First of all, apologies for the lack of posting lately. What can I say – I’ve been busy – work and life takes over. Also, to be frank, I haven’t had much to say, so I’ve taken the advice of sages and said nothing.
However, a new bike acquisition has awakened me from my blogular slumber. A while ago, I penned an article extolling the virtues of the 10 speed racer – that icon of the 70s and 80s – the Ford Capri of the bicycle world. The slender, light, rugged, affordable, yet much maligned ten-speed bicycle was the go-to bike for the 70s and 80s teenager – before the expression ‘go-to’ was even thought of. Go here for my full treatise on the matter.
Since writing the article I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable project bike that would enable me to test out a pet theory that I’d been toilet-training – that the 1970s/80s ten speed is still a viable and enjoyable bike for all round road riding.
It would have been easy to pay over the odds on Ebay for a questionable, unsighted example of the breed, so instead I decided to put the idea of 10 speed purchase on the back burner, until that fickle mistress called Serendipity cast her spell. Then a week ago I rode past a local junk shop and lo! Outside, under a layer of dust and rust, a metallic blue Peugeot 10 speed leaned gracefully against the glass. I circled from afar at first – downwind. She looked to be a late 80s example – around a 23 ½ inch frame – my ideal size. I returned the next day figuring if the bike was still there, negotiations would begin.
The next day, sure enough, the bike was still there. I approached and took a closer look. Everything was intact and original, if in need of a little renovation. The shop owner came outside and almost immediately said that he only wanted £10 for the bike – I’d figured on £30 so I bit his hand off – a crumpled note changed hands and I wheeled the bike home on flat tyres.
Once home and as soon as practicable, restoration began. A good wash and degrease revealed a fully working 10 speed drivetrain – Sachs Huret mechs with downtube friction levers. The tyres and tubes were shot, as was the bar tape. A quick trip to the local bike shop yielded a set of Specialized All Conditions 25-700c tyres at a clearance price, plus a roll of expensive but nice white Bontrager bar tape – it had to be white to complement the airy blue paint scheme. The saddle, though serviceable, was an ugly padded plastic item and was duly replaced with a 1960s or 70s Lycett l’Avenir leather saddle which I’d found on another discarded bike a few months previously. The only other addition was a set of SKS Olympic fenders and a fulsome application of T-Cut, Brasso, chain oil and grease (literal and elbow).
The result? Well, you can take a look for yourselves (pictures taken before application of fenders and ‘leathern’ saddle). Some might think ‘piece of crap’ but this beholder sees ‘beausage queen’. I’m really pleased especially taking into account the overall outlay:
Rim tapes: £6
Bar Tape: £11
Also on its way, via Ebay – a pair of period Weinmann alloy rims on Maillard hubs with a 6 speed block to replace the ‘nice but scary in the wet’ steel Rigida Superchromix hoops. I’d have kept them if it wasn’t for a nasty flat spot in the rear rim that no amount of spoke key twiddling will remove. The cost – the small matter of £10. So in total, a full restoration with upgrades for under the magic £100 mark.
How about the all important ride experience? We’ll talk about that in Part Two, along with further details of the bike itself.