my new old bike


 {can you spot the subtle differences?}

A little while ago, I wrote about my desire for a new bike and the criteria I had in mind. Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions! Based on all the feedback I received here, on Twitter, and on Facebook, I narrowed it down to the Linus Dutchi 8 and the PUBLIC C7 or C8. (Unfortunately, a Gazelle or a Velorbis, which I really love, are out of my price range).

My only problem was that there are no PUBLIC or Linus dealers in Iowa and I didn’t want to order a bike without even sitting on it once. Also, while PUBLIC was great at emailing me back and answering my questions about their bikes, Linus never responded to my emails and I couldn’t even confirm whether they do ship bikes to Iowa.

Then, a lovely reader saw my post and offered to let me test ride her C7:

IMG_7780 IMG_7793

The whole family went to check out the bike and we were all really smitten. It’s a gorgeous bike and one I enjoyed taking for a quick spin. The upright seating was just what I wanted (ever since my pregnancy, my back has been bothering me and a more leaned forward position that was previously comfortable has become unbearable for everyday riding). The shifting was quiet and smooth and the taller stem looked like it could support the mount for a front of the bike child seat.

But as I thought about it some more, I realized that some of the things I really liked about the bike were the upgrades that H. made to it herself. She took the C7 and added a Brooks saddle, touring handlebars, leather grips, and a new front rack to support her basket (as seen above). These were some of the changes I’d want to make and they were going to cost me in addition to the bike purchase, meaning that I’d have to spend quite a bit more than I initially planned in order to make the bike what I’d want it to be.

Red legs panda peugeot mixte

Later, while riding my Peugeot mixte, I thought about how much I’d love that bike if just a few things were different about it: more upright seating (for my back), a nicer saddle and more comfortable grips, a taller stem so that I could have the option of attaching the iBert to it, and more cargo options (in addition to the front rack).

So then I had a revelation: I priced how much I would spend on a new bike plus upgrades versus making a number of upgrades to my existing bike, the 1970s Peugeot. I consulted with some knowledgeble bike folks and I read more bike reviews online. In the end, I realized that I would be spending about half as much to make my current bike into the kind of bike I’d want and the results would be immediate and low-risk.

I also looked into what it would cost to paint the frame and add new decals to give the bike a new polished aesthetic, but I decided against spending the $200 on that for the time being (About $130 for a new paint job and about $100 more for custom decals). Instead, I focused on improvements that could go with me to a new bike should I want that any time in the future. I added a Brooks saddle, new cork grips (sooo comfortable and awesome. I got this brand here in a “small,” but I bought mine from my local bike shop – support local!), a new taller stem, new handlebars (both the stem and handlebars were for the sole purpose of changing my posture on the bike to one that is much more comfortable for my back now!), and a rearview mirror (the Ultralite German Mirror on order). And I added a kickstand.

I am still looking to add a grocery pannier (recommendations welcome!). And I have my eye on this Po Campo Loop Pannier as well, although less for groceries and more for books, my laptop, and the likes. What do you think?

My bike shop was very helpful in talking these ideas through with me and in doing the work very quickly. Before long, I had a new old bike that is a dream to ride. And if I do change my mind, I can take these components (handlebars, stem, mirror, cork grips, Brooks saddle, kickstand, and panniers) and add them to a frame of my choice and still make that switch down the road (although I don’t forsee that happening any time soon). Or I can continue to work on this bike and pay for the custom paint job and replacement Peugeot decals. Although, truth be told, I like a little bit of imperfection; some wear and tear that tells the story of an item.

cork grips



A tech note: French bikes have “French threading” that is a little more complicated to work with. Parts are hard to come by and expensive in the US. That means that replacing frame components would be costly and possibly difficult and that’s why I decided to wait on spending money to make aesthetic changes to the frame (new paintjob, decals, etc). Should I find that the bike needs mechanical work that is costly due to the unique nature of its make and components, I’d hate to have spent too much money on cosmetic upgrades for now. Something to keep in ming if you own or are thinking of getting a vintage French bike!

Fall cycling with my daughter

Oh yeah, and I got a bike trailer! More on that in another post. So this is my current bike set-up, one which I LOVE. And in the end, the perfect bike is one that makes you want to get out and ride every chance you get. Which is exactly how I feel these days.


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About simplybike

{Bikes, a new baby, and the story of us.}
This entry was posted in Bike 101, Daily Commute, Vintage Peugeot and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to my new old bike

  1. Jen F says:

    I actually thought that you should fix up one of your old bikes instead of getting a Public or Linus. While those two bikes look really cool, the quality isn’t super high IMO for the price. So long as your drivetrain on your old bike holds up, I think you’ll be pretty happy with fixing up your old bike. Yay!

  2. Trisha says:

    I’m so pleased that you fixed up your Peugeot! Mine could use some new grips and a Brooks saddle, too…might have to work on that. :) I really like those grips you chose.

  3. 2wheeler says:

    I fixed up an old Gitane into a singlespeed that I have used for commuting and put over 1000 miles on it. I just brush-painted around the old decals and updated the frame color. I also have those ergo grips on another bike and agree they are very comfortable.

    I found that I could take the old bottom bracket cups with the french threading and put a new cotterless alloy modern crank spindle in there and make it work. This is fine if the cups aren’t pitted… The Gitane actually had italian threads, I discovered!

    I have another Gitane mixte and a Peugeot mixte that I plan to update for friends and must say that they do ride very nicely, those older french bikes are quite lively and fun to pedal with some lighter wheels and parts. I also added some fenders and a bell. A 2-legged kickstand is a nice touch… Velo Orange sells some.

  4. anniebikes says:

    I love, love what you’ve done with your old bike. As much as we’d all like to own a new one, the older models are often gems in disguise. They were extremely well made. I wouldn’t let the French threading issue bother you. I’ve heard of many workarounds.

    I find your thought process quite interesting. I’ve gone through similar dilemmas and have taken to listing features I like and the pros and cons of different models vs. buying new. I keep a log book with bike thoughts. Like you I ended up redoing one in my garage.

    Thanks for the tip on the cork Ergon bars. I used a similar type (they were grey) on a rented bike in Provence, recently, and found them extremely comfortable. The cork style is classy and would be perfect on my own bike.

  5. Bettina says:

    That bike fix-up is awesome. I’m glad you managed to get what you want for half the price. It must feel so good! Plus, your Peugeot is a beauty, and now it’s even prettier. Here’s a question though, did you do any research on the durability of the cork handles, especially vis-à-vis leaving the bike out in the rain? You can cover up the saddle, but would you need to stick a plastic bag on either side of the handlebar, too? Thanks!

    • simplybike says:

      Hi Bettina,

      I asked the bike shop owner who has owned the same cork grips for several years now what he does to protect them and he said that he doesn’t do anything and that they’ve held up very well. So I wasn’t planning on covering them up too much. I do store my bike indoors at home, so I think that helps. Maybe I should do a quick google search before the next rain ride though :)


  6. Janelle G says:

    What a wonderful idea! I am going to have to look into putting a taller stem on my Hosteller Mixte so I can sit in a more upright position. Thanks for the idea :) I personally prefer vintage bikes to new anyways.

  7. Liz H. says:

    RE: the Po Campo loop pannier

    I have one, and really like it. If I biked to school or to a coffee shop to work on a laptop regularly, I would like it even more. As it is, I have to commute 150 miles round trip to grad school (by car, obviously), so it’s less useful.

    I actually just decided to install Wald folding baskets on my Public M8. I had them on my first adult bike (comfort hybrid, before I knew better…). I didn’t buy them when I got my Public, but instead got the loop pannier, and some Basil hook-on rear baskets ( I thought I’d like to have the option to ride the bike light and basket-free. But after using this set up for six months or so, I decided to go back to the folding baskets. I like how elegant the solution is: they’re there when you need them, I never forget to bring them along, etc.

    I am looking to sell my loop pannier (brown color). It’s in really great shape–I used it regularly, but it’s so well made that it looks new still. Email me if you want to buy it–I’d give you a good deal :)

  8. CJ says:

    I’m glad to see that you decided to upgrade your mixte. I did something similar last spring with my own Peugeot mixte. I shopped around for a newer bike, but in the end, it just seemed like a gamble to buy a brand new bike that may or may not fit and ride as well as the bike I already owned and loved. Plus, like you, I would have had to buy additional things to set up a new bike the way I like. In the end, I bought the new stuff for the old bike and love it. Your little yellow mixte has so much character. I look forward to reading more about your winter riding.

    • simplybike says:

      Thanks, CJ! I completely agree and am really glad I went down this route. I don’t know why I didn’t just think to upgrade my existing bike to begin with. I guess there’s a sense that adding new parts to a 30 yr old bike might be a misplaced investment but I think these quality older bikes (as opposed to more inexpensive dept store brand vintage bikes) were made to last and used much better components than are generally used on new bikes today. So they’re worth upgrading, in my opinion. Happy to hear that you are still happy with your decision to do the same!

  9. Sarah W. says:

    I have the same exact saddle and grips!! I bought them originally for my 1975 Raleigh Sports. Now their on a more recently made Giant mountain bike. Enjoy!

  10. sandy says:

    i love what you’ve done with the peugeot!! i’m kicking myself now because i almost got a very similar bike after my bianchi was stolen – precisely because i thought it would be more kid-friendly – but i was talked out of it because of the french threading. (i’m still searching for a mom-mobile and super-eager to start riding with my little one!)

  11. Anne says:

    Nicely done. When I was bike shopping recently, I test rode the same Public bike. While I found it a comfortable ride, I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the bike either. Looks like you did well at finding a “best of both worlds” option. Enjoy the ride!

  12. Pingback: TGIF: 6 Questions for Sandra of Simply Bike Blog | Eleanor's | Stylish Bicycle Accessories for Ladies

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