I acquired this late 80’s Georgena Terry Gambit a number of years ago. I don’t remember whether I purchased it just as a frame, or as a full bike. I was attracted to it at the time because I imagined the long head tube and small front wheel (a 24 incher) might make an interesting reinterpretation as a cycle truck of sorts.
At the time, I hadn’t paid much attention to the provenance of the frame, nor to its geometry. Recently needing to clear some space from my shop area, I brought the bike out and started to think about its purpose in life. With its Made in Japan brazing, using Cro-Mo lugged steel tubes, the bike would definitely not be considered a low end offering. So, I thought I would add a few components to make it ride-able, and then donate the end result to to Community Cycling Center so that the right cyclist can enjoy this interesting bicycle.
Original to the bike was the front Araya 24 inch rim laced to a sealed bearing Suzue hub. A nice and competent front wheel. The geometry of the bike is not ideal by my standards, with more wheel flop than I prefer. However, its short 51 cm top tube, made possible by the small front wheel, allows this bike to be a comfortable ride for those of shorter stature. The easy reach to the front of the bike, even with traditional road handlebars, is the whole idea behind this frame style.
For the front end, I threw on a salvaged Claud Butler road bar set mounted with Shimano non-aero brake levers. The road-ish style and leather bar tape seemed about right for this bike. Plus, I enjoy setting up the brake housing on non-aero style hoods, for that nice vintage look.
I used Shimano down tube shifters, but set the drive train up for a single chain ring up front. A Sakae crankset completes the build, and works amazingly well. A funky Pletscher rear rack adds utility.
This bike is an interesting example of the quality of steel frames which can be found in the 1980’s. While not technically vintage by my standards, this frame is an excellent example of the cycling industry’s offering of this era, with Georgena Terry being one of its most important innovators.
I was humming Don McLean’s tune as I was working on this 1980’s mixte with questionable provenance, a bike which I had recently accepted back into the fold after years of hanging at a friend’s business location as a display bike.
I have come to embrace this Don McLean lyric, at least with regard to consumers and their bicycles. Notice, I did not say riders. Too many Americans buy things which they do not actually use, and that means that buying a bicycle does not make you a cyclist.
The irony, nuance, and humor of McLean’s lyric resonates with me. There are so many ways to experience the value vs. outlay idea.
I had planned on simply donating this mixte to my favorite bicycle charity: the Community Cycling Center. But, when the bike arrived unexpectedly at my office, several interested parties emerged, especially after learning that I planned to donate the bike immediately. This made me think about what it means to “give”, as well as what risks and rewards are involved in giving a bicycle away. I was feeling especially philosophical as I pondered these questions. The antidote to that was to get the bike into my shop and give it an overhaul.
The first problem was that the headset’s grease had congealed into something resembling hard wax that got left in the can too long, and the steerer would barely turn. Possibly the bike was hanging near a heat vent during the last 5 years? I couldn’t imagine sending this bike out without having at least applied some fresh grease to the headset, but after 5 years of not being ridden, anything was possible. The headset condition made me do a complete evaluation of the whole bike, which I had apparently converted to a single speed, lo those many years ago.
Stronglight crankset with 42 T ring.
Shimano single speed 18 T freewheel. Nice forged dropouts.
There was a time when I tried out single speed riding. I found it didn’t suit me, although not having to worry about shifting was kind of nice in its own quirky way. Recently I had a single speed adventure on my 1929 Griffon, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, I may re-think my aversion, but for now I focused on my task which was to make sure the bike was safe to ride and properly set up. The gearing on this bike, with its 42 tooth front ring and 18 tooth cog yields a 63 inch gear (or 4.7 gain ratio), given its 27 inch wheels. As an all-round gear, maybe that’s okay for a reasonably fit rider using the bike on surface streets.
This is a Saint Tropez mixte built with Ishiwata 4130 Chro-Mo tubing. It is not a low end frame, but what I remember about the bike is that it had a number of low end (or unknown) components, as originally configured. Like so many mixtes, this bike is NOT designed for a small rider. The effective top tube length on this bike is 56 cm, even though the seat tube measures 50 cm. I will reiterate again that mixtes are for people who want to step through the frame rather than swing a leg over the bike. Mixtes are ideal for cyclists who prefer riding in street clothes or business attire. Mixtes ARE NOT automatically ideal for smaller riders.
SunTour mountain bike levers.
Araya 27″ alloy rims laced to Suzue hubs.
Polygon brake calipers.
Chain stay/fender zip tie attachment.
I set this bike up with upright bars and mountain bike levers. There was no bridge at the chainstays, so I zip tied the fender bracket to the seat tube. The bike has single eyelets front and rear, and braze-ons to accommodate both center pull and side pull brakes. The gray Dia Compe replacement pads work well with these Araya alloy rims – there is no break squeal and they are very effective at stopping the bike without being grabby. Probably they would work well with steel rims as well.
But what the heck is this bike? It appears that Saint Tropez was a Japanese marque which seemed to exist in the 80’s and possibly early 90’s (and maybe the late 70’s). The SN on the bottom bracket indicates that this might be a 1985 model, which corresponds with the bike’s appearance and components. The engraved seat stay attachment is a surprising feature, given the simple lugs. The gold sparkle and black paint scheme is really attractive, though.
So, as a “gift”, what is this bike worth? Will it be valued by its new rider, or will it have no value, because nothing was paid for it? I do hope that its new owner enjoys riding it. I hope it is worth more than what was paid.