Simplicate, Then Add Lightness*: 1973 Peugeot Mixte Style

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I always swear I’m never building another French bike, then something happens and I find myself building another French bike.

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Here’s what I got for $20USD at Denio’s flea market but it’s less than it seems. The seat, shifters, and steel wheel, gear cassette and tire weren’t usable; the Simplex dérailleurs were toast and rear center-pull brake as well.

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Good alloy quill-stem with Peugeot lion logo and almost flat handlebar. I added soft black ribbed rubber grips, for extra comfort. Steering head bearings and races sound OK so I didn’t touch (French ergo nonstandard).

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But no replacement cotter pins could be found for the massively heavy steel cranks. I had to hammer out the old pins to clean, lube and adjust the cup-and-cone bottom bracket  and nobody in the Sacramento area has replacements (French, remember?).

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Even half built the delicate spidery beauty helps me fight through the setbacks.

By blind luck the only spindle I had in my parts bin fit pretty well in the bottom bracket shell being only slightly short, and the ball bearing cages and balls fit perfectly.

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I had to switch to a BB lock ring with threads out to the edge but managed to adjust bearings correctly and firmly. The modern square-taper ends allowed me to fit wonderful Shimano 600 alloy cranks and spider, the best of that era.

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You Need All These Parts and More to Build Vintage Bikes

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My Shade-tree Shop (Acer buergerianum)

Original stock Mafac “Racer” front center-pull  brake could still be used but the rear is a Weinmann replacement. Note use of cheap ‘wire-nut’ to terminate cable in lieu of store-bought fitting.

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I’ve never seen lugs in this ‘Aztec Temple’ style before and it’s striking, like Peugeot’s ubiquitous lion logo.

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The stair-step or crenelations motif is continued on the seat post with a gold instead of a silver lion, on a background more orange than the red head-badge.

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Bikes built past the 1980s generally used vertical drop-outs, the hooked part of the frame that holds the wheel, making them difficult to convert to single-speed/fixie bike. The long horizontal drop-outs on this frame make fitting and adjusting the wheel easy.

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Sold in San Jose March, 1973, by The Bicycle Tree

I try to use the correct period cargo rack when I have them. This aluminum Swiss Pletscher rack was the light and strong one to use in those days and works just as well these days.

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The round CatEye reflector adds to the retro look.

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Kickstand is Esge Pletscher.

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Tires are CST kevlar Cuidad with reflective stripe in 32-622. Rear wheel is a Shimano FH-FM30 free-hub single-speed conversion with 17-tooth cog. Front is a 700c Stay-Tru with anodized skewer.

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Shimano 600 crank-set with too-stout 40-tooth chain-ring. I’ll need to buy a 38-tooth chain-ring to make the bike usable (sellable). Japanese SR pedals. Bike turned out to weigh 28 pounds (12.7 kg).

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Imagine my tightwad’s glee at building a complete bike using only a $20 flea market frame and parts I already had (forgetting I bought the parts in the first place).

Then I rode it. Uh oh, geared far too strong, I had to lug even on level ground. Now I’ll have to spend $10 bucks at the flea market for a 36 or 38-tooth chain-ring. Drats, the miser defeated again!

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I hadn’t planned to build another bike, much less a difficult French one, but a beautiful cheap frame and a bunch of bike parts in my garage–and Viola!  A fair French beauty of the 1970s is fit to ride again, like Brigitte Bardot! The French have a certain je ne sais quoi, (“I don’t know what).

*Simplicate, then add lightness…Colin Chapman

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