Definitely not a Peugeot
If you don’t know the story, this is a follow up to an original post about a mystery bike I bought without decals, with no serial number, and no form of identification. You can read the original post here:
It had me stumped, but looking back I think I should have done better with my detective work. Admittedly, it was never a Peugeot, I knew that; I took the liberty to add Peugeot decals for no other reason than because I like gold Peugeot bikes from this era, and somehow having no branding seemed to give me the licence to customise the bike for my personal ends. Moreover, it was also because gold was one of the colours Peugeot painted some of their better quality frames like the PRS10 in the steel era.
Jim really knows his stuff. Here is his reply:
Bertin, like many manufacturers, built bikes to order for larger shops and distributors and added those decals in place of Bertin’s. I’m betting that this is a non-Bertin, purpose built bike and I think the frameset is probably of Manufrance or Cycles France Loire manufacture.
My reasoning is as follows:
1. Bertin did not use that style of seat stay cap on Durifort frames such as the C 34. They used a crimped style. (See attachment below)
2. That style of stamped, semi-wrapped cap was often used on Manufrance, CFL and Jacques Anquetil bikes (JA were made by CFL, Manufrance and Jeunet at differing times).
3. The frame is a hybrid style of tubing as it actually has Vitus Durifort forks and seems to have a Vitus 172 butted main frame as you had mentioned. Bertin typically used full Durifort frames (C 35 is an exception) at this quality level. (Early Vitus 172 sets were specced with Durifort forks, stays and steerer much as yours seems to be) See spec charts here. Later full 172 sets used slightly lighter gauges in the forks and stays.
I was a bit disappointed to realise that the frame isn’t a Bertin, to be honest. I do love Bertin bikes of that era, but nevertheless it’s good to to get much closer to the solving the mystery. I would say it’s a good chance that it is Manufrance or even a Nord France, the latter being my own guess as the bike came from Lille. It may never be possible to give a definite answer of a bike’s identity like this, only the original owner would know the true details. Getting pretty close, down to two or three manufacturers, is perhaps the best we can do for a frame that was bought and rebranded by a bike shop in Pas De Calais in the late 1970’s. The great thing is, it still rides really well and has been a pleasure to restore.