Everything I don’t know about Legluais
Ever heard of Maurice Legluais? I doubt that you have, as his name and his bike shop have fallen into obscurity and there’s scant information on the internet about his bikes. What I do know is that his shop was based in Orval, a small town in region of France called La Manche, “the sleeve” of Normandy. His business that closed in 2011, one which never impacted the bike industry in France or anywhere else. Yet here is one of his bikes, and a pretty good looking one too, I think; his shop catalogues and where he sourced his frames is a mystery, and it would be no more than a guessing game to identify the frame builder. Nevertheless, this was a bike of fair quality in its day, built in the early 1980’s with a Columbus Aelle frame, and I have to say, some strange components I’d never heard of before….
The One Picture Listing
When this bike was advertised for sale there was only one picture of it, like so many bikes advertised for sale. The overarching attitude of most sellers is “come and see it for yourself”, so it’s a foolish buyer who bases his presumptions on one picture. Like me. In this case, the photos wasn’t taken close enough to the bike to get a good look at the details. Especially because the picture was of the non-drive side. With the Columbus tubing and Wolber GTA wheels, I got a bit carried away and started to believe that the derailleurs and shifters were Campagnolo Triomphe. It’s possible, right? Luckily it was only a 10 minute drive to the owner’s house, and when he brought out the bike I immediately saw two things: one, the paintwork was in good shape; the other, that those were not Campagnolo derailleurs. Instead, etched on them was the word.. Triplex.
So who on earth were Triplex? According to Disraeli gears here, they were a Spanish brand, based in the Basque country, that contented themselves making low to mid range derailleurs for European bikes. Big French brands during the 1970’s and ’80s bought their parts as presumably a cheaper alternative to the more established names of the era. They were established a long time before that, in the 1940’s, and made derivative versions of Campagnolo models from their beginnings to their humble end in the late 1980’s. This particular groupset was the Triplex Professional. Wow. Score! No really, I’m not going to deride them as horrible or inferior, I hate that snobbery surrounding Campagnolo and the reverence for their old derailleurs. I actually think these Triplex derailleurs look ok, the finish on them isn’t great but it’s no worse than some Huret and Simplex derailleurs.
There’s not a single Suarini crank on Ebay right now, and there seems to be little information out there on this crank brand with its Olympic motif. According to Velobase Suarini was made by Zeus, another Spanish brand, and the proof of the pudding is the Zeus catalogue of 1985. Nevertheless, this crank does look like it could have been forged in the Stronglight workshops of the time, and there are rumours that this was the case. I suppose we’ll never know. I believe again, that Maurice Legluais took the cheaper alternative to building this bike and opted for this crank, just as he did with the cheaper Triplex derailleurs. Another oddity is the dropouts: GIPAS is another brand I’ve never heard of, they were based in France but that’s all the information I can find..
The original owner of this bike claimed that it was very expensive when new back in 1985. I don’t think it would have been as expensive say, as a Peugeot PSN 10 with its Reynolds 531 tubing and Campagnolo Triomphe parts, or the Columbus tubed Motobecane Grand Record. I do wonder what Maurice sold this bike for, if he was asking for a higher price than these rival brands, being a boutique bike shop in Normandy, or whether he was trying to undercut the major brands. I imagine the latter, and I like the idea that this was the case. This was a changing market and the big French brands were losing their footing in the global bike market, and I imagine that Legluais was building custom bikes for his customers, for a fair price. Whatever was paid for this bike in the mid 1980’s, the old Huret odometer reads 2623 miles, and I don’t imagine this bike was ridden a great deal.
I think most of this bike is original, except for the new tyres which were recently bought. The strange mixture of parts is typical of small bike shops of this time building customised models for their customers. The paintwork is in great shape for its age, it still retains a glean that reflects the pride its original owner took in looking after the bike, but also of the quality of the actual paintwork itself. If I’ve learned one thing about vintage bikes, it is that the quality of paint is one of the foremost attribute of a steel bike, and good quality paint survives much better and can be more easily restored than cheaper examples. Every component on this bike still works, even if the pedals are rather sullen and sad and the saddle should really be cast off for the junk yard. I can’t say how it rides, as I haven’t got it out on the road yet, but I hope to after a decent go at restoring it.
The Triplex gears hadn’t changed a gear or moved a cog for perhaps 10 years or more, sand when it came to test ride the bike the chain looked the weakest link of all. Yet, on the road, these Triplex gears worked a treat; they weren’t clunky and imprecise like Huret’s Allvit, and didn’t skip once during the ride, even with the straining and creaking old chain. I’d even go as far as saying the derailleurs shifted as well as any Campagnolo models of the era. So forget all that Nuovo Record snobbery, I say, here’s to the forgotten brand of Triplex!
- 1985 Legluais ( No Model Name )
- Columbus Aelle Frame
- Gipas Dropouts
- BCM Professional Lugs, Plain Fork Crowns
- 57cm Centre to Top, 55cm Top Tube, C-C
- 12 Speed, 2 x 6
- Triplex Professional Derailleurs, Shifters
- ICM Handlebars and Stem
- Suarini Crankset, 170mm, 52/42
- Weinmann AG 500 Brakes
- Wolber GTA 700C Clincher Rims
- Unknown Hubs
- Panaracer Catalyst Sport 700 x 23 Tyres
- Lyotard 92 Pedals
- Weight 21lbs