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In 1925, Marcel Bruneliere, a blacksmith, started making farming machinery and bicycle parts in Machecoul, France.
By the next year, Bruneliere was producing two to three complete bicycles per day for the existing Marbru brand.
In 1928, Marcel started assembling his own branded Gitane1) bicycles, started frame building in 1940 and added motorcycles in 1950.
Gitane bicycles have won at least ten grand Tours 2)
Despite their focus on road racing and occasional touring bicycles, Gitane started making their own mountain bikes in house using French Camus tubing in 1984 and did not import Asian frames for at least the next ten years. Early Gitane MTBs seem to be very rare, perhaps because the French populace was slow to adopt VTT's 3).
In 1976 Gitane was purchased by Renault and was soon producing 350,000 Gitanes per year. Gitane later merged with Peugeot and BH in 1992 to form CycleEurope, which itself was bought by Sweden's Monark in 2000, who assigned all race bike manufacturing to its Bianchi subsidiary.
The Gitane brand continues today, selling VTT's, touring and e-bikes in France and Taiwanese Gitane's in Australia. The former Gitane factory continues to assemble 400,000 bicycles per year, with all of the frames being imported by Asia.
Marcel Brunelière, ca. 1960 leparisien
“Fabrication Française”, internally brazed frame, Sachs Huret Eco derailleurs, two front chainrings (32/48), Maillard Helicomatic 5 speed freewheel (14-30), Weinmann 900 center pull brakes, BMX style forks, bullmoose bars. Components date to 1983
1983 Verdun melivelo
1984 Cyril Guimard
The name is a misspelling of Cyrille Guimard who rode with Gitane and later became their directeur sportif4). SR slingshot stem (1983), Sachs Huret Eco derailleurs, two front chainrings (32/48), Maillard Helicomatic 5 speed freewheel (14-30), Weinmann 900 center pull brakes, BMX style forks, Ambrosio rims and internally brazed frame. Components date to 1983. Nearly identical to the 1983, with an updated stem. Serial number: “Y2662 1 E035329.”
1984 Cyril Guimard mountainbikemuseum.nl
Almost the same spec as the 1984 with new colors. It's possible the years are off by one. “Fabrication Française”, internally brazed frame, Sachs Huret Eco derailleurs, two front chainrings (32/48), Maillard Helicomatic 5 speed freewheel (14-30) Weinmann 900 center pull brakes, BMX style forks, bullmoose bars.
1985 Verdun retrobike
French Camus tubing, internally brazed, biplane fork, 3×5 gears.
1986 Spécial. Pic from 1986 catalog: labibleduvelocataloguesgitane
Sachs Huret Classic 2000 (1989-1990?). This derailleur has also been found on other 1988 bicycles, so perhaps velobase is incorrect. Only found in the 1988 Gitane catalog, but was likely offered in 1987 as well. The green fade paint job was deliberate and predates Klein.
1988 Savane velovintageagogo
Columbus lugged frame sporting a steel shoulder strap, full Shimano Deore XT M735.
1990 Niagara. 1990 catalog: labibleduvelocataloguesgitane
SunTour XCE 4050 (1990 only). It's possible that this is an Aussie/Kiwi only Taiwanese Gitane. Not found in any catalogs.
1991 Kenya bikehub.co.za
Shimano Tourney (1989-1995), Maillard hubs, “Fabrication Française”
1992 Marathon velovintageagogo