14 January 2010
We Come from France (You Know, for Kids!)
A friend bought a vintage Peugeot folding bike from a Tacoma bike collector. She owned a pair of these bikes, and sold him the grungier one. The first thing I noticed about this bike was that it appeared completely original, with a Peugoet saddle, Peugeot bell, and even a miniature frame pump. The wheels seemed an odd size and it had some rust colorations.
I brought the bike to my garage for a little TLC. The sidewalls of the old gumwall tires had deteriorated, such that some sort of melted rubber now coated the rims. I ordered new tubes and tires from Harris Cyclery, which seems to be the only place stocking tires of the rare 550A/22" French folder size. After about 10 hours of scouring, polishing, cleaning, and very little adjusting, the bike shines and sparkles.
I think this bike is awesome. Why?
1. It still runs great, even the generator lights. I don't know how old it is, but I'd wager at least three decades have passed since this thing rolled off the line.
2. It was Made in France. The whole damn thing. Even the bulb in the front dynamo headlamp is stamped Made in France. Really.
3. Nearly anyone can ride it. It fits my little sister like a glove, but I can ride it comfortably to the grocery store, or a kid could race it to school.
4. It's retro-cool and inexpensive. For $160 and some elbow grease, this bike has fenders, lights, rack, foldability, and class.
Many of the bits on this bike are irreplaceable, like the special cable hanger for the rear brake, or the quick-release for the stem. I mean, it was a good thing that I ordered the matching tubes for the new tires, because the bike had previously been cludged together with a 24" tube in the front tire and, to my amazement and amusement, a 26" tube in the rear. It was a little wonky, but it worked well enough for someone.
The point is, even a goofy old French bike has the potential to be an awesome ride.