Removing and Replacing Vintage Bicycle Grips

1947 C. Daudon blue Velox grips

The baby blue original Velox grips on my 1947 Camille Daudon were faded, dry, cracking and incomplete.  I usually love to re-use all original equipment on any vintage bicycle I restore, but these grips were damaged beyond repair.

Wood grips from the 1940’s

Earlier period vintage bicycles sometimes feature wood grips, which require a different algorithm for restoration and replacement.  The Daudon’s grips were rubber, and so I searched the internet for a suitable replacement.

I was lucky to find these French NOS Felt grips which matched the shape of original Velox grips exactly.  The blue color is very vibrant, and is a little bit lighter than the color of the original grips, which have faded and darkened over time.

The Daudon’s Stronglight crankset features matching blue highlights.  Even the crank bolt is colorized.

When I restore or “preserve” any vintage bicycle, I do my best not to ruin any original parts or accessories in the process.  I wanted to remove the original grips without damaging them. Parts that I remove and replace are kept for a future owner of the bicycle.  That’s the best way to document a bicycle’s provenance.  Using a surfactant, in this case Finish LIne’s pink bike wash, is the best way to soften the dry grips and begin the removal process.  By slowly and carefully inserting the blade of a small narrow screwdriver, and then spraying the bike wash into the opening, the dry grips began to soften.  After about 1/2 hour of this process I was able to remove both original grips intact without destroying them.

For installing the new grips, I will use that most mysterious of products:  hairspray.  An adhesive not to be messed with.

Before that, I will remove the brake levers and stem from the alloy bar, clean and polish all the parts, and then put everything back together.  This bicycle’s stem mounts directly to the steerer tube, and is fashioned from lugged steel, chromed, with sets of 8 mm mounting bolts on the stem and steerer sections.  The Daudon’s levers are alloy, but unbranded.  The handlebar assembly will be lovely and functional when completed, and then I can move on to the rest of the restoration process.

1947 Ideale Model 65 Saddle

1947 “Hawk Nose” Ideale Model 65 with duralumin rails

Ideale Saddles were often a builder’s or rider’s choice on quality bicycles produced from the early 1900’s to nearly the end of the previous century.  The manufacturer,Tron and Berthet, began operations in France way back in 1890.  While they made many highly prized saddles, some of the most interesting lightweight models feature these large duralumin rails.  Together with the supplied duralumin clamp, these saddles were lighter weight than any competitors’ models, some weighing in at 250 grams less than a standard saddle.  This Ladies Model 65 weighs only 15 ounces, or 425 grams.  For comparison, the smaller standard Brooks B-17 weighs 540 grams.

It is a lovely saddle, having come equipped on my 1947 Camille Daudon, and was in nice condition for its 70 plus years of age.  While the leather was a bit dry, there was no cracking and the leather had not separated from the rivets anywhere on the saddle.  The seatpost is alloy also. I am guessing that the seatpost was custom made by Camille Daudon.  It has a closed top, is feather weight, and should polish up quite beautifully.

And so, I was looking forward to cleaning and polishing the beautiful alloy Daudon seatpost and Ideale seatpost clamp.  The entire Ideale clamp assembly is alloy, except for the axle and bolts, which are steel.

Even the round washers are alloy.  However, there is a down side to these lightweight components.  As you can see above, one of the alloy clamp pieces has broken apart and the other is cracked.  These seatpost clamps require a lot of torque to prevent the saddle from altering its position while cycling over bumps and other surface anomalies.  The alloy clamps probably could not withstand the torque needed to keep the saddle in place while riding.  That means sourcing some undamaged clamps to fit these wide duralumin rails.


If you are interested in the history of Ideale saddles, you might want to check out this post from Eric Anschutz (ebykr), who recently published an overview of the company’s history.

1947 Camille Daudon – Frame Details

My 1947 Camille Daudon bicycle, custom built for Irene Faberge Gunst, is currently in a state of disassembly, so this seems a perfect time to share some details of the frame’s construction.

While I have some information about this bike from the previous owner, I wasn’t sure about the steel tubing.  Because the previous owner had re-chromed the frame, all the original decals and transfers were lost.  So, I was delighted to see this VITUS logo on the steerer tube when I removed the fork.  This logo probably means that all the frame tubes are Vitus – a quality steel tubing made by the French company Atelier de la Rive.

The work done to create this frame is far beyond anything you would ever see today, except from a custom builder.  The creases in the chainstays, to provide clearance for the crankset and the wheels are beautifully executed.  And, the sloping downtube connection to the seat-tube is one of my favorite designs for mixte bikes that use a single, rather than double, sloping top tube.  This type of robust brazing firms up the frame, and gives the mixte bike better handling characteristics.  Peter Wiegle has continued this concept on the mixte frames he has built.

Pinned chainstays

Another interesting feature are the pins used to secure the chain stays, as can be seen by peering inside the bottom bracket shell.  Pinning the tubes was a method used by a number of builders of this era, and is even continued today by Mercian, whose process involves using a brick oven to heat the tubes for brazing.  I don’t know whether Camille Daudon used this heating process, as the only tubes which are pinned in this frame are the chainstays.

The finish work on the stays is beyond anything I normally see – simply extraordinary.

This frame has only a few braze-ons -the shifter mount, pump pegs, and shifter and brake cable routing.  Most notably, there are no braze-ons for a dynamo nor for a chain guard.  Since this bike was designed for commuting and city riding in San Francisco, that seems odd to me.

1947 Camille Daudon mixte, prior to re-chroming

Prior to being re-chromed, the frame looked as above.  As you can see, the chrome was seriously compromised.  Chroming a bicycle frame is a harsh process that may not yield the results you are looking for.  It is very labor intensive, and will remove some brazing material from the frame.  It is essential that the frame be thoroughly cleaned and the old plating removed before re-chroming.

The previous owner thought that he had prepared the frame correctly for the chroming process, but unfortunately a small section of the drive side seat stay developed a hole during the re-chroming, due to incorrect preparation.  This is an area of frame construction where failures can develop.  However, in this case it looks like the combination of incorrect preparation, along with the harshness of the re-chroming process itself, caused this hole to develop. While it is a small flaw, it’s something to take note of.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will try to re-create the Daudon logos which were original to the frame, as shown in the above photo.  I love seeing such a large head tube on a smaller frame such as this, which should provide for a comfortable riding experience.

Best of all about this disassembly process was seeing the codes engraved on the fork and rear dropouts – “471” which makes me think that this was the very first bicycle off the line from Daudon’s shop in 1947.  A nice, and interesting,  thought.

Frame dimensions:

Seat tube:  50 cm

Top Tube -effective:  52.5 cm

Wheelbase:  102.5 cm

Frame Weight:  5 pounds, 15 ounces

Material: Vitus steel tubing