Saturday, September 4, 2010

J'aime vieilles bicyclettes Francais

My love affair with old French bikes began in the early 70's when I purchased a Peugeot  with the hard earned savings from my job as a paper boy. Peugeots were imported into Australia by the thousands in the 70s and at $130 the PX10 was the hot ticket in town.Alas, I couldn't wait and splurged on the cheaper UO10.By today's standards, they were fairly ordinary bikes. The paint jobs were hopeless, with rust spots developing where the frame builder had carried the frame across to the paint shop with his greasy, frame building hands.The simplex rear derailleurs were made of plastic and prone to cracking as were the shifters.On a brighter note,with a little maintenance, the beautiful MAFAC brakes work as well today as when the bike first rolled out of the factory

I rekindled my love affair with these old bikes a few years back with an eBay purchase of a white UE10. Being fairly clueless, and with some ill informed advice from my LBS, I managed to completely strip the bottom bracket shell by forcing an English threaded spindle into a French threaded shell.By this stage I figured it was time to do some research.Pre 1980, most French bikes had unique French threading and slightly different diameter stems, seat posts etc. The good news is, with a little bit of effort and with a good deal of help from the interweb, it's possible to rebuild that old Bicyclette Francais into a really fine every day bike. There really is no better feeling than rolling along ,whisper quiet, on a bike built by you. If I can do it, you can too.

I hope the information contained in the pages of my blog will help you avoid the pitfalls and traps that I fell into.Please feel free to contact me if you would like to offer any handy hints of your own.