I posted a few weeks ago about my plans to acquire an old 10 speed bike to act as my one bike to do (almost) everything. Above all it had to be easy to maintain and tough enough to cope with winter commuting. My trusty Trek has kept going through daily winter commuting but the mud, water, and salt are taking their toll. When the weather improves in the spring I’ll have to dismantle the entire bike and clean and re-lube everything. My steel 10 speed project can’t come too soon.
So here it is…a 1987 Peugeot Provence touring bicycle. I picked one up on Ebay for less than the cost of a tank of unleaded and it’s actually in really good condition.Everything on the bike is original (apart from the bar tape) and it hadn’t been ridden since the early 1990s.
It’s a Carbolite steel 24″ frame and came with comfy 32c tyres when I picked it up. I’ve only ridden it a short way but the ride is smooth and there’s plenty of scope for carrying lots of luggage on my commute.
The only downside was the gearing. I assume that in the past people had indestructible knees, or that they just enjoyed pushing their bikes uphill, but the standard big cogs on this bike (52-42) just don’t give low enough gears for hauling even a semi-loaded bike around the Yorkshire Dales. The rear cassette is 14-28 so I’ve ditched the original chainrings and gone with a custom triple 42-34-28 at the front. I was originally going for a simple 42-28 double at the front with a chain guard on the outer ring but compatibility issues meant I couldn’t. I had a spare 34t chainring so in it went. Of course this now means my 10 speed has become a 15 speed but it does give me a couple of nice extra gears in my preferred spinning sweet spot of between 55 and 65 gear inches.
I stripped the bike to the bare bones and began cleaning away 30 years worth of dirt. There are a couple of rust spots but otherwise the bike scrubbed up well.
I’m convinced that white spirit and good grease are all that’s needed for 99% of bike restoration. There must be thousands of neglected bikes sat in sheds somewhere that could be put back into service with a bit of a clean.
The steering was decidedly “indexed” but cleaning the bearings and regreasing them made a world of difference.
I’ve still to sort out a comfortable handlebar position and tune the gears before the bike is usable but that shouldn’t be too far away.