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"It's a PEUGEOT"

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"It's a PEUGEOT"

Old 08-22-15, 02:04 PM
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"It's a PEUGEOT"

On an early mid -80’s summer evening, my friend, Dave Wagner, coasted down the driveway of my home on one of the most wonderful machines I had ever seen, a red Peugeot Ventoux, with chrome forks. Dave was grinning ear to ear as I approached. I was perplexed and I didn't know what to think. While he was dismounting the bike, he said, "It's a Peugeot," A what?- you mean those letters displayed on the down-tube make that sound? What is a Peugeot?




When I surveyed the bike, I thought to myself, is this the kind of bike they ride in the Tour de France? After all, there was a decal on the bicycle, touting "Made in France." Surely the French must know something about making bicycles. We had always enjoyed bike riding and watching the Tour on ABC's Wide World of Sports. I say "watch the Tour" but really back then in the pre-cable sports days, there wasn't really any live U.S. coverage. It was more of a documentary or summary of what happened on the tour during the weeks prior. In any event, I stood there and wondered, how did my friend manage to get a French racing bike?




There was certainly something different about what I was looking at, it didn't quite fit the concept of what I thought a bicycle was. When Dave presented it to me, he leaned it up against the side of the house. What kind of bike was this? It didn't have a kickstand? Dave said, "these things are made to go." Up till this moment my idea of a good quality bicycle was probably something like a Schwinn Varsity 10 speed. Maybe that was the pinnacle ride, like the much coveted Pee Wee Herman beach cruiser.




A few years earlier I had received a hand-me-down, 1975 Montgomery Ward 10 speed. I pulled it all apart, cleaned it up, and road all over town with it. I must have spent 2 days scouring those heavy chrome rims with steel wool, getting all the rust off, but boy did they shine…. I thought this was a decent bike, I couldn't afford the price tag for a Schwinn so it would have to do. It looked solid and it lasted a very long time, so I figured it was a good bicycle.




Dave gestured to me as if he wanted me to ride it or at least stand over it, however, I couldn't stop focusing on those narrow wheels. I was kind of afraid to ride it. I never seen tires so thin, how could I ever balance on this thing without falling over? I feared those rims would break at the slightest impact. I was nervous, and if I recall, I don't think I took him up on his offer to ride it. There wasn't any gleaming chrome sparkling off those wheels, that's for sure. I thought that was peculiar, in fact, all the components had an understated look about them, they must be made from aluminum, and that was a first for me.




If I wasn't already floored by what I was seeing, Dave did one last thing that completely shattered my illusions about bicycles. Grabbing the handle bars and the seat, he said, "lift it." I naturally braced my arms for the transfer of the weight, when an unbelievably light load began to rest in my hands. Suddenly it became apparent that my scrawny 130lb frame could easily raise this beautiful bike over my head with little if any effort. How was this possible? I never even thought of "lightness" as being an advantage for a bicycle. I kind of laugh now as I write this, as it seems by today's standards that weight (something like 21 lbs or so) is probably considered average or even heavy for a performance bike today, but this down right astonished me at the time.




I asked Dave where he got this thing, after all I know he hadn't been to Europe any time that summer. It turns out, that year, a bike shop at one of the regional college towns started selling Peugeot bikes, and another line, "Panasonic" from Japan. I didn't know it back then, but I discovered, via internet chatter, that Peugeot partnered with "Pro Cycle" in Canada and in the mid 80's began to sell their products in the U.S. This may have been perhaps the first time since the '60's they were marketing their products here. This was quite rare. We lived in a small town, still in a cold-war economy. The word "globalism" was not quite familiar. Although there were some German and Japanese cars on the road, they were still unique in some regard where we lived.


I had to ask Dave how much it cost for a Ventoux, and of course with the answer came sticker shock. I never heard of a bicycle that cost that kind of money. I could probably buy a running car for that much I thought. Still, after he left and road off into the evening sun, I became preoccupied with what I saw. Over the months I managed to pinch some pennies, and with some careful saving, I took advantage of a lay-a-way option at the bike shop (yes, I know, what the hell is "lay-a-way," --think about the days before credit cards were ubiquitous). Fortunately, Peugeot had some models below the Ventoux which made this a more realistic endeavor for a teenager working part-time. After much effort, later that summer I was riding my first "real quality" bicycle.




Dave and I road all over on our Peugeots, this kind of cycling was an entirely different experience than before. The connection to the road, maneuverability, and “lively” ride on a nice performance bicycle was a rush I never tired of. I loved feeling those Maillard hubs spinning. In the Spring time we would supplement our training on the high school track team with cycling. During the summer months we would go out on long rides out to the hills in Attica, Dale, and East Bethany. We even managed to get a group of 5 riders or so to join us on Saturday morning rides. We road in the local bike-a-thons and even some races. At night we would look at the new Peugeot catalogs and talk about trading up the line to our dream bike.


(Jeff and Dave showing off their "rides" back in the day; yes, I still have that jersey... yes, it still fits!!)


Little did I know it at the time, but Peugeot's effort to sell their products in the U.S. would be sadly short lived. In my opinion, those 5 or 6 brief years were one of the best in the cycling era, a "golden age" of bikes, when cycling was really starting to catch on. It's really murky about what happened to the company, but it seems shortly after their exit from North America, they stopped making their wonderful bikes all together. I can't quite figure it out, but I really wish they were still around. It seems even in the mid 80's their bikes were light and innovative, they even made some of the first production carbon frame designs back then.


Still, I was fortunate to have had the chance to ride several models. There were a few I wished I could have owned, but due to their quick disappearance, I was unable to. I really liked their lugged 980 Super Vitus frames and their high-end Columbus tube models. Many of the models used the same frame, and of course just outfitted the others with different components and paint schemes. It wasn’t until later in high school when I went back to the shop, that I found Peugeot had left town...



Fast forward nearly 30 years now, and it seems that there is sort of a renaissance going on with light weight steel vintage bikes. The internet has also managed to unite various fragmented markets and create new ones. I'd have to say that “vintage bicycles” is one of those fragmented markets that has been spawned. E-bay and Craigslist provide a decent flow of cyclists buying and selling old gear, supplies, and re-pro parts needed for restorations. It helps, of course, that the nostalgia seekers, such as myself, who were teenagers back then, may have some real income now, and are prime for midlife crisis projects.

Last year I was searching for some used parts when I came across a 1985, 980-Super Vitus Peugeot Triathlon, with those sharp looking chrome forks, just like I remembered on Dave's Ventoux. I suddenly went on a time warp and recalled all the fun we had riding around. I had to get that bike, and with some quick haggling, that's exactly what I did. I worked on this bicycle (obsession) through most of this year, stripped it down to bare metal, and built it all back up. So here it is, finally… my “custom restored” 980 Super Vitus Peugeot Triathlon, weighing in at a respectable 19.5 lbs.. Let's go riding in the past!

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Old 08-22-15, 02:09 PM
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Thats a beaut! Nice story also. congrats....
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Old 08-22-15, 02:26 PM
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That is gorgeous! I love Peugeots. A U08 was my first C&V bike and it hooked me during the rebuild process. I thoroughly enjoyed your story.
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Old 08-22-15, 02:33 PM
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Wow!
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Old 08-22-15, 02:50 PM
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Great read. Great looking bikes.
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Old 08-22-15, 03:18 PM
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What kind of handlebars are those? The 26.4 Cinelli stem looks clamped down all the way...
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Old 08-22-15, 03:23 PM
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Very nice bike, and I appreciate how you kept the modern upgrades somewhat understated (assuming the role of the aluminum in your tale of discovery).

I've gotta know, because I'm thinking "no way"... is that the original paint?
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Old 08-22-15, 06:29 PM
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ditto on the paint ! reallly nice

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Old 08-22-15, 07:07 PM
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You write with passion, one of the best reads I've seen on any forum. Bravo !
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Old 08-22-15, 09:29 PM
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Nice story, great pics, beautiful bicycle!
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Old 08-22-15, 10:04 PM
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Terrific read! The storyline and leading up to a cool ride~
enjoy and thanks for sharing
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Old 08-22-15, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by miamijim View Post
What kind of handlebars are those? The 26.4 Cinelli stem looks clamped down all the way...
Indeed, good eye, yes there is a make-shift shim in there currently that you cannot see, I am waiting for a 25 to 26.4 bar shim to arrive.. and then will be much better

J
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Old 08-22-15, 10:15 PM
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Very nice bike, and I appreciate how you kept the modern upgrades somewhat understated (assuming the role of the aluminum in your tale of discovery).

I've gotta know, because I'm thinking "no way"... is that the original paint?
Ha ha, yes, and thank you , I was wondering if I was going to get beat up over that, but I had a lot of Campy 9 speed parts that I felt, well they are not too modern... def an upgrade though..

So on the paint, yes as I was being cheeky, "custom restored" - I did the re- spray using a modern base coat clear coat system. The red is a little deeper than the original red, and of course Peugeot did not do two tone pearl seat tubes. I did this and the lug work simply because I love seeing the lugs stand out, I like seeing how the frame is joined, like a wood-worker would show off joinery.

Rest assured, the frame was a complete basket case, so nothing on it's originality to fear destroying, that's why I decided to shnaz it up a bit with the extra clear and metallic..

thanks again,

J

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Old 08-22-15, 10:18 PM
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You write with passion, one of the best reads I've seen on any forum. Bravo !
hey thanks, it's only because it really happened, and I can re- call it. If it was about something else or something that didn't strike me, it would be far less eloquent, trust me

J

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Old 08-22-15, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by 1simplexnut View Post
ditto on the paint ! reallly nice

I did the re- spray using a Base coat then a metallic layer, then 4-5 coats of clear, lots of wet sanding and polishing from there, as I don't have a spray booth..

Sharp bike -beauty (you must be very tall) I like how the decals just "pop" off the black - this is the '85 PH501 with chrome forks? - Love the lugs
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Old 08-22-15, 11:27 PM
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Originally Posted by mr9iron View Post
I d

S this is the '85 PH501 with chrome forks? - Love the lugs
Got to say that is a very impressive spray job ! Well done you ! mine is a black Px10 mid eighties with campag NR and 531pro tubing :-)
No not that tall (6ft) but like a tall ride as I have looooong legs.

Ps love the story too !
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Old 08-24-15, 07:38 AM
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Nice story...

Now, a PEUGEOT on the VENTOUX ...
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Old 08-24-15, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by papik View Post
Nice story...

Now, a PEUGEOT on the VENTOUX ...
nice!!, stunning view...
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Old 08-25-15, 11:10 AM
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That was a good read, and the paint and whole bike came out really well. That Vitus-tube frame has to ride sweet.

I like that Peugeot used the "Triathlon" designation on this bike that many others simply slapped on their existing bikes, since Peugeot really did adopt what became accepted as triathlon/multisport geometry as early as 1979! I thus regard Peugeot as one of the pioneers of production Multisport bikes (with aggressively-steep seat tube angle and more relaxed head tube angle).

Peugeot distribution seemed to do quite well around here well into the 70's, if not so spectacular as in say, 1970 or so.
Wasn't there another road bike boom back around 1960, when Schwinn rolled out their Varsity? And no, not just a Schwinn Varsity boom but a bike boom that included imported bikes including Peugeot.
Seemed like by the end of the 80's though, Peugeot distribution in the US was about done.

This 1979 Super Sport is an example of Peugeot's first US model year of their UO- series to adopt the Super Sport designation and "multisport" frame geometry that quite fully transformed their lower-tier sporting lineup at the time.
I found it in a much-rougher condition for just $20 at our local Salvation Army store, and like you I made a handful of upgrade modifications (wheels, saddle, post, chain and freewheel), but only touched up and polished the original paint.




This photo is on my refrigerator door, showing me after riding the same U09 Super Sport up into the mid-Sierra a few summers ago:


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Old 08-25-15, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by dddd View Post
That was a good read, and the paint and whole bike came out really well. That Vitus-tube frame has to ride sweet.

I like that Peugeot used the "Triathlon" designation on this bike that many others simply slapped on their existing bikes, since Peugeot really did adopt what became accepted as triathlon/multisport geometry as early as 1979! I thus regard Peugeot as one of the pioneers of production Multisport bikes (with aggressively-steep seat tube angle and more relaxed head tube angle).

Peugeot distribution seemed to do quite well around here well into the 70's, if not so spectacular as in say, 1970 or so.
Wasn't there another road bike boom back around 1960, when Schwinn rolled out their Varsity? And no, not just a Schwinn Varsity boom but a bike boom that included imported bikes including Peugeot.
Seemed like by the end of the 80's though, Peugeot distribution in the US was about done.

This 1979 Super Sport is an example of Peugeot's first US model year of their UO- series to adopt the Super Sport designation and "multisport" frame geometry that quite fully transformed their lower-tier sporting lineup at the time.
I found it in a much-rougher condition for just $20 at our local Salvation Army store, and like you I made a handful of upgrade modifications (wheels, saddle, post, chain and freewheel), but only touched up and polished the original paint.




This photo is on my refrigerator door, showing me after riding the same U09 Super Sport up into the mid-Sierra a few summers ago:

Hey thanks for the nice reply, and nice looking UO there. Great ride up those mountains.. As mentioned in the, story I don't have clear details as to why they went out of business and stopped making their bikes in the late 80's. I have heard dozens of stories as to why they closed down. Maye it is combination of all those stories, but I really felt they had great and very competitive bikes. It also seems they had a line of bikes that was right in the sweet spot of the market, and for everyone's budget. Do you have a theory as to why they closed the manufacturing?

At one time I thought I heard a rumor that Reynolds was interested in buying Peugeot cycles, which would have been nice since they were using most of their tubing.

Anyway the Vitus frame rides very nice, just road it in to work today, great road feel and response, not bad for a 30 year old bike..

take care of that ride..

J
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Old 08-25-15, 12:28 PM
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I don't think that Peugeot changed the frame geometries on their PSV/PSN biks to come up with the "Triathlon" model. I think it retained the quite relaxed 72/72 degree Bocama lugset that the PSV/PSN had. Most of the changes were with the components that drifted away from the PSV's full French spec, and a few braze-on adds and deletions to compliment its then new Triathlon/More flexible componentry spec role.
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Old 08-25-15, 05:58 PM
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Thanks for the story and the pix!


Your bit about the "lift it" is like my introduction to Trek, "you can lift it with your pinky."


The paint looks great, I love the depth and the glitter.
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Old 08-27-15, 06:27 AM
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Nice paint, great story. My first "real" bike was a Peugeot as well. I finally got the one I couldn't afford then as well.
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Old 08-27-15, 09:01 AM
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It's a Perr-joe. Nice example

-Proud owner of a 1986 PSN-10
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Old 12-16-15, 04:22 AM
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Great story with an outstanding bike.
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