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.
The wing nuts were drilled to save weight. Double eyelets in the front, single in the rear. Designed to carry a front load.
The head tube shows a slight loss of lug detail due to re-chroming of the frame. Lam side pull brakes with plenty of clearance for fenders.
650b aluminum box style rims with surface pattern to improve braking.
Daudon’s customized shifter – everything bespoke on this bicycle. Shifter cable not properly set up – a one piece system is required.
Beautiful Stronglight crankset in very good condition.
Cyclo rear derailleur with wrap around cable.
Gorgeous Ideale Saddle – a bit dry and in need of conditioning.
The color matched crank arms are only still visible on the left side. Threading for all left side components is reverse, including the crank bolt, lock ring and bottom bracket cup.
You can see the slight loss of lug detail mostly on the head tube.
Perfect fork rake – a lovely bend close to the drop outs makes for a nice ride.
Re-chromed stem which is bolted to the steerer tube. All bolts are 8 mm heads.
Unbranded pedals – possibly also crafted by Daudon.
Irene Gunst’s engraved steerer tube cover. Beneath this lies the hidden tool kit.
8 mm nut heads on the seat tube clamp, simple but pretty stays.
Tool kit hidden inside the head tube.
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.