Vale Peugeot

November 9, 2016 at 12:46 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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img_9172Another in my series of happy tales about cycling. At least, I think it’s a happy tale. You may disagree after you read it.

Do you remember this bike? Well, you will remember that I sold it some years ago to a mate. And, since that fateful day, he has been riding it everywhere. A daily commute from Alembie Heights to the city. Tours of the inner west. And even a stint in Fiji, when he worked there for a year.

img_9175Well, the other day, I received some sad news. The wonderful old lady had pedalled her last. Whilst pulling up the Lilyfield Road hill, the frame snapped. Of course, my friend was adamant that this was due to the awesome amount of power his legs were undoubtedly transmitting through the frame. More likely the thirty-year old frame simply succumbed to corrosion.

Now, this is, I suppose, sad. But I prefer to look at the positive. This is a bike that gave at least two people the passion to ride. It’s a bike that was in use up until the end, rather than rotting away on a roadside verge after a council clean-up. It’s a bike that was loved, and will be remembered and replaced.

We went out for beers to celebrate the life of the Peugeot. Quite a lot of beers, actually. Now I just have to persuade my mate to replace her with a fixie…

Selling the muse

August 23, 2011 at 16:59 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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In the end, it was quite a snap decision. ‘Why don’t you just buy the Peugeot off me?’ I found myself saying, as I discussed yet again the bike that a friend was going to buy.

‘I’d love to – that would be perfect. I like that bike.’ came the response, and it was done. The bike that got me back into cycling, that got me fit again, that I had spent more time cherishing and working on than any other bike I have ever owned, the bike I felt most sentimental about – gone.

It all started about six months ago, when a colleague from work was toying with the idea of riding to work. Never one to let an opportunity to get another cyclist on the roads go by, I immediately offered to lend him a bike to give it a go. So he took the Peugeot, along with my SPD shoes (!) and gave it a try, commuting from the north shore to North Sydney.

Of course, he soon got hooked. ‘I smashed it this morning’, he would enthuse. ‘Passed the bus really early on, and just cruised in. So much faster than driving!’. And then later on, ‘I passed my first person on the hill up the Spit today. I’m officially no longer the slowest person on the road!’. And when he started arriving in his cycling gear in the pouring rain, I knew he was terminally addicted.

And we kept discussing what kind of bike he should buy. We both drooled over Masi, and discussed the Surly LHT. We went to shops, and they never seemed to have what we wanted in stock. People failed to call him back with prices. I even found the perfect bike for him – a Salsa Vaya – in stock in a city bike store, but when he went there for some reason the assistant showed him some cheap commuter and he came away disillusioned. Maybe it was the gods intervening, but it just seemed really hard for this guy to buy a bicycle!

In the meantime, he was riding the Peugeot to and fro. And loving it. Even a snapped chain going up the Spit wasn’t enough to put him off. So when we yet again got to talking about a bike for him, I suddenly made my rash offer. “I love that bike’, he said. ‘That would be perfect!’. So the deal was done. My muse had moved on.

Perhaps its work was done. It had got me fully addicted, and the owner of a stable-full of bicycles. It was time for it to do its magic on someone else. And perhaps, just perhaps, in the future when my friend is choosing which of the six bicycles he now owns to ride to work in the morning, and he sees someone else looking to try riding, perhaps it will be time for the Peugeot to once again move on, to enthuse another novice rider with the joys of cycling.

My vintage Peugeot bike

October 7, 2010 at 23:35 | Posted in bicycles | 5 Comments
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For some reason, I get a lot of google searches ending up on my blog searching for ‘vintage Peugeot bike’. Clearly it’s something people are interested in, so I thought I’d write about my vintage Peugeot bike. And if you smell a blatant attempt to increase the hits I get on my blog, well, you would be right. (Interestingly another common term is ‘granny smith apple’, which leads people to this post.).

I bought the bike through eBay shortly after we moved to Sydney, as a bicycle seemed to be the best way to get to work. I used to ride a lot when I was younger, but kind of gave up when I got a car. How misguided I was! This $150 bargain not only got me to work faster than the bus, it also rekindled my love of cycling.

When I bought it it was pretty much in ‘original’ condition, and looked like this:

vintage peugeot bike

Note the lovely curvy bars and the close ratio chainwheels – one with 52 teeth and one with 42.  Old-school Wienmann brakes and a six-speed rear cluster on the original Helicomatic hub. These hubs were originally supplied with a tool to take off the cluster which also had a bottle-opener on it, but sadly this was not supplied by my eBay seller. The rims were ‘Rigida’ alloy.

The dérailleurs were Simplex; you can see the rear one better on this photo.

I don’t know exactly when it was manufactured, but the closest I can find to it is in this 1986 catalogue on the excellent website.

vintage peugeot bike catalogue

My bike is marked as a ‘Galibier’ frame, and has the Reynolds 501 tubing – however the components in this US catalogue model seem a bit more upmarket and clearly it’s red, not yellow.  Still, I’m fairly sure it dates from around this time, as the frame graphics are contemporary.

I rode the bike like this for about six months; too and from work every day. Then, going over the Sydney Harbour Bridge one morning, the rear hub bearings disintegrated on me. It all sounds very dramatic, but in reality it wasn’t; the back wheel went all wobbly and was rubbing on the brakes, so I stopped and gave it a wiggle. I decided to try and keep going, but as I started up again it gave another little crunch, and the wheel jammed up against the frame. I carried the bike the rest of the way to work, and at lunchtime took it to a local bike shop to see if they could fix it.

The hub was shot, and in any case locating parts for a 1980’s French hub I don’t think was going to be easy for a Sydney bike shop, so they fitted a new wheel. To do this I guess they must also have cold-set the frame to widen the rear forks, although they didn’t mention doing it. They put on a rather ugly touring wheel with a seven speed cluster. I never really liked that wheel, so I replaced both the wheels with a new set of Shimano RH-500s with an 8 speed Sora cluster.

The next drama that befell the bike was being hit by a car. Luckily I was not hurt, but the bike took a bash which bent one of the cranks slightly. I took it to a different bike shop in Balmain – Cranks Bike Store. They were very nice, and fixed it all up for me, including replacing the bars (which they recommended after a knock in case they were cracked). This was all paid for by the driver that hit me (she was at fault).

So the bike then looked like this.

vintage peugeot bike

New bars (which meant goodbye to the nice curves), hello to a Shimano Sora crankset (with a more contemporary 52/39 combo) and a new saddle. Note the original rear dérailleur is still on the bike at this point; it was just able to take up the slack in the chain and cover all the gears (given the wider ratios from the smaller front chainring and the 8 speed cluster), although the ‘small-quite small’ combos gave a rather droopy chain. (Not that you should use them anyway…).

It wasn’t long after this that the spring in the rear dérailleur really started to give out, and chain tension became a real issue. So I bought a second-hand Shimano 501 one from eBay for $15 and put it on the bike – this improved the drivetrain markedly! By now I had been riding the bike every day for about a year, and figured I had saved enough in bus fares to splash out on a new bike. The nice people at Cranks set me up with my beloved Salsa Casseroll singlespeed, and the Peugeot languished at the back of the shed. I only rode it occasionally, usually if for example I was going to be locking it up outside for a while. When I did ride it, the thing that really struck me was how hopeless the brakes were. The modern dual-pivot brakes and aero levers on the singlespeed were a revelation, as was the fact that you could ride on the hoods and still be able to operate the brakes successfully, rather than just effecting a ‘gentle slowing’ – about as much as you coudl get from the old-school brakes on the Peugeot. So I got the nice Cranks people to change the brakes on the Peugeot for modern ones – Shimano long-reach brakes and Tektro levers. Hurrah! I could now stop, and I had an idea that I’d use the Peugoet for touring, carrying things and so on. I never really got around to doing that, and despite the shiny new brakes, the poor old Galibier stayed at the back of the shed as I bought bike after bike to do other things with.

Very occasionally, I’d get it out to ride. And two things would bug me; one was that the bars were too narrow and the other was that the tyres were too thin (by this time I was a complete convert to nice fat tyres). Finally I decided that it was time to either get the thing so I would enjoy riding it, or get rid of it. Getting rid of a bike just seems wrong, so I bought new bars, a new stem and a quill stem adapter. I recounted my adventures with installing them here.

By now it looked like this.

vintage peugeot bike

At last the old Peugeot was back to being fun to ride. I rode it for a while, but then disaster struck. I got a puncture. And for various reasons didn’t get around to fixing it. And then Baby Chillikekab arrived.  This meant another spell at the back of the shed, now with a dismal flat tyre. The reason for the flat was that the tyres were so worn – and in any case they were still the old narrow ones. So the other day I finally got around to buying new (wider) tyres. They are only 28mm, as 32mm ones aren’t recommended on those rims. But that’s still a lot more comfy and practical.

So I’m finally riding the vintage Peugeot bike again. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s probably the fastest bike that I own, and certainly the closest thing I have to a real ‘road bike’. Totting it all up, I’ve probably spent $1,000 on this bike since I bought it – money that I doubt I’d get back if I ever sold it. Still, it’s satisfying to give an old frame a new lease of life – and I still sometimes get admiring comments from other cyclists at the lights.

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