I’ve been semi-boycotting our giant local produce and flea market lately, price rises for walk-in entry, now $3 USD. So I can find a bargain?
But, having run out of Mexican coffee, honey and cheap bass or bike projects, I gave up, paid at the gate, and hiked among the friendly mostly foreign throng of fellow bargain seekers.
The old man selling old bikes must have seen me coming. I didn’t haggle, $30 it was. It was almost rideable.
I was taking a bit of a risk. The bike is French, after all, and they go their own way on things mechanical.
And I have tangled with French bikes more than once. It can be heartbreaking.
They sport a devil-may-care attitude about standards, for example. Bottom bracket shell size and threading are different. Same for steering headsets.
So I knew that if cleaning/inspection revealed corrosion inside the BB shell or spindle, then I’m out the money. Not many French bottom parts around and those are expensive.
But it came apart easily and the balls and races looks pretty good after old frozen grease removal. Little rust, an indoor bike.
But, oh, when French bikes are working they are light, smooth and sexy. They look good and they ride nice. This single-speed will be light, nimble and beautiful.
The original steel rear wheel with, probably, the original 27″ x 1 1/4″ sun shredded ‘gumwall’ tire. Discarded.
Along with the perished plastic seat and all toxic bar foam, rusty chain, cables.
The beautiful ‘drop bars’ or ‘ram’s horn’ handlebars went in my parts bin.
Along with the neck-breakingly short ‘7’-shaped alloy quill stem, and the beautiful curvy alloy brake levers, the cranks, shifters, derailleurs, none suitable for my use.
When building, rebuilding or converting old bikes choose carefully. Condition is everything. Preserve all old parts, preserve patina. Choose the best one for the project.
Carefully wiped down the lovely frame, coat of wax and it’s ready. Amazing paint/decal/sticker preservation with nice patina.
Front tire is a modern 700c, so the wheel will be good for my single-speed conversion. I need a flop/flop hub rear wheel of that size, or else 27″ x 1 1/4″.
Or I can make a single gear road bike freewheel conversion, using spacers to adjust the chain-line.
Tasks I need to do include greasing and assembling the bottom bracket and steering head, installing my single-speed crank/chain-ring set with pedals, installing seat.
Parts needed: rear wheel, very tall quill stem, short-riser handle bars, brake cables.
The Mexican coffee and local honey were very tasty as usual.
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