Peugeot Course Vitus 181 VIntage Road Bike Restored and Reviewed


The Earlier, the Better


It’s well known that identifying Peugeot models can be very confusing, so at least this bike had its name written on the top tube: CourseIn French it means “race”, equivalent to the British term for a road bike of the vintage era. Modern road bikes are called velo route in France, and the Peugeot Course was a popular and frequent road bike model in the brand’s catalogues of the 1980’s. Many of these Course models were just bread and butter bikes, especially as the ’80s progressed. Some had Carbolite tubing and pretty basic components. This earlier bike, however, is a different specimen; being from 1981, it is made with Vitus 181 tubing. It’s exact title was a PFN 10.


Image of Peugeot Course without wheels

Part Restored


Looks Can Be Deceiving


When I bought this bike, I gave it a quick look over and it seemed in decent shape, mostly needing a good clean and basic tune up. Well, let me tell you, I was wrong on that count. It was one of those deceptive bikes that needs a lot more work than you think, with issues that lurk beneath the pretty impression it gives. But after a good look at it once home, I decided I didn’t like the saddle, the dreary tape, and obviously the front derailleur was missing. The frame seemed in decent shape, though it was by no means glimmering in the autumn sunshine. I’d give it 7/10, as the chrome seemed to have survived quite unscathed. Unfortunately, there was some touch up paint on the top tube, and that clear coat which lends the shimmer to the pearlescent white of these Peugeots was mostly worn away.


Image of Peugeot Course crank arm

The Anonymous Crank Arm


Surprises and Befuddlements


The first thing I normally start with when restoring is removing and cleaning the crankset. This one was a three armed Stronglight, and guess what? I hadn’t noticed the crank arms weren’t matched. Yes, it was not until I looked more closely that I saw the left arm was a replacement. What is it? I have no idea. It has no markings on it except a “Made in France” stamp, but by golly, its ugly. It’s definitely a newer crank arm with it’s curved shape and allen bolt attachment, but strangely, it has French threads: 14 x 1.25. That’s weird, don’t you think??


Peugeot Course crank arm close up

What is it??


Necessary Replacements


I swapped out that ugly left side crank with a nicer Solida arm, same threading, better looking ( though with the drilled dust cap! ). I didn’t have an extra matching Stronglight arm lying about, so it was the best I could do without replacing the whole crankset. Another necessary replacement was the rear Weinmann 506 caliper. It had been through the ringer and had lost both its centre bolt cap as well as its cable bolt. The cable itself had frayed into a form of wire spaghetti and I began to realise that this bike had been ridden into a poor and completely unroadworthy condition. Luckily, I had a CLB caliper to replace it, and incredibly, it had good spring tension. So now the bike was gathering spares: the crank arm and the caliper. But my luck was about to change.


Peugeot Course left side crank image

The Solida Left Arm Replacement


Image of Stronglight crankset

The Other Side: Stronglight Touring


Image of Weinmann brake caliper

The Weinmann 500


Image of CLB on Peugeot Course



The Winged Wheel


I had no idea the identity of these hubs on this bike when I rushed through the sale. I just really like these Vitus framed Peugeots and I wasn’t hanging about with the seller. The hubs were covered in dust, so thick that they could have been any brand, to be honest. The Mavic Open CD clincher rims and Michelin tyres suggested, however, that this was a quality wheelset. I took some fine steel wool and just used soap and water to begin cleaning the hubs, and from out of all that dirt and dust came what every restorer yearns to find: the winged wheel of a Campagnolo logo. These hubs are of such good quality that in no time they began to sparkle back into life, rejuvenated from their long prison of grime. With a bit of polishing they looked superb, regal, shining like they had been hardly used.


Image of Campagnolo hub close up

Campagnolo Hubs


 Some Detective Work


A 6 speed Sachs freewheel, caked in hard road dirt, gave me the date of these pair of lovely wheels: 1983, stamped on its rear. I removed the freewheel and cleaned it, ( it takes a Park Tool two pronged freewheel removal tool to release it ), which also enabled me to adjust the rear hub which was as so loose it rattled. The front hub was in the same condition, making these wheels basically unrideable when I bought the bike. So, building together a history here, these wheels were built 2 years after this bike was purchased: I’m guessing the owner rode the bike regularly, as a change of wheels and crank arm points to extensive use, backed up by the worn paint and shot rear brake. He certainly didn’t trash it; the touched-up paint shows a certain level of care and attention given to his ride, but eventually this Peugeot was ridden until it was abandoned to the shed by the once proud owner. So that’s my my Sherlock Holmes surmising on this one!


Image of Sachs freewheel on Peugeot Coursd

Date Stamped Freewheel


The Repairs


Here is a list of repairs this bike needed, which took about a couple of days to complete:

  • Crankset clean and left arm replacement
  • Rear brake caliper replacement
  • New rear brake cable fitted
  • Front brake lubricated, centred and adjusted
  • Headset cleaned and regreased
  • Hubs adjusted, cleaned
  • Freewheel removed and cleaned
  • Front derailleur fitted, adjusted
  • Chain cleaned
  • Bottom bracket adjusted
  • Rear derailleur jockey wheels cleaned
  • Gears tuned
  • Saddle and post replaced
  • Handlebar grip replaced
  • Stem removed and refitted
  • Pedals cleaned ( can’t be adjusted )
  • Frame cleaned and polished


Image of Peugeot Course restored from rear

The Restored PFN 10



Completion, Dating and Specs


Under the bottom bracket is a serial number beginning with 14.., as well as the model name, PFN 10. I dated it to 1981, since the Atom pedals are stamped with that year, and the bike matches the PFN 10s of 1981 in the old catalogues of French sold Peugeot bikes. I believe the 1982/83 PFN 10s had a plainer seat tube, and were built with Vitus 172 tubing. The wheels, as mentioned, are not original, and were added later as an upgrade. The bike is light and is a good ride, though it is too small for me, but I always like the way these Vitus framed Peugeots roll. After some polishing, the tubes shined up more, the downtube being the best, still retaining some of its original  shimmer. Yes, there are quite a lot of scratches and chipping on the tubes of this bike, but it’s still a wonderful bike to look at and own. I hope it lasts another 36 years, at least.


  • 1981 Peugeot Course PFN 10
  • Vitus 181 Main Tubes
  • Chromed Fork Crowns and Half Chrome Forks
  • Simplex Dropouts
  • Litespeed French Threaded Headset
  • Unbranded French Threaded Bottom Bracket
  • Philippe Professional Stem
  • Stronglight TS/ Solida Crankset, 52/42
  • Simplex SX410 Rear Derailleur
  • Shimano 600 Front Derailleur
  • Simplex Criterium Shifters
  • Mavic Open CD Anodised Clincher Rims
  • Campagnolo Triomphe Hubs, British Threaded
  • Sachs 6 Speed Freewheel, 14-20
  • Weinmann 506/CLB Brake Calipers
  • Mafac Brake Levers
  • Italia Sprint Suede Saddle
  • SR Seatpost, 26.4mm
  • Atom Pedals, Christophe Clips and Straps
  • Michelin 700 x 23 Clincher Tyres
  • Weight: Full Bike, 21.8lbs


Image of Peugeot Course drive side view


Image of Peugeot bike from front


Image of Peugeot bike non-drive side


Image of Peugeot bike handlebars







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