Ten Speed + Delta Cruiser Creams = Budget Country Bike

To my mind, the main feature that makes the venerable ten speed bicycle a far more practical real world road bike than its modern descendent is tyre clearance. An average modern road bike will take accommodate a maximum tyre of around 25mm wide – some, more by luck that good jugdment, might squeeze in a 28mm, but only just.

Plenty of clearance under those Weinmann 500s for 35mm tyres.

Ever since acquiring my late eighties Peugeot ten speed, I’ve been keen to exploit its big tyre potential – I’m a firm believer in the dictum that states if you’re not racing, you should fit the plushest tyres that your frame will allow. Doing so will dramatically improve comfort, protect the bike and rider from road shock and open up new routes on more varied surfaces. With big tyres on your road bike, that enticing gravel road shortcut is suddenly a real option.

With the Delta Cruisers in place, the Peugeot feels right at home on this sort of 'road'.

I was always aware that the clearances on the ten speed would allow plusher tyres than the 23mm gumwalls that it was specified with back in 1987. Indeed I’d been running 25mm Specialized All Conditions with 35mm fenders, with no issues at all. However, lately I began to think of bigger tyres, initially pondering a set of 28mm hoops – assuming that this would possibly be the biggest tyre that would fit comfortably.

It was then that I had the brainwave of seeing if my 35mm Schwalbe Delta Cruisers (in cream) would fit between the Peugeot’s slender stays. If nothing else, the experiment would set some outer limits on tyre size.

Cream tyres and blue frame - pleasing, at least to my eye.

And so it came to pass – I was dubious yet hopeful as I uninstalled the fenders and removed the skinny 25mm tyres, before slipping the gorgeous cream Delta Cruisers onto the Weinmann rims. At this point, I was hoping against hope that they would work, purely on aesthetic grounds – the wide cream tyres looked amazing on the vintage polished aluminium rims and slender Maillard QR hubs – I would be gutted if they didn’t work.

With some trepidation, I slipped the rear wheel back between the dropouts, aligned it and snugged up the QR. So far so good, plenty of clearance at the brake bridge, between the stays and under the chainstay bridge too. However, the real test would come when the tyres were inflated to a working pressure. I attached the track pump and began to inflate – 30, 40, 45, 50 psi – and lo! still plenty of room (around 8mm each side and over 1cm beneath the bridge)! Praise the Lord! Fat tyre compatibility had been verified.

It was a similar story at the front end, with around 1cm clearance beneath the Weinmann 500 caliper (regarded as a ‘short reach’ brake in its day but now firmly in the ‘medium’ camp). OK, there’s no chance of fitting a fender now, but the benefits in terms of ride, practicality and looks are well worth the sacrifice.

Spring has indeed sprung in Croxteth Park and even on an Easter weekend, it's possible to find a 'solitary glade' such as this. Pug and I pause for a photo.

My first proper ride on the newly shod bike was a revelation, made all the more pleasant by the UK’s currently sublime spring weather. My test ride location was Croxteth Country Park, my favourite destination for a local spin on the paths, gravel tracks and hardpack trails. Today the park was alive with families enjoying the Easter weekend. However I could still find that counterpoint of solitude in the park’s farthest reaches – at one point I seemed to be riding through a dreamscape – a secluded bluebell wood with blossom descending like snow from the branches above, the birds in full spring tune and the smell of wild garlic heavy in the air. Rolling along on the ultra plush 35mm tyred Peugeot in such a scene was a little slice of cycling heaven – the bike is still responsive, yet has an unstoppable, steamroller feel.

I think I may have unwittingly created a retro country bike – a quick, lively, sporty bike that will eat gravel roads all day long.

Anyone else out there created a budget country bike from a ten speed?

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5 thoughts on “Ten Speed + Delta Cruiser Creams = Budget Country Bike

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      Thanks Chris – the bike rolls along beautifully – the combination of big tyres and a lively geometry makes for a very ‘easy’ ride – indeed on that particular ride I didn’t need to change gear more than once – the thing just rolls. An ideal JRA bike! I’m happy with the way this project is heading.

  1. fwinter

    Nice, exactly how I feel when riding my Cross bike on the local trails.

    So much easier to ride on and offroad when not too muddy. Makes my MTB seem like an over-engineered behemoth when I use that; the only benefits being easier bumpy downhilling and better mud handling.

    Oh – and brakes. Cantis are scary!

    1. theeverydaycyclist

      I suppose that the Peugeot is now not too far away from a ‘cross bike dynamically – I wouldn’t try it on anything too bumpy or technical, but on woodland trails and gravel roads it feels unstoppable.

  2. George Krpan

    I recently bought a new single speed road bike. It has medium reach brakes and clearance for, probably, 700×38 tires. It’s a great feature with no disadvantages and I would never buy a bike without this feature.
    I run 700×28 tires on it. I ride it on road only because I don’t want to thrash it like my cyclocross bike which has 700×40 tires.

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