Peugeot Carbolite: Keeping the Costs Down
In a way I think I paid a bit too much for this bike. In France, you can buy a vintage bike of this quality for less than a bag of shopping, but I took this Peugeot PH60 home for 40 Euros. It’s not bad for a bike in good condition, with a frame mostly free of scratches and sheltered from the elements of four decades. However, I was determined to get it spruced up and on the road for less than 60 euros in total, giving me just 20 to spend on new parts. An ’80’s Peugeot 103 in excellent shape, fully restored and riding like its new for less than a car oil change? I’ll take that!
Those Damned Levers
This bike started out with just one issue, the ugly “suicide levers” which I was sure, without a doubt, were the first things I wanted to replace. These extra brake levers were a thing years ago on lower level racing bikes, and only reminded me as a angsty teenager the great cavernous gap between my actual bike and the dreams of owning a professional model. I always thought these things shouted out “amateur!!” and “extra safety needed for you!” as I rode along on my old 5 speed. Damn them to hell!
Autumn Rides in Normandy
Where I’m living there are lots of sweet chestnut trees along the side of the roads, and at this time of year the husks of these trees are falling and chestnuts are readily available on the ground. Indeed, there are so many that you could spend the whole winter eating prolific amounts of them but never finish your batch. These fallen husks and chestnuts, delightful though they are, can be a hazard for the unwary cyclist out on a ride in the Normandy countryside. There are startling moments when you go around a corner and find yourself confronted with hundred of chestnuts strewn on the road in front of you. Get those old Weinmann brake son the ready!
When one Problem = Four
When you say something like: “oh, I’ll just replace the brake levers and that’ll be it”, you may find your complacency soon replaced by frustration and a justified bad mood. There were fixes, however, that worked out well in the beginning:
Points in my favour:
- The chain had stiff links and was rusty, but I cleaned it and brought it back to life
- The gearing was all of out whack but I and cleaned and lubricated the derailleurs
- I managed to swap out the hideous original saddle for free
- Cleaning and general maintenance was easy
- The gearing needed new cables: 5 Euros
- Brake cables were rusted inside the housing, new front and rear ones: 5 Euros
- Replacement CLB brake levers: 8 Euros
- Their barrel adjusters ( missing when I opened the package ): 7 Euros
- Handlebar tape ( took 10 days to arrive ): 6 Euros
- Broken Simplex front derailleur replacement: 5 Euros
=36 Euros on replacement parts.
As long as you don’t compromise the safety and aesthetic of the bike you’re restoring, you can easily improvise to solve the problems that will be thrown at you by these older bikes. The CLB brake levers required a certain type of barrel adjuster but I managed to make do with imperfect fitting alternatives; they work well now. The Velox handlebar tape, which I always believe enhances the look of a vintage bike, was tricky to wrap around the handlebars. The old CLB hoods were too brittle to wrap under, so it wasn’t easy completing the job without metal showing around the brake levers. I’m sure I can do better.
A Great Encounter..
I was in the city of Caen in northern France and came across a very cool bike shop, which specialises in the practical repair of older bikes. Maison Du Vélo is a community bike shop where the emphasis is on helping bike owners fix their problems at low cost. They encourage you to repair your own bike and have buckets of derailleurs, callipers, shifters, all the component replacements you need with bike stands and work areas for you to tinker with your machine. I found them to be really friendly and helpful, and they were going to let me have my Simplex derailleur for free! They ask for donations, run bike riding schools and hold all kinds of community events. Brilliant!
- Try and buy vintage brake levers with their barrel adjusters
- Check very carefully plastic Delrin Simplex derailleurs for cracks and stresses
- Gluing back together broken Simplex plastic brakes does not work!
- Old chains can come back to life with some cleaning and lubrication
- Vintage rear brakes can be weak and stiff, even after cleaning and installing new cables
- It’s safer to say a decent restore starts at around 20 Euro, but it’s more likely to be more.
Completed Restoration Photos:
- 1983 Peugeot PH60
- 57cm Carbolite 103 Frame
- 12 Speed
- Simplex SX200 Rear Derailleur
- Simplex SX200 Front Derailleur
- Simplex SX Shifters
- Stronglight 80 Crankset, 52/40
- Weinmann 500 Side Pull Brake Calipers
- Weinmann Brake Levers ( Replaced with CLB )
- Front Wheel: Rigida Aluminium Clincher Rim with Maillard Hub
- Rear Wheel: Mavic MA 2 Clincher with Maillard Hub ( Date Stamped 1988 )
- Philippe Franco Italia Handlebars
- Atax 90mm Stem
- Union Pedals ( Made in W. Germany ) 🇩🇪
- Weight: 25lbs