Sidegrade

When I’m out cycling for fun, rather than for utility reasons or commuting, I like to ride my Peugeot Europa.  I bought it last summer and it was in a pretty shoddy state, but over the course of a few months I managed to refurbish it to the point that it was roadworthy and I was happy with the way it looked.  This is how it looked originally:

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And here it is as I started my coffeeneuring challenge last autumn:

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Most of the jobs were cosmetic once I’d replaced the chain and seatpost, and I was happy with the state it was in.  To a point.  There were some things I hadn’t changed yet and really bugged me.  Getting nicer toe clips is one, same for the saddle, but the big one was the brake levers.

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Generic, no-name, and not that effective either, they always stuck out terribly to me.  The rubber hoods were cracked and splitting, which is bad, but the very worst part was the way they had, at some point, been painted black, then half-removed.  I tried to finish the job off, and you can see on the nearest lever that I’d managed to get most of the paint off and polish it a bit, but they were always going to be unseemly and horrible.  I wanted to get rid of them, and one week, when I visited my local bike coop to get some bits, I spotted these in the scrap pile.

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As dirty as they were, they were still Weinmann levers, and in surprisingly good condition.  They had ‘suicide levers’ on them, but they were only attached by screws, so that wouldn’t be an issue.  The coop gave me the levers for free (they have a problem with space, too many donated old bikes) and I started to think of a plan – make my old Peugeot that little bit more retro with non-aero levers!  First job was to take the hoods off these and scrub them down with hot soapy water.  At the same time I scrubbed the metal with steel wool, then gave the whole thing a polish with Autosol (which will be a recurring theme)

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Suffice to say they scrub up nicely.  Following this I stripped the bar tape off my bike and managed to get the old levers off too, though they didn’t go without a fight.  I figured, which I was at it, that I might as well overhaul the headset too, so I took the handlebars out completely to scrub and polish.  Autosol does wonders yet again, particularly with the detailing on the bar.

Headset overhaul done, I plonked the handlebars back in and tried out the Weinmann levers for the first time.  This was a good chance to play around with both lever angle and handlebar angle – the old levers were really stubborn, so the only way to adjust the angle was to turn the handlebar.  Rather than take a guess, I set the bike up on my turbo trainer and, allen key in pocket, I try the setup out whilst pedalling, making little adjustments as I go.  Once I was happy with the way they felt I measured out my new white outer cabling and cut it to length.

Seeing as I was doing a bit of an upgrade I figured this was as good a time as any to really give my bike a deep clean, too.  Out came the wheels, in goes the rags to clean out the dirt, the nail polish to touch up marks on the frame, and the degreaser for the drivetrain.  The whole thing got a good clean, then I hosed the whole thing down (don’t worry, I dried it off, too.)  At this point the inner cables were fitted, but not yet cut to length.

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All the major jobs done, it’s time for the finishing touches.  I’d bought some nice off-white Deda bar tape, and rondel-themed bar plugs.  Originally I’d wanted to get some Peugeot-themed plugs, but I couldn’t find any that were era-appropriate, so went for something fun instead.  I’m always nervous when it comes to wrapping tape – my dyspraxia makes it pretty bloody tough to do this kind of thing – but I gave it a shot and I’m pretty happy with the end result!

So that’s the newly updated Peugeot.  I think the cabling needs ‘breaking in’ a little, this old-school style of cabling is meant to stay near the stem but mine are moving around quite a lot.  That’ll settle in though, I’m sure.  I’m really happy with the way they’ve turned out, the moment I finished wrapping the tape and took a step back to look at it properly I was grinning like a Cheshire cat.  Now, if only I had a matching white saddle…

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