I feel like a bit of a fraud joining this group because I have limited knowledge of cycling's glory days and bike restoration. I'm also too young ;-) But seriously, I have just spruced up my old Gitane Victoire which I think is a 1985 model, so I qualify in the retro bike owner department.

People have shown an interest in the old girl and my recently posted pics on AC, so I thought I'd tell her story.

The Victoire was purchased during my Uni years as a replacement for a stolen bike; a Standish 105 if my memory serves me correctly. I was never a "road rider" as such but she served as a reliable form of transport to get around cheaply through the "poor years". Getting to and from hockey training up Shepherds Hill Rd never posed any problems in my 20s. She got a bit of a run around Whyalla when I took up one of my first jobs there. I even did some short course triathlons on her in the early 90s while out in the sticks. Fortunately my running and swimming made up for my dubious cycling ability.

I started road cycling some 5 years ago when a number of body parts complained about running and some body parts simply got too big! My initial rides were done on the Gitane. It only took a short time to realise why I could no longer get up Sheps and why I got a lot of sideways glances. Yep, times had moved on and my new bike was now an antique! I engaged the services of a cycling friend who helped me through the purchase of my new Giant TCR Alliance 1. Not long after that I joined AC and noticed various posts about old bikes. That planted the Gitane restoration seed. Unfortunately I then had a cycling accident and manual work with one of my hands has been a problem ever since. The restoration got put off from one operation to another to another... I continued to read posts by people restoring old bikes and started to recognise that my new Zinn manual wasn't necessarily going to help me with the old girl. I also watched as people struggled to find suitable old parts for their projects. I noted that Gary Mills came to the rescue of many. Then came another operation this year and it finally dawned on me that my restoration project was in danger of never happening. I had developed a good working relationship with Gary over the last couple of years. (It should be noted that I have an extraordinarily low tolerance for idiots in bike shops so that is high praise indeed for Gary). So, as soon as I could drive I packed a lunch and water bag and took the Gitane from the south all the way to Elizabeth.

Gary and the lads at Star Cycles replaced all the gear and brake cables, regreased all the bearings, applied new bar tape, trued the wheels, upgraded the rear cluster to something I could turn over (Shimano 6 speed 14-28) and put a new chain on. Everything else remains original. It turns out that the Gitane was in pretty good nick as it had lived indoors or in a garage all it's life. The various bearings had dried out but were otherwise in good condition. I have retained the original cluster which is a 6 speed Sachs-Maillard 13-20, but I don't think it will be going back onto the bike any time soon given that I'm running the original 52-42 on the front!

When I picked the bike up from Star Cycles I did wonder why the guys hadn't shined it up a bit. Well, I figured it out last Friday when I took to it with a rag and a tube of Autosol .... for 8 hours!! There was some surface rust spotting on the front forks and toe clips which took a bit of work but scrubbed up perfectly. The other silver bits needed a lot of elbow grease but also shone up well. The original tyres and tubes were OK but I wouldn't have had any faith in them while fanging down a hill, so I replaced them. I woke up on Saturday morning all excited about my "new bike". The modern bikes are all very nice, but there is just something irresistible about solid old bikes with gleaming silver bits.


The bike still carries the original reflectors, bottle cage and saddle bag that were on it when I picked it up from The Cyclerider in Blackwood. I won't list the various components because the following pictures reveal all. Oh, and for Pat's information, the Victoire's colour scheme wasn't optional, but at least it is not pink! I did consider adding yellow walled tyres, but fortunately I got over that very quickly.

I finally made it back onto my carbon road bike last Sunday and it felt great to be out there again. I bought a Colnago CLX3 with Di2 just prior to my last operation in the hope that it would help retain my interest in cycling. It has certainly done that. A full carbon frame damps out some road vibration and the Di2 helps enormously with dicky hand gear changing. Now I can't wait to get my legs back so that I can show off my old "new" bike. I will keep an eye out for future Le Club Lug rides.

Feel free to ask questions, but be warned that if you get too deep and meaningful then I will defer to Gary Mills ;-)


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Replies to This Discussion

Gillian it"s nice to see a Gitane, you have triggered some fond memories I have of a Gitane I once owned. I purchased mine second hand at a store called Hambley Clarks and Sons, down rundle street, Adelaide. 

Found this in the shed today. What should I do with it?

I think you should give it to me Shane. :)   I have some nice NOS Normandy hubs and Weinmann rims that would suit this perfectly.

I would like to keep it Gary because it"s my size 23" and it was my brother's . I had a Green & Yellow one in the 80's that got taken out with my knee by a car. If within the next year I haven't done anything with it I might pass it on.

Autosol with elbow grease, yellow cables and bar tape and a trip to Millsy. Problem solvered :)


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