Lapierre SuperLux: Rare in America
Unlike the plentiful examples of Peugeots, Motobecanes and Gitanes found on the streets of American town and cities, there are few Lapierre bikes to admire. Even fewer Lapierre Superlux models. They weren’t exported to the US and weren’t made en masse in France like their bigger rivals. Lapierre was founded in Dijon, which is quite a different city to Saint Etienne, where much of the French bike industry was based. Dijon is a market town, centred on agriculture, not famed for its bicycle history or culture.
This bike was sent in by Robert, who is interested to know more about his mixte which he just purchased. Strangely enough, Carl in the US just last week sent me a San Francisco Craiglist ad which featured a men’s Lapierre Superlux. So there are least two of them in the States! To begin with, the name Superlux is a blend of “super” and “luxury” ( luxe in French), which applies no real definition to the quality of the bike. Both these bikes would have been funcitional and affordable models for the casual rider.
The Lapierre Superlux was not built with Reynolds or Vitus tubes, and had simple lugs and stick-on decals which remind me of similar decals of some Gitane bikes of the same era. It does have half-chrome forks and chromed capped fork crowns, and I like the black and gold detailing of the headtube lugs as well as the seat stay ends, small but nice features. The red colour is really quite vivid and eye-catching, and I think it’s the best feature of the bike.
Most French bikes of this period, which I’d guess to be around the 1970’s, were built with French components. It is no suprise, therefore, to see Simplex Prestige derailleurs and shifters installed on this bike. They are a competent and reliable set of components, and they seem in decent mechanical condition despite delrin plastic bodies. However, it’s important to check for cracks in them, especially in the rear derailleur, and the shifters should never be pulled too hard as they are liable to snap; years of weathering can make the plastic as brittle as a frozen Kit Kat.
Is it a Classic?
This is a question that is asked around bike vintage forums, and the answer is really in the eye of the beholder. A Lapierre mixte is a rare find on the other side of the Atlantic, and the fact that it was built in Dijon by a reputable French bike firm is cool enough in itself. It wasn’t an expensive bike and has no high end parts, but it has no pretentions to be that anyway; it is an atrractive and well-made vintage bike, hard to find, and the rest is down to how much the owner wants to appreciate it.
Improving a Vintage Bike
Improving a bike is a subjective issue, often down to personal taste and aesthetic preferences. This bike looks like it has all its original parts, including its Mafac Racer brakes, dimpled 27¼ rims ( are they Rigida? ), Normandy high flange hubs, Lyotard 36 pedals, Nervar cottered crank with protective guard, Ava stem and cushioned saddle. There’s nothing, in my view, to change, except perhaps just three things: take off the crate from the back (!), replace the hoods ( or half hoods ) on the brake levers, and I’ve always disliked spoke protector plates on the rear hub, I have a penchance for taking them off. To me, a bike just looks better without one, and this is a cool bike.