Monthly Archives: August 2011

Owned by a Peugeot and things I learned

I tend to collect and forget things. Most recently I found an old Peugeot UO-8, late 60′s, pretty much the bottom of the line Peugeot bike boom 10 speed–or in other words–nothing special. The bottom bracket was shot and since I’m thinking I’d fix and ride this bike, it’d be ok to invest a few parts in it.

I had a set of Phil Wood French bb retainers (about $50 retail), a perfectly good Shimano UN72 bottom bracket ($30-$40 on ebay), and a set of pantographed Peugeot cranks and rings ($??). So in a moment of madness I installed the parts.

I stressed over whether I did the right thing by putting a bunch of bucks in an old Peugeot UO-8. I finished it up the build today after a bunch of fiddly stuff –nothing on old French bikes goes together smoothly.

I learned a couple of things: like when you tighten the right bolt on a plastic (Delron?) front Simplex derailleur, it hits the inside shaft and explodes in a loud pop.

I learned that when you need a cheap replacement front derailleur, even though you have a box of them, you cannot find them. I learned that after you install a classic Shimano 600 derailleur and get it adjusted out, the box of cheap derailleurs magically reappears.

I learned to love Mafac Racers. The love affair only lasted a few minutes, then it turned into a hate affair. Then back to love. Kind of like other affairs–or so I’m told.

Took it for a ride down the street and I learned a couple of more things: it’s as uncomfortable as heck, I don’t like the narrow drop bars, I don’t like the cheepo Avocet seat, I don’t like steel wheels, and I’m getting too old to bend
over riding an old, cheap ten-speed. I learned I’m not 18 anymore.

I also learned to re-evaluate my dislike for high bar conversions to old ten-speeds. I learned that an old mountain bike stem will replace a AVA death stem and an number of reasonable bars will fit. Unfortunately I learned that I had a shop full of unreasonable old bars, a mustache bar, and a new, normal upright bar with a three inch rise.

I learned that I don’t like the mustache bar much, and no combination of brake levers in my somewhat vast collection will fit without interfering with the bend of the bar. The normal bar is a little wider than I would normally choose–I’m not sure why I bought this particular one. I now have to walk the bike out of the shop tipping it side to side as the bars are too wide to go through the shop
door without hitting. I’m guessing that the bars are meant to be cut down and at some point I’ll probably do that. I’m sure that I can use a couple of feet of chromed steel tubing for something. Maybe build another bike or something.

I learned that in my vast collection of brake levers I do have some pretty nice upright bar levers, and with a couple of atb brake lever adjusters stuck into the cable hole, I can actually adjust the brake cables. I’m in love with the
Mafacs again.

I’ve learned that steel wheels sing like a banshee when the brake pads are applied. Well the rear one does. The front wheel is the original Peugeot, and Peugeot stamped a pattern into the rim to assist the wet braking. I didn’t test
ride the bike in the wet, but in the dry, the brakes make a sizzzing sound, like snakes. Combined, the screaming banshees and the sizzing snakes reminds one of the opening of the gates of hell. In my community with it’s multitude of retirees I suppose this could be a bad thing. I hate Mafacs.

I learned some time ago to buy every decent bicycle seat I see at garage sales. I bought one yesterday, for 75 cents. It’s a no-name thick gooshy black thing, but it’s considerably more comfortable than the Avocet, now that the bars force a more upright riding position.

Unfortunately the more upright position makes it harder to reach the shifters on the downtube. When I bend over to shift, I spill my beer.

But too, in the end, I have learned that through the process of building up a bike a certain magic begins to happen; the bike takes on a personality, it goes from a mechanical object into developing into a friend and then into a companion that takes you on journeys that allow you to enrichen one’s life by exploring the world around you.

Not this one. It’s going to try to kill me. I just know it.

Update: sold it. Kept the seat.