Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gitane Kilo...

Whole lot of bikes out front of the Velo today, all ready to be led home by some incoming college freshman - they have been moving in for the past week now (the annual traditional freshman run down College Avenue was held last Sunday). Anyway, the bike that really caught my eye was this 1980s, flat black Gitane Kilo; something about the small diameter tubing of old steel frames really gives them a sleek, fast appearance. Dale says it is a keeper for his own stable, but I suspect like most things it has a price, if you can figure out what it is. Unfortunately this one is missing stickers on the seat tube and fork, and the head badge, but the down tube stickers are there, as is the "Made in France" "Kilo" sticker on the top tube, as well as Reynolds stickers (clearly visible). Nice track drop bars. It apparently had original toe clips and straps to go with the pedals, but an inconsiderate rider busted one of them (not me). Even so, and all told, it is a beauty of a bike. I apologize for all the background distraction in the photos - it was like 100º out, and I could not convince myself to move the bike to a more photogenic spot.

Gitane is one of those grande old French bicycle companies. Marcel Bruneliere began producing bicycles in 1925 at his mechanics shop in Machecoul. The early bikes (2 or 3 were produced per day) were sold under the name Marbru. The name Gitane was first used on the bicycles in 1930, and then became Cycles Gitane in 1952. Gitane hit the big time in 1957 when Jacques Anquetil rode a Gitane to victory in the French National Championships. The Gitane name and their bicycles remained popular and highly successful through the next two decades and into the early 1980s. Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, the brothers Madiot, and Greg Lemond all rode Gitane bicycles at some point during this period. This allowed the company to expand dramatically, to the point that the company (known as Micmo S.A. since 1960, but still sold in the U.S. as Gitane) had become France's largest exporter of bicycles, sending more than 185,000 overseas each year. Following typical cycles of boom and bust, economic downturns and the end of the bike boom in the United States caused the Gitane company, which had been bought by Renault in 1976, to restructure and consolidate multiple production facilities into one central factory in Machecoul beginning in 1986. Distribution of Gitane bicycles in the United States collapsed completely, making them difficult to purchase. In 199s Gitane, along with Peugeot and B.H. cycles united as Cycleurope, and the factory in Machecoul began producing bicycles bearing the names of all three brands. Today, the Gitane bicycles produced in Machecoul are available only in France, though recently frames made in Taiwan have become available in Australia. 


  1. Gitane Kilos use Vitus tubing, not Reynolds. Anyways, more information about Gitane is available on I suspect you got some of the information there for this post.

  2. Good catch. I wish it were still there, I would like to have another look. Something must have made me write Reynolds, though it could have been a simple brain fart.

  3. i also gave a Giante like above but my Giante is a Interclub. can any one tell me thats the differance between my Interclub and the Kilo


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