Two Vitus 181 Bikes for $150
I love the higher-end Peugeots of this era, especially the ones made with Vitus 181 tubing like this one. I often find myself looking for them in local classifieds, on Ebay and on Gumtree. The Competition model came in Reynolds 531 tubing, and the Course in Vitus 181. I especially love these frames in this lovely blue colour. I bought these bikes in Tacoma, Washington, for just $75 each, and I was delighted to take them home with me. Although the larger of the two bikes had a frame was too big for me, it was a boon to buy it with the other.
I have come across Vitus 181 framed Competitions or Courses before, but never in blue, only in the classic pearlescent white colour that vintage Peugeots are best known for. If I had a choice I would choose a Vitus 181 frame over a Reynolds 531, purely because it’s my favourite vintage steel frame. Light and dynamic, these framesets have clean and simple lines, and with the lovely paintwork and decals of the Peugeot brand, they are undeniably beautiful and collectable
Simplex derailleurs and Stronglight 104 cranks figured strongly on the mid-range to high-end bikes Peugeot produced at this time, and this bike is no exception. There’s something classic about the build, providing the bike with an aesthetic that is distinctively “Peugeot”. The Simplex SX410 rear derailleur is a favourite of mine from this era, just because it shifts precisely and looks superb; I especially like the gold labels on both derailleurs, it was a nice touch. The shifter levers to move through the gears were happily the aluminium type, not delrin. Peugeot had a thing for Weinmann callipers on these early ’80’s bikes, I can’t criticise them as they work well, but they’re a tad boring.
The better of the two bikes was the one that fitted me, which was ( if I remember correctly ) a 56cm. It had its original drilled Weinmann brake levers, with hoods that were in super condition. The larger bike ( weighing about 1lb more ), didn’t have its original levers which was another mark against it. What’s more, out of the two, the 56cm bike was in better condition all round. The Course had a darker orange shade to its decals, but they do look remarkably similar, with the same set, more or less, of derailleurs and brakes.
I Want One Again
I ended up keeping the Course and selling the Competition, and the former provided me some really memorable rides, an outstanding one being along a 5 mile stretch of beach on the Oregon coast. The braze-on mounting, standard threading instead of French cups and headset, the clincher tyres instead of tubulars and just the bike’s simple beauty are all reasons why I prefer owning this later model to the previous generation of Peugeots.