In late August, 1997, I was given a Peugeot PX10E by Al Sawyer of Wheaton, Illinois. Al purchased the bike in 1966 while a student at MIT from Ace Bicycle Shop, then located in Harvard Square, Cambridge. At the time, the PX10E was probably the least expensive quality racing bike available. Al raced it for a few years, and then put it away, where it stayed for the better part of the last twenty five years. Al recently decided to give the bike to someone who would appreciate it. His inquiries led to me through Laurel Salvador, one of Al's co-workers, and one of the people I regularly ride with.
As you can see the bike is dark metallic blue with chromed stays and fork ends, and gold pinstriping. The frame and fork are Reynolds 531, using lugged and brazed construction. The lugs are Nervex and the dropouts are forged Simplex. For a complete component list, see below. The most striking feature on the bike is the large seat tube decal with Olympic rings and World Championship rainbow stripes.
My first task was to try to figure out what I had. Since I've only been a cyclist for less than ten years, I appealed for help through usenet news rec.bicycles.tech. Thanks to all those who responded I discovered that the PX10 (which at that time I knew only as a Peugeot Super De Luxe) was Peugeot's top-of-the-line production racing bike of that era.
After determining for myself that the bike was worth restoring, my first task was a complete disassembly. I was relieved to find both the seatpost and stem came out easily, a tribute to Al's maintenance practices. He was obviously meticulous, because both wheel axles, the bottom bracket spindle, and the steerer tube all showed no signs of corrosion. I was surprised by the almost complete lack of allen head bolts on the bike, and some of the wrench sizes required. I discovered I needed a 16mm socket to remove the crank bolts. After years of working on Japanese and European cars I didn't own a single 16mm wrench.
Things were not perfect however, as I ran into problems on the first reassembly task. The bottom bracket adjustable cup had apparently once been cross-threaded, and stripped as I tried to adjust the bearing preload. Fortunately I discovered that a French threaded bottom bracket (35mm x 1mm) can be reamed out and threaded Italian (36mm x 24tpi). I located a frame builder who could do the job, but this delayed things for three weeks.
While the frame was at the shop I had plenty of time to clean up and polish the componentry. A buffing wheel and some jewelers rouge worked wonders, and a final polishing with Simichrome brought all the aluminum components to a high lustre.
One of my big concerns was the wheelset. It was obvious that a really thorough cleaning and polishing would require disassembling the wheels. Once disassembled I had a decision to make regarding the spokes. The original Robergel carbon steel spokes were corroded, but I was concerned that newer stainless spokes would not be authentic. In the end I opted for appearance and went with DT Stainless 15/16 gauge butted spokes. They may have not been available when the bike was built, but they sure look better than the Robergels.
Finding replacement parts was one of the fun aspects of the job. I actually only needed a few things, most of which were located via the internet. The rubber brake hoods (not shown well in any of the pictures) were in poor condition. I acquired NOS (new old stock) replacements from Jim Cunningham of CyclArt in Vista, California, who even threw in an extra, gratis. Karl Frantz, who works for Digital in Maynard, Mass., sent me a dust cap to replace the one missing from one of the Lyotard pedals. Again, gratis.
At some point the front clamp part of the Simplex Delrin plastic front derailleur had broken. Al had replaced it with a piece of metal strapping, but I was determined to find a replacement. Bicycling's September 1997, issue had an article on bicycle collectors. Prominently mentioned was Mark Mattei of Cycle Smithy in Chicago. On a whim I called Mark and asked if he had any old Simplex front derailleurs. He did, so I drove into Chicago, met Mark at his home, and bought a used but in good condition replacement.
Lastly, while reassembling the bike I was torquing one of the crank bolts when it broke. The Stronglight bottom bracket uses low profile bolts with 16mm heads. While Shimano crank bolts have the same threads, even with some work with the bench grinder the dust cap doesn't seat fully. Sheldon Brown of Harris Cyclery in West Newton, Mass., was kind enough to send me some replacements; again, gratis. Sheldon's web site is quite extensive (and really useful). He has even put a link to this page on his French Bicycles page.
When assembly was complete I dry mounted the tires, but having never glued tubulars I allowed a couple of weeks to pass before the desire to actually ride the bike overcame my reticence. I finally glued the tires, a task that turned out to be a lot less messy than I had been led to believe. I rode the bike a couple of miles the next day, mainly to work on fit and check for loose fasteners. I finally took the bike on a club ride of thirty-some miles (no cyclocomputer) on October 19, 1997. The bike proved trouble free and a pleasure to ride, although the steel frame and 140# tubulars give a much livelier feel than I'm used to. The brakes were adequate, the shifters worked about as I expected, and the saddle appropriately uncomfortable. The only thing I found consistantly disconcerting was the pedals. With no float I felt locked to the pedals, and was constantly concerned I'd forget how to release them.
The bike has now been retired to become a display item in my living room, but I'll probably take it out from time to time just for fun.Components
|Photography by Michal Baker||Scanning courtesy of Mark Trettin|
Last Updated: 11/01/98