Gitane Track

Gitane Track

It seems the majority of legendary French cyclists were victorious upon a Gitane, and the odd Belgian and American as well. Jacques Anquetil, Lucien van Impe, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon all wore the yellow jersey in Paris aboard a Gitane, and Greg LeMond won his world championship on his famous blue Gitane. During the bicycle boom of the 70s, when the French manufacturer was exporting thousands of bicycles into America, it’s likely the dreams and adventures of many young Americans were carried along by one as well.

Gitane in French means ‘gypsy woman’, and if anyone out there can shed light on why Mr. Bruneliere, the entrepreneurial mechanic who founded Gitane, decided upon this title for his frames, I would like to hear about it. Whatever the reason, the ‘Gypsy Woman’ grew from being a side project in Mr. Bruneliere’s workshop to a sleek and dominating aspect of French industry.

Evidence of Gitane’s track heritage, this immaculate frame is a 1950 vintage. The modern Campagnolo Record drive train only adds to the sleek vanilla lines, which, even 60 years later, seem to magically combine speed and elegance.

Massive thanks to Michael Hurley for the magnificent photography. For all your Gitane reference, head to the website of Gitane USA.

Gitane Track
Gitane Track
Gitane Track
Gitane Track
Gitane Track
Gitane Track

  • PsychProf

    Sweet bike, and Lemond did ride Gitanes in the early part of his career, but it is not true that “Greg Lemond… wore the yellow jersey in Paris aboard a Gitane.”

  • Duly noted, thank you for the correction, I’ll make sure I read the fine print on these Gitane fan sites in future!

  • This is only speculation, but the name may have been inspired by the popular French cigarette company “Gitanes”.

  • wergraph

    Second name in your list of victorious French cyclists should be Lucien Van Impe. He is Belgian, not French and won the Tour de France in 1976.

  • Thanks wergraph. It’s late. I should’ve picked up on that!

  • Jessupl

    As a former owner of a Gitane track bike, I always felt Gitane was a beautifully appropriate name for a bicycle in that both are born to travel!

  • Steve

    Oh look, saddle all the way up, bars all the way down, pedals all the way off…again.

  • Yes, Steve, usually pedals are left off a bike once it’s been finally built up, as they a riders preference. The geometry of this Gitane is quite a standard race setup.

  • Steve

    If this were an isolated case I might accept this explanation, but this extreme setup has been used several times in your archives, and not always on velodrome bikes. Front wheels are often removed for transport, but you wouldn’t photograph a bike without one. Don’t get get me wrong; I love your site, and the bikes, but suspect your photographers of “gilding the lily”, to use a popular misquote.

  • Peter

    Bruneliere’s wife affectionately dubbed him ‘Gitane’ as he seemed to be constantly travelling around France on business.

    Think of a mysterious wandering gypsy girl and you you can see the humour.