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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So today I'm on my way home and cut through a different way than I usually do and everyone has their trash out in my 'hood. I see a bike and slow my car- hm big chunky rack, probably bike boom junk, hmm DT shifters and the brake levers look nice. I scurried home and drop[ed some stuff off and walked back to the house. The guy said I could have it so I went back home and examined.

A Gitane TdF. It was dirty, but only a bit of light surface rust and some peely stickers. I looked these up and it seems they were solid entry-level racers of 531 steel in the early-70s and on. Nothing super special, but a solid bike. Mine looks like it's on the early end of things, based on pictures I've seen.

The interesting thing is that mine has some upgrades over the stock parts. It has the standard Mafac brake calipers and levers and Pivo stem/bars and the pretty looking Stronglight cranks. But, instead of the Simplex derailleurs it has Campy Gran Sport derailleurs and shifters. Also, the stock hubs (Normandy, I believe) have been upgraded to Campy and are laced to Mavic tubies and a 5 speed FW out back. I'll have to clean it up to get a better look. Another thing that I noticed was that all the places I looked (Classic Rondesvous and GitaneUSA.com had the most info) said that they all had Simplex dropouts, but mine clearly say Campagnolo. Those big Campy drops look ripe for a FG project, if I decide to go that route.

It seems like I picked up an old racer's bike, which is pretty cool. It looks good and it fits me well, so it coule be a fun little ride. I attached pics of the bikes after I pulled the derailleurs to clean them up and some crappy pics of the derailleurs themselves. I resized them, but did it wrong and don't want to do it again, so I'm only attaching a few here.
 

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I love the star crank/chain ring.....

get it cleaned up and take some outside pictures.... you really need natural sunlight to appreciate a bike's looks.

Also, your bike will definitely qualify for the bikes less than $100 thread.... FREE... you can't beat that.

Look forward to some more pics, here's what mine looks like under the sun.... still need to make a bar wrap decision....
 

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Sweet find!

My first race bike was a Gitane TdF. I bought is used and raced it for two seasons in the mid 70's. I loved it to death; probibly put 15K miles on it before upgrading. If I still owned it, I'd do exactly what you are planning, go fixed.

Congratulations
 

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Devoid of all flim-flam
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My first high-zoot bike!

My first high-zoot bike was a TdF of about 1971. It cost me $250. I sold a Martin 12-string guitar to get up the scratch. I had the Simplex derailleurs, though, and I distinctly remember the tips not being Campagnolo. Mine was dark blue. My buddy meantime, had a TdF in exactly your color scheme. Fine bikes both -- but my headset eventually got a permanent squeak after I suffered a head-on collision on a UC Santa Barbara bikepath. BTW, the TdF came standard with sew-up rims and tires. Even the model below the TdF, the Interclub (with cottered crank and no-name frame tubes) came with tubulars. My avatar tag-line, "Service? But of course!" comes from a decal that was on that TdF. The decal said "Service Course," which I believe means "for use in racing." Ah yes. The pics of your bike has sent me on a trip down Memory Lane.
 

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Still On Steel
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Memory Lane, indeed.

Mapei Roida said:
My first high-zoot bike was a TdF of about 1971. It cost me $250.
Ah, memories. My first OTV (Other Than Varsity) bicycle was also a 1971 Gitane TdF. Mine was orange and cost me $265. I was living in Anchorage then, so perhaps the extra fifteen bucks over what you paid was for shipping to Alaska. Great bike. Wish I still had it.
 

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Allez Rouge said:
Ah, memories. My first OTV (Other Than Varsity) bicycle was also a 1971 Gitane TdF. Mine was orange and cost me $265. I was living in Anchorage then, so perhaps the extra fifteen bucks over what you paid was for shipping to Alaska. Great bike. Wish I still had it.
Very nice find! I currently ride a '72 Gitane as a commuter bike and I enjoy riding it as much as my higher end bikes. The 531 steel is very comfortable and the geometry seems to suit me. I got mine for $40 on Ebay and threw on some wheels. The seatpost on mine is an odd size, very hard to find but the threading is English not French on BB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Awesome, I'm glad so many of yall had stories about this bike and shared them.

I'm not 100% sure what direction I'm going in with this bike, but I think that after I clean it up I'm going to ride it geared for a while then, if the mood so strikes me and I have $, build up a fixed rear wheel and play around with that so my fixed Cross-Check doesn't get lonely.

I'm happy to hear that the BB may be English threaded, I was kind of worried about having to hunt down weird French stuff. I have to go find a shop with an extractor that will fit the Stronglight cranks first, though.

What can you tell me about the Campy Gran Sport line of derailleurs? I looked them up and the line started pre-Record, but I'd imagine these were post-Record (late 60s, I'd imagine, just guessing by the age of the bike). Basically I'm asking, are these late 60s Gran Sports good derailleurs? Where did they fall on the Campy food chain at that time?

Thanks for the help.
 

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My parents bought matching Gitane TdFs in 1970 or '71. They are red with stickers similar to what is shown on yours. I spent a lot of time riding on the backs of them in child seats or later in a home made trailer. Believe it or not both of my parents still have their Gitanes, but in each case they are just gathering dust in garages. I am bugging my dad big time to give his to me because it is really in excellent condition for its age.

Regarding the Simplex vs. Campy thing: I know the official line is that they had Simplex derailleurs, but my Dad and I were discussing it recently and he is adamant that his came with a Campagnolo derailleur stock. It sticks in his mind because it broke in ~1973 (folded into the wheel, with me riding in a kid seat on the back :blush2: ). He replaced it with a Shimano derailleur. My mom's TdF may still have the original derraileur, I'm not sure. I will ask her to look at it.
 

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Obviously an old thread but I thought I'd chime in here. I still have my 40-YO TdF that I got when I was about 14 or 15. They were great bikes in the day, just about the lightest bike you could buy at the time. Of course, everything changes with new technology and there are many modern day bikes that weigh substantially less. Regardless, it's a good bike. I'm fairly sure the TdFs came with the Simplex derraileurs (and Mafac brakes, and Stronglight cranks) but I'm pretty sure there was one model higher than the TdF that was all Campy.

Mine's been sitting for a few years and I'm getting the bug to start riding more, so I'm doing some maintenance on mine now. One problem I'm running into right away is I can't get the Normandy rear cassette off. I have the tool (had it just about since I got the bike), and I assumed it was a simple wrench twist, standard CCW direction, but it is not budging, and I'm a little afraid of pushing the issue too far. Is there something anyone knows about that I'm missing? Thanks for any suggestions.

John Meggers
Ashburn, VA
 
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