"Both the Gitane TdF and the PX10 handle about the same but the PX10 has a very harsh ride in the front end compared to the Gitane. After about 15 miles it's hard on my hands and shoulders. "
Yes. I know what you mean. I always attributed this to the fact that the PX-10 has an extraordinarily light front end (the unscientific "pick up" test works for me everytime). I am not sure what stem/bars Gitanes and Bertins used (Pivo, Belleri maybe) but the much maligned AVA hollow stem and those small diameter bars on the PX-10 are extremely light weight and don't do a great job in absorbing road shock. Indeed, if you look closely at racing photos you'll see that almost none of the Peugeot-BP riders in fact raced on the stock AVA stem and bars. The larger diameter Cinelli type 'bars are, at least to me, more comfortable regardless of the nationality or design of the frame. But if you have say a Cinelli SC and PX-10, just pick each one by the stem/bars and feel the difference... the front end of the SC feels like a boat anchor by comparison! Of course a lot of that is down to the sloping crown fork which were always heavy by comparison. Is the "secret" to the ride of the "Italian" bicycle a better distribution of weight? Could be. 60 miles on a PX-10, I feel I've ridden faster and "lighter" but I feel more beat up than riding a comparable distance on my Cinelli which despite stiffer design overall, rides like "buttah".
Washington DC USA