25 July, 2006

A 1972 French Top End Racing Bike

Since we're all suffering from tour withdrawal, I thought I'd post a few photos of this bike, that an aspiring racer might have ridden in the early 1970's.

This bike is interesting for several reasons. It is the type of bike that evolved into the modern sports tourer, such as the RB-1, Rambouillet, Kogswell P, and numerous others. It was built by a company, DANGRE-STARNORD, that prided itself on using all French components, yet the brakes are Swiss. And this bike has three names: On the seat tube it says Starnord, on the down tube is the name of the famous Paris Sport shop; and on the head tube it sports a Victor Cycles of Paris logo, which was a house brand of Paris Sport and had nothing to do with Paris France.

Construction is all French sized Reynolds 531, which some aficionados claim rides better than the slightly different British sized tubes used in the rest of the world. As for workmanship, well, let's just assume it was built after a long wine soaked lunch.

The ride is pleasant enough, though the long chainstays and thin tubing make it a bit flexible for my weight. Steering is a little quicker than I prefer, but not bad. The Ideal 90 Rebour-treated saddle is almost as comfortable as my Brooks Pro. And the top-of-the-line Simplex SLJ derailleurs are smooth as silk. makes one wonder what all the fuss with index shifting is about.

The wheels in the photos are not original; those were sew-ups. There is plenty of clearance for large tires and fenders as well as eyelets on all dropouts. If you eased the head tube angle one degree, you'd have close approximation of a classic sports touring bike.

I bought this bike because I wanted to play around with the sort of bike I couldn't afford when I first became interested in bikes, and for the parts. It appears have been ridden no more that a couple of hundred miles. I plan to use the parts to build up a future project, perhaps the prototype Velo Orange frame. Anyone want a French racing frame?

A couple of folks have suggested that this bike should be preserved as is. My feeling is that the frame is poorly made and not historically important. The parts would be better used to restore a significant frame, like the stripped Singer racing frame I recently saw. Or they should go on a first class handmade frame.

More photos here.

15 comments:

Neil Berg said...

Okay Chris, a really nice bike. It'd be a shame to part it out. Front rack, small Berthoud bag, fenders. Anything else would be greedy. Though I know just enough about French components to understand your rush to tear it apart. To rip out it's soul and leave it dying in the dumpster of life. 'Bye for now.

Bill said...

What is a "Rebour-treated saddle"?

david_nj said...

If anyone claims this stray and wants a free set of Stronglight 93 cranks (9/16, 170, no rings) just lemme know. They need polishing but I think it's an attractive design so I hung onto them. If you're nice I'll even pick up the postage, just to get the good karma thing going.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Bill,

A Rebour treated saddle is one that was pre-softened by a mysterious technique developed by Daniel Rebour, the famed bicycle illustrator. Thus break-in time was reduced or eliminated. Rebour's signature is stamped on top.

Ted said...

A real shame to part out that nice old original bike. Makes me cringe just thinking about it. Special, original bikes like that should be preserved as is.

Chris Kulczycki said...

Neil and Ted,

I thought hard about parting out this bike. And if it had any historical significance or showed even average workmanship I wouldn't do it. But the frame is simply poorly made. The parts are what are significant and they deserve to be on a better frame, either a high quality old French frame that has been previously parted out (there is a Singer racing bike with no parts available in my size) or on a lovingly made custom frame.

Neil Berg said...

I really wasn't serious about not parting it out. It's alway's tough to know what to do with those not quite great bikes. I myself bastardized a '82 Colnago Super into a single-speed hipster and have a really cool 70's Folkscycle serving as a trellis in the garden. Bad bike with great graphics.

Kris Green said...

Hey, Neil Berg:

Do you have any photos of your Colnago city bike? I did the same thing to what I think is a Colnago Super of about the same era, and I'd be curious to see yours. I'll try to snap photos of mine tonight.

You could email me at kristopher.green@gmail.com

Sorry, Chris, to use your blog as my own personal lonely-hearts kinda thing...

david_nj said...

Hey guys, sort of in keeping with this thread: whaddaya do when you have a Simplex derailleur and a frame with the modern threaded boss? Is there any sort of adapter for the Simplex that allows it to be mounted in the conventional "Campy-style" fashion? Thanks for any heads-ups.

Chris Kulczycki said...

David,

If it has a "claw", I don't know. But if it's the type with a nut on the back, you put it through the Campy-style hole and tighten the nut.

david_nj said...

Oh. Simple then. Makes sense. Thanks Chris. Yeah, I have the type with a threaded hole.

I found kind of a cool Super LJ 6600 and even though I grew up racing with Ergo shifters, it seems to me that friction downtube shifters work fine after a little practice. I don't have a big enough medicine chest to do any more racing. So I'm just going to pootle along the paths with beer in my water bottle from now on.

Doug Van Cleve said...

Chris, I understand your reasoning but to me the French stuff just isn't that rare. Prices on nice Simplex have not gone up at all since I first became aware of it ten years ago. In fact with the growth of eBay and the internet in general, more folks know about it and it seems more available if anything. OTOH original period bikes in nice shape are rare. I would leave it alone unless the killer Frenchie frameset landed in my lap... Just MHO, Doug

Rob M. said...

Beautiful bike...another vote for keeping it as is..... but, if you decide to part it out and want to sell that frame I'd be interested. It looks like it would be a perfect fit for me (is it a 25"er?).

Anonymous said...

I bought a new Raphael Geminiani special/olympic model with mavic sew up tires from Roy's Cyclery on Pico Blvd in LA in April 1961, along with a TA alloy crank set and bottom bracket assembly, extra Mafac brake pads, an extra Casmpagnolo front and rear Gran Sport Deraillers and an Ambrosio stem and handlebars; total price $169 for the bike and about $50 more for all the extras. I rode the bike for about 15 years, then my son rode it for about 3 years and totally customised it--knocked off the Ideale seat logo tag in the rear of the seat, etc. by jumping curbs and anything else he could find.
The French bikes came with chrome the thickness of watercolor paint--for this reason I recently decided to paint it after laying in the garage for 30 years of its 50 year life. I found all the original decals for it and am installing the new TA crank set that I bought 50 years ago. Prior to buying the Geminiani, I rode Italian bikes, but didn't like the rides.
I can understand persons who fix up French bicycles.
Best wishes

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