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Help Identifying a Honeycomb Gitane

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Help Identifying a Honeycomb Gitane

Old 11-23-19, 10:15 PM
  #1  
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Help Identifying a Honeycomb Gitane

Hi everyone,

I finally created a profile and introduced myself, though I have benefited from the wealth of knowledge this place has before. And now I’m hoping to benefit yet again: I'd love to find out what the experts think I snapped up from the local flea market today. I've done research here and over at GitaneUSA, and although I'm not 100% sure, I think it is a full Reynolds 531 Gitane Tour de France from '74-'76. I base this on the remnants of Reynolds stickers on the downtube and left fork leg, honeycomb rear dropouts and the fishmouthed stays. The fork is also fishmouthed and has huret dropouts too.

The bike has some curious components and I think it saw an update/overhaul at some point. The bike came to me with: Mafac competition brakes, Mafac levers with full hoods. Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs laced to 27" Mavic MA2 rims. Stronglight cranks that were originally French threaded, but have been re-tapped to 9/16", and 46/42 chainrings. What I believe is a Huret Jubile front derailleur, and an anachronistic Shimano 105 rear derailleur. The cable guides are all Huret, as is the downtube friction shifter. The headset is Stronglight, and has a couple spacers along with the cable stop. And finally a 25.4mm steel seatpost with a Turbo saddle. The seatpost was too small and someone over-tightened the seatpost clamp, but I straightened it today. The rear dropouts are spaced at 126mm, which is too wide for the 5 speed rear hub. The frame has Bocama lugs (what appears to be "BCM" on the headtube), but no cutouts. The rear dropouts say "60" on the inside, yet the frame measures at most 59cm center to top.

So what did I get? Am I correct this is a TdF? Or is it something else? The later rims (Velo base says this MA2 sticker is from 86-87) with the 5 speed Nuovo Tipo hub and the 126 rear spacing is something of a head scratcher to me.

All in all, the frame is in pretty nice shape, with no serious dings or rust. If it is only 3 tube Reynolds I'm fine with that, just curious mostly. My plan is to replace what needs replacing with appropriate french parts, respray the frame and enjoy it as a sport tourer.

Looking forward to hear what the experts have to say!

PS: I'm a newbie on this forum so I still can't post pictures, but as soon as I am permitted I will update with pics
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Old 11-23-19, 10:40 PM
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25.4 seat post would not be butted 531. Might be straight gauge Interclub. TdF would have a 26.4 most likely.
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Old 11-23-19, 11:12 PM
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??? No pictures ???



Pictures and I'll tell you what you have... Without having to guess...


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Old 11-23-19, 11:49 PM
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Ah...Maestro Verktyg the Chas is on the case...you will have answers...once you have provided the Maestro with images
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Old 11-24-19, 06:52 AM
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Gitane General Information Before The Main Event...

Thank you @unworthy1

Gitane like most French bike makers measured the frame size by the height of the seat tube Center to Top.

My first Gitanes had 60cm size frames: a 1972 Gitane Gran Sport, and a year later when I got serious about cycling, a NOS all Campy 1971 Super Corsa that I bought for $150 at a year end clearance sale at the shop where I worked part time.

Soon I realized that those frames were over an inch to big for me and I swapped the 60cm SC frame for a 57cm one at another Gitane dealer.

In 1975 I started dabbling into racing and switched to 54cm frames: seat up high and back, bars down and forward which was the fashion back then.

Just parted with one of my 54cm Gitane Super Corsa bikes, a low mileage 1969-70 all Campy that I've had since 2010 and only ridden a few time.




I'm riding mostly my 55cm - 56cm bikes so the 54cm ones are getting cut out of the herd.

BTW... Sacrilege! I traded the SC for a late 60's ITALIAN bike...

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Old 11-24-19, 07:08 AM
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Old 11-24-19, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post


Pictures and I'll tell you what you have... Without having to guess...
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Old 11-24-19, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Ex Pres View Post
25.4 seat post would not be butted 531. Might be straight gauge Interclub. TdF would have a 26.4 most likely.

Originally Posted by NHmtb View Post
Hi everyone,

And finally a 25.4mm steel seatpost with a Turbo saddle. The seatpost was too small and someone over-tightened the seatpost clamp, but I straightened it today.
Answered before it was asked...
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Old 11-24-19, 08:53 AM
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Frack!

Originally Posted by Bianchigirll View Post
Dam keyboard ate my novella!!! Hit one wrong key and all of my work is gone!

I'll be back with all the correct answers plus more than you wanted to know about Gitanes later after I get some sleep (after all the guesses settle down)...

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Old 11-24-19, 12:02 PM
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Looks like a Gitane Super Olympic. I had one once and wish it had been my size. Sadly, it was not and for what it is worth, another honeycomb Super Olympic would be snapped up in a heartbeat if one shows itself for sale and if I have the $$$ at the time. My never ever ridden Super Olympic...

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Old 11-24-19, 12:32 PM
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Had a Gitane TdF with honeycomb rear drops pass through my hands a few years back.

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Old 11-24-19, 12:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
had a gitane tdf with honeycomb rear drops pass through my hands a few years back.


bingo!

@ryansu FTW,
@verktyg, you can go back to sleep this Sunday AM.

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Old 11-24-19, 01:24 PM
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What does the gold lettering on the drive side chainstay spell out? I can't make it out, even with the partial close-up photo of the front derailleur.

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Old 11-24-19, 03:29 PM
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Everyone done guessing??? Ha, Ha, Ha...

I'll cut to the chase... BTW, thanks for the pics @Bianchigirll

@NHmtb has a rare, at least for the US, 1974 Gitane Champion du Monde.

1974 French catalog


I had one of these frames for a bit. I rescued it from the fate of being a fixie. Sadly it was too big for me and I passed it on.



Here are the tells:

The frames were basically the same as the European market top of the line Olympic model except they had a shorter steerer for a 33mm stack height Stronglight P3 headset. The Olympic model had a Campy headset with a 41mm stack height.

It's a 1974 model because it has the older Reynolds 531 decal on the down tube indicating all the tubes were Reynolds (not really, Gitane used butted Nervor brand steerers and seamed gaspipe head tubes plus the brake bridges were rolled sheet metal parts, not even tubes)



In 1974 Reynolds changed to this style decal with a gold "cartouche" at the bottom but many bike makers still used the older style throughout 1974. Maybe they or Reynolds had a lot of them left over or Reynolds were late releasing the new style in French???



Ignore the Bocama Super Professional R1 lugs with the cutouts on my frame, Gitane used what ever they had on the shelf.

My 1974 TdF has Prugnat lugs with cutouts...




Next it's a 1974 because of the head tube sticker. They used this design in 1974-75.



In 1976 they switched to this style.



The 25.8mm seatpost issue:

Outside of the UK MOST Production Reynolds 531 frames used 1mm x .7mm wall thickness main tubes. That included Gitane, Peugeot, Motobecane, Legnano/Frejus, Zeus, Gazelle, Schwinn Paramounts, Mondia and so on.

Bikes made with "10/7" (as it was described in France) metric tubing used 26.4mm seatposts.

My Champoin du Monde frame took a 26.6mm seatpost because it was made with lighter gauge .9mm x .6mm main tubes.

Gitanes made with their standard seamed gaspipe tubing used 25.8mm seatposts. The main tubes had a 1.5mm wall thickness.

Some ham fisted hammer mechanic probably clamped down on the 25.8mm seatpost pipe. The seat tube can be rounded out to take the correct size seatpost.

Dropout width:

122mm was the French standard dropout width for 5 speed freewheels. Gitane didn't start making bikes with 6 speed FWs and 126mm wide dropouts until the maybe the late 70's.

Champion du Monde Components:

Gitane used a lot of different undocumented combinations back then. The Stronglight P3 headset and 93 cranks with 52-42 chainrings would have been standard along with Campy Nuovo Tipo hubs. Mafac Competition brakes with full hoods would have been standard too. The bars and stem look original. Since all the derailleur pieces are Huret Jubilee except for the bâtard Shimano RD, the Jubilee ensemble would have been correct too. It may have had a Simplex seat post plus a leather covered "asshatchet" plastic saddle.

In 1974, Gitane as well as Motobecane made a change in the frame geometry on their performance model bikes. Classic French frame geometry for 57-60cm size performance frames usually had 72° head and seat tube angles with about a 55mm fork rake and a 100mm+ wheel base.

Italian bikes in that size range were starting to come with steeper 74° head and seat tubes with shorter 45mm fork rakes. Some French makers followed suite on their competition models (there were some PX-10s known to have those angles too). It gives a little more brisk ride and handling on smooth roads.

VERY BIG CAVEAT! les spécifications sont sujettes à modification sans préavis

Is it wrong... or just French?

Now some history:

In 1974 Micmo, Gitane's parent company switched from their long time primary importer/distributor Mel Pinto Imports in Virginia to Gitane West in southern California. Micmo owned part of Gitane West.

The folks running the company didn't have much understanding of the US lightweight bike market. They like many others during the Bike Boom FAD of the early 70's set out to make a fast buck.

The US Bike Boom was coming to a screeching halt just as the Gitane West venture was firing up. The market for $100 entry level bikes was saturated.

Those bikes were still being sold but most of the folks who bought the entry level models were high school or college students and their parents who many times forked out the $$$.

Many of those people who continued to ride their bikes were ready to move up to better quality models in the $200-$300 range. There was a growing market for those bikes.

Meanwhile Gitane West focused on $100-$150 entry level models ranging from the 40 Lb Taiwan made Gypsy Sport clunker, to several Japanese models and several versions of the venerable French made Gran Sport.

They discontinued all of the performance models except for the Interclub and a dumbed down TdF which was the European version.

The Super Corsa which was a US only model was discontinued. It was the same as the Olympic (Mafac brakes) and Super Olympic (Campy brakes). I suspect that the name was changed for the US market because our Olympic Committee fiercely defended the word Olympic being used for any sports related products. They demanded steep licensing fees.

In 1969 Mel Pinto introduced the US version Tour de France. It had the same frame as the Super Corsa except for Simplex dropouts (long story - google my other posts), and a shorter steerer to fit the 33mm stack height Stronglight P3 headset. The SC took the 41mm stack height Campy headset.

Those frame were "all Reynolds 531" except for: Nervor steerers, seamed gaspipe head tubes and split tube brake bridges made out of a piece rolled up sheet metal.

Only the 3 main tubes on the French version TdFs were butted Reynolds 531 tubes the rest were seamed light gauge gaspipe tubing. The pre-1974 models came with either proprietary Simplex rear dropouts or proprietary Huret dropout depending on the derailleurs the bike was equipped with. Also, only the forks had chrome plated socks. The rear triangle was painted.

A way to tell if a Gitane frame is all Reynolds is to check out the fork and rear stay ends. Reynolds tubing had "fish mouth" tubing ends. Non-Reynolds used domed ends.



A few Olympic and Champion du Monde bikes came into the US during the mid 70's but they were probably special orders. Gitane West didn't even have a US catalog for the Interclubs and TdF, just single page blurb sheets.

Gitane West did a well earned "Titanic" in late 1977....

Later on in the 70's some bike shops brought in some of the top Gitane models. In the 1980's Gitane and Trek formed and unholy alliance - Trek imported some Gitane road bikes into the US and Gitane sold some Trek MTBs in France.

Huret honeycomb or spider web drop outs:

They first appeared on a few French models in late 1973 and continued to be used on performance models until the end of 1976.

They were never popular. When we first saw them our response was WTF??? They were such a departure from "normal" dropouts that even many inexperienced first time buyers balked at them.

Add to that, those 1974 Gitane bikes were a hard sell for us because they were as much as 30% more expensive than comparable competitors models.

We ended up selling most of those 1974-75 Interclubs and TdFs on close out, sometimes for less than our cost!

One positive feature of the Huret dropouts is the could be used with most brands of derailleurs: Campy which had become the de facto world standard design, Simplex and Huret.

Aside from Gitane, I've only seen them on 2 other makes. Dawes in the UK briefly offered one model with them and VeloSolex had one model.

Hope this helps...

Sorry for being a retrogrouch. I'm having sleeping problems, I'm going back to bed (1:30PM)

nite...

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Old 11-24-19, 04:04 PM
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Chain Stay Sticker

Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
What does the gold lettering on the drive side chainstay spell out? I can't make it out, even with the partial close-up photo of the front derailleur. DD
On the 1974 and later bikes it says "Racing Team" with a Gitane logo.



On the earlier foil decal bikes it says:


Which means deluxe enamel... which was a JOKE!

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Old 11-27-19, 10:44 AM
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Thank you so much verktyg !! Such great info! Pretty happy to see I got something of a rare model.
I have begun my resuscitation of this old frame: I straightened and cold set the rear dropouts to the correct 122mm and improved the seat tube, but I still don't have the correct seatpost yet. I've also got a replacement jubilee derailleur on the way and some replacement odds and ends for the brakes. Unfortunately the stem is cracked, and the bottom bracket cups and spindle need replacing, though it came out surprisingly well. It'll be a slow rebuild as I acquire parts and I probably won't get around to paint and chrome til summer.
Thanks again for all the input!
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Old 11-27-19, 03:17 PM
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-----

wrt Honeycomb -

@NHmtb,

in case you were a-wondering anent the presence of the small half thickness tab on the edge of the cycle's righthand dropout it is part of a chain holder arrangement -





---



-----
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Old 11-27-19, 06:13 PM
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Weird tabs on Huret Honeycomb Dropouts

Originally Posted by juvela View Post
-----

wrt Honeycomb -

@NHmtb,

in case you were a-wondering anent the presence of the small half thickness tab on the edge of the cycle's righthand dropout it is part of a chain holder arrangement -



@juvela Thank you for mentioning that point.

For years I'd been wondering what those protrusions were for. When we first saw them in 1974 our comment was WTF?

They looked like casting "sprues" or runners that weren't ground off.

Several years ago my curiosity was quenched when someone posted a photo of the chain hanger attachment on BF. It's designed to hold the chain when the rear wheel is removed. Rather an overkill design??? I've never seen one in the steel!

As I mentioned above, these dropout could be used with just about any rear derailleur on the markets at the time. It got around having to use 3 different dropouts:

1. Industry de facto standard Campy style with the travel limit stop at 7:00 O'Clock
2. Huret with the travel limit stop at 4:00 O'Clock
3. Simplex style with a travel limit tab on the back of the RD to fit over the front of the dropout. Shimano used this method for a long time and so did later Campy RDs.


Simplex (and early Shimano plus later Campy) travel limit tab.



Simplex and Huret had a rather chauvinistic view that they were at the center of the bicycle derailleur world. There was strong competition between them to have their proprietary dropouts used on bikes - when you needed to replace a derailleur, you had to use the brand that matched your dropout.

Along came Suntour who threw a monkey wrench into the French derailleur makers plans and adopted Campagnolo's style derailleur hangers. Most other derailleur makers followed suite!

Maird!!! Sacre Bleu!!!

By the mid 70's both Simplex and Huret started offering dropouts that used the de facto Campy standard hangers. But... in true Gallic tradition, they continued to offer their proprietary dropouts! Remember the Maginot!

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Old 11-27-19, 06:55 PM
  #19  
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-----

...evidently a short sleep...

-----
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Old 11-27-19, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by verktyg View Post
On the earlier foil decal bikes it says:


Which means deluxe enamel... which was a JOKE!

verktyg :50;
Are you sure that doesn't say "email somethingsomething"? 😁

I love that saying you use, "Is it wrong, or is it just French"? That's one of those questions the world may never answer. 🤔😉
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