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Thread: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

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    Default Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Show us your screwed, your glued,
    Your bonded frames yearning to plane free,
    The noodly oddballs of your teeming collections.


    These lugged aluminum frames were the flexiest racing bikes ever mass-produced, not that monster sprinters like Sean Kelly or decades of CX World Champions gave a shit about stiffness.

    The bike is a spring: unless you scrub your tires, where else is the vast majority of the potential energy going to go except back into the drivetrain?




    My current one is an 1982 ALAN Super Record, 59x60 c-c with a fully french drivetrain. It planes just standing over it!





    I've put over a thousand miles on it on a variety of different tubs in the last few years including several 100k and 200k rando rides and a good amount of dirt.

    Being 6'3" and 145lbs I love the hell out of its epic quivering noodliness (just clipping in pushes the BB an inch laterally) but it does mean I need a 28t freewheel on it as it simply doesn't reward mashing at all (especially with the flexy Starfish cranks and superflexy GEL280 rims). I had some Vittoria 32mm file tread tubs on it for quite a while that fit with 4mm to spare, but if I pedaled anything but circles the tire would buzz the chainstays. I used that as an alarm to cultivate suplesse, but eventually gave it up when I noticed a slight groove being worn in the NDS stay.

    It went unridden for the last year because I cracked the threads off the male end of the custom seatpost clamp, they made the damn thing aluminum too. I recently got around to boring and facing it in the lathe to get it back in action using a M7 stainless hex bolt.

    I also just got a little stockpile of these odd and otherwise unwanted 28mm Vittoria Mastercross tubs, and after gluing them up the ridiculousness of it all inspired me to put on the purple macro splash tape and white hoods.

    It's my only historical reenactment bike, and I like too keep it in a 'bike nerd period' setup, with the melange of parts someone like me would assemble over time as shit wore out, not the date-matched complete group of a wallhanger. I've got several pairs of appropriate toe-clip pedals, and multiple cleated shoes for them (including blue suede Dettos), but I was doing steep hill repeats on it today and didn't want to bother. It'll probably wear Lyotard Marcel Berthets for most of the summer to have a fast flat-soled ride.

    I'll probably swap some CLB Spaceline brakes over from another bike at some point since this doesn't need the long reach of the Modolos and they squeal like pigs. I'd also love to replace the Huret Sucess Titane derailleurs, traditional slant parallelogram models just suck at taking up chain. A Mavic 840 series would be awesome and make the whole drivetrain Mavic (even has a Mavic Threadless BB, a friend owns the facing tool). A hard ano Mavic seatpost would look amazing, but finding one in 25.0mm would be next to impossible. I'll probably have to stick to using the Super Record post to hold up my Ideale, but I'd gain some perverse glee by having no Campy on my Italian bike

    I'd LOVE to ride L'Eroica on it someday.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    I had one of those for about 9 months in 1988. I bought it used from a friend who had it just sitting around. Before the Alan, I thought my 531c Mercian was flexy. It had a mix of Cyclone, Mavic, Modolo, with Wolber rims and Barum tubulars. It had a pine cone 600 freewheel so I was always torquing the thing from a stop. I sold it to a guy the next year who really liked the ride. I have pictures somewhere.
    Weight Doper

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    sold it last year, here in commuter configuration:





     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Can't wait to see a bunch of these. Loved the TVT 92's with the Zed paint. They seem wildly impractical now, but races were raced and won on those noodles.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Had this for over 20 years before selling it to a local student a couple of years ago. Lots and lots of miles by me on this bike.
    Attached Images Attached Images
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Not into collecting rigs but this one found its way to me, Jr. size Vitus bmx.

    mini vitus 979 bmx.jpg
    Steel Bamboo Aluminum Wood Titanium Magnesium ETC

    (Pick your poison, ride it like a stuck pig!!!)

    Alfred Salgado

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    I know of a mileage junkie roadie in my area that has been riding for 40+ years and has had a vitus (and ALAN) for over 20 years now and still puts thousands of miles on the Vitus every year. No sure about the Alan status. He has replaced the downtube on the vitus. He is 6 foot and 140 - 150 pounds.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Hard to find them in larger frames than 58cm. Was that on purpose?
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    i been around a while, sold a lot of vitus in the day but i never saw one of these. very cool indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy Salgado View Post
    Not into collecting rigs but this one found its way to me, Jr. size Vitus bmx.

    mini vitus 979 bmx.jpg
    Nick Crumpton
    crumptoncycles.com
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    "Tradition is a guide, not a jailer" óJustin Robinson

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Gave my Alan to a school teacher who had no money for a commuter, it was a 50cm so not as flexible as some,five years later he still rides it to school almost every day.
    -Eric
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    ALAN apparently also made a MTB model at least in 'carbonio' but this is the only one I've seen: Alan 1995 - Fotoalbum auf Rennrad-News.de





     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti



    This arrived last week...we call it The Gooch.

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    A bit of an anomaly in the bmx world for sure, I have never seen one in action track side. Have seen Cinelli bmx in full Campy track kit doing battle, those where pretty cool to, the bmx scene in the mid 80's was crazy.

    Quote Originally Posted by crumpton View Post
    i been around a while, sold a lot of vitus in the day but i never saw one of these. very cool indeed.
    Steel Bamboo Aluminum Wood Titanium Magnesium ETC

    (Pick your poison, ride it like a stuck pig!!!)

    Alfred Salgado

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Hey Lads

    Thought I would post this and see if anyone has seen one before or got any info on them...

    It's a Stronglight Altec Aluminium bonded frame.

    French threading

    Either way it is really nice and has 7400 / 600 tricolour group.





     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan View Post


    This arrived last week...we call it The Gooch.
    I always wanted one of those. Ironically didn't they call that model the "Sprint"?
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Quote Originally Posted by dubrat View Post
    Thought I would post this and see if anyone has seen one before or got any info on them...

    It's a Stronglight Altec Aluminium bonded frame.
    woah that looks terrific, much nicer looking than any Vitus or ALAN I've seen

    does it use a quill seatpost?
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Quote Originally Posted by blasdelf View Post
    ALAN apparently also made a MTB model at least in 'carbonio' but this is the only one I've seen:
    Sweet commuter! That is one clean, classy looking bike.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Quote Originally Posted by dubrat View Post
    Thought I would post this and see if anyone has seen one before or got any info on them...

    It's a Stronglight Altec Aluminium bonded frame.
    You got an awesome reply on the CR list before the crotchety old nazimods trampled the discussion, I got permission from the author to repost it here since the list archives aren't public (Dale has delusions of total copyright assignment)


    Quote Originally Posted by Norris Lockley
    I thought that I might be able to help out with some background info on your Stronglight Altec frame.

    The frames appeared around the same time as the better known TVT Carbone 92 models ie around the late 1980s, not all that coincidentally they originated from the same part of France..in and around Lyon in the Rhone valley. Most French carbon-fibre based frames came from this area due to the fact that the weaving of the base materials was a natural development of the area's expertise in weaving silk.

    The ALTEC frame is credited as being the bright idea of a chap called M. Ribeaucourt who was based just outside Lyon; he was a very close friend of Alain Darrin, the then President of the frame manufacturer TVT - the tubes for the TVT frames being made just up the road from Lyon in the general direction of Chambery, in the idyllic small town of St Genix-sur-Guiers; here in the factory of TCT - the parent company of TVT, the carbon fibres were knitted into stockinette , seven layers of which were then bonded together by the RTM process (resin transfer moulding injection) to produce tubes.

    At the time all these frames were seeing the light of day I was the UK importer for TVT..from 1987 onwards. On one occasion M Darrin asked me if I would be interested in promoting ALTEC frames alongside the TVT product; this request was a measure to help his friend, Ribeaucourt's business. The latter had already launched similar-looking frames under the ALTEC brand - but these used aluminium tubes instead of carbon-fibre ones - and were meant to cash in on the vogue for riding bonded aluminium frames established by the VITUS Duralinox 979 models.. It was from this generation of metal frames that ALTEC drew its name. Some of these early frames found their way into the Tour de France under the Spanish BH brand - I think that they were anodised black at the time. Stronglight also marketed some under its own name.

    I have no hard proof of the following statement but suspect that my reasoning is very sound. ALTEC was only a small business, one which really did not manufacture goods but simply sold on goods that were built by subcontractors. The aluminium alloy tubes used in the first ALTEC frames came from France's largest supplier PECHINEY who had factories in the Rhone valley. I suspect that the carbon tubes used for the carbon ALTECs was produced by TCT (Technique Carbone Tisse) - the parent company of TVT ( Technique Verre Tisse) TCT manufactured a very large range of high tec tubing for such applications as aerospace, telecommunications, sporting goods such as golf-clubs, yacht masts etc etc. Among the range of high-performance tubes were those which were simply carbon and others which had a blend of kevlar, known as HM carbon. The weave and dimensions of the actual carbon strands were also slightly different. I suspect that the ALTEC frames used TCT's HR tubing - the ones without the kevlar. as had the first generation of TVT frames produced in and around 1980.

    All the metalwork for the ALTEC frames ie the lugs, drop-outs, bracket shells etc etc came from the same factories that produced the same articles for TVT and had already produced for earlier brands such as Duravia and CMP. -= all based in and around Lyon. Vitus on the other hand produced most but not all of their metal parts in St Etienne. The factories involved were based in either Grigny or Brignais, small suburbs to the south of Lyon. La Fonderie St Georges cast all the aluminium parts before they were transported in large steel mesh cages around the corner to the machine shop of Lyon Raccords whose owners were a couple of oily-handed gems called M Besson and Mallarte. These two very committed engineers and their small band of enthusiatsts transformed rough castings into shiney precision parts before passing these parts onto the neighbourhood polishing shop who added the final lustre. I had the pleasure of meeting all these guys and spending happy times in their workshops. Unfortunately when LOOK bought out TVT with the intention of dissolving the company, the likes of Lyon Raccords went into insolvency..but later reinvented itself as Duracycles - from whence it carried on machining cycle parts and actually fabricating their own small range of carbon and aluminium-bonded frames. If any of you have a Stronglight seat-pillar in one of your bikes this product came through the same route and small factories as the ALTEC and TVT lugs. Stronglight simply stuck a sticker on other people's work...as they did with the Stronglight ALTEC frames.

    What is not known definitively is the name of the firm that actually bonded the ALTEC frames together. However..some years down the road in about 1994/5 I was contacted by another small Lyon-based manufacturer of carbon-fibre frames - GUICHARD Composites whose factory was in the NE suburb of Villeurbanne. A visit to the small neat factory indicated that the firm manufactured the well-known Alsthom-Discjet carbon-fibre disc wheel - no doubt subcontracted from Alsthom itself. I had been contacted to ascertain my interest in marketing the GUICHARD of carbon-fibre tubed racing frames branded MACH-1.

    To all intents and purposes these were Ribeaucourt's ALTEC frames--identical in every detail and I have no doubt that this small dynamic company of about six employees had bought out the manufacturing rights from Ribeaucourt..or else they had developed the ALTEC frame and then contracted with Ribeaucourt to market them. Production was small, frames could be custom-built..attention to detail was excellent as was the high quality finish. It was in this factory that I had the advantages of the straight-bladed bonded carbon-fibre front fork explained to me. I suggested that they used straight blades because the mould was far cheaper to produce than a mould for a curved blade.The fork builder a gentle giant nicknamed 'Gitane' the Gypsy..set me straight on its advantages. He used them..and he had no desire to meet an early death..was his explanation. Of course this fork went onto fame and fortune as the TIME fork..supplied in large quantities to Colnago.

    A visit to the carbon-fibre frame producers of the Lyon area during the period 1983 -94 was quite delightful..a wonderful bunch of enthusiasts supported by a small band of highly skilled back-street professional engineers supported in turn by big industries such as TCT..the cycle industry at its best..great interdependence..all in it together..all on first name terms..always a bottle of Rhone wine ready at snap-time.

    The all-consuming Taiwanese cycle industry cut an end to all the dreams and hopes of these companies, as companies such as Specialised and TREK sub-contracted all their manufacturing to the Far East.

    The remains of TVT, staff such as Jacques Paillet and Georges Million, went on to manufacture a small range of high quality carbon-tubed frames - in reality TVT MkII - under the brand name RBE Composites, based in Brignais, south Lyon and employing the same engineers to produce the aluminium castings and machining, while GUICHARD Composites developed the first Peugeot thermoplastic/carbon monocoque frame. Now..all these companies have disappeared.

    I feel very privileged to have been involved with these engineers in these companies at this particular time in the history of the French cycle industry. At any time, if there was any problem at all with one of their products..a solution was only a telephone call or a Fax-message away. These were not faceless companies at the other side of the world..these were companies producing excellent high-end equipment made by people with whom one could relate on a man-to-man basis over a glass or two of Cotes de Rhone wine. I fear that such industries are gone forever.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    Quote Originally Posted by blasdelf View Post
    You got an awesome reply on the CR list before the crotchety old nazimods trampled the discussion, I got permission from the author to repost it here since the list archives aren't public (Dale has delusions of total copyright assignment)
    And this is why I come here. Thanks for sharing.
     

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    Default Re: Lugged Aluminum whippets: Vitus, ALAN, Guerciotti

    blasdelf thanks so much for that... I was unsure whether it fell below 1985 when I posted it on CR list and thought it may have fallen within regs but alas not... It is a awesome response of which I would never have got if I haden't broken the "rules"

    Thanks again for reposting here as it is an amazing personal insite from the author....

    cheers
     

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