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What was Gitane's top of the line model in the '70's?

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What was Gitane's top of the line model in the '70's?

Old 02-03-13, 12:15 AM
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What was Gitane's top of the line model in the '70's?

According to their website, the Super Corsa was "the top-of-the-line offering" for two decades.

Why then, are there "Super Olympic" models listed above or instead of the SC's in some catalogs? Were they just a flashy limited offering sold around the quadrennial event? Or were they truly considered superior?

So... Besides the French threading, campy dropouts (apparently used when they felt like it) and groupo - was there any difference in the TDF and the SC? I think they both used 531... What else (if anything) made the SC better/different than the TdF?

I'm asking because I love learning the history of bicycles and currently have both a TdF complete build and a SC (need a fork) and am looking to fully restore the latter.
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Old 02-03-13, 07:08 AM
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If you post some pics of your TdF, we can get get another Gitane love fest going here.
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Old 02-03-13, 07:28 AM
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AFAIK, the ranking (low to high)was:

TdF
SC
Champion Du Monde
Olympic

I have been told repeatedly that the one distinguishing characteristic between the TdF and SC is the slightly longer steerer on the SC, to accommodate the taller stack on a Campy headset.

+1 to Rootboy's suggestion to post pics. Love those Gitanes!
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Old 02-03-13, 07:46 AM
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Why wouldn't they make a seperate model just to take advantage of all the Olympic hype?

It actually it alsmost looks your either asking two differnt questions or asking the same question about the two different. Your first you ask about the Super Olympic but in then you ask about differences between a Tour de France and Super Corse model. What gives?
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Old 02-03-13, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Why wouldn't they make a seperate model just to take advantage of all the Olympic hype?

It actually it alsmost looks your either asking two differnt questions or asking the same question about the two different. Your first you ask about the Super Olympic but in then you ask about differences between a Tour de France and Super Corse model. What gives?
Answers to both questions would be great!
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Old 02-03-13, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy View Post
If you post some pics of your TdF, we can get get another Gitane love fest going here.
Here's the TdF
And the SC Frame - still need to find a fork for it. Somewhere....
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Old 02-03-13, 08:24 AM
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Tour de france? about what year? Great job cleaning and buffing.



This Super Corse needs a little TLC

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Old 02-03-13, 08:28 AM
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I have owned the Gitane Professional and the Gitane Super Olympic. Very different bicycles, in my opinion. Quite frankly, the Professional was not an impressive bike but the Super Olympic was, but only because of the very unique rear drops. Anyway, here are pictures of each...






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Gitane_Pro_2_Full_Side_1.jpg (100.5 KB, 503 views)
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Old 02-03-13, 08:39 AM
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You'll find lots of Gitane expertise at gitaneusa.com.
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Old 02-03-13, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Tour de france? about what year? Great job cleaning and buffing.

This Super Corse needs a little TLC
I'm guessing the TdF is a '72. I can't be any later than that as there's a state of MD bike registration sticker on the rear of the seat tube from that year.

The SC is WAY crusty, but I'm going to do my best to bring it back to life. I purchased the chrome decal set from a gentleman on eBay for just over $50 shipped from Australia. I really need to find a fork for it, but have never even seen one offered...
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Old 02-03-13, 08:42 AM
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BGirl,
I honestly didn't even touch the TdF. That was a recent CL find, and came that way minus the new tires. There are parts on it that look brand new...
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Old 02-03-13, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
You'll find lots of Gitane expertise at gitaneusa.com.
That's where I started, but became super confused about their explanation of where the super corsa ranked among their product line.
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Old 02-03-13, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
You'll find lots of Gitane expertise at gitaneusa.com.
+1
Chas (Verktyg) is a wonderfully knowledgeable, and very accommodating guy. (Whatever I know I have probably learned from him.)
I am sure he can clarify anything for you if you ask .
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Old 02-03-13, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by ShoreCyclist View Post
That's where I started, but became super confused about their explanation of where the super corsa ranked among their product line.
Our best guesses may confuse you even more.
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Old 02-03-13, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Grand Bois View Post
Our best guesses may confuse you even more.
Thanks for being honest!
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Old 02-03-13, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ShoreCyclist View Post
... Besides the French threading, campy dropouts (apparently used when they felt like it) and groupo - was there any difference in the TDF and the SC? I think they both used 531... What else (if anything) made the SC better/different than the TdF...
My understanding was that the SC was full 531 while the TdF used it only for the main triangle.
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Old 02-03-13, 09:05 AM
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I think there is a (moderately confusing) differnce between the French and American line-up. In France the Olympic/Super Olympic were the top models (all Reynolds, handmade), then you had the Champion du monde (all Reynolds, top French components) and the TdF (three tubes Reynolds, French components)

Super Corsa and TdF were American models, on par with (or maybe equal to) the French Olympic models: all Reynolds, handmade (as said, French Tdf was a 3 tubes and there was no French/European SC model). I suppose that some/many/a lot of "French" Gitanes found there way to th US, alongside shiploads of "American" Gitanes, complicating the, basically simple, model hierarchy.
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Old 02-03-13, 09:07 AM
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Had a Professional Super Corsa back when they were new. Wasn't all that impressed with it at the time, was much happier with the Falcon San Remo that replaced it.

Have a Tour de France now, absolutely love the bike:



One of the confusing things in the lineup is that the TdF became Gitane's marquee model, even though it wasn't the top of the line model. At one point, they took the Super Corsa frame (and equipment?) and labeled it Tour de France because that's the model the customer's remembered. Not sure of the years off the top of my head, but I'm fairly certain it was post '73.
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Old 02-03-13, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
My understanding was that the SC was full 531 while the TdF used it only for the main triangle.
In 1974, Gitane cheapened the TdF so that only the three mains were '531, while the SC was discontinued at the same time. So I would say that the easiest/most reliable way to discern between the two (TdF/SC) is the length of the steerer tube.
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Old 02-03-13, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
In 1974, Gitane cheapened the TdF so that only the three mains were '531, while the SC was discontinued at the same time. So I would say that the easiest/most reliable way to discern between the two (TdF/SC) is the length of the steerer tube.
I believe that is correct information.

I recall reading somewhere that the early TdF head tube was not Reynolds 531, but I don't know why they would do that or what difference it would make to anybody.

Last edited by Grand Bois; 02-03-13 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 02-03-13, 10:21 AM
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I have an early 70's Gitane catalog. The SC was listed as the top model, but probably because the addition of the Campagnolo dropouts and components.
Could be the same frames otherwise.

BTW, ShoreCyclist, if your TdF is a '72, I presume at some point the paint was removed from the fork blades, eh? Should look like the green one above, or this purple version, with half chromed fork. I think yours is slightly later, with that stem and no brake stirrup between the seat stays, as on the SC frame. Although the dated sticker is a bit of a mystery. Nice looking example you have there.

Last edited by rootboy; 02-03-13 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 02-03-13, 10:37 AM
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I've got a NOS Raleigh Pro fork that might fit that SC frame. You could have the frame painted mink blue to match it.
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Old 02-03-13, 02:15 PM
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I don't think I have seen an all chrome fork on a TdF before. But I am not a Gitane expert.
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Old 02-04-13, 01:12 AM
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Gitane History

Thanks for the kudos guys,

Here's a little history of Gitanes during the "modern era".

I consider the modern era beginning about 1968 with the adoption of the Mylar© foil decals.

The lower end models used these decals:



The competition and top models used these:



During the 1960s there were a number of companies importing Gitanes into the US. In the mid 60s Mel Pinto Imports became the primary importer/distributor for the US market. A few companies continued to wholesale Gitanes to bike shops around the US but I think they had an agreement to do so with MPI (Mel Pinto Imports).

MPI offered quite a few different Gitane models between 1968 and 1974.

The lower end models with gas pipe frames included:

Apache - 5 speed

Tourister - 5 speed with upright bars

Gran Sport & Gran Sport Luxe - 10 speed, steel components

Hosteller - 15 speed touring model

Competition models:

Track Standard - single speed track bikes with mostly steel components and sewups.

Interclub - 10 speed amateur racing model with the same main frame as the Gran Sport but racing fork and sewups

Tour de France - 10 speed mid range racing model with Reynolds 531 frames. Originally all French components. They weren't available in the US market until Feb. 1969.

Super Corsa - 10 speed top of the line US model. Reynolds 531 frames and all Campy components except for MAFAC brakes. Campy brakes were supposedly available but very rare. They were usually installed by MPI when available.

Gran Tourisme - 15 speed touring model with Reynolds 531 frame and Campy components with MAFAC brakes.

Super Pista - single speed track bike with Reynolds 531 frame and all Campy components.

In 1974 Gitane Pacific took over importation and distribution of Gitanes from MPI. They didn't have a clue and focused on low end bikes just as the bike boom was ending.

Gitane Pacific offered a 40 Lb. made in Taiwan model, one or two Japanese made models, the Gypsy a striped down Gran Sport, the Gran Sport Deluxe, the 600 which was a Gran Sport with 1st generation Shimano 600 components and the Interclub. There were a few Tour de France bikes but they weren't shown in the catalogs from those years, only in flyers.

Gitane discontinued the foil decals in 1974 and switched to yellow or green plastic film decals.





1974 & 75 bikes used this head tube decal:



the 1976 bikes had this style:



The Super Corsa was made for the US market. Is was discontinued at the end of 1973 (see European models below).

In 1974 the Tour de France bikes were downgraded from a full Reynolds 531 frame to only the 3 main tubes. They also had painted rear triangles rather than 1/2 chrome:

Pre 1974 full Reynolds 531 decal


3 TUBES RENFORCES (3 TUBES BUTTED) decal


1974 TdF



In 1974 Gitane adopted the Huret honeycomb rear dropouts for all of the competition and/or better quality models.



In 1976 Gitane upgraded the TdF to full Reynolds 531 frames and better quality French components. The rear stays were again 1/2 chrome plated.

Gitane offered a wide range of models for the French and European markets. This link shows the 1973 and 1974 Gitane French catalogs on the GitaneUSA.com website (scroll down to the 1973 & 74 catalogs):

https://www.gitaneusa.com/catalogues01.asp

Gitanes made for the French and European market from the top down:

Super Olympic - Reynolds 531 frame with all Campy components including brakes

Olympic - Reynolds 531 frame with all Campy components with MAFAC brakes

Champion du Monde - Same as Olympic and Super Olympic frames but French components

Tour de France - 3 main tubes Reynolds. Before 1974 these came with either proprietary Simplex rear dropouts and derailleurs or proprietary Huret dropouts and derailleurs. After 1974, the Huret honeycomb dropouts could be used with Huret, Simplex or Campy style rear derailleurs.

Gitane Pacific closed up shop about 1977. There were a few of the Super Olympic, Olympic and Champion du Monde bikes that made their way into the US from 1974-77. Interclubs and TdFs were more common. In 1976 when the TdFs switched to all Reynolds 531 frames, some of the Interclubs started coming with the 3 main tube Reynolds frames that were used on the earlier TdFs.

1976 TdF:



1976? Interclub with 3 tubes Reynolds:



I've been told that Gitane Pacific was assembling Gitanes from bare painted frames in southern California. When they shut down the operation we bought about 37 of those frames (mostly Gran Sports) and assembled them at our shop.

After 1976-77 Gitanes were not imported to the US in any significant numbers. Between 1977 and the early 1980s information on the Gitanes models that came into the US was pretty murky. About 1983, Trek started importing and distributing Gitanes here in the US (an unholy alliance if there ever was one).

In 1977 the US company name changed from Gitane Pacific to Gitane Corp. then to Cycles Gitane in 1978. The Trek connection became Cycles de France in the early 80s. The 1987 catalog lists the US company name as Cycles Gitane again.

YMMV - All specs were subject to change without notice. Is it wrong or just French! ;-)

Hope this helps to clear the water a little...
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Old 02-04-13, 02:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ShoreCyclist View Post
According to their website, the Super Corsa was "the top-of-the-line offering" for two decades.
See my previous post...

Originally Posted by ShoreCyclist View Post
Why then, are there "Super Olympic" models listed above or instead of the SC's in some catalogs? Were they just a flashy limited offering sold around the quadrennial event? Or were they truly considered superior?
European model, see my previous post...


Originally Posted by ShoreCyclist View Post
So... Besides the French threading, campy dropouts (apparently used when they felt like it) and groupo - was there any difference in the TDF and the SC? I think they both used 531... What else (if anything) made the SC better/different than the TdF?
The Super Corsa model was made for the US market and imported and distributed by Mel Pinto Imports between 1968 and 1973. They had Reynolds 531 frames, Campy dropouts and Campy components except for MAFAC brakes.

They were listed in the Mel Pinto Price List with Campy brakes but probably never came from the factory with them. Whenever we tried to order a Super Corsa bike with Campy brakes from Mel Pinto they always told us that they installed themselves here in the US (when the Campy brakes were available).

The Super Corsas were sold as Olympic and Super Olympic models in France and Europe. The Super Olympic bikes had Campy brakes, Olympics had MAFAC brakes.

The BIG DIFFERENCE between Super Corsa and Tour de France frames is the steerer length!!! Super Corsa frames were fitted with Campagnolo headsets with a 41mm stack height. TdFs came with Stronglight P3 headsets with a 33mm stack height - an 8mm difference.



If whishin' made it so...

Campy dropouts do NOT make a Super Corsa! The 1968 (1969) TdF frames came at least 4 different styles of Simplex rear dropouts including several types that didn't have integral derailleur hangers.

During the bike boom of 1970-74 the European bike industry ran into constant shortages - they used what ever they could get. A few TdF frames were made with Campy rear dropouts (they had Simplex or Huret front dropouts).

The US pre 1974 TdFs were all Reynolds 531 tubing. The rear triangle was 1/2 chrome plated.

Only the 3 main tubes on European model pre 1976 TdFs were Reynolds 531 tubing. The rear triangles were painted. The European models also came with either Simplex rear dropouts and derailleurs or Huret rear dropout and derailleurs.

After 1974 ALL TdFs came with the Huret honeycomb rear dropouts that could be used with Simplex, Huret or Campy style rear derailleurs.

See pictures in previous post...
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Last edited by verktyg; 02-04-13 at 08:51 AM.
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