrome socks, but, as noted, who knows what condition they're in. Not to worry.

Bottom line? A great rider! An excellent find.

Like everyone here, I will await to see your build. Even if only as a beater, we know it will be interesting.

Cheers,

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Old 07-18-12, 11:03 AM
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I agree with everything you said. In fact, I already said most of it.

It takes a lot of damn gall to contradict Chas. He knows everything about Gitanes, although it made me wonder when he once seemed to deny that a Lot of TdFs and Super Corsas have extremely short forks.
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Old 07-19-12, 07:28 AM
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I'll update this thread with pics this evening. I don't think this one will be a crowd-pleaser, but I'm liking how it is shaping up.

I had the damnedest time with the bottom bracket. I removed the Stronglight cups and spindle as I had a VO cartridge unit that would give me a good chainline with a NR Strada crankset and single, outer ring. I couldn't get the fixed cup to thread in straight, so I re-installed the original Stronglight cups. It threaded in relatively easily, but not flush against the shell. As a result, any spindle I tried would bind at one point in the rotation. . . obviously. I sent an email to the previous owner:

My email:
What's the story with this bottom bracket? I'm having a hell of a time with it. The fixed cup did not fit flush with the shell when I removed it. I thoroughly cleaned and lubed the shell then tried a VO 35x1 cartridge unit. It threaded in about half way and then started binding. So, I reinstalled the original cups and tried various spindles and they all would bind at the same point in the rotation. The fixed cup will not seat against the shell and is misaligned with the non-drive side cup. A cleaning of threads and facing of the shell would be in order, but there's no shop in my town with a set of French taps and a French facing tool. This sucks. I don't even know if a threadless BB unit will solve the issue.
Prior owner's response:
jeeze im sorry that things been sitting un used for so long i completely forgot about that bb mess i had a hell of a time getting it out when i took it out and must have tried for an hour to get it to thread in correctly just kept binding up so i kept turning but it was never a problem riding and there was little to no play in the bb but if you do decide to go the threadless route the velo orange grand cru bb is listed as working in french bb shells

sorry again
Ha! I instantly thought of this:


I'm not sweating it, though. I'll put a VO cartridge unit in it, cut my losses and (hopefully) get it on the road. I'm trying a few new things out with this build including a bullhorn bar, a TT and interrupter lever, plastic seatpost, deep wall rims, Gatorskins and clipless with a fixed drivetrain.

I have an observation and question for the group. First, I'm aware that metric 531DB is generally supposed to take a 26.4mm seatpost, but this frame as well as both Jeunet 630s I've owned have taken 26.2mm seatposts without pinched ears. And it's not just that the 26.2mm would work, but that it fit appropriately snug with a parallel slit in the seat tube.

My question is regarding the seatpost binder bolt. This is narrower than the other bikes I have and it does require a keyed bolt. I forgot to measure it, but should this take a 19mm keyed binder bolt?
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Old 07-19-12, 10:25 AM
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Sounds a lot like someone tried to thread put an Italian cup in a French BB.
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Old 07-19-12, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by zukahn1 View Post
Sounds a lot like someone tried to thread put an Italian cup in a French BB.
I don't think you would say that if you had ever tried to do it.
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Old 07-19-12, 10:59 AM
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Justin. OK, you made me go dig. Only because I currently have one of those Campy quick release binder thingees on my TdF. For what it's worth, I measured my original, keyed binder bolt, and got an overall length of 34 mm. 30 mm if measured under the head. But that might be because the nut is rather longish.
7 mm diameter. Hope that might help.
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