Monday, February 20, 2017

Spring Tune-up Came Early

The 1980 Peugeot Course received a much-needed facelift and tune-up over the weekend. The bike was covered in gray/black grime from being ridden in wet conditions. This was particularly bad - as it usually is - on the chain stays. There was also a thick coat of brake pad compound around the fork crown and the seat stays. While these may have been the worst spots, the whole frame was in an overall state of nasty and was badly in need of a thorough cleaning and polishing.

In regards to functionality, my shifting and braking had become mushy from the old neglected cables and housing. The bar tape that I put on the bike specifically for RAGBRAI 2015 was, at this point, pretty much disintegrating. And I recently decided to get rid of my Cardiff leather saddle after it had developed a pronounced ridge down its center line that was causing uncomfortable perineal pressure, so I swapped it out with the frighteningly ugly and rock-hard synthetic saddle that had come with Ginger's Motobecane Super Mirage. That too needed to be remedied.

I picked up an old, beat up Brooks B17 at a good price on eBay and snagged some RikeRibbon bar tape in a gaudy carbon gold color. What can I say? It beckoned to me. While at my LBS, I picked up cables and accessories. I also brought my intern/son along, and we had need to fortify ourselves after procuring our bounty. So that's what we did.

Once I had everything I needed, I got to work disassembling and cleaning the bike. I left the headset and cockpit where they were, as I find that the headset only needs to be overhauled rarely. And once you've got the cockpit set up just the way you want it, it's a huge pain in the ass to ruin everything by unnecessarily taking it all apart.

All the components were degreased as needed and cleaned up with a bit of soap and water. Once the frame was dry, I used a cleaning/polishing wax to give it a bit of luster and some protection from the elements and the general abuse of daily commuting. After I applied the wax, I had to wait for it to dry before buffing it off, and I enjoyed the down time with loud music, a delicious beverage, and thoughts of political resistance.

Reassembling the bike was mostly quick and painless. The components went back on the bike with ease and running cables and housing and getting everything dialed in on this machine is something I can practically do in my sleep. The old Brooks took a bit more work, as I noticed that the leather was very soft and pliable and sagging slightly, which caused the sides to splay. I thoroughly conditioned the old saddle to make sure the leather wasn't brittle, then drilled a couple holes along the bottom of each side and laced them together with a boot lace. The result is nearly perfect: a soft supple saddle that gives slightly under my weight without sagging.

The old Peugeot is definitely showing its age, but then again it hasn't exactly been coddled in the 5 years that I've had it. I ride it nearly every day and it continues to be a dependable, low maintenance machine for daily commuting, bar hopping, and around-town jaunts. Exactly what you'd want in a bicycle.

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