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.


melanie said...

You forgot to mention that this bike is a perfect fit for a 5"3 woman with short legs. Great job bro!

Mama-san said...

What a beautiful ride!!! Glad that you have added her to the ranch. Have many fun adventures riding her!

Blaineimal said...

since it's French, does it surrender on the hills?

K said...

Hey Matt, meant to stop by and say hi earlier--it was great running into you, the fam and the Madsen in front of the library a bit ago. Truly, it makes me smile to see a growing bike population throughout Tacoma. The Madsen display at Interbike had a pretty intricate setup for carrying snowboards and skis--you should throw some Nokians on yours and head up to Crystal! Heh.

Stay safe, keep the rubber side down and hope to see you out there again soon!

Matt in Tacoma said...

Mel: I'm sure you can borrow it when you are in town!

Mama-san: I'm just the shop-boy, this bike will be happily ridden by someone else.

B: It's a little heavy, but three speeds is plenty for the T-town hills.

K: Thanks for stopping by. Hoping to run into you again so that I can get another looks at your KM!

Bikejuju said...

Extra points for the coneheads reference!

Rodney said...

I found a discarded Rekord Folder last month. Missing seat post and saddle. Tires and tubes need replaced. Little bit of rust but hey, it was free!

Will be nice once I get it refurbed.

Mme Paulita said...

I need a french bike..NEED

Kenneth said...

Hi, Ken from Australia here. I have renovated 6 of these. The tire size is 37-490 (22 inch). It looks like a great find. You will find the year of manufacture within a diamond on the rims. Should be between 73 and 78 (just two numurals). The year can be found on each hub also. Good luck.