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PostPosted: Tue Jan 01, 2019 3:42 am 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:49 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Washington DC USA
Happy New Year!

I have published a new article on my “On the Drops” blog:

LIGHT & LEGENDARY: VITUS 979

https://on-the-drops.blogspot.com/2016/ ... s-979.html

This is actually a complete re-write and expansion of my original article on the Peugeot PX-10DU to include the whole story of the Vitus 979, its origins, development, design, manufacture, professional team use and commercial models.

The Vitus 979, in production from 1979-1997, was one of the most successful racing bicycles ever with more than 130,000 built and often tete de la course in the professional peloton from 1980-1988. Perhaps best associated with Sean Kelly, Peugeot’s “Foreign Legion” and the Colombians, it figured prominently in the internationalization of Continental cycling during the decade.

As always, corrections, suggestions and additions of photos and information are welcome.

Peter Kohler
Washington, DC USA


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:03 pm 
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Thanks for another thoroughly researched and copiously illustrated article.
I have one of these frames that was front-ended many years ago (not by me). It is interesting that the frame reacted to a front-end collision pretty much like a 531 frame would- the top tube and down tube are bent just behind the head tube/"lugs". The difference being that the forks on a 531 frame might have survived undamaged, whereas the Vitus forks were severely "s" shaped from the impact.

Thanks to your article I can identify the frame as an early one, having the four digit serial (43**) down the centre of the BB shell.

You asked for "corrections, suggestions..", so regarding the following:


Quote:
The initial production run of Vitus 979 frames (beginning in June 1979) had conventional top tube brake cable guides flat-screwed to the alloy rather than the Roche designed internal cabling.


I'm not sure what "flat-screwed" means? The forward-most cable guide on my top tube is missing- presumably another result of the collision. There is no sign of it ever having been "screwed". It appears to have been simply glued on to the black-anodised tube, and I assume the remaining two guides are likewise glued. I would guess that the down tube lever bosses are also glued. The only part that seems like it might be screwed is the cable-stop under the drive-side chain stay.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 02, 2019 5:53 pm 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:49 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Washington DC USA
Interesting re. the top tube guides.... the ones I've seen for sale (as spare parts) were the clips with little self tapping flat top screws indicating they were indeed affixed to the top tube by this manner. I don't own an early Vitus 979 (well I do but it's not yet in hand) so will check mine and verify. And, of course, correct. BTW, it was always planned to have the internal cabling and the prototypes by Roche had them, apparently there was a delay or issue in getting the fittings to accommodate them into production hence the expedient of the top tube clips and yes, maybe they used different fixing methods, too.

The old sequential serial numbers run up to about 5600. Mine, en route, is a July 1980 build with the top tube clips, old style bb but the new serial number pattern and fork transfers not stamping. The forks were made independently of the frames so you can get later serial number frames with the older stamped forks.

Peter Kohler


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 12:27 pm 
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Quote:
The old sequential serial numbers run up to about 5600.


So if these frames were indeed produced at a rate of one hundred per day, starting in July '79, that is only about two months (56 days) of production of these early models? I don't know if you'd have to factor in the annual French summer holiday, which would overlap temporally with that period, perhaps extending the production of these early models further towards the end of '79?

Not having been infected with the protestant work ethic, the French could guiltlessly and blamelessly remove their noses from their grindstones in August to watch bicycle races.. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 03, 2019 2:32 pm 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:49 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Washington DC USA
Cycle production doesn't run by calendar but model year (as I think does motorcar manufacture). Usually, the production of "1980" models begins in late summer or early autumn the previous year. The Bador/Vitus serial number (the original system) certainly extended well into 1980 and probably through mid-year. This is where folks who like to date their cycles based on catalogues fall into all sorts of traps since their "1980" model has much possibility of being made in 1979 as 1980

The traditional August summer holiday of the French actually was devised around production schedules more the convenience of workers since many manufacturing trades traditionally paused production in late summer to retool for the new season anyway.

Peter Kohler


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:28 am 
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That would suggest that "One hundred frames a day" is a production figure from (much) later on, and that it would be foolishly simplistic of someone like me, as the custodian of 43**, to attempt to extrapolate even an approximate production date for this frame of: "forty three days beyond July 1979"?

Do you know whether these frames Were assembled on a production line? I would guess that a publicity picture showing one man with a frame being assembled in a jig is not an accurate representation of reality?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:07 pm 
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torqueless wrote:
I would guess that the down tube lever bosses are also glued. The only part that seems like it might be screwed is the cable-stop under the drive-side chain stay.

My two were later frames, I think late 1984 and 1987. There was a little slotted screw inside the rounded end of shifter boss. Look down the end of it and you'll see it. It's bolted through to the other shifter boss. The earlier frame of the two someone had ground the lever bosses off :roll: and I could see the pin or something going through both sides of the tube.

I got a badly crashed Futural 787 frame to take the shifter bosses off, but on that frame the lug extends further down and the shifter bosses are cast into the lug.

Interestingly, I sectioned the 787 frame at the lug points to see how it was put together (I'm a materials scientist). The lug is quite heavily tapered inside the tube and it has at least a 0.5mm thick glue gap at the thinnest point. The adhesive was pink in colour. I'd be interested to know what adhesive they actually used - the only high strength aerospace adhesive that colour that I know of is Scotch Weld 9323. It is used to bond aircraft parts and F1 composite parts and is way strong enough to bond bike frames, but I don't know how long that adhesive has been around. Main tubes were at least 2mm wall (iirc, but thicker than I was expecting nonetheless). I was also quite surprised how thick the lug material was, that 1-piece head tube casting must weigh a ton, especially on the bigger frames!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:50 pm 
rider | rBoTM Winner
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Excellent article Peter. An amazing amount of info there. However, I must correct you on one small point - Sean Yates is not Irish! He's as English as they come :D . (Proves I've read it all!)

I've got a Peugeot version in the bronze finish which I purchased from the original owner. He never bothered to fit the Peugeot decals which were supplied 'loose' with the frame. However, I'm sure it is 'stamped' '86' which makes it a 1986 production model - but you say that Peugeot stopped marketing 979's in 1985. It's up in the loft so I need to get up there and check it out, armed with my newfound 979 knowledge. I find it a lovely bike to ride, very comfortable and lively when fitted with light wheels and tyres.

I also have an English language 3-fold brochure for the various tube shapes that were available which - once I find it - I can scan.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:38 pm 
Devout Dirtbag

Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:49 pm
Posts: 121
Location: Washington DC USA
Many thanks... although I am looking for where I stupidly said Yates is Irish and all the references I see are UK/GB

I'd like to see that leaflet of the Vitus 979 tubing sizes. The advertised full "oval" or "Arcor" pattern is a headscatcher to me as it was certainly made in Vitus STEEL tubing but I haven't seen an example of it in Duralinox. Indeed, it would have required all new alloy frame castings to work which is why I surmise it wasn't manufactured in 979 and why they went with the "Lozenge" version which flattened the down and seat tubes which were still round profile at the ends and thus worked with the existing castings.

Peugeot PX-10DU in 1986 (UK market).. could be. I haven't see a catalogue showing it but as you mention decals, I suspect it's one of the later ones that used the stickers and not the glued on plate on the top tube.

Peter Kohler


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:56 pm 
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Quote:
There was a little slotted screw inside the rounded end of shifter boss. Look down the end of it and you'll see it. It's bolted through to the other shifter boss.


I can't see any sign of that on the '79/'80 frame in my possession. It occured to me that there might be some sort of integral push fit male/female spigots uniting the bosses (with glue) across the internal diameter of the tube, but I've yet to prove it conclusively one way or the other.

There was a poster here in Reader's(sic) Road Bikes named Reah who dismantles and reassembles bent Vitus frames into kids' (see what I did there? :) ) bikes. There is a picture on her(?) web site which shows a cross-cut down tube inside which can be seen some sort of pin uniting the bosses, but I think that frame, like yours, was a later one.

Another thing which may (or may not) be worth mentioning- These early frames at least seem to have frame-size specific rear dropouts. The casting includes a little circle on the inner faces of the dropouts within which is embossed the frame size they are intended for. Mine read '58/60'. (It's a 60cm frame c-c.)
It appears (to me, from photos) that later frames might've had a new design of 'one size fits all' dropout which allowed for a degree of rotation at the dropout/seatstay joint during assembly?


Last edited by torqueless on Fri Jan 04, 2019 11:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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