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Typical componentry found on Gitane TdF's (1970 - 1975) 
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2006 9:53 am Reply with quote
Robert B.
Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 8
Location: the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon
The following is an excerpt of a communication sent directly and in its entirety to "edub" in response to his query found in a separate thread regarding what would have been originally fitted to an early 1970's Gitane TdF. Please note, that his particular example happens to be what I refer to as a "Super TdF", which is to say that it is built around a Super Corsa frameset having Campagnolo 1010 dropouts rather than the Simplex variety typically found on this model. As it so happens, I too own a TdF having this same configuration - one which I purchased brand new in 1973 from Beaverton Cyclery where I "hung out" and later worked as a "shop rat" and "junior wrench" during the summer months in order to support my cycling addiction. For those who may be interested in viewing limited pictures and descriptive text regarding my own two Gitanes, as well as other material covering vintage bicycles that I have posted to my Wool Jersey album, you may do so by following this convenient link:
Please note that almost all of the smaller thumbnails are “clickable” so as to bring up an image of larger size.  Once you have displayed an image with its attendant text, you can also view a full sized version of same by clicking on the “Full Size” hyperlink located to the center right of the descriptive text.  One other item perhaps worthy of mention, the album “Catalogs / Brochures / Posters / Decals / Ephemera” is a work in progress to the extent that I have only just begun to digitize all of the various vintage cycling materials that I have accumulated over the years (...well over 100 examples with the preponderance dating from the 1960’s through 1980’s and almost all of which are component manufacturer’s material (...i.e. 3ttt, Campagnolo, Cinelli, Columbus, Dia-Compe, Everest, Galli, Gipiemme, Huret, Ideale, Lyotard, MAFAC, MAVIC, Modolo, Nisi, OFMEGA, Poutrait-Morin (AFA, Christophe, Lapize, Tournade, and Zéfal), Regina, Reynolds, Sake Ringyo (SA), Scott/Mathauser, Sedis, Shimano, Simplex, Specialites T.A., Stronglight, Sugino, SunTour, Weinmann, Zeus, etc.), which is to say no actual bicycle builders such as Peugeot, Herse, Raleigh, Hetchins, Colnago, Masi, Toei, 3Rensho, etc. – although I do have a few pieces of vintage Gitane literature as well as some contemporary articles and reviews including several that are not currently available on the GitaneUSA website - and yes, Stephan, I promise to forward copies to you at such time as I ever finally get around to digitizing same).


...with respect to what would have been original equipment for your TdF, unfortunately there are no clear cut answers, only reasonable standards and somewhat loose guidelines. This is due to the fact that Cycles Gitane, being a prominent manufacturer and exporter of bicycles throughout the 1960's and 1970's, fell victim to the "Bike Boom" phenomenon. To put things into proper perspective, consider this: U.S. domestic bike sales for the year 1960 were 3.7 million units, with that number climbing to a more respectable 5.6 million in 1965 (...a 51 percent jump in only five years) before edging up another 23 percent to 6.9 million by 1970. However, by 1973 that annual number had exploded to 15.2 million bicycles sold here stateside, which meant that none of the preeminent bicycle or component manufacturers, including Gitane, could even come close to producing enough product to sate worldwide demand and most major players in the industry began throwing things together as fast as they possibly could using whatever they could lay their hands on, irrespective of whatever was supposed to be "standard". This situation was exacerbated to a great extent for Gitane because their rivals Peugeot and to a lesser extent Motobecane were "first in line" so to speak with various French component suppliers such as Atom / Maillard, MAFAC, Sedis (...which at the time was actually a wholly owned subsidiary of Peugeot), and Stronglight. So, with that HUGE caveat in place, Gitane TdF's produced from 1970 to 1975 would "normally" have been equipped as follows:

10 speed - "lightweight" race type - "Professional" Tour de France (...specifically, a "Super TdF" like yours having an unusual Super Corsa frameset)

Foil style round “Cycles Gitane Nantes” sticker with CdM ring extensions (head tube) - foil style “Gitane” and “Professional Tour de France” stickers (right and left sides of down tube) - "Service Course" checkered flag sticker (right side top tube) - foil style large triangular palmarés sticker with CdM borders (seat tube) - pre 1975 French language Reynolds 531 frameset rectangular dry transfer decal without trademark symbol (seat tube) - oval “hand” silhouette water slide decal denoting “Custom Made” (seat tube) - gold script lettered “email luxepolymerise” or “deluxe polymer finish” sticker (right rear chain stay) - Reynolds 531 “fourreaux” or “forks” triangular dry transfer decal without trademark (left front fork) - "Gitane Tour de France" over stylized country of origin silhouette sticker (right front fork) : all stickers, decals, and transfers applied without clear coat cover

Reynolds 531 double-butted manganese-molybdenum alloy steel tubing - exposed chrome plating on trailing 1/3 of rear chain and seat stays - Prugnat long point lugs - braze-on brake cable hanger between rear seat stays - long style Campagnolo model 1010 forged horizontal rear dropouts with standard 10 mm x 26 TPI threaded derailleur hanger and locating notch, spring tensioned adjustment screws, and rack eyelets ... [only those "Super TdF" models having a Super Corsa frameset would have been equipped from the factory with Campy dropouts whereas the vast majority of TdF's from this era would have had Simplex drops with the occasional example having Huret "honeycomb" dropouts as these were used in limited quantities too]

Reynolds 531 double-butted manganese-molybdenum alloy steel - 25 mm x 1 mm (25.4 TPI) French threaded steer tube - exposed chrome plating on lower 1/3 of the forks - forged steel chrome plated Vagner fork crown - Campagnolo model 1010 forged dropouts with rack eyelets ... [once again, the limited production "Super TdF" would have had Campagnolo dropouts while most other variations would have had Simplex units - those later TdF's having the somewhat rare Huret "honeycomb" dropouts in the rear are found almost exclusively paired with Campy 1010 drops on the front fork, however, and not Simplex dropouts - also, while all of the Vagner fork crowns used exhibit a flat top, their configuration with respect to ornamental chevrons did vary somewhat and for no apparent reason other than Cycles Gitane probably used whatever they had available or could acquire at a given point in time]

Stronglight P3 - threaded headset - 25 mm x 1 mm (25.4 TPI) French thread - case hardened - nickel chrome plated steel - model P3 extra-léger … [on occasion, I have seen TdF's where a Stronglight V5 Competition headset was installed as new from the factory, however, these were relatively rare instances and they were probably affixed only when the P3 model ran short on supply]

Pivo Professional - aluminum alloy - 22 mm quill - 25 mm French size clamp - 110 mm length - single bolt non-quick release - model Professional

Pivo Professional - aluminum alloy without logo etching - traditional non-anatomic profile - 25 mm French clamp sizing - 39 cm C-t-C / 108 mm reach / 152 mm drop : Velox Guidoline Champion - cloth handlebar tape - Velox handlebar end plugs - slotted head screw in attachment ... [It should be noted that different paint schemes begot different colors of bar tape and plugs.]

Stronglight SC 93 - 122 mm BCD - 42/52 alloy chain rings - 170 mm alloy arms / 14 mm x 1.25 mm French pedal thread - pre 1982 23.35 mm x 1 mm threaded caps - chromed plated steel chain ring bolts - model Super Competition 93 : Stronglight nickel steel crank bolts and washers - 16 mm head ... [I would estimate that well over eighty percent of the TdF's sold in the U.S. were fitted with a Stronglight SC 93 crankset - however, Cycles Gitane did run short on supply of these at times (1973 and 1974 seem to have been the worst years) in which case they substituted a Sugino Mighty Competition model MnW having a 42/52 configuration in its stead - yes indeed, a Japanese crankset that uses French pedal threading, now that is truly demented]

Stronglight Competition - non-cartridge adjustable for 68 mm shell - nickel steel rifled spindle - square taper - 68 x 118.5 mm with 6 mm drive side asymmetrical offset - 35 mm x 1 mm (25.4 TPI) French thread cups - adjustable cup (right threading) / fixed cup (also right threading, so use caution) - 2 piece plastic dust sleeve - model Competition 65 ... [as mentioned above, in those instances where a Sugino Mighty Competition crankset was fitted, then the matching bottom bracket would be a Sugino MC - non-cartridge adjustable for 68 mm shell - nickel steel spindle - square taper - 68 x 113 mm with a 4 mm drive side asymmetrical offset - 35 mm x 1 mm (25.4 TPI) French threaded cups - adjustable cup (right threading) / fixed cup (also right threading) - without plastic dust sleeve]

Sedis - 1/2" x 3/32" (12.7 mm x 2.38 mm) standard profile - “noire” or black finish - riveted bushings - flat plates - Delta hardened pins - model 20410 (Tour de France)

Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo - quick release hubs - large flange design without lube port - 36h model 1266 front hub (100 mm spacing) - 36h model 1267 rear hub (120 mm spacing) - 34.7 mm x 1 mm French freewheel thread : pre 1978 non C.P.S.C. beaded flat handle style QR skewers with conical adjusters - model 1310 (front) & 1311 (rear) ... [once again, the typical limited production "Super TdF" would have had Campagnolo Nuovo Tipo hubs, although on rare occasions such as my own bike, they did come equipped with Campy Record hubs - the standard equippe for a TdF from this era would have been Normandy Luxe Competition hubs having Atom QR skewers with Campy Nuovo Tipo hubs being an option regardless of whether or not it was a "Super TdF"]

MAVIC Monthlery - polished aluminum with eyelets - box profile - 22 mm section - "Red" label - 700C tubular - 36h front / 36h rear - model Monthlery "Championnat du Monde" … [these rims came fitted to virtually every TdF imported to the States from the late 1960's through 1975 before Gitane changed over to MAVIC Module E rims in 1976 - it should be noted, however, that early on one could actually custom order their SC or TdF fitted with clincher rims (...which is exactly what the first owner of my 1971 SC did) - but by 1973, the peak year of the "Bike Boom", Gitane had long since stopped taking custom orders on such matters]

Robergel - double butted galvanized carbon steel -14/15 gauge - model 144 Sport : Robergel chrome plated brass nipples

Cyclo 64 - 14/21 (14-15-17-19-21) 5-speed - two notch removal interface - 34.7 mm x 1 mm (25.4 TPI) French thread - 3x2 stepped body - individually threaded cogs - 21 tooth cog "drilled" - model 64 … [while the Cyclo 64 freewheel was far and away the most common type fitted, Cycles Gitane tended to grab whatever they could whenever they could just so long as it was French including freewheels made by Atom / Normandy and Maillard - also worthy of mention, at Beaverton Cyclery we did quite a bit of swapping out with regard to freewheels, most especially for those customers who lived in the West Hills of Portland (...such as yours truly) where Alpine type gearing was more appropriate ( was a 1073 foot vertical climb over three miles from downtown Portland to the front door at my parent's house - yikes!!!)]

Campagnolo Record - twin control levers with integrated cable guides - down tube mount - chrome plated steel clamp - beaded alloy levers with early "raised logo" - model 1014 ... [this would be fitted to your "Super TdF" models only - your typical TdF would have had Simplex Criterium shifters, or just as often as not, those incredibly crappy Simplex Prestige plastic style shifters, in conjunction with Simplex front and rear derailleurs - however, some TdF's ended up being fitted with SunTour derailleurs, in which case you would have seen matching SunTour downtube shifters (...see note below under REAR DERAILLEUR) - regardless, the hot ticket upgrade from 1974 through 1977 was to affix the renowned first edition Simplex retrofriction units with those early solid lever handles having the Simplex "starburst" logo, and from mid 1977 onward, the revised and much more common to find these days on eBay second edition of same having the "open hoop" style of handle]

Campagnolo Record - 28.6 mm clamp-on - post 1967 without cable stop - pre 1973 without circlip or post 1972 with circlip depending upon vintage - pre 1978 non C.P.S.C. "flat" style outer plate - model 1052/1 ... [again, this is appropriate only for a "Super TdF" configuration - typical TdF's imported from 1970 to 1975 would have been fitted with a Simplex Criterium or less often a Prestige front derailleur due to supply shortages, although there were instances where SunTour V models were used instead (...see note below under REAR DERAILLEUR)]

Campagnolo Nuovo Record - pre 1976/1977 non C.P.S.C. without plastic safety shields on the adjustment screws - date code marked "Patent-7x" where 7x represents the last two digits of the calendar year - model 1020/A ... [as before, this would only be appropriate for a "Super TdF" configuration to the extent that it had Campy 1010 dropouts where the right rear is threaded and notched (...unlike a Simplex right rear dropout) - some later "Super TdF" models came with a late model Campagnolo Gran Sport rear derailleur, presumably due to shortages of supply in the NR model or perhaps as a cost cutting measure - typical TdF's imported from 1970 to 1975 would have been fitted with an all metal Simplex Criterium, or in times of shortage, a Simplex Prestige rear derailleur having a Delrin (...i.e. plastic) housing (...these actually shifted VERY well … for about six to nine months depending upon your mileage and thereafter were impossible to remedy) - in those instances where a TdF had Huret "honeycomb" rear dropouts which were also threaded and notched, they were usually fitted with a SunTour V model rear derailleur as well as a matching SunTour front derailleur and shift levers]

MAFAC Racing Dural - non-aero cable routing - alloy bodies - alloy levers - adjuster barrel - "half style" gum hoods - model Dural Course 121

MAFAC Competition Racing - dual pivot center pull alloy calipers - early logo etched into face of leading arm - no wheel guides - bronze pivot bushing - adjustable bridge - large stirrup (51 mm - 66 mm drop) long reach - model Competition : MAFAC brake pads - 4 pad design - model 64 … [every single TdF that I remember seeing come through the shop at Beaverton Cyclery came equipped with MAFAC Competition calipers - that said, I have heard from others whose opinions I respect that on occasion Cycles Gitane did fit MAFAC Racer calipers to their TdF models - now, I know for a fact that this was the case prior to 1970, but these individuals to whom I refer insist that they saw examples of this well after that date - I will assume, therefore, that this was likely begot of a supply problem wherein the folks at Marchoul simply grabbed some spare Racer calipers that were on hand and otherwise destined to be used on a different model of Gitane and affixed them to a TdF - do not be confused by the terminology found in the 1970 to 1975 Gitane catalog which says that the TdF came with "MAFAC Racer Luxe center-pull brakes" as this is a poor translation from French - MAFAC Competition calipers were the norm]

Lyotard 460 D - platform / non-quill style - alloy dust caps, spindle, and cage with reinforcement bridge - 14 mm x 1.25 mm French thread - model 460 D (Dural) : Christophe toe clips - chrome plated steel : Lapize leather straps - metal buckles - brass pinch rollers… [pretty much the standard pedal although the occasional Atom pedal was seen presumably whenever there was a shortage of supply from Lyotard - for 1976, TdF's came with the then new Maillard 700 series alloy pedals which tended to fold up like tin foil (...these are best to be avoided) - as for the toe clips and straps, these were subject to whatever an LBS tended to have in stock, so I would be hard pressed to say that there was really any standard here - that said, Christophe would seem to be the predominant fitment]

Brooks Professional - Black tanned leather cover - smaller sized copper rivets - chrome steel cantle plate and rails - cutaway nose with copper tension adjusting nut - model Professional … [pretty much every "Super Tdf" that I saw as well as a number of "special equipped" or "custom order" TdF's came with a Brooks saddle fixed as stock from the Marchoul factory (...although plenty of customers opted for this as an "in shop" upgrade of their other Gitane's at purchase, too) - typically, a TdF would have come stock with a Feccia D'Oro non padded hard plastic saddle up until 1976 and an Ideale 2002 plastic padded saddle thereafter - the Ideale TB 70 Competition leather saddle was also available as an optional upgrade]

Generic straight post - one piece steel with closed top - 180 mm x 26.4 mm … [these simple straight posts were only seen in conjunction with the aforementioned Brooks Professional saddle - under normal circumstances, TdF's from the early 1970's would have had a Simplex 1500 one piece cast alloy post with two bolt adjustment clamp]

Campagnolo seat post binder bolt - post 1970 - 8 mm - model 1072 : Huret top tube brake cable clips (3) - "open window" hoop style - chrome plated steel - model 1810 : MAFAC front brake inner cable - braided galvanized steel - 1.8 mm x 68 cm - model 50F : MAFAC front brake outer cable housing - Pearl White - 56 cm - model 51F : MAFAC rear brake inner cable - braided galvanized steel - 1.8 mm x 126 cm - model 60R : MAFAC rear brake outer cable housing - Pearl White - 114 cm - model 61R : Campagnolo twin control cable guide - model 626/A : Campagnolo DT RD inner cable - 1.2 mm x 118 cm - model 606 : Campagnolo DT FD inner cable - 1.2 mm x 70 cm - model 608 : Campagnolo RD outer cable housing - stainless steel - 21 cm - model 622 : Campagnolo RD chainstay clip - model 636 ... [only those "Super TdF" models having Campagnolo components would have been fitted as described herein - other more typical configurations of TdF's would normally have used a Simplex seat post binder bolt and front and rear derailleur cables and housings appropriate for the derailleurs that were actually affixed (...i.e. Simplex, SunTour, Huret, etc.)]


Last edited by Robert B. on Mon Aug 28, 2006 8:54 am; edited 2 times in total

Robert B.
...the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon
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Wow again! 
PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 1:38 am Reply with quote
Paul Wiseman
Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 584
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Awesome post RobertB. Great to hear some of the details from someone who was there at the time. I hadn't even started school when my Tdf was being built!

Most of what you wrote was regarding earlier 70's Tdf's. Do you know as much about the later 70's models? I have one that I think is from around 74 or 75. It is very close to the 74 model in the catalogue on this site. It does however have some interesting differences. The first of which is that it is from Australia and not the USA. So there could have been some spec differences to start with.

My frame is 531, all painted (blue) with gold detailing around the lugs. No chrome on rear stays. Chain stay has a sticker with "racing team". Huret "honeycombe" rear tips. Fork has simplex tips. Mafac racer brake calipers with mafac brake levers (full black rubber hoods). Cranks & BB are Sugino mighty as you described. Pre-fab drillium. (can we call that stampium, or am I being too cynical?) Simplex shifters (metal) but with Huret derailleurs. Mavic rims as you described.

Looks kinda like the people at Gitane said, "Australia? Where on earth is that!!? Just send them whatever you can find lying around on the workshop floor."

See photos of this bike in the Vintage Gitane forum "It's a Gitane"

Cheers and thanks again Robert

Brisbane, Australia
1974 Paris - Nice
1985 Defi
1985 Victoire
1985 Victoire (yes, another one!)
1985 Professionnel
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 8:58 am Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 13

Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this out. I can't believe you have every little detailed part described!!!

This information is priceless - I hope many other people on the forum will benefit from it.

You're giving Sheldon Brown a run for his money, as being "The Keeper of Bike Lore"... haha, just kidding around... although, that's a compliment Very Happy

It'll probably take me a couple of readings to figure out what this means, in relation ot my bike. Thanks again!

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:33 am Reply with quote
Robert B.
Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 8
Location: the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon

As I have said before, Sheldon's knowledge is vast whereas mine is only half-vast....

Robert B.
...the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 10:54 am Reply with quote
Robert B.
Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 8
Location: the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon

I am not even going to pretend that I might know of the differences (...if indeed there were any) in fitment between various like models of Gitane bicycles destined for delivery to Australia versus the United States during the 1970's. But what I can say is that based upon both the brief descriptive text that you provided and the photographs posted elsewhere on this site, I am of the mind that you are the proud owner of one of those ever so enigmatic "Racing Team" bikes from 1976 or 1977.

As I rather obliquely stated in my original post to this thread, the standard equippe for a model Tour de France basically did not change at all from 1970 to 1975 ( least with regard to those editions sold here in the States) other than for reasons resulting from intermittent supply shortages begot of the "Bike Boom" phenomenon which happened to coincide with this same time frame. So, I will stand by my earlier accounting of just what would and would not have been apropos for a TdF of that vintage (...although if someone else out there has more to contribute to that topic, by all means I invite comment inasmuch as I do not claim to know "everything there is to know" with respect to various models of Cycles Gitane produced during that span of time).

1976 was a bellwether year, however, that saw rather significant changes in the Gitane cycling lineup including the proliferation across its entire product line of a an updated decal scheme which was a dramatic departure from the previous foil style version such as seen in the avatar associated with my own posts to this forum ( models had actually used the newer style decals during 1975 while others had retained the earlier foil decal scheme presumably in an effort to thoroughly deplete accumulated inventory of same). Of particular note, was the introduction of the new 600 model which was so named due to the extensive although not exclusive use of Shimano 600 series components throughout. This bike marked a huge departure for Gitane to the extent that for the very first time they were specifying Japanese components as the basis upon which to build one of their bikes. True enough, Gitane had previously used various individual Japanese components as necessary (...for example, their use of the Sugino Mighty Competition crankset on the TdF model when supplies of home market Stronglight SC 93's ran short), but the predominant selection of components affixed had typically been of French origin first with everything else being secondary (...of course, an obvious exception to this paradigm would be the early Super Corsa model which was originally designed to compete with high end Italian livery, and as such, was equipped almost exclusively with Campagnolo gear, making it arguably the least "French" of all their offerings). Sourcing the preponderance of parts for one of their models from Japan provided Gitane several advantages. First of all, they would no longer be hostage to the French cabal of component companies who owed their primary allegiance to Peugeot and to a lesser extent Motobecane whereby when shortages in supply occurred due to lack of manufacturing capacity Gitane was left high and dry. Secondly, whereas most of those same French firms were at the time by and large coasting on their own well established reputations with little or no innovative product being brought to market (...MAVIC and Sedis being the only exceptions here to my way of thinking), the Japanese component manufacturers were approaching their zenith in terms of product innovation and design, their wares were priced very competitively ( least until the Yen revaluation in 1985), and their actual build quality was second only to Campagnolo (...and in many cases, even that might be debatable). And finally, forsaking primarily home product from France where wage and price supports in conjunction with the VAT tended to keep their build costs artificially high allowed Gitane to price the 600 and its Japanese based successors well below their European competition with respect to the ever so important U.S. market (...the 600 model had an M.S.R.P. of less than $190 USD when it debuted AND there was plenty of margin there for a retailer to work with and enjoy).

In addition to the aforementioned all new model 600, making its debut at the 1976 New York Bike Show in February of that year was a completely revised Gitane Tour de France. Having an M.S.R.P. of $375 USD, the frame itself was still constructed from French metric sized Reynolds 531 tubing, but now these were mated together using Bocama (BCM) cutaway lugs instead of the Prugnat long point versions which had been used previously. As had been the case with earlier editions, both the back one-third of the rear stays as well as the lower one-third of the front fork featured exposed chrome plating. But rather than continuing to incorporate Simplex dropouts as standard, Campagnolo 1010 dropouts having rack eyelets became the norm - a configuration that had previously only been seen on the Super Corsa, the Gran Tourisme, or those rather uncommon "Super TdF" models built upon an SC frameset. The drivetrain for the new TdF consisted of the just introduced Maillard 700 series alloy pedals (...which proved to be a complete disaster) mated to a venerable Stronglight SC 93 crankset ( having a 42/53 combination of rings) which transferred power via a SediColor chain back to a Maillard 14-26 five speed freewheel. Front and rear derailleurs were the not often seen Huret Success Titanium models having a distinctive blueish hue to them and where the 170 gram rear unit could handle a range of 36 to 53 teeth at the chainwheel and 13 to 28 teeth at the freewheel. The brakeset was similar to as before inasmuch as it was a MAFAC Competition setup, however, the calipers themselves were the second edition variety having the logo in sticker form on the left hand side of the leading arm while the levers were now MAFAC Course 218 model having both a traditional full gum hood and integrated cable adjuster barrel. The wheelset was comprised of the new high polish alloy MAVIC Module E rims having stainless eyelets laced three cross pattern with Robergel 144 Sport galvanized spokes to Normandy Competition high flange hubs, with Michelin Elan tires, of course (...for those who do not already know, the "E" in the MAVIC Module E rim was begot of the revolutionary Elan folding clincher from Michelin for which this rim was originally developed). Finishing off the bike were matching Guid handlebars and stem, along with a Rubis dimpled steel seat post topped with an Ideale 2002 padded plastic shell racing saddle.

The rub here was that we never saw one of the new TdF's come thorough Beaverton Cyclery. In fact, if you look closely at Gitane's contemporary sales literature from 1976 and 1977 as published on behalf of their distributor Gitane Pacific, Inc. and posted elsewhere on the GitaneUSA website, nowhere is there any mention made of a Tour de France model even being available any longer. To the best of my knowledge, in fact, the revised for 1976 TdF was a stillborn project, a "show bike" only, wherein both it and the Super Corsa were actually WITHDRAWN from the Gitane product line for 1976 (...with any of these models sold during that year having come from scant existing unsold inventory of 1975 models). In their stead was originally a huge void until eventually there was offered a new Racing Team edition, which then became the ONLY model in the Gitane lineup being offered with a Reynolds 531 tubeset.

Actually, for the previous 1975 model year, a number of explicitly badged TdF's had showed up having a secondary "Racing Team" logo too, but everyone had understood them at the time to be TdF models.  Now, both the new and official Racing Team as well as the Interclub bikes were produced having those unique Huret "honeycomb" rear dropouts, making them instantly identifiable as 1976 offerings (…although Cycles Gitane did make some Reynolds 531 tri-tube frames without forks having those same distinctive Huret rear drops for European distribution in 1977 and some of these "spare" framesets were dumped at bargain prices to various dealers later on that same year and into the next - and this, by the way, is exactly what I think you have because the rear stays on your bike have no exposed chrome plating which would be consistent with those "spares" as opposed to the official Racing Team editions where rear chrome was evident).  Whereas the Interclub continued to be made from Durifort tubing showing only a partial front fork in chrome, the new Racing Team was intended as a replacement for the venerable TdF, and to that end, it was crafted from Reynolds 531 tubing and both the trailing 1/3 of its rear stays and the lower 1/3 of its front fork had exposed chrome.

If you were to carefully review the 1976 Gitane catalog as posted elsewhere on this site, just as is the case with the TdF, you will not find any reference to a Racing Team variant. Why? I cannot say with absolute certainty, although my own personal speculation is that Cycles Gitane either found its new incarnation of the TdF to be unduly expensive to produce or perhaps they found themselves beset by all too familiar supplier shortages. But in any case, they killed the project and initially just hoped for the best that their new 600 model would be an adequate replacement in lieu of the Tour de France in their export lineup. However, the hue and cry from the stateside dealer network about the lack of a TdF namesake or its equivalent, along with their being no “properly French” equipped upscale model (…in stark contrast with Peugeot who featured several “tout François” offerings including the venerable PX-10 and the PY-10), and nothing at all being built with Reynolds tubing, only home market Durifort, likely begot the Gitane Racing Team being hastily added to the lineup AFTER the 1976 catalog had already gone to publication (…remember, lead times required for printing and distribution would have been quite considerable).  Now, in all fairness it should be noted that Cycles Gitane may well have issued another “update / insert” covering the Racing Team model for their newly printed 1976 catalog similar to what they had done with their 1975 catalog update.  However, if they did, I have never seen one and have never once run across anyone else who had specific knowledge of such a supplement.  Of course, that is part of the difficulty one encounters when seeking information regarding the specifics of your particular bicycle, as there is to the best of my knowledge and understanding absolutely no printed reference of its existence.

The most vexing part of this story is that, as I said before, the U.S. dealer network was NOT at all happy seeing the TdF name dropped from the Gitane lineup as they rightfully believed that it had broad, inherent consumer appeal.  So, if you walked into at least any of the left coast Gitane dealers that I knew of back in 1976, they would all have likely referred to the new "Racing Team" model as being the "Tour de France" edition, thereby only adding to the  confusion that now surrounds Gitane model name nomenclature from that era. Of course, there is great irony here too in that after Van Impe won the Tour de France in 1976 riding a Gitane, and then Hinault followed that up with wins in 1978, 1979, 1981, and 1982, with Fignon winning in 1983 and 1984, ALL on Gitane branded bikes, Cycles Gitane ultimately saw fit to correct the "error of its ways" by resurrecting the TdF name in its export model lineup.

Last edited by Robert B. on Mon Aug 14, 2006 6:07 pm; edited 3 times in total

Robert B.
...the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 14, 2006 3:40 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 26 Jun 2006
Posts: 13
someone buy this guy a beer! I love reading all this!

Robert, you should write a book w/ your knowledge of Cycles Gitane... you already have two chapters!

amazing stuff...
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I'll second that! 
PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:31 am Reply with quote
Paul Wiseman
Joined: 09 Mar 2006
Posts: 584
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Thanks again Robert. Your detailed descriptions and history are very much appreciated. If you do find yourself in Brisbane, Australia at some point, I would be very happy to buy you that beer! So now I'm caught between being a bit bummed that this bike isn't quite the thouroughbred I though it might be, and excitement in understanding that it is an even more rare bike than I first thought. Now the question is: Rebuild with Campy NR for a sweet looking bike, or rebuild with the crappy original parts for a more authentic project? Thank you once again.

Brisbane, Australia
1974 Paris - Nice
1985 Defi
1985 Victoire
1985 Victoire (yes, another one!)
1985 Professionnel
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 15, 2006 3:25 am Reply with quote
Robert B.
Joined: 14 Mar 2006
Posts: 8
Location: the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon

Given that the vast majority of the Reynolds 531 tri-tube Racing Team frames such as your own were sold as bare framesets minus even a front fork ( opposed to the all Reynolds 531 Racing Team model having exposed chrome on both its rear stays and front fork which was sold as a fully equipped and configured bicycle), I am personally of the mind that you are in a position to rightly be given great latitude with respect to its ultimate fitment of components. Perhaps to underscore this point, I might note that most of these Racing Team framesets seem to have been destined for the club scene where enterprising young racers were expected to kit them out in a fashion most suitable to their personal taste and circumstance.

As for your lament that you are "...a bit bummed that this bike isn't quite the thoroughbred that I thought it might be", that may well be true with respect to its stature in the Cycles Gitane pantheon of production. However, you still might be well advised to pursue further provenance regarding your bike's particular history, if that is at all practical. Given the club racing nature and intent of these bikes, it is not inconceivable that yours was once campaigned vigorously (...and who knows, maybe even with some measure of success) in local or regional events by a former owner / rider. And that is the type of thoroughbred heritage that one cannot purchase new off the showroom floor at any price.

Robert B.
...the "Chronically Cloudy Clime" of Oregon
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'76 or '77 Gitane TdF / Racing Team 
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:54 am Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Sep 2008
Posts: 6
In 2002, I purchased a Gitane on-line that unfortunately arrived in rougher condition than was advertised. As a result, I stripped it down and hung the frame in my garage as a to-do restoration. This month, I’ve finally gotten around to tackling it.

With the help of Stephan Andranian, this outstanding Gitane USA website, and fascinating and highly detailed forum entries from members, I’ve been able to determine that this bike was either a 1976 or 1977 Tour de France / Racing Team.

I obtained the bike with the following specs/components:
• Reynolds 531 tubing for the frame only, with elongated lugs that have heart-shaped cutouts. The brake-bridge has exquisite diamond shaped reinforcements on the seat stays
• Front fork has chromed “socks,” with Simplex dropouts and a chromed fork crown
• Painted rear stays (sans chromage) that have the distinctive Huret honeycomb dropouts shared with the Interclub model
• Simplex Prestige black plastic and metal shifters
• Simplex Prestige front derailleur and Simplex SX100 rear derailleur
• Sugino Maxy crankset
• MAFAC Racer brakeset with three Dura-ace (?!) top tube brake cable clips
• Guid drop bars with Pivo stem
• Nondescript headset
• Lyotard quill pedals
• Cheap plastic padded saddle
• Mavic tubular rims on Normandy Sport hubs

Although the bike's components are eclectic and unremarkable (and, I suspect in some cases, substitutes for original gear), what distinguishes this bike from the other TdFs / Racing Teams discussed here in this forum is the original shop decal showing that this bike was first purchased in the Netherlands.

As with Paul Wiseman’s bike described in previous posts, it lacks the seat and chain stay chroming of TdFs / Racing Teams seen in the U.S., but is clearly marked with the original French Reynolds 531 three main tubes decal, thus distinguishing it from an Interclub. I presume that the shop decal indicates that it was sold as a complete bike, rather than a frame that was dumped on the market.

I have just packed the frame and fork off to the Color Factory in New Jersey to be repainted in its original “airframe” silver with correct replacement green Gitane decals, courtesy of Cyclomondo in Oz Note that I had obtained a replacement seat tube sticker from Harris Cyclery, courtesy of the late Sheldon Brown, but I have to say that Cyclomondo's decal set comes much closer to matching the original decals).

I also sent off a letter to the Dutch bike store where it was first sold (still in business, 30 years on!) to obtain a replacement dealer’s decal/sticker.

Taking the excellent advice posted by Robert B. to heart, I’ll be building this frame back up as a period club racer. While I originally intended to build it up with SunTour Superbe derailleurs, shifters, and brake set, I’ve decided to go Italian instead. I’ve collected an almost complete Campy NR gruppo over time (rear der. dated to ’7Cool and Sugino Mighty Competition cranks with black anodized chainwheels.

Unfortunately, I’ve used the wheelset the bike originally came with for my Peugeot PA-60 restoration. I have a set of 1st generation Dura Ace high flange black hubs laced to Ambrosio Elite rims that will serve to get the bike rolling when it comes back from the paint shop. The black hubs and chainwheels should give it a distinctive look, as will the anachronistic, but striking, green Brooks B-17 Champion saddle with matching bar tape and green cable housing.

I’ll post pix as soon as she’s painted and reassembled. In the meantime, here are a few of the unrestored frame and fork.


Ian Kersey
Williamsburg, VA

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Addendum (and corrections?) 
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2008 6:12 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 14 Jan 2007
Posts: 2814
Location: SF Bay Area

I've seen your contributions on

Great information and pictures!

I worked at two bike shops that sold Gitanes in the 1970s. The first shop was a part time job and like you I worked there for about 6 month to support my bike habit. I ended up managing the second shop for about 4-5 years.

There were a number of different importers and wholesalers distributing Gitanes during the late 60s to mid 70s. We originally got our Gitanes from Mel Pinto Imports who were located in Northern Virgina. Mel Pinto distributed Gitanes from the early 70s? until sometime in 1974 when Gitane Pacific took over.

We could never figure out whether Gitane Pacific was a subsidiary of Gitane (MICMO) or an independent enterprise. It seemed that the folks at Gitane Pacific didn't know much about the bike business in the US.

They were located in Southern California and came into the market at the end of the Bike Boom in 1974. Gitane Pacific only offered a few models and never got established partly because the were the new kids on the block plus the cost to ship bikes across the US by truck had become prohibitive due to the Arab Oil Embargo.

Gitane Pacific also marketed some 40 Lb. clunkers made in Taiwan. We kept one in the shop for several years just to show customers the difference in quality between bikes.

I think that Gitane Pacific was bringing in painted frames and components from France and assembling them in the US. Sometime in 1976 or 77 we bought a bunch of Gitane frames and components from them on a closeout sale and assembled the bikes ourselves. Most of them were Gran Sport frames but there were a few Interclubs and one Tour de France. There were no decals on the frames but Gitane Pacific sent us a box full of them.

Gitane measured their frames from the center of the bottom bracket to the top of the seat tube (or to of the top tube). The 23 1/2" (60cm) bikes were the most popular frame size followed by 21 1/2" (54cm) bikes. For some strange reason 22 1/2" (57cm) bikes were always in short supply from Gitane.

Bikes in 19 1/2" (50cm), 24 1/2" (62cm) and 25 1/2" (64cm) sizes didn't sell as fast consequently older stocks of these sizes sat in warehouses or bike shops longer. That accounts for a lot of the speculation about dating Gitane bikes.

Here's some of my observations about Gitane Tour de France bikes from the late 1960s until mid 1974:


Lugs: Prugnat Type S "Italian style" lugs until maybe 1972 then they started using Bocama (BCM) Short Point Professional lugs. These came both with and without the reinforcing rings around the top and bottom of the head tube lugs. Note, Bocama lugs have the tubing angles stamped into them, for example 73 and 61. A lot of people confuse these numbers with the date of manufacture.



Post 1974 TdFs switched to Bocama Long Point Professional lugs.

Seatstays: Brazed on willow leaf shaped caps on top. Probably around 1972 Gitane switched to swagged over tubing.

Seatstays: Brazed on rear brake cable stop bridge for centerpull brakes. Eliminated probably sometime after 1972.

Fork crowns: I've seen at least 5 or 6 styles of fork crowns used on TdFs, some of the early models used Wagner but later models used at least 3 different styles of Nervex fork crowns.

Wagner crowns

Wagner Flat Top crown

Nervex Professional crown)

Nervex Dubois crown

Dropouts: I've seen at least 3 different styles of Simplex dropouts on Gitane TdFs including 1 style that didn't have a rear derailleur hanger. They also used Huret front dropouts which were identical to Campy dropouts on some TdF forks. I've also seen a few TdF frames with Campy dropouts. My guess was that Gitane ran out of Simplex dropouts and grabbed some Super Corsa frames to use instead. They would have had to cut down the steering tube length to fit the Stronglight P3 headsets which have a shorter stack height than Campy headsets.

Jay's TdF with old style Simplex dropouts without integral derailleur hanger

Circa 1967-1970 Simplex dropouts with long axle guide on left dropout

Later model model Simplex dropout

Gitane changed to the Huret "Honeycomb" rear dropouts on Interclub and TdF models when they switched to the new style decals in 1974.


Brakes: Mafac Dural Forge until 1969 or 70. Dural Forge brakes were renamed Racer in 1969. Probably around 1972 Gitane switched to the shorter reach Mafac Competition brakes.

Mafac Dural Forge (Racer after 1969)

Mafac Competition

Hubs: Gitane used Normandy Luxe Competition hubs until around 1971 when they switched to Campy Nuovo Tipo hubs. Peugeot used these hubs on their PX-10s and they probably had a stranglehold on Maillard (Normandy, Atom).

Normandy Luxe Competition with Simplex Skewers

Cranks: Stronglight 93 cranks up through about 1972 when they switched to the Campy knockoff Sugino Mighty Competition cranks for the same reason they switched hubs - Peugeot PX-10s.

Dérailleurs: All of the late 60s to pre 1974 TdFs that I've seen had Simplex Criterium derailleurs. Most TdF owners upgraded their bikes to Campy or Suntour derailleurs, frequently done at the time of purchase. My 68-70 TdF was updated to Shimano derailleurs by the previous owner in the late 70s. I'm putting it together with the original Simplex parts.

The few new style TdFs that we got in had Huret Challenger derailleurs (which are some of the best shifting friction derailleurs I've ever used).

Saddles: I never saw a Tour de France equipped with anything other than the Plastic "Torquemada" model Feccia D'Oro plastic saddles. A lot of TdF owners switched to Ideale 80, 90 or Brooks Pro saddles.

In the early 1970s Gitane Tour de France bikes were a great buy at around $275 USD list price. They offered just about the same components as Peugeot PX-10s for considerably less money plus you could them in ugly green plus 4-5 other colors (Club green seemed to be the most common color TdFs came in).

There were still quite a few pre 1974 Gitanes in the pipeline, especially in the less popular sizes. I remember ordering in several pre 1974 64cm TdFs for tall riders as late as 1976.

In 1975 we moved away from selling Gitanes. For one thing we were starting to import Bertin bikes from France that were built to our specs. Another reason was that Gitanes were not competitively priced against comparable Peugeot, Motobecane or Raleigh models. The third reason was availability of Gitanes. Interclubs and Tour de France bikes were almost impossible to get plus the TdFs had only the 3 main tubes made of Reynolds 531. They sold for ~$450 USD. The equivalent competitive bikes were selling for ~$350 - $375 USD.

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Typical componentry found on Gitane TdF's (1970 - 1975) Forum Index » Vintage Gitane
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