Sometimes, when you go to see a used bike, your first impression is sheer disappointment. Perhaps because the photos of the bike weren’t very clear on the ad, or the description wasn’t accurate. In this case, the owner had placed one single photograph of this Peugeot on his listing, in bad light and from quite a distance. On top of this, the picture only showed the bike’s non-drive side, limiting my ability to see its components. So, it was a risky venture to drive to this person’s house to see a bike that was described as “Reynolds 501 for restore”. I was in store for a Peugeot in pretty awful condition.
Rust Bucket Wheels
Actually, my first thought when I saw this bike being wheeled towards me was “friggin’ hell, look at those wheels”. I’ve come across wheels in bad shape before, but to be honest, nothing like this. The spokes were basically the colour of rust, eaten through by years of the stuff, no way were they coming back! And the hubs..well, let’s just say they were caked in some sort of decayed metallic mould. I didn’t know what it was, to be frank, but it was weird. Standing there with this bike in front of me, I was pretty shocked. I was wondering how these wheels came to be so withered and grimy, seeing the owner of the bike had a nice big warm garage to store this sad old ride.
Surprisingly, the frame wasn’t in bad shape at all, besides some serious oxidation to the chromed forks. Admittedly, the orange paint was under a layer of jaundiced dust, a strangely coloured powdery substance that looked like it came from some chemical. I could see, however, that the orange paint was still quite vivid under there. Sometimes a layer of dust and grime protects the paint from the elements, so I could see potential in bringing these tubes back to life. The decals had survived well, and the whole frame was ding and hole-free. So the best part of the bike was indeed the frameset, minus those chromed forks.
The Bad Chrome
The darker the rust, the worse it is, and the rust on the forks went from a light orangey colour to the full nasty dark stuff. I didn’t think there’d be much chance for these forks to come back to some kind of dignity, as they had been quite ravaged by the rust. I took some fine grade steel wool to them, and…nothing. There was no getting way from it, it was going to take some scouring to get this corrosion off. I eventually ended up using coarse steel wool, aware that I was simultaneously removing any remains of the shiny plated finish of the chrome, but it had to be done. In the end, the forks actually turned out better than I expected. Ok, they are marred and will forever show the scars of that deadly rust, but they look much better than they did before.
A Sorry Looking Stronglight 49D
If the wheels were in some of the worst shape I’ve ever encountered, the Stronglight crank of this Peugeot was nearly equally perished. The finish on the chain rings, especially the larger 52 teeth ring, was unfathomably eaten away. So much so, that no amount of cleaning and polishing would make any difference to the worst patches of this crankset. The arms themselves were slightly better, more typical of weathered aluminium cranks, and surprisingly the dust caps were still a feature of this long abandoned component. I did my best, worked at it for an hour, and the results below were nothing more than I could expect.
Transmission – Terminated
This bike had Simplex Criterium derailleurs and shifters, made with the plastic or delrin which has made them infamous in the vintage bike world. Simply said, these derailleurs didn’t survive. They were victims of a slow death by weathering, including the brake cable guides which had become rust clamps. I must point out, the rear derailleur still had its spring tension, even though its body was mutilated by years of dampness. Yes, it could still be fitted to a bike and it would function, perhaps even pretty well, but I don’t think its condition would suit any decent restoration. The Simplex front derailleur was so heavily rusted that its cages were crumbing to the touch.
Costs are Mounting
With so many components being unusable by the ravages of time, a new groupset would be needed to rebuild this Peugeot. If I was going to do it, I don’t think I’d replace like for like parts. I’d rather upgrade and buy a set of Simplex Super LJ derailleurs for this project, as the frame definitely merits a quality rebuild. I’d also replace the tubular rims with a set of Mavic Module C clinchers of the era. You’d have to question the idea of keeping the original and heavily worn Stronglight 49D crank for a new rebuild, so this is where costs really start escalating. The hubs did come back to life after a lot of work, but I don’t think I will go the distance of building a new wheelset around them.
Selling the Frame
In the end, I thought it best to sell the frame to someone who would like the project, which I really think would make a great bike. How many orange Peugeot PFN 10’s are there riding around Britain these days? Not many. I put the frameset up for sale and I think its well worth its £75 price tag. As for the remaining parts the frame left behind, most will end up in a storage box. These pedals sum up the brutality of corrosion on old mechanical parts that were not stored properly. Bikes just don’t survive being leant up outdoors for years against a garage wall, and it’s a great shame.
For Sale – 1976 Peugeot PFN 10 Frameset