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.

The Case of the Mysterious Mark

1941 Goeland fork

There is usually some sleuthing involved when it comes to restoring vintage bicycles.  While that is definitely one of the satisfying elements of the restoration process, there also can be dead ends leading to unsolvable mysteries.  The 1941 Goeland fork depicted above has an interesting hand drawn signature on the steerer tube.  I haven’t been able to really isolate the letters, except for the “e” and the “g” at the end of the scribe.  This kind of mark is unusual.  I have seen stamped marks on frames, forks and components, such as the builder’s marks on a 1929 Griffon that I restored a while back, shown below.

Builder’s mark on 1929 Griffon.

The little bug-like mark is, I believe, the builder’s mark, and the “9” is a mark that was on each of the components of this 1929 Griffon, which I took to be a date code.

1941 French freewheel with engraving.

The 1941 Goeland’s freewheel also has a mark that I can’t quite make out.  The freewheel has no other manufacturer’s marks or codes, just this elegant engraving on the cover plate, unlike the 1947 freewheel (from my 1947 Camille Daudon) show below, which has marks, plus a strange engraved signature on the back side of the freewheel, but no indication of the manufacturer.

Engraving at the bottom.

Or, should it go this way?

Deciphering these marks can be challenging.  Even standard marks can be hard to make out.  While I was working the wheelset of the 1941 Goeland, I needed to remove a broken nipple and rusted spoke.  Even though there is a clear manufacturer’s mark on the nipple, I still can’t make it out.

And that’s after enlisting my little magnifying glass – a relic from my parent’s gem collecting days.

The 1941 Goeland seems to be bursting with mysterious signatures.  The above photo is the bike’s hand-made spoke protector.  It has a beautifully engraved mark, shown above.  With time, and a little more patience, and perhaps some help from technology and readers of this blog, I hope to solve these mysteries.

UPDATE 4/26/17:

Reader Bruno (see comments below) has supplied the following information:  The spoke protector is a “Le Pratique”, made by Lefol, and the Daudon freewheel is a J Moyne with an unusual hand drawn engraving.  Here’s a vintage Moyne advert for reference: