Who was Bernard Dangre?
I must admit, I always thought Bernard Dangre was a professional rider. I imagined he was another of those French cyclists, tough and gnarly, who turned to making bikes after a career on the road. Well, that was wrong! Dangre was not a professional, I’m not sure he was even a competitive cyclist, but he named his bicycle company after himself and based it in Valenciennes, a town I’ve visited a few times, not far south of Lille in north east France. Dangre actually had a pretty cool set up; not owning a warehouse, each bike was made to order, with 20 different varieties of paint to choose from, and models ranging from basic UO-8 types to higher end builds. They would be mostly built with French parts, and were under the umbrella company of Starnord.
I like Dangre bikes, they would have been a worthy competitor to the big names of the French bike industry of the era. I don’t think they were exported in droves like other brands, you don’t see many in the US nor in the UK, yet they are still common in France. And why not? From the rock candy swirl design on the top tubes of later frames, to the the simple, understated models of some of the earlier models, each Dangre would have been made to the customer’s order. Often built using Vitus tubing, the Dangre must have been a solid competitor to the Bertin bikes made in the same region. Don’t expect fancy lugging or chromed stays and folks, Dangre kept away from fanciness and the ornate; these are more utilitarian bicycles, made for the people. But watch out for missing decals; Dangres are prone to losing their identity as their frames are often bare of stickers.
Good Value For Money
You can often find Bernard Dangre bikes, especially with missing decals (!), for a low price in Europe. The bike below was built by the firm in around 1980, and even though it had kept a lot of its glossy finish on its paint, once again the decals were missing. I bought it for less than a large Domino’s pizza, not that I’ve bought one recently. The first picture in this blog is also exactly how it was when I bought it, in a condition which you wouldn’t describe as bad or junked. It needed a good clean, but frankly, I’ve seen a lost worse. The tubular tyres came to life when I filled them ( hallelujah! ), and nothing was broken or cracked. It was a light bike, perhaps less than 22lbs, and I’m convinced it had Vitus tubing. This is how its transmission looked:
I couldn’t identify this grey bike’s model name or number, I’m not even sure it ever had one, but it looked good when it was cleaned. The paint had a fair amount of scratches in parts, it was as if someone had used an abrasive pad or had used a scrub. Nevertheless, it kept a lot of its nice finish, it shifted well even with its old chain, and the brakes just needed some precise centring. Funny thing about the brakes, they were the centrepull kind and were called “Racer”, but they were not Mafac. They looked like some cheaper copy of them, I’d never seen them before. Chunky and long each, they actually worked pretty well. All the components worked well in motion, from the Solida crankset to the Maillard pedals, and I undersold it to a local guy who was buying it for his son.
The Mafac Style Brakes
..and another example below of a later Dangre, with swirly top tube and guess what? Part missing decals…Sold for £77 in 2016.