Sunday, July 31, 2016

1975 Gitane Tour de France Part II -the breakdown

back on the rack
I have acquired enough bike specific tools that I rarely need to run to my LBS, heck I can even tackle cotttered cranks but as I mentioned in the last post this Gitane has a Stronglight Crank and it requires a special crank puller to remove, and add to that the you need either a special tool or very thin walled socket to get the cranks bolts out and its time to head to the local bike shop.

Soma Grand Randonneur

Some modern shops don't want to be bothered with working  on a bike if its over about 5 years old, but I am fortunate to have a number of shops locally that deal with both Steel bikes and the old stuff, so I was fairly certain one of them would have the correct puller.   My faith paid off and Alki bike and board, only 2 miles away, took care of me for $15.  That was about a quarter of what buying the tool would cost and I don't expect to run into another Stronglight anytime soon.  With the crank job done I could take of the rest myself, although I did pause to look around the shop while I was there as the pictures above-Soma -and below- Motobecane- attest.  I have had my eye on the Soma for a while, they are now on to a version 2 of this frame- a nice white with red accents, I have even gone so far as to mock up a build spreadsheet but to be honest I couldn't ride 5 miles of a Rando event without needing a break right now so I think its more about dreaming and hunting parts and doing the build than the actually riding.  As for the MB I didn't see a model name but going by the Campy hubs and derailleurs, Stronglight cranks etc. I would say it was a Grand Jubilee or above.

Motobecane Grand Jubilee(?)
So back home I got to wrenching and began stripping parts off the bike to get it down to the frame and to have the parts off so they could be cleaned, the seat-post and stem will go back on after a clean and new grease but the rest will either be sold or used on other builds.

table full of parts
As discussed last time I think there are some parts that will bring value on ebay;

Mafac "competition" brakes and levers.

Stronglight crankset with bolts and end caps.

Huret Jubilee rear derailleur and shifters.

I still need to remove the front brake cable guide to include with the sale of the Mafac brakes and then it will be time to get to cleaning and listing.  If I got ambitious I might even remove the whole headset so I can see what date is on the fork steer tube and have a positive ID on the year of manufacture.

Until next time. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

1975 Gitane Tour de France - an old dog with new tricks?

1976 Gitane TdF from a Bicycling Magazine
A number of factors conspired to send me in search of a new project bike; I just did a post about how I find them and so that was on my brain, I had a hole in the queue with the completion of the Super Course (not really) and it was my birthday recently so I decided to treat myself.  Yes we old 10 speed bike geeks think a dusty old bike is a great gift!

My prize a mid 1970s Gitane Tdf
I started my journey by going to bike works because what better place to go on your birthday than old bike Mecca?  I found out that their refurbed bikes are flying out of the store so fast that they have very little stock of "as is" project bikes.  That is awesome for them and I am truly happy that its a success but that left me with slim picken's, however, I never regret a visit there and they had some beautifully refurbished steel bikes for me to lust over.  I had been looking at CL for the past couple days and had noted the Gitane Tdf.  It was listed as a project bike, missing Front Derailleur and bent handlebar and he was asking $80.  More than I would usually pay but this is a race level bike not a entry level one so I was interested.  I had also received a few bob for my birthday so I figured it would only be $60 out my pocket, can you say r-a-t-i-o-n-a-l-i-z-e kids? I thought you could.

Going home
So I came, I saw, I haggled and ultimately paid the full bill, he claimed he had a buyer coming up the next day that had pledged full price..who knows but I felt it was still a good deal so I went ahead with it.  Now you may wonder why I would pick this bike when the tribute site Gitaneusa had this to say about the Gitane Tdf ; "the workmanship was often sloppy. Although not too pretty to look at, it was not necessarily poorly made, just poorly finished. Lugs were often off-center, welding on the dropouts often appeared to have been done by a three-year old. And the paint jobs were not the best. The paint itself was not clear coated, and the gold detail around the lugs was hand-applied by less than steady hands (one too many glasses of wine?). The logos and other artwork were merely stuck on with stickers, instead of using decals with clear coat over them. It is for this reason that it is difficult to find older Gitane’s in pristine condition. Often, bottle cages and other clamp-ons were placed over the stickers and would mar them, forcing the owners to remove them entirely if they wanted the bicycle to look somewhat presentable."  

Wait -"too many glasses of wine" is a thing? Ok so its not a glowing recommendation but two things drew me to this bike; Reynolds 531 tubing and components.

You may be wondering how I arrived at 1975 for this bike?  Short of taking apart the headset and looking at the fork steerer which is rumored to be stamped with the year of manufacture I looked for a distinguishing feature like these rather unique rear drop outs which I see on Gitane TdF's from about 74-77.  And the Huret rear derailleur model came on the scene in 1975.
unique "window" rear drops

I have a little different plan for this bike than normal, I have bought bikes just for me before but this one is too big, and I have of course refurbished a metric ton of old bikes but for this one I am going to take the part it out approach.  Its what the seller had intended to do but he had too many projects and I gather a bit of pressure from the S.O, in a two bedroom apartment, to clear it out.  The buy it and strip mode isn't my new new approach but I thought I would try it out.  I figure there are four main areas of value in this particular bike that could potentially bring me a nice return on my investment...or it could all just blow up in my face.

1. Frame-set
 This is a Reynolds 531 frame which gives it some cachet and I would be selling it along with the following items:
  • Headset
  • Bottom bracket
  • Stem
  • Seat-Post
Those are the areas that usually give people trouble when sourcing/working on a French frame build so hopefully their inclusion will allay some fears.

2. Crankset
This bike is equipped with a Stronglight crankset and as a bonus it has the end caps and the inner ring is even a factory drilled model.  This part does present two potential challenges 1) it requires a special crank puller which I do not have and a new one costs over $50, however I have a couple local bike shops that should have one and can pull the cranks for a modest fee.  2) Some early models were tapped for french pedals which are smaller than the normal 9/16 size so I need to check that out.  If I need to sell the pedals along with the cranks then no big deal.

drive side with drilled inner ring

3.  Brakes and Levers
This is what originally piqued my interest in this bike, it comes with Mafac "Competition" center pulls the big brother to the more ubiquitous "Racer" and I have the Mafac levers with hoods in ok condition.  On a good day these could fetch more on ebay than I paid for the bike, or I could save them for my Motobecane Grand Touring and sell the Racers I purchased for it...

Mafac Competition Center pulls

Mafac levers with adjusters and decent hoods

4. Shifter and rear Derailleur
And the finally area of value I see are the Huret Jubilee down tube shifters and rear derailleur, both in good shape and appear to fetch decent prices on ebay.
Lovely designed rear mech

With the original rubber caps and you see the remnants of the 531 sticker 
In addition to the items above are the nice wheelset- mallard hubs with aluminum rims and presta valves, so a step up from the entry level steel wheels.  I may sell them as well or keep them for one of my frame only builds ups.  I did notice something amusing, the hubs are model 700

but are laced to 27 inch rims, seems a bit confusing.  

you can just make out 27 x 1 1/4 on the tire
And if I am able to successfully part out the other items I will be left with about $40 worth of parts I can use on other builds.

A water bottle cage
Rear rack


Handlebar and Front derailleur that were thrown into the deal since the HB on the bike is bent and its missing a FD.

And if the Stonglight cranks end up accepting 9/16 pedals then I will probably hang onto these

So thats the story on this diversion from the regular path, we'll see how it goes. Until next time. Ride.Smile.Repeat.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Where do I find a project bike?

I was having this conversation with my friend Joe and he mentioned it would make a good blog post, so here goes.  Lets say you want to find a project 10 speed to rebuild, or maybe just an old bike to fix up to ride on errands, and you are wondering where to look?  Here are some places I have found some success in descending order.
The local bike kitchen.

I am fortunate to live in a city with a "bike kitchen" and even more fortunate that its less than 7 miles away.  Its a non profit that does great things in the community so I know what I spend there is benefiting my community.  I can usually find a complete bike for around $40 or less, frame-sets  for a little as $5, and many of the projects on this blog have started life as something I picked up at bike works.  Here are few finished bikes that came from there...
Raleigh Grand Prix -$35 spent
Peugeot U-O8 - $35 spent

Motobecane Nomade - Frame set for $5

Another popular place to look is C-List but you need to exercise some caution as there are bikes at a whole range of prices and conditions, and of course you want to be careful your not buying a stolen bike.  Over the years I have come across a few terms to be aware of:
  • "rare" a tactic to make the high price seem reasonable except these bikes are "rarely" rare they are usually bikes built by the tens of thousands.  Like rare 1971 VW beetle....
  • "All original" usually code for "nothing has been done to this bike for 40 years" so expect dry rotted tires, tubes that won't hold air, dry rusty chains and hard brittle cables and housing and brake pads, i.e. they need a lot of TLC and at least the $60 worth of parts.
  • "might" as in "might need a tune up", " might need new tires" translation is "Definitely"
  • Minor Frame damage, or "small" crack in frame. Run don't walk away! you don't want to deal with that.
  • Record Du Monde for sale, there is no such bike model -its a sticker on a Peugeot frame to commemorate that one of their bikes set a World Record in some discipline.  This is most likely a Peugeot UO-8 which they made a couple Million of during the bike boom.  It a great riding frame and I have rebuilt quite a few,  just beware of some of the issues you may encounter with older French bikes.
I usually look for the "I just want to get rid of this bike" type of post but I tend to run across a lot of people thinking they have the crown jewel of vintage bikes and want a corresponding price for it. 

Here's an example- the above bike, a Univega nuovo sport, was listed for $159 and was noted to be in "Excellent" Condition, hmm.  A review of the pictures, they were nice enough to provide 8, showed me:
  • Dry rotted tires
  • Dried up patched together bar tape
  • Surface rust on some of the chrome and oxidation on the alloy parts indicating to me that the bike was stored outside at some point or just someplace moist...wonder how those bearing are doing?
IMHO this bike would be "excellent" at about $50, its going to need $60 in new parts (cables and housing, brake pads, tires tubes rim strip, chain, bar wrap etc.) and a lot of TLC.

All that said I have found bikes on Craigslist ...

Free bike that became a single speed

Peugeot Course- bought for myself originally $75

Motobecane Grand Touring - bought for myself keeper! $75 after sale of saddle and tires

Motobecane Mirage - in the queue $35 spent
Garage Sales

Again I am fortunate to live in a Neighborhood that holds a garage sale day every May so I can hit a ton of them in one fell swoop in a small area.  You never know what you are going to find and like C-List people often have an inflated idea of what things are worth but I try to remember, like C-List, its in the garage sale because they want it gone.

And if you see an old bike at a garage sale and its not marked- Ask! that is how the Miyata below, one of the nicest bikes I have ever found came into my hands for $25. It was hanging in the Garage and wasn't marked, I asked the nice lady running the sale and she said "oh that was the bike my husband commuted on, he said it was ok for me to sell it".  Randy at My Ten Speeds advises asking if they have any old 10 speeds even if you don't see any bikes at all, they might have forgotten it or didn't think it was worth putting out.   Here are few project bikes that started life in garage sales...

Takara Sport $10 spent
Takara $25 spent

Lovely Miyata 912- Sorry to let it go -$25 spent

I have only done this once and it was Good Will express, I have seen some bikes in Good Will I thought were way over priced but as always you can sometimes find a gem.

"Free Spirit" or in this case broken spirit...$9.95 spent
Police Auction

Again this was a one time deal and it was a campus police auction but for $5 I got a pretty good starter project.  It would have been worth that for the parts..

The $5 ride - Raleigh Reliant
On the side of the Road

As I mentioned in a previous post,  I see plenty of bikes in the neighborhood put out for free but mostly they are kids bikes or cheapo mountain bikes, but every once in a while...I have had two old 10 speed scores, one I got home to discover frame damage so it became a parts bike and the other is in the queue.

Just parts- front crash for frame
awaiting its turn...and a wheel
So there are lots of places to look and probably a few I failed to mention but be patient and use a critical eye and you'll find a project to turn into something lovely and useful.

Until next time...Ride. Bargain hunt.Smile.Repeat.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Finished and Delivered! (Raleigh Super Course Part X)

So when Thursday arrived I still had the brakes to do.  I had run the cables and housing but hadn't hooked it all up.
Front done
One thing I like to do when working on Center-Pull brakes is to clamp down the brake arms so the pads are touching the rim - taking the slack out of the system and then pulling the cable through and adusting the bolt on the straddle wire hanger.  Unfortunately the quick clamp I inherited from my dad has about a foot and half of over hang so it doesn't stay clamped very well, I need to get something better suited for bike work.  I did get the front snugged up but an extra set of hands would be nice for this job.

Rear done
One thing I enjoy about using colored cable housing is that even the cable tips can add a splash of color.
golden tipped cable

So Thursday night finished with the bike complete in the stand and just in need of a test ride on Friday.
bike stand work complete
While I was at work on Friday I got to thinking that an Upright Sophisticated Gentlemen's City bike needed a kickstand and I had one rattling around in the parts bin so I took care of that before the test ride.  I like to protect the tubes of the chain stays when I do this.

I keep some old tubes around for this job as they are really good for protecting frames, handlebars etc.

I cut a couple rubber strips to put around the tubes where I am mounting the kickstand, you can cut them long enough to circle the tubes but since I am really only looking to protect the top and bottom I just cut enough to form a "C" on the tube.  I then use a little electrical tape to keep the rubber in place while I mount the kick stand.

When  I first mounted the kickstand I had the mounting bolt dead center between the tubes but that ended interfering with the movement of the crank arm so i had to adjust it slightly.

Close tolerance
And with that it was ready to go on it test ride.  When I am testing out I bike I look for the following:

  • Is there play in any of the main bearings; wheel hubs, bottom bracket/cranks, headset/stem
  • Does the saddle slip is it aligned straight?
  • are the handle bars on straight
  • do the brakes work -crisp or mushy?
  • does the shifting work - no over or under shifts
  • An untoward sounds?
I came back with a few things to tweak and then it was ready for some beauty shots.
Non-drive side

Drive side
Just a little ways from where we started with this bike.  I was up early on Saturday to load the bike up and head to Portland.
are we going somewhere?
The bike spent a little time as a gallery piece - I didn't mind.

I'm home!

And then it was off for the shake down cruise and lunch.

The Sophisticated Gentleman on his upright city bike.

Hanging with the Handsome Devil.

And to cap the evening off Joe delivered on his promise of beers and dinner (Bangers for me) at the local English style pub,  hmmm Imperial pints.

I have certainly enjoyed refurbishing old ten speeds in their drop bar form but I might have to do more of these city bike conversions.  We'll see.

Until next time... Ride.Smile.Repeat.