Over the winter, I posted about finding my childhood bicycle, long-lost but never-forgotten, moldering quietly in my grandparents' basement, where it had slept for nearly forty years. The thread was literally started on my iPhone as I stood over the grimy little bike, among the junk and memories three generations of my family. I wondered:
This bike isn't a museum piece that has emerged from its long slumber in NOS condition. I must have ridden it hard and put it away wet. The paint has a lot of chips and a couple flakes. The leather seat is missing, and the seatpost is of bizarrely small diameter. Not sure where I will find a clamp to fit it. All the cables are toast. It needs a thorough cleaning. I'll have to eventually relace the wheels with aluminium rims. Plus the usual deep cleaning, relubing, and whatever else turns up.
At the end of the day, getting my old bike packed up, shipped home to Portland, and put back into good riding condition will probably cost, oh, $200 to $300.
And what does the bike think about it? I can't tell. It is deeply asleep, hasn't woken, isn't speaking to me. Maybe it wants to have another boy excitedly pumping its pedals and leaning through the rushing curves. Or maybe it is tired and just wants to moulder away in this dark basement. I'm not sure.
Enablers that you are, of course I was persuaded to pack the bike up and ship it home, and I've been working on it ever since.
It's now done, save the bar tape. My son and I just took a shakedown ride through the neighborhood, around the park, to the gelateria. The bike works perfectly, and he figured out toe clips and bar end shifters within a few blocks. There was one tiny tipover, with the inaugural mini-rash on the brake lever, but they were scratched up already and he was worried enough about "if he'd hurt his bike" that I'm thinking this little Peugeot's new rider will be a better caretaker than the last one was.
There was a moment. When my boy got up off the saddle, crouched in the drops, pumping the 50 tooth chainring and the bike was surging ahead. The bike woke, came alive, and was speaking again. Not to me. To my son. I was happy just to hear them.
In the park with a new bike!
Getting to know each other.
Just a little bling.
The levers are right, now we need bar tape.
Anyway, the particulars.
- 1971 Peugeot G50 juvenile 10-speed, stripped, cold-set to 125mm rear and 100mm front (was 120mm and 90mm), blasted and powder coated in the blue that my boy chose. Decals from cyclomundo. (The original 1971 City of Vancouver registration sticker could not be saved, but I have photos to remember by.)
- Re-used the bottom bracket cups and bearings, with a used square taper spindle, fortuitously branded "Peugeot" and found in the bike coop's bins. Also reused the headset and the skinny little seatpost. Nothing else was re-used.
- Specialized 36H hubs, rear rim is a Matrix Mtn 559mm (26" MTB), front is a Sun CR18 559mm. The original rims were steel 600A (540mm) size, but finding quality alloy rims or good road tires in 600A proved to be too much of a pain. Then I discovered that skinny MTB rims are a close match. I built the wheels with straight-gauge spokes.
- Origin8 BMX crank, which I chose because it came in 155mm. Like much BMX stuff, it is bulky and overbuilt, but with some extra holes it looks okay.
- Shimano 600 tricolor front and rear derailleurs. They are pristine - for now.
- 50-34 chainrings, 14-26 in a Suntour Ultra 6 freewheel, which has 7 speed spacing (5.0mm). I tried to use an Ultra 7 but the little frame wasn't wide enough.
- Shimano Ultegra BS64 8 speed bar-end shifters. NOS - or, they were. They work fine with the 7 speed speed cluster, using the alternate cable routing.
- Weinman 605 calipers, which had the right reach. I had a set of Shimano tricolor calipers, but short-reach doesn't work here. I thought about making drop brackets, but decided I needed to get the bike built before my boy outgrew her.
- Wellgo track pedals, aluminum Campagnolo clips and Christophe straps.
- Mavic 440 levers, Cane Creek inline levers.
- Unknown brand drop bar, picked from the coop bin because it was unusually narrow. The original bar was properly kid-sized, but was steel and wouldn't fit bar-ends.
- Unknown brand stem, the 22mm quill fit but I had to hog out the clamp to fit the bars. The original stem was pretty, but very short.
- "Peugeot" logo saddle from my Peugeot PSVN. This is temporary until we find a proper kid-sized saddle that looks "right".
It was a fun project. I spent many hours in the garage, fitting and cleaning and assembling my old bike. She became prettier and more complete each week, but like Sleeping Beauty, ruby lips cold and still, she never woke, never spoke, until my boy was gripping her bars and racing her down the smooth gray asphalt, wind rushing and a child laughing.