A little while back I was sitting with a friend drinking coffee and chatting bike. My friend had recently become a father, his cycling time was naturally diminished and he was under pressure to clear the shed, including all the boxes of bike bits he had hoarded and “that old frame” hanging from the roof. When asked he confirmed that all the bits were now in the boot of his car and the next stop was the tip.
Now I had a conundrum. Deep inside me exists a frustrated Engineer who sold himself to the corporate devil a few years back in the name of career progression, but hankers for the tools again.
No sooner than you could say “box of junk” I had pulled the car round and all his bike bits were transferred to my boot followed by the frame. Asking him where the steel Peugeot frame had come from? I found out it had been bought for him by his father for his 16th birthday. Bits had worn out over the years he had eventually dismantled it in order to preform a rebuild but had never got round to it. The bike clearly had an emotional attachment and I promised to rebuild it using the bits he had provided me plus anything that was needed from the same era.
Arriving home under the cover of darkness all the bits were transferred to the garage and suitably stashed out of the site of my family, as this was to be a skunkworks project.
Over the coming weeks I worked on the bike. I found out that it was a 1983 Peugeot Marseilles; it still had the original bottom bracket and headset, which were dismantled, supplied with new bearings and rebuilt. Wheels were trued, brakes reassembled with new pads fitted. The front and rear mechs were missing but a fortunate search on Ebay and no competing bids secured the same Shimano EX400 components for a tiny £8. New cables were fitted, a whole night was spent trying to work out how the down tube levers went together and googling helped reinstall the pillar seat post.
Finally after two weeks of the most cathartic bike building she was ready to roll again.
Now my mate is 6’3. I am 5’7 (ish) so the test ride was going to be fun. After dropping the post to it’s lowest level and mounting the bike like only a penny farthing rider can, I took it for a spin.
The first thing I realised was that the bikes have clearly moved on in the last 19 years. Shifting takes more forethought and 14 gears need to be selected wisely. Oh and brakes have improved.
Having gingerly returned it to the garage I gave him a call. “Guess what, you get to ride that old bike of yours again!” The look on his face after the first mile told me everything I needed to know. They were friends reunited.
What’s in the stand: The Yeti, new winter tyres being fitted!
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