Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mixte Makeover

Once again I am lucky to have a bike project come my way that's a lot of fun. And this one isn't even that tough a job.

A woman brought this Lotus mixte-framed bike to our shop for a tune up a few months ago. Then, over this past weekend, she returned, with a new-to-her Brooks saddle and a request for new handlebars for a more upright and comfortable position. A very sensible request, as I think most casual recreational riders aren't all that well served by the typical drop style road handlebars. And it was actually pretty common for mixtes to be equipped with such bars. Many French bikes of the 70s were offered in two versions: diamond ("man's") frame with drop bars and mixte with upright bars.

The word mixte, as I understand it, was originally applied to bikes like the one above... in place of the standard top tube of a diamond frame, two thinner diameter tubes were run from the head tube, passing to either side of the seat tube, then terminating at the rear dropouts. The idea was to provide the ease of mounting and extra room to allow riding in a skirt (or a kilt?), while not compromising away all the rigidity normally provided by the top tube. As I recall, an attempt was made to market them as "unisex" bikes, but that never really took hold in the US, and mixtes more or less vanished from the scene, until making a bit of a comeback, in several variations, recently.

But back to the bike at hand... I took off the drop handlebars and brake levers, and installed some classic "North Road" style bars from Wald, a US company in Kentucky that has been around since 1905, apparently. They are probably best known for their baskets, like the ones on my Miyata 210, featured in earlier posts, but they also make some nice handlebars. Nothing fancy, just well made and practical. (http://www.waldsports.com/) With the bars, I also installed a set of Tektro 819 brake levers, a nice affordable lever for upright bars. All the bike needs now is the leather hand grips to match the brown saddle, and the transformation will be complete. A very pretty and practical ride. (Well, ok, truth be told, if it were mine, I'd also put on fenders and a rack and/or baskets, but...)

3 comments:

dgs said...

That is a great looking mixte. What model is the Wald handlebar? I was thinking about ordering model number 8095 for my wife's bike.

Tim said...

I believe that is the 8095 on there. A lovely shape and very affordable. Retail is something like $10!

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Interesting post.

I just bought a Lotus mixte this past weekend, and and would also like to change the drop handlebars to the flatbars. I wonder what a job like this would cost me? Any rough estimate will do.

Thanks!