Gaidou 1970’s Mixte 650B Randonneuse

One of a pair of bicycles hand built during the 1970’s to a high standard by a little known South of France constructeur – Gaidou. The other machine is a very similar specification Gent’s model in the same colour, still owned by the person I bought this one from. I particularly like the understated look of this machine. First thing to note is the use of Super Vitus tubing, one of the lightest and best quality tube-sets around at that time. The frame uses proprietary cut-out spearpoint lugs, nicely filed, and the finishing is very high standard in all respects. Particularly pleasing is the precision scalloping of the ends of the three tubes as they join the rear dropout (see below), a classy piece of work. All the fittings are top quality too, with Huret Jubilee front and rear derailleurs, Maxicar hubs and Super Champion 650B rims, Stronglight chainset, Mafac brakes with CLB levers, Phillipe bars and Atax stem. The bicycle is light and Tomoko reports that it is a pleasure to ride in all conditions on its Grand Bois 36 mm tyres.

I would be very grateful for any information on this fine artisan maker.

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Gilles Berthoud 650B Randonneuse c.1990

A very beautifully hand-built 650B touring bicycle from the well respected French constructeur and maker of beautiful bicycle luggage, based at Pont-de-Vaux near Macon. Of fillet brazed construction the workmanship is very fine and the bicycle well finished. The machine is equipped with very strong and beautifully hand-built fillet brazed tubular racks, front and rear, tailored to the bike and stamped individually with the frame number. There is also the Berthoud decaleur for the front bag. I don’t know what the tubing is but the machine is not particularly light, being prepared for long distance, rugged touring. Everything works well…. strong braking, precise gears, top class wheels. I also like the understated look of the bike and the tasteful transfers.

Equipment includes Stronglight triple chainset, Sachs Quarz indexed click-shift gearing, Maxicar hubs laced to Mavic Module 3 rims. Shimano cantilever brakes and levers, Belleri bars and Ideale saddle. Berthoud stainless mudguards.

The bags on the bike are both Berthoud items based on the original ‘Sologne’ range which Berthoud bought out some years ago, and continues to make to a high standard.

The sticker on the back mudguard is of the ‘Confrérie des 650B’, or the colleagues of the 650B. This French organization is dedicated to the continuation of this wheel/tyre size which is renowned for its comfort whilst touring.

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Barralumin Laterale Randonneuse c.1948

I’ve just completed this spectacular Barralumin aluminium bicycle made by Nicola Barra.

When I bought it there were a just a few parts missing including the wheels, and it has taken some time to find exactly the right period parts. No ‘restoration’ as such was carried out, just very careful cleaning and light hand polishing only… which took about 50 hours! It was very important not to damage the full set of original transfers. Being a large 62cm frame (c to c) Barra presumably added the extra lateral tubes for additional rigidity. All main tubes are in Barra’s extraordinary tubing which transitions from vertical oval at the head, to round, to horizontal oval at the BB.  The quality of workmanship is amongst the best I have ever seen on any bicycle and is a testament to Barra’s great skills as an innovative aluminium welder and frame builder.

Interesting features include the rear derailleur spring being INSIDE the chainstay. The spring is anchored inside the BB and a cable attached to the other end exits just in front of the RD. The handlebar stem is made by Barra and even has hand made aluminium nuts and bolts. Front changer is a Le Chat with a beautiful Barra-made sliding changer and lever. His own cantilever brakes are fitted and these have adjustable toe-in!

Barra custom parts: Front and rear racks, handlebar stem and bolts, Cyclo gear hanger, cantilever brakes with adjustable toe-in, duralumin brake wire hangers with adjustable rods (made from bicycle spokes), steel front and rear brake cable hangers (rear incorporating seat pin clamp), front changer mechanism and rod, internal rear derailleur spring. Internal dynamo wiring.

Other parts: Stronglight chainset with Cyclo Rosa alloy rings, Stronglight alloy BB, Lyotard pedals with Lapize duralumin toe clips, Cyclo alloy 4 speed rear derailleur, Le Chat front derailleur, AVA handlebars, GB end plugs, Mafac Guidonnet levers, Mavic 650B rims, MaxiCAR hubs (blue seals), Trois Etoiles spokes, Bell wingnuts, Grand Bois tyres, Ideale 57 saddle, Soubitez dynamo and lamps.

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L. Pitard Campeur Bicycle c.1948

Louis Pitard Cyclocamping bicycle c.1948. Frame number 388. Made in Paris to high specification this bike is light and has all the best parts of the period. The front rack is braced to the front brake cable hanger, whilst the rear low-rider rack is removable. I suspect the tubing is either Reynolds 531 or top of the range Vitus, due to the low weight of the frame.

The bike was quite rough looking when I got it, but many hours of careful cleaning brought it back to a very presentable state.

There was very little wear on any of the parts. Pedals and chainrings are like new, so it clearly didn’t do much camping! I suspect everything is original except for the rear lamp. I replaced the perished rubber handlebar grips with tape and shellac, and replaced the broken rubber mudflap and damaged toestraps with leather to exactly the same dimensions.

Parts are: Early Mavic rims on MaxiCAR hubs, Stronglight chainset with Cyclo Rosa chainrings, Cyclo rear mech, Le Chat/Pitard front mech, early MAFAC brakes and guidonnet levers, AVA randonneur bars, Soubitez lighting, Durex mudguards.

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Recent Discovery: G.Ferrand Randonneuse c.1950

A recent discovery in the UK, this is a rare machine built by little known constructeur George Ferrand in Macon, France around 1952 for Medwin Clutterbuck, a well known English Cycletourist. He travelled extensively in France, the UK and USA both pre and post-WW2. He was CTC Consul for Sussex and wrote a self-published memoir of his cycletouring adventures when he was in his 80’s. Prior to World War II Clutterbuck became friends with Rabauld, Editor of ‘Le Cycliste’, as well as the cartoonist Jacques Faizant, and he also met a jeweller and cyclotourist called Charles Daussin, who lived in Macon. It is assumed that Daussin introduced him to Ferrand.

The bike is on 650B wheels and is made of light tubing. It has numerous nice details: Finely electric welded frame, custom front and rear racks and bottle cage, hand made front changer, Herse type cartridge bottom bracket, custom stem with brazed on boss for bell, internal brake and dynamo cabling, internal expander seatpost, brazed on mileometer bracket, rear cable guide, chain slap guard.

Parts fitted are top quality too with the rare 5 speed Cyclo gear, MaxiCAR hubs, Bell wingnuts, Mavic canti’s, Stronglight 49D, AVA bars, GB end plugs, Lefol Le Paon guards, Ideale 48 Professionel alloy saddle, Wolber Super Randonneur tyres, Ad-Hoc pump, Radios lights and JOS dynamo.

It is completely original except for later Mavic rims. It is light and rides very well indeed.

Does anyone out there know anything about this fine maker?

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René Herse Racer 1976

A highly original Herse racer built in Paris in 1976, just before the great man died. All original finish and lining. Perfect crisp lugwork. Reynolds 531 tubing. Rear brake cable internally routed. Very rare Herse triple chainset, Huret Success titanium RD and Jubilee FD and changers. Cinelli bars and oval logo stem. Campagnolo Record brakes and hubs. Super Champion Competition sprint rims with period Clément tubulars. Chain slap braze-on. Brooks Pro French model saddle on Campagnolo stem.

This bike looked a little sad when I bought it. It required a very careful cleaning job over many hours, and sourcing of new old stock campagnolo brake hoods (at vast expense), new period tubular tyres, new cables and correct period outers, and new bar tape with shellac to match the paintwork.

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Porteur Bicycle 1946

According to the previous owner, this bicycle was made for his Father in Paris in 1946. Unfortunately the maker is unknown, but it is clearly of some quality. It is hand built using nice lugs and is fitted with good quality kit. Particularly nice features are the very slim seat stays and a little braze on mount for the rear light. Internal cabling for dynamo. Torpedo coaster brake, alloy 650B rims with heavy duty spokes, Maxicar front hub, Bell wingnuts. Lefol ‘Le Martele’ mudguards, Duprat chainset, original fabric chainguard. Jos front light, Radios dynamo. Ideale 63 saddle. AVA stem, alloy bars, Mafac inverted lever. LAM ‘1/2 Ballon Dural’ front brake.

Alex March e-mailed me to point out that the multi-coloured lining on this bike is very similar to that on a Dujardin that he has. Dujardin was based in Paris where the bike came from, so that seems like a reasonable possibility.

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Barra c.1940-41

A very rare steel light touring bicycle by constructeur Nicola Barra. Original finish and transfers. Fillet brazed Vitus tubing. Barra front and rear racks and Barra handlebar stem. Duprat Professionels cranks and Stronglight alloy ring. Tank pedals. Cyclo aluminium 3 speed gear. Alloy 650B rims, Maxi hubs and Trois Étioles spokes. Grand Bois Hetre tyres. Durex mudguards. Mafac cantilever brakes (probably replacements) Ideale 63 Cyclo-Touriste saddle. Later Jos lighting. Almost finished with just a few details to sort out….. nice papillons need to be found, a couple of the cyclo cable tabs are broken and do I change the handlebars to drops?

Better known for his Aluminium bicycles (Barralumin), Barra also made porteurs ––42730275.html – and steel bicycles such as this one. Steel machines of his are rarer than the aluminium ones. He is also credited with inventing the first modern cantilever brake around 1936. These brakes even had adjustable toe-in.

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Alex Singer 1970

An excellent example of the work of the great Paris constructeur Alex Singer, or rather Ernest Csuka, who took over the business when Singer passed away. Dating from 1970 it has beautifully filed simple spearpoint lugwork and is finished in the house pale blue metallic with part chrome stays and forks. This randonneuse is on 700c’s and is fitted with the Singer hand-made stem and front rack, and chainstay protector braze-ons. Mavic rims on Campagnolo hubs, Spidel derailleur and simplex retro-friction changers. TA cyclotouriste triple chainset and 6 speed block. Maillard 700 pedals. Mafac Racer brakes. Brooks Professional saddle on Simplex alloy post. Lined alloy mudguards with Singer custom mounting reinforcements. Shellac coated handlebar tape.