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Reynolds 531 Gitane Tandem

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Reynolds 531 Gitane Tandem

Old 03-11-19, 03:39 PM
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Arbutus
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Reynolds 531 Gitane Tandem

I’m looking to find out about a Gitane tandem I just bought. I see over on the GitaneUSA forum that the Gitane and French Reynolds decals likely put it c. 1973-1976. Unlike most of the other Gitane tandems im seeing online, this one is made from Reynolds 531, has Campagnolo dropouts, is not step through or mixte in the rear, has an eccentric bottom bracket, and is built for 27in wheels. The parts are a bit of a mixture, likely with some changes in the 1980s. Has full TA 50.4 bcd tandem crankset, Mafac cantilever and levers, Suntour alpha 3000 rear derailleur, Campagnolo somethinerother front derailleur, Cinelli stem and drop bars in front, SR bars in rear, SR Laprade seatposts. No drum brake but cable stops and fittings for one. A brief perusal of catalogs includes the intriguing mention in 1969 of Gitane farming out specialty tandems to Alex Singer; from the looks of others I’ve seen it doesn’t have the signature fork of a Follis built one. I’ll post pictures once I meet my forum quota, but there is one with similar bones to it up on eBay right now. Any thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and pontification is welcomed.
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Old 03-11-19, 03:49 PM
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@Arbutus's album/gallery.

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Last edited by CliffordK; 03-11-19 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 03-11-19, 04:03 PM
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Pretty neat bike.

It looks like it could use a little work on the brakes.

I'm surprised about the seat clamp slot design.
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Old 03-12-19, 04:21 AM
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Very neat looking frame. I could have a lot of fun with that as a project.
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Old 03-12-19, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Pretty neat bike.

It looks like it could use a little work on the brakes.

I'm surprised about the seat clamp slot design.
Thanks for posting the photos! Luckily, the brake shoes, with new salmon Mafac style pads, came with. They’ll be going on as these saddles come off. Can’t wait to just get this thing base line rideable to try it out.

As I’m new to all things tandem-related, what do you find unusual about the pilot seat post clamp?
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Old 03-12-19, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Arbutus View Post


Thanks for posting the photos! Luckily, the brake shoes, with new salmon Mafac style pads, came with. They’ll be going on as these saddles come off. Can’t wait to just get this thing base line rideable to try it out.

As I’m new to all things tandem-related, what do you find unusual about the pilot seat post clamp?
Captain's post. Slot under the clamp is unusual, but I can imagine why they built it that way due to less flex in the tube layout... unless it was modded.

I'd double check seatpost sizes.

I've got one of the Gitane Mixte tandems (I haven't needed to ride it), which would have a different design, and no need for that bolt arrangement.
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Old 03-18-19, 06:23 PM
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I started taking it all apart to clean and grease it only to find that the Cinelli quill stem was stuck with galvanic corrosion. Some time with a hacksaw, drain cleaner with lye, and a pair of vise grip pliers finally did the trick. Photos to come once I earn said forum privileges.
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Old 03-18-19, 11:01 PM
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Front dérailleur is early Campy Super Record. nice looking Tandem.
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Old 03-20-19, 09:13 AM
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Pretty cool bike! I love seeing these old tandems! It reminds me of the days when we first started tandeming.

And hey.....welcome to the forum!
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Old 03-22-19, 10:16 AM
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We rode a version of that frame from 1973 to 1975, only with Mixte in the rear. We rode it a lot before we replaced it a Bob Jackson tandem. I hope your frame is stiffer than ours was. We used to call it the "articulating bike" because the frame would flex so much when we stood. Like yours, our frame had Mafac cantilever brakes and came with 27" wheels. We were able to adjust the brakes so that we could ride on sew-up rims, which have the same effective diameter as a 700c rim.
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Old 12-22-20, 02:52 AM
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Another big thank you to everyone who commented on this thread. I’m happy to report that the tandem is a joy to ride for my wife as captain and for me as stoker. I had to kill the seized stem to get it operational, but it’s happier for it. Next big challenge is getting an Arai drag brake to work on it. Time to start scouring the tandem forum for info!
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Old 12-22-20, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by MikeAndJean View Post
We rode a version of that frame from 1973 to 1975, only with Mixte in the rear. We rode it a lot before we replaced it a Bob Jackson tandem. I hope your frame is stiffer than ours was. We used to call it the "articulating bike" because the frame would flex so much when we stood. Like yours, our frame had Mafac cantilever brakes and came with 27" wheels. We were able to adjust the brakes so that we could ride on sew-up rims, which have the same effective diameter as a 700c rim.

I was going to say that the bike is likely very flexy, and not to give up on riding tandems if you find this bike to be uncomfortably flexy.

For a light team that doesn’t ride aggressively, you may find this bike perfectly acceptable. If you’re bigger, or like to hammer, it will likely ride like a wet noodle.

Personally, I think your bike is a cool project, interesting as a vintage bike, and something fun to play with. If you really get into tandems I’d consider trading up to a newer used tandem like a Trek, or Canondale before I put any money into the Gitane
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Old 12-23-20, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh View Post
I was going to say that the bike is likely very flexy, and not to give up on riding tandems if you find this bike to be uncomfortably flexy.

For a light team that doesn’t ride aggressively, you may find this bike perfectly acceptable. If you’re bigger, or like to hammer, it will likely ride like a wet noodle.

Personally, I think your bike is a cool project, interesting as a vintage bike, and something fun to play with. If you really get into tandems I’d consider trading up to a newer used tandem like a Trek, or Canondale before I put any money into the Gitane
I agree very cool project. Problem for us, with old tandems, is the close stocker spacing, which looks a little close in the pictures above. We rode a 1976 Jack Taylor for many years before changing. Let it sit till the 2016 California l’Eroica inspired us to fix it up. I tried to switch our Sunday rides to classic Sunday’s after, but my wife felt the short rear was just too uncomfortable compared to the modern Calfee.
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Old 02-19-21, 02:21 AM
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It’s been a while, but here are a few shots of the current state of the Gitane. It’s been a real joy for us to ride.




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Old 02-19-21, 04:12 PM
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Looking good-thanks for the update!
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Old 02-25-21, 06:37 AM
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That is a pretty cool looking bike. Thank you for updating the group.
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Old 02-28-21, 05:53 PM
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Love it, I have seen a very few Gitane tandems stateside that were built to this higher standard, have always felt the Follis connection covered the standard tandem build and/or the diagonal framestays (with their signature swaged ends) indicated Nantes. Did I say I love what you have done with yours? My gosh how is the ride?
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