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Old 11-24-19, 03:29 PM
verktyg's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Bikes: Current favorites: 1988 Peugeot Birraritz, 1984 Gitane Super Corsa, 1981 Bianchi Campione Del Mondo, 1992 Paramount OS, 1990 Bianchi Mondiale, 1988 Colnago Technos, 1985 RalieghUSA Team Pro, 1973 Holdsworth

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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)


Things aren't always what they seem... Don't believe everything you think!

Chas. ;-)

Last edited by verktyg; 11-25-19 at 04:18 PM.
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