I have had this 1947 Camille Daudon for a few years now, and have done nothing to it since first acquiring it from the prior owner who had done some of his own restoration work, including re-chroming the Vitus frame. In fact, the bike is so lovely in its current form, that I am reconsidering my plans to bring it back to its original state by adding period correct hammered fenders, front rack, lighting, and a chain guard, which is what it would have originally been equipped with. This Daudon was custom made for Irene Faberge Gunst, granddaughter of the famous creator of Faberge eggs, a special birthday gift from her husband. In 2006, this bike won the award for best French bike at the Cirque du Cyclisme show. As pictured, it weighs a mere 20 lbs.
Prior to re-chroming the frame looked like this:
As you can see, the chrome was seriously compromised. The prior owner decided that it would be worth it to re-chrome the frame and risk the loss of lug detail, rather than sanding it down and re-painting it. While disappointing in some ways, I think the overall impact of the new chrome outweighs the downsides. It’s nice to have these photos which will help me re-create the head badge and logos. There are other examples of Camille Daudon bicycles which can also help. Jan Heine’s The Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles features two Daudons, and the latest Bicycle Quarterly features a Daudon that is somewhat similar to mine. As far as restoration goes, I still need to make the bike mechanically sound and rideable. The Cyclo derailleur uses a one piece shifter cable, and although I could have soldered a cable to work with this derailleur, I have finally located one that will work for this bike:
And, I am still in a quandary about whether to make this bike appear as it once did – as a touring bike with fenders, lighting and front rack. While I contemplate that, here are some of the parts I have put together – aluminum fenders, front rack which bolts to the fenders, and Simplex chain guard. I still need to source appropriate lights for the front and rear fenders, and a dynamo.
I welcome your thoughts and ideas about this amazing piece of cycling history.
I really mean it: oh man. What a wonderful bike.
I don’t mind the re-chroming actually, which makes it seem “oh so French” when you think about it. Personally, I’d love to see you take it back closer to original – hammered fenders, lighting, et. al. really seems to fit the overall feel of a French cycle-touriste or touring bike. If you have some good quality reference images of the graphics, I may be able to assist you in regenerating those if you’d like.
Thank you. I will get in touch with you about the graphics.
Nice ! Fenders and lights would suit it for sure.
Thanks – and agreed!
Great work, Nola! Wonderful machine. You should be proud.
One question for you, however. I don’t have a good enough angle on the seat tube but I don’t see any type of chain guide brazed or bolted on. Noticing that this is what looks to be a 1×4 setup, I’m curious if there is ever any chain slippage? Then again, maybe since the gear range is so low, some kind of guide is not necessary?
The particular Daudon has only a few braze-ons: single shifter mount, cable guides, double eyelets in the front, single in the rear, and pump pegs. There is another Daudon which looks quite similar, style-wise to this one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/26105073@N04/sets/72157630414503674/ My Daudon has the same chromed frame and blue highlights on the crank arms and rear derailleur (the blue on the rear derailleur is quite faded, however). So, I think it would have been designed to carry its weight on the front, and may have had Daudon’s curved front rack for which he was known. The lighting is a puzzle. There is no braze-on for a dynamo. He was also known to craft clamp-on front derailleur levers so I wonder if he devised a clamp for the dynamo mount – possibly to the fork. Since lighting was not required by law in the U.S. possibly Mrs. Gunst wanted the option to go without, as I believe the matching hubs are original, and so there was no hub dynamo. The crankset has 42 teeth, with the largest cog in the back at 24 teeth. There is no room to add an additional chain ring, and the clearances are very tight, so it appears it was designed to carry only a single chain ring in the front, but surely it would have had a chain guard. The Daudon pictured in the link above has both a clamp on chain guard and a front derailleur lever. Adding lighting now will require a clamp on dynamo – or perhaps a bottom bracket mounted unit, which might be preferable, appearance wise.
Compliments on an outstanding French cyclotouriste bicycle. Your Daudon is lovely as is but I believe it should be completed. There is a visual and functional coherence that argues for the full re-instatement of its equipment and capabilities but it will be challenging. thank you for sharing the progress thus far.
Thank you for your comments!
I have 2 Daudon’s in the shop right now and have had down tube decals made.
I just posted a photo on Flickr of a shift lever that one of the bikes needed a replacement for.
If you are interested decals, or in talking Daudon,, let me know.
Wow, thank you. I will get in touch with you. Much to discuss about Daudon!
HELLO HOW DO YOU COME ACROSS THESE GEMS THANK YOU DONAL
The 2 bikes belong to customer’s, and are here for some care.
Hi Donal, I acquire my bicycle inventory in a variety of ways. Sometimes on eBay, sometimes locally, and sometimes by being contacted through my website. While “barn finds” do exist, they are not really feasible for me to pursue due to time constraints. It’s a constant pursuit to find the right machines for my interests and customer base. Definitely not a retail kind of activity!
Sorry for my English, i’m French.
I find that your bike has a lot of charm, congratulation for this beautiful restoration and thank you for saving french heritage.
i am particularly sensitive to bike Camille Daudon which is may be rarest.
I have mixed randomnesst Daudon 1947 in perfect original condition (in france we like original unrestored bikes but of cousse in very good condition)
I olso have a mixed randomness René Andrés and many other bikes.
congratulations and thank you.
Hi Roland, your English is great! Thank you for your comments. You have a wonderful selection of French cycling treasures. If you would like to share photos, I have a FB page for that purpose: https://www.facebook.com/RestoredVintageBicycles I would love to see a photo of your Daudon and the Rene Andres. You can also put a link to a photo in your reply to this comment, if you like. Merci!
Where did you get the chroming done? I too am in Portland Or and interested in getting a bike frame chromed. It is tough to find reputible chroming services that have done bicycle frames.
Hi Connor, the Daudon was rechromed by the prior owner. I haven’t found a reputable chrome plater here in Pdx that I am willing to trust with bicycle frames and components.
This illustrates that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’; I like the bolt-on stem which we see on ‘modern’ threadless headset bikes, and the steerer tube tool kit, which is also being marketed as a new idea (much like we used to keep spare spokes the seat tube or in straight handlebars).