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French bikes

Old 04-24-05, 08:05 PM
  #1  
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French bikes

I just got my first French bike 3 wks ago (Peugeot Versailles) and I absolutely love it. The 2004 Giant OCR3 is collecting dust. Just what is it about French bikes that is so addictive ?
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Old 04-25-05, 07:14 AM
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I had a French road bike that I liked alot. I don't know if I'll get another one because of the parts/tools issue. Maybe I'll just move to France.
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Old 04-25-05, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by simontemplar
Just what is it about French bikes that is so addictive ?
Elan
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Old 04-25-05, 09:16 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by simontemplar
Just what is it about French bikes that is so addictive ?
There are Gazillions of them?

Marty
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Old 04-25-05, 02:09 PM
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The frame geometries tend to be good compromises among comfort, practicality, and performance. My Capo is the classiest, best-made, most comfortable road bike I have ever owned, and my Bianchi is the fastest, but my Peugeots are my best all-rounders.
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Old 04-25-05, 06:13 PM
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they are trendy right now for some reason. I suspect that we all wake up one morning, and go look for a French bike. Well John E obviously got the call earlier than most of us, but that's what happened to me. And the rest of the world, looking at the prices...
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Old 04-25-05, 06:18 PM
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The 70's Jeunet I owned for oh too brief a time was just that... a sweet bike. I bought it used and when I took it for a ride, I recall it just jumped forward... it was light and spry. When it was nicked from a back porch in Chicago, I was crest fallen

Budget BIkes in Madison had the very model I once owned... but I was shopping for a bike for my daughter and couldn't justify the purchase
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Old 04-25-05, 08:18 PM
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What is it with French bikes? Goodness! Spend a day with my Mimi ('69 U08) and you would see. She is just so sweet and willing to please. A little pudgy, but very sexy, oui! A nice ride and you can stay in the saddle for extended time if you please. She doesn't ask much, is an inexpensive date, and is always there when you are ready! And what eye candy! The proportions are just, so!

And you ask what it is about French bikes!

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Old 04-25-05, 08:53 PM
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French bicycles are in vogue now because they were the hottest ticket during the bicycle boom. The inexpensive Italian models were junky and the good stuff was too expensive. The Japanese components worked well but the frames were dead and they had no reputation. The French bicycles were lively, priced right and had the reputation via Peugeot, who did a wonderful marketing job, emphasing their racing success and playing up their association with the only cyclist familiar to Americans, Eddy Merckx, even though he hadn't rode for them in several years. Everyone wanted a Peugeot. If you couldn't get one, the next best choice was another French brand.

I suspect a lot of people are trying to re-capture their youth from the boom period. They are trying to find that bicycle they used to own or the one they wanted. In most cases, that was a French bicycle.

I owned a 1974 Jeunet Professionel, which was a delighful bicycle. However, I've moved on. The majority of the popular, vintage French bicycles emphasized functionality over fine workmanship and elaborate finishing. I can appreciate them for they were, but they no longer have special appeal to me. Last year I sold my remaining French bicycle, a St. Etienne. Of course there are some exceptions, notably Herse and Singer.
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Old 04-25-05, 09:03 PM
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I'm still riding my Peugeot. It's slick, pearl white, white saddle and it's so solid.
we've been together now for 24 yrs.
might very well be the longest relationship I've had!
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Old 04-25-05, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by TysonB
What is it with French bikes? Goodness! Spend a day with my Mimi ('69 U08) and you would see. She is just so sweet and willing to please. A little pudgy, but very sexy, oui! A nice ride and you can stay in the saddle for extended time if you please. She doesn't ask much, is an inexpensive date, and is always there when you are ready! And what eye candy! The proportions are just, so!

And you ask what it is about French bikes!

Tyson
damn. that's epic poetry from someone in Oklahoma. You must not be a native, right? (I am an Oklahoma native, born in the Alfalfa County Hospital, so I am justified in giving y'all a little crap.)
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Old 04-26-05, 05:50 AM
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If they're trendy now, maybe it's time for me to unload my cheaply bought stash... nah, I like 'em to much, although I am currently enamoured of the Bridgestone RB2 I bought recently. Like Kirkeiswaiting, I have a Peugeot I bought years ago (26) and still have and enjoy riding... that longevity says something about the bike. And the PX's are nice; the finish on my 67 is beautiful.
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Old 04-26-05, 06:03 AM
  #13  
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once upon a time, my friend had a beautiful white 73 peugeot px-10. i forget exactly what he did, but he tried to braze on shifter nubs and drill bottle cage holes on the down tube. one day he was riding it, and the frame split from the shifter mounts to the cage holes. then he threw it away. if i knew then what i know now about lugged frames, i woulda snagged that frame and see if i could find a builder to replace the tube...!!! but ah well, live and learn. i believe he also threw away a really vintage pogliaghi too, but that's a story for another day...

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Old 04-26-05, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by simontemplar
I just got my first French bike 3 wks ago (Peugeot Versailles) and I absolutely love it. The 2004 Giant OCR3 is collecting dust. Just what is it about French bikes that is so addictive ?
I was just thinking this same thing when I was looking at pics of another Peugeot in another thread.
It's the understated elegance. Sometimes what isnt there means more than what is there if that
makes any sense. The lines, the proportions, subdued paint, lack of tacky graphicing............
The mid 70's Frenchies and Italians are to me the most beautiful bikes ever.
*SiGh* *sNiFfLe* Why cant they build 'em like that anymore ?
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Old 04-26-05, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by -=£em in Pa=-
I was just thinking this same thing when I was looking at pics of another Peugeot in another thread.
It's the understated elegance. Sometimes what isnt there means more than what is there if that
makes any sense. The lines, the proportions, subdued paint, lack of tacky graphicing............
The mid 70's Frenchies and Italians are to me the most beautiful bikes ever.
*SiGh* *sNiFfLe* Why cant they build 'em like that anymore ?
Exactly.
I have an appt today to ride Litespeed and Bianchi. (?)
But is my heart really with the vintage French and those sublime old Italians?
Should I give in to the passionate side and begin my own collection of fine old biciclettas?
Or will the realist/minimalist in me emerge and say 'enough already! a 700 sf. workstudio is not a museum for your lifetime of amusing collections of cameras, bicycles, midcentury furniture, scrap copper, books and gemstones' And while you're at it, get out there and clean out the collection in the garage of bikes, powertools and fishing gear!
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Old 04-26-05, 06:55 AM
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T-Mar, I think you describe me pretty well in your post. In the last few years I have acquired a couple early seventies Gitane Tour de Frances and an early seventies Peugeot PX-10. I really like the feel of them, they are very sweet rides, but as you mentioned, the "fit and finish" is not the best on them. I am curious as to what you have moved on to after having "been there, done that".
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Old 04-26-05, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by KirkeIsWaiting
But is my heart really with the vintage French and those sublime old Italians?
Should I give in to the passionate side and begin my own collection of fine old biciclettas?
Or will the realist/minimalist in me emerge and say 'enough already!
KIW,
Feed both. give into to the passion but limit it to that
ONE bike that truely sings to you. all the others are
just chaff to be culled to get to the one winner.
(so it's always a work in progress and you'll eventually
get rid of them).
Get the new gofast AND that one fine old biciletta.

Marty
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Old 04-26-05, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by lotek
KIW,
Feed both. give into to the passion but limit it to that
ONE bike that truely sings to you. all the others are
just chaff to be culled to get to the one winner.
(so it's always a work in progress and you'll eventually
get rid of them).
Get the new gofast AND that one fine old biciletta.

Marty
Well put.
But is there a Gios Torino in my future?
I'm the same way with cars, the charm was the old 6 series, the one that got away.
thankfully I've given up collecting motorcycles.
Must find hobbies that don't require insurance!
And to the GOFAST I go this morning......
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Old 04-26-05, 08:29 AM
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I liked the longer wheelbase on the typical French bike. Also, some of the manufactures had a pretty good sense of style, although some of the late 70s and early 80s Gitanes and Peugeots I don’t find very attractive. I agree that Herse and Singer are the standout cycles. I also confess to a great admiration for Mafac and TA.
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Old 04-26-05, 08:50 AM
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My PKN-10 is well-proportioned and looks great from a distance, but a closeup inspection reveals brazing voids where the dropouts meet the chainstays and seams on the backs of the fork blades. My same-vintage, same-price-range Bianchi, also a mixed tubeset frame (d.b. moly steel main triangle), has MUCH better fit and finish, but a slightly tighter, twitchier geometry which makes for a noticeably less relaxing ride.

If one is looking for early 1970s bikes, I can attest from personal experience that the lowly plain-gauge steel UO-8 frame is livlier and more fun to ride than the double butted Ishiwata CrMo Nishikis of the same era. The early 1980s Peugeot Carbolite 103s, however, feel as dead as the Nishikis of a decade earlier.

Frankly, the new bicycles on the market do not entice me in the least, perhaps because I am cheap. There is so much value to be found in bike boom era European "10-speeds"!
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Old 04-26-05, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
However, I've moved on. . . . I can appreciate them for they were, but they no longer have special appeal to me. Last year I sold my remaining French bicycle . . ..
T-Mar,

I've enjoyed your knowledgable and informative posts in the past. As for your sentiments and actions regarding this issue . . . I just hope you don't flat on your rides this week! You are tempting the biking gods!

Tyson
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Old 04-27-05, 01:59 AM
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As eclectic and arrogant as the French are, they made really nice bikes. I agree with T-Mar about the boomer situation. I am one but prefer English AKA Raliegh's. Check out http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/index.html Harris Cyclery. Sheldon Brown is the king of French bikes and has a good stash of French parts and lots of knowledge on the subject.


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Old 04-27-05, 08:57 AM
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30+ years ago, my dad had a px10- now he has a UO8 converted to 3spd. whenever i ask him about the px10, he always denigrates it as "an old bike with plastic parts". he also thought i was crazy for wanting a peugeot when i had a brand new giant. but when i got my versailles, i realized it was the best bike i had ever ridden. any 56cm triathlon for sale ?
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Old 04-27-05, 09:13 AM
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"Frankly, the new bicycles on the market do not entice me in the least, perhaps because I am cheap."

This is the crux of the matter for some of us, I think. Many of the higher-end older frames were hand built to a very high standard, and provide a very nice ride. They can be found cheaply if one takes the time to look, and the geometry on them is somewhat less agressive than modern rides. Steel, when cared for, has a long track record as a bike building material, and many feel good steel provides the best ride of any material. But it comes back to cheapness-- the afore mentioned Bridgestone cost me 40$, and I thought that was high (it really wasn't; I did about 30 on it this AM, great ride). A comparable modern ride would be well over a thousand, I'm sure-- the sort of disposable income I don't have. I might have spent more than that on all sixteen of my bikes total over the years. (edit: I mean purchase price. Who knows how much I put into tools and parts in a year...)

As Lotek states, there were a lot of French frames shipped to these shores during the bike boom, so they are not difficult to find. There certainly is a nostalgia factor, but the quality and durability of these frames (the best ones, anyway) mean they are still being ridden; they make great urban riders, for example. I see a fair number of old French frames down at VCU, for example, being ridden by students who aren't old enough to have nostalgia for the bike boom.

I also think some of just like to tinker, and the old bikes are simple enough mechanically that even a relative mechanical dolt such as myself can master bicycle mechanics. French bikes provide me with the occasional small but surmountable mechanical challenge and thus help keep me amused.
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Old 04-28-05, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by TysonB
T-Mar,

I've enjoyed your knowledgable and informative posts in the past. As for your sentiments and actions regarding this issue . . . I just hope you don't flat on your rides this week! You are tempting the biking gods!

Tyson
I have been following the gospel of the Ten Speed Commandments for close to four decades. I stopped worrying about flats when I converted from Tubularism to Clincherism. Now I am rarely smited, though I still have temporary spells where I revert to my old ways. I hope Mimi was not offended

Seriously, the boom period French bicycles were great for their era and price levels. However, as one spends more and time in this sport/hobby, one gets a greater appreciation for the subtleties of bicycle design and manufacture. If one's finances and/or spouse permits, this invariably involves moving into more expensive bicycles and, in general, away from the high volume manufacturers. This is true for any nationality of bicycle manufacture, not just the French. Now, there are wonderful, high end, small volume French bicycles, as there are in just about any nationality. And some high volume manufacturers also had separate divisions that produced very nice, high end bicycles. However, the high end tends to the speciality of the small volume Italian manufacturers and to a lesser extent, the English.

Of course, the big drawback is the decreasing return on your investment. However, this is true of any manufactured product. The entry level product will always provide "the most bang for the buck". One has to find their personal comfort level along the scale. In my experience, most boom period bicycle consumers tended to opt for a product just above the base model. They were concerned about the cost, but did not want the stigma attached with owning the "bottom of the barrel" model. They also wanted a big, brand name. That's why there are so many Peugeot UO8 and Raleigh Grand Prix in the marketplace.

In my case, my engineering background and competitve nature both steered me towards the high end. Currently, my small stable is primarily high end bicycles, built by Italians or expatriates (Gianella, Legnano, Marinoni, Pinarello, Scapin). There is only one bicycle which one could consider entry level, a Nishiki International.
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