Monday, July 20, 2009

And sometimes they just show up unexpected...

By now, regular readers have figured out that I have a pretty sizable collection of bikes, most of them older, "classic" road bikes of one sort or another. And I'll admit, I find it really hard to resist buying a bike if it comes my way at a good price, especially when it's a bike that I've always wanted. And it's been my good fortune that a number of such bikes have come my way over the last 5 years or so. But as far as plain good fortune goes, this one may take the cake.

A few months back, a customer called and asked if I had the tools and knowledge to do a few things to an old Peugeot PX-10 that he'd recently bought. Being old and French, there are a few odd things about such bikes, and in this case, he needed someone who had the fairly obscure crank removal tool for an old Stronglight crank. Being an old bike geek (um, I mean, I like old bikes, I don't think of myself as old), I had long ago squirreled away that very tool, so I told him to bring it in. When he dropped it off, I casually mentioned that I was a little jealous, as I'd always wanted to find a PX-10 in my size. We chatted a bit and I took care of the work he needed a day or so later.

Fast forward a couple of months, and we get to Le Cirque du Cyclisme, an event all about classic bikes. I ran into Dave and his wife there, and we chatted about some of the great bikes we'd seen. A few days later, he arrives at the shop with his latest find... an early 80s Colnago Italian road bike, a very fine machine, and one that is pretty highly sought. While we were talking about the work he needed to have done to it, I asked if he had seen a really nice PX-10 that I had seen for sale at Le Cirque.. it was a pretty bike, in very good condition, but didn't have all original parts. Granted, the "new" parts were upgrades, technically speaking, but I have always wanted an "original" PX-10 or similar bike, as I told Dave. Next thing I know, he casually says he has a second PX-10 frame that he bought for parts to use on the one I worked on... and he says he'll bring it in and give it to me! You could have knocked me over with a feather. It's not every day someone comes by and offers to GIVE me a classic old bike.

So last week, in he walks with the frame... and a bag of parts. From what he'd originally said, I thought maybe there would be one or two spare parts thrown in, but in the L.L. Bean bag and on the bike were almost all the parts needed to make it complete. The only thing missing was the wheels, and he offered them to me in return for doing a bit more work in the Colnago. I couldn't say no, and now I have that PX-10 I have wanted since I first read about the bike in Richard's Bicycle Book when I was a young teenager. As you can see from the pictures, it's not the prettiest bike ever, and the paint is pretty rough, but then Peugeot was never famous for their paintwork anyway, and I'm happy to have it as a "rider", not a museum piece.

So what is it about the PX-10 that made me want one all these years? Back when I first got bitten by the cycling bug, the PX-10 was often the first racing bike "serious" cyclists would buy. It was lightweight, built from high quality Reynolds 531 double butted tubing, and equipped with moderately priced but serviceable alloy racing components. And it was one of the more affordable bikes to come from the factory with "sewup" tires... if you look at the rims you can see there's just a curved surface and no side wall for a tire bead to hook to.... you glue the tires to the rims. Today's wired on tires have come a long way, and are arguably as good or nearly as good as sewups, but back when this bike was built, there was no comparison... sewups were the enthusiast's choice for their light weight and supple, fast ride. So when I was a young teen of 13 or 14, knocking around on my all steel Raleigh Record, it was the PX-10, among other bikes, that I'd look at in books and catalogs and dream of. Not as lofty a bike as the hand-built and Campy-equipped Schwinn Paramounts and Raleigh Professionals I also craved, but still a "real" racing bike, and in team colors to boot. Many a great rider rode in the black and white colors of Team Peugeot, and their bikes weren't so different from the standard PX-10.


Jazzper said...

great story! We all want a PX-10 someday!

Tim said...

True, so true. It is sort of an iconic bike.