For the last few weeks you may have noticed me riding Le Peug more often.
But I like to be fair (I was the kind of child who worried about stuffed animals being lonely if they didn’t sleep with me every night, which is why I only ever had one), so for the past couple of weeks it’s been the Bat’s turn.
The minute my butt hit the seat, I thought, no wonder I brought this bike back from the UK. Smooth, stylish, sturdy, easy to shift, built-in lights and zero maintenance. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Funny thing is, I know I’ll feel the same way the next time I get back on Le Peug. Light, nimble, sporty and fast. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?
Lately I’ve been feeling French. Dottie’s and my planned trip there this fall has been on both our minds and I’m afraid I’m somewhat obsessed. These past few days I’ve been listening to French radio, watching French films, reading French websites and even reading French novels (Stendhal and Nothumb, a balance of classic and modern).
So it goes without saying that I have been riding my French bike.
This morning we took a ride to pick up French bread and cheese (sadly, not French) to bring to an Oscar party. Anyone have any tips before I turn in my Oscar ballot?
Technically, this should have been categorized as a DIWYF — do it with your family! Without my dad and my brother, there’s no way these Velo Orange Fluted Fenders would have made it onto Le Peug. I had read about fender installations before purchasing mine, and the one thing that all the stories had in common was the potential to get into something difficult–something that required special tools or customization. As luck would have it, mine required both.
Twas the week after Christmas, and we wheeled Le Peug into my Dad’s garage.
Le Peug enters the garage . . . he doesn't know what he's in for
First step was to clean the bike and touch up the 30-year-old paint job. Dad promised that his 3M compound could take out all but the deepest scratches, and that Wenol, an extra-strength German metal cleaner, could make the dull aluminum rims shine.
cast of characters
As usual, he was right. Check out these before/after shots. That compound cream worked miracles. If you think your bike needs to be repainted, try this first — but keep in mind that it does remove some of the paint, so be cautious.
portion of seat tube near bottom of photo has been cleaned
stay at top of photo has been cleaned
After cleaning the frame with compound, we touched up the scratches with some white paint. Once that dried, it was time for wax. Now, the frame is back to blinding white and looks almost like new.
The clean, touched-up frame — like new!
That took a couple of hours, and a lot of elbow grease, but it was the easy part. Next, we had to figure out how to install the fenders. Le Peug’s brake and stay clearance was tight, so we had to reshape both the front and rear fenders a bit.
And because the screw on our brake bolt wasn’t long enough to attach the fender, too, we had to come up with a makeshift L-bracket. Luckily, right about that time my brother wandered into the garage. He scrounged up some scrap metal and got to work.
Charlie drills the custom bracket
One fender down! I study the instructions for our next step.
The other major modification? Shaving down the front sides of the rear fender so that it would fit better between the chain stays behind the bottom bracket. Sorry, but I did not take pictures of this process since flying sparks were involved.
We replaced the wheels and cut the extra length off the stays (more sparks!).
Both fenders on, we replace the wheels.
Then we wiped the frame down again, removing some of the marks we had made with wrenches, etc, during the installation. And here’s the finished product!
front fender with custom bracket
Charlie wasn’t happy with the L-bracket was, since it was so visible and made of two different colored metals, but I like it — the gold matches the decal on the bottom tube and it is distinctive.
my finished beautiful bicycle
While I don’t really enjoy day-to-day bike maintenance duties (refilling tires, yawn), projects like this feel different. Taking the bike apart, cleaning it, installing the fenders and putting it all back together gave me a better sense of how my bike works. And seeing the finished project was oh-so-satisfying: Le Peug looks better than ever, and our painstaking custom installation means a perfect fit with no rattling. I’m now saving my pennies for the next upgrade on my list: a Brooks saddle.