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 Post subject: Bonded AL - who is who
PostPosted: Thu Mar 01, 2012 10:09 pm 
Retro Guru
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Joined: Thu Jun 23, 2011 11:25 pm
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Location: It's not easy being a dolphin.
BITD; I was impressed with a Vitus Duralinox with blue maintubes. Surfing here, there's Alan too. Is there a big difference, and who pioneered the bonded AL?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:19 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2010 6:31 pm
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Not so sure about this exactly, but I think ALAN were first, making
alu frames from the early-mid 1970s. Vitus were making alu frames
in the 1980s.

ALAN made frames with the tubes threaded into the lugs and glued in place.
Maybe Vitus had a different process.

Johnny


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:15 am 
Dirt Disciple
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Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:24 am
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Location: Sendai, Japan
This is from memory. I have files tucked away somewhere. I won't be the least offended if someone corrects me here.

The process of bonding aluminum was pioneered by De Havilland during the development of their twin engined DH-103 Hornet long range fighter (1945). The renowned and earlier all-wood DH-98 Mosquito equipped the De Havilland company with a lot of experience in bonding airframes together as opposed to using fasteners. This technology filtered down to other uses.

The company that produced Vitus was not the first first frame maker to build aluminum frames. But they along with the Italian frame maker Alan were the first to build them in large numbers. Both frames came out strongly at about the same time. These frames were from different manufacturers and different countries. No rebadging was involved.

The original Vitus Duralinox frame was conceived by a company called Alteliers de la Rives in the Loire valley, not far from Saint Etienne. This was an older company, and they had produced several, well-reputed lines of steel tubing using the Vitus name. When Ateliers conceived of a bonded frame made from 5086 Aluminum, they formed a cooperative partnership with two other companies to produce the tubing. Assembly was done by the French aerospace firm, TVT. They used a process of dry heat activated epoxy. The tubing was inserted into lugs using an interference fit.

The Alan is often differentiated from the Vitus as being "screwed and glued". But what is lesser known is that Vitus produced what they called their "A" line — their name for Services des Courses machines that were destined for delivery to racing stars competing in the European 'grand tour'. One of the most famous of these illustrious athletes was Sean Kelley. His physique, size and riding style were particularly suited to the Vitus frame.

The Vitus "979" Duralinox frame as well as the Alan are attended by horror stories of becoming catastrophically unbonded, but according to better authorities, there is no basis for them. Still, many have claimed that the frames should be ridden by lighter riders in sizes of less than 57 cms.

Both companies offered a number of anodize (aluminum oxide) colors on the triangle tubing — Vitus reportedly offering greater variety. Black, rose and blue are very common.

Both companies were frame builders. To avoid confusion, the enthusiast should keep in mind that Vitus and Alan frames bore many names but not always in addition to the bold decals that more often than not defined the frame-set.

Many of these frame-sets were built up by private persons and assembled with parts and components of choice. Other were painted to appear as team bikes — a reminder that in the great races of the time, what might appear to be a specific bike may have in fact been something else that was more appealing to the needs of a team cyclist than the one offered to him by the factory or team he rode for.

The 979 came out in two versions, the Mk I and MkII. It was produced from 1979 to the early 90's. Later models were known as the 992 — a development of the 979.

I own a late 80's 979 that was built up from a frame-set by a Japanese triathlon athlete. It is equipped with a mixture of Campy Record, vintage Suntour, Mavic, Cinelli and Shimano. Being what it is, this mix of parts should not be offensive to even the more fussy vintage enthusiast. But I would not mind if it did. I love my Vitus just the way it is.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:01 am 
Old School Hero
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Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:03 pm
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Location: Northern Ireland
Great piece of information that i did not know, thanks for sharing. Something about the Vitus Aluminum frames of the 80's & 90's that has always interested me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:11 am 
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Location: Oslo, Norway
I really like bonded frames as well. Have an Alan cycle cross bike from the 80s and a vitus 992 rfom the 90s.
There were a few lovely bonded frames around in the early nineties from other manufacturers as well. Koga made some, Sakae also and Trek had some beauties. I have the 6000 mtb in neon yellow (frame only). I'm sure there were more builders but these are the ones that come to mind first.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:54 am 
Old School Grand Master
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Location: Completely in the dark, thanks to me good mate Terry....
To expand on Lenton58's post, the Vitus 992 was probably one of the first framesets to be offered with some sort of integrated headset - early examples seem to have come from Mavic, later ones courtesy of Stronglight and based on the JDX model.
The 979 was later updated and the model number reversed, being offered as the 797, and I think it may also have been given the name "Futural". I've certainly seen Vitus cross bikes from the Futural range; anodised purple seemed to have been a common colour for these.
Still with cyclo-cross, re-badging of ALAN frames was especially common on the international 'cross scene, Guerciotti being a common one.

Update: I think I may have slipped up re. the 797/Futural comments as these frames look to have had a wishbone seatstay, unlike the 979.

David


Last edited by David B on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:57 am 
Dirt Disciple
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Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:24 am
Posts: 23
Location: Sendai, Japan
Quote:
To expand on Lenton58's post, the Vitus 992 was probably one of the first framesets to be offered with some sort of integrated headset - early examples seem to have come from Mavic, later ones courtesy of Stronglight and based on the JDX model.
Thanks David ... perhaps this is another piece of the puzzle. My 979 come to me with a Mavic 310 headset. This is an uncompromising bit of kit:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cronobikes ... otostream/

BTW: Some of them that you will see on-line have had the "cloudy" anodize finish removed so as to be buffed up to a higher sheen — such as I did with some patient hard work.

Anyway, it is very likley that this inclusion of an HS started with the 979. I somehow can't imagine that the Japanese original owner would have included this exotic part part. I am thinking that the default would have been TOTL Tange — or Dura Ace.

As a word of advice to anyone encountering this head-set: you really need to have a set of two proprietary wrenches to assemble or remove the tensioning fixture and the lock. (Otherwise you will be dangerously improvising.) I inherited both tools. If you dismantle one, record exactly how it came apart and which side is up or down of any washers/shims. At least one has a bias!

This head set is entirely made from "high tensile Durolinox". One article says that Mavic intended it to be for professional competition machines. Another model was produced for another level. What has surprised me ... despite being a feather light component ... once it is locked up, it stays put. It's a thing of beauty.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:58 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:42 pm
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Location: West Yorkshire
I'm still racing on mine. Here seen in the YCF 10 two weekends ago.

http://twgphotos.zenfolio.com/p41144960 ... #h26ca989b

It was originally bought as a 'Peugeot' but never had the decals fitted. It has a mix of Japanese fittings which were fitted by it's previous (only other) owner. Suntour chainset and front mech, Shimano 600 SIS rear with Shimano 7 speed DT indexed levers, Shimano 600 brake stirrups with Dia-Compe Aero levers, Cinelli bars and stem. Wheels are selected from a selection to suit the day's riding.

I really like riding it, possibly the favourite of my classic collection.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:29 pm 
Old School Hero
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Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2011 10:33 pm
Posts: 189
Location: Cheltenham
Is it just me or is there a trend of these bikes coming with a right old mix up :)

My Alan also has a blend but still got me around the Mad March Hare in a fair sharpish time at the w/e in weather that could only be described as biblical. I love my bike and my bike loves me :)

Oh, top post by Lenton58. Sir, I doff my cap.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:06 pm 
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Location: It's not easy being a dolphin.
I need to second that, epic post quality Lenton58 and many thanks.

Some remarks and questions:
- Kelly always stood out - not only in achievements - but what was between his legs, so to speak. I read an interesting article from Keith Bontrager called the Kelly Paradox about frame stiffness (http://bikemagic.com/gear/how-to/mainte ... radox.html). Does anyone have any comments about these frames in the real world?
- How do these frames hold up in the long-run?
- Did Raleigh go into this area too? They certainly did on the MTB side; with variations of Carbon and Ti for the main tubes.
- The "modern" Vitus Kelly seems to be promoting; I'm assuming it has little to do with the original French company or am I wrong?


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