Allyn got in touch with me from Switzerland, who sent me pictures of her Bernard Dangre mixte that she was about to have restored. Admittedly, I haven’t restored many ladies’ bikes on this blog, mostly because a good example, especailly with Reynolds or similar tubing, is quite hard to find. I did find this superb Mercier a while back, with Vitus tubing, which was light as a feather and quite stunning. This particular bike of Allyn’s needed some basic maintenance, a service but not a rebuild, to get it back into shape for riding.
Interestingly, Alleyn told me that her local bike shop had never heard of Dangre bikes. I’ve already noted a short history of the Dangre brand here, but I was surprised to hear that on enquiring about the Dangre brand at a French bike shop, Alleyn was told that they’d never heard of the brand. I suppose not every mechanic is interested in vintage French marques and the myriad of bike firms that once dominated the cycle industry. She approached a Swiss bike shop instead, which were happy to restore the bike. Alleyn sent me some photos of her bike which, to be honest, are not particularly clear or detailed, but were good enough to form the impression that it was a basic but well built ladies’ bike that needed a basic service and a good clean.
The Restoration Job
I admire anyone who looks after and cares for their vintage bike; it shows a respect and appreciation for the quality and craftsmanship of older machines, and that cannot be a bad thing. In this day and age of planned obsolescence, smart phones that are replaced yearly and constant gadget updates, there is something meaningful about caring for a 30 year old bike. I advised Allyn that she should not have the bike shop swap out parts unnecessarily, which can often happen when mechanics get their hands on vintage builds. It looked to me from the pictures she sent that the components looked rust-free and could be easily rejuvenated. Happily, she listened to my advice and told the bike shop to keep the bike as original as possible.
Bike Ship Versus Home Restoration
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to learn how to restore your own bike, then taking it to a shop makes a lot of sense. However, bike shops can be potentially expensive for a vintage bike service, as they often choose to replace components rather than spend the time necessary to bring them back to life. Some shops are better than others, thats for sure. What’s more, even getting your bike down to the shop can be tricky for people with a small car, as in Allyn’s case: she has a Mini, and had to cram the bike in the back. At one point, the rear rim got stuck in the rear dock latch, which could have ended badly!
How It Turned Out
The bike shop did a good job with this service. It’s hard to tell the specs of this bike with no drive side pictures, and not easy to see how much of the bike is actually original. The cottered crank reflects the bike’s simple features, its frame is a typical of a functional Dangre bike from the early 1980’s. I’m glad the bike shop only replaced the tyres with a pair of nice white walled ones, fixed the saddle angle, cleaned and lubricated the components, changed the chain, cables and pads. With a good service, the bike looks super and ready for more years of riding. Isn’t that so much better than buying a new, Taiwanese-made and mass produced bike?
A Video of the Finished Bike