Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

27 February 2013

My First "Real" Bike: Peugeot PX-10

The other day, I wrote about my Peugeot U0-8, which became my first "fixie."  Now I'm going to write about another Peugeot I owned, which I didn't alter nearly as drastically.





When I bought my Schwinn Continental, I saw a Peugeot PX-10 in the shop.  I looked at its price tag:  $250 seemed like sheer insanity for a bike to someone who'd saved the $96 cost of the Schwinn from a year of delivering newspapers in the hinterlands of New Jersey.

Somehow, though, I knew I was going to end up with that bike.  As I wheeled my Continental out of the showroom of Michael's Bicycle Company (located next to a drive-in theater on Route 35 in Hazlet, NJ),  I could feel the bike bug embedding its tentacles into my shins.

Well, about three years later, I got a PX-10 for $250--used.  And it was three years older than the one I saw in the showroom.

It seems that almost everyone who came of age during the '70's Bike Boom rode a PX-10 at some point or another.  For many of us, it was our first real racing bike:  Bernard Thevenet won the 1975 and 1977 Tours de France on PX-10s that differed from the ones we bought only in that the stems and handlebars were changed to fit his physique.

Also, the great Eddy Merckx began his professional career astride a PX-10 for the BP-Peugeot team in the mid-1960's.


Although $250 seemed like a lot of money for a bike in 1972 (and was probably even more so in 1969, when the PX-10 I bought was built), it was actually quite a good value.  First of all, the frame was built from Reynolds 531 tubing with Nervex lugs.  While the level of finesse in the lugwork and paint wasn't up to what one would find on a bike from a French constructeur or a classic British builder, it was nothing to be ashamed of.   




The chainstays, clearances and fork rake were all considerably longer than what would be found on later racing bikes.  However, racing bikes at that time had to be more versatile, as roads, particularly in small towns and rural areas of Europe, were rougher:  Some still hadn't been repaired after the bombings and shellings of World War II.  Also, racers and trainers at the time believed that a rider should spend as much time as possible on the bike he plans to use in upcoming races.  They also believed that, at least for road racing, outdoor training was superior to indoor, so the bikes were ridden all year long.  They--yes, even Merckx himself--rode with fenders and wider tires during the winter.

The longer geometry and rather thin stays meant that while the frame gave a lively ride, it could be "whippy," especially for a heavy rider, in the rear.  The flip-side of that, of course, was that the PX-10 gave a stable and comfortable ride in a variety of conditions.  This is one reason why many PX-10s were re-purposed as light touring bikes, or even outfitted (as Sheldon Brown's was) with an internally-geared hub and used for commuting.

The components that came with the bike were not top-shelf, but were at least good for their time.  The best of them, aside from the Brooks Professional saddle (Yes, it was original equipment on mine, though some PX-10s came with Ideale 90 saddles.) was probably the Stronglight 93 (63 on some earlier models) crankset.  It was beautifully polished and could be outfitted with chainrings from 37 to 57 teeth.  Mine came with 45 and 52, like most PX-10s of the era.  The 93 was a light, stiff crankset:  When I later got a Campagnolo Record for another bike, I couldn't detect any difference in rigidity.  The only problem with the 93 or 63 was that it had a proprietary bolt circle diameter that wasn't compatible with Campagnolo or other high-end cranksets of the time. These days, if you need to replace a chainring on your 93 or 63, you have to go to a swap meet--or eBay.

The wheels were also of very good quality:  Normandy Luxe Competition hubs with Mavic tubular rims (Some PX-10s came with Super Champion tubulars, which were equal in quality.) laced with Robergel spokes, the best available at the time.  Of course, I would build another set of wheels--clinchers--on which I would do the majority of my riding.



I rode many happy hours and kilometers (Hey, it was a French bike!) on my PX-10.  Like many other cyclists, I "graduated" to a more modern racing bike, and a touring bike and sold the PX-10.  Still, it holds a special place in my cycling life as my first high-performance bike.


9 comments:

  1. I haven't ridden a PX-10. At least not yet.

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  2. Your bike is a good find considering its purchase rate and features. Congratulations on the new ride! Update us with your experiences soon.

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  3. Declan: I haven't had that bike in a long time. I guess I should have made that clearer.

    Steve: You will (ha, ha, ha).

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  4. I bought a Peugeot 10 speed racer back in the early 1980's in a gorgeous white metallic with orange any yellow accent colors! I bought mine for $250 on sale and it was still a lot of cash for a bike. Oh how I loved that bike! It came with a men's skinny suede saddle which I changed out at the bike store for a women's saddle. I wish I had kept that original saddle because it was really sharp. I have upgraded to modern bikes now but I still have my old Peugeot! I could never really bare to part with it. I used that bike with the original tires and tubes until around four years ago. The tires are white walls and I replaced them with the same when I needed to use the bike for a Tour de Cure ride after I trashed a brand new bike. It rode okay but the gear changer which always skipped drove me crazy. That was our last ride together. Maybe if I find the right owner for my bike I will sell but until then it's still mine.

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  5. Emjayoh--I'm sorry you "trashed a brand new bike." But at least your Peugeot was there for you.

    Gears go out of adjustment over time. You might need to re-tension the cables, or to replace your chain and rear cogs. Or the lever may simply need to be tightened. Perhaps you and your Peugeot can still have some good rides together.

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  6. My PX-10-LE, the "Steed for Speed", refurbished from 1980 racing trim, Suntour Superbe Pro derailleurs, Dia-Compe brakes, new parts from Velo Orange, she is one sweet ride! By the way, Velo Orange's sealed bottom bracket is the "bomb". I also built a new clincher road wheel set using their sealed bearing hubs with Sun Ringyo Assault rims, less than 1500 grams front and rear! She rides great and I love smoking the guys on their carbon fiber road rockets!

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  7. Your story is similar to mine. I had a Peugeot UO-8, $90, in 1968. It was sooo much better than my Schwinn! But the cool guys had PX-10's. Later I was able to get a good bike, a Mondia, and rode hard and toured since then. But I always wanted a PX-10. So, about 4 years ago, I got a 1968 PX-10 frame, repainted it, and put all original parts on it. All, except modern brake pads! Huge difference with modern pads. This bike is the most comfortable ride of my 40+ riding career, and I ride it year round. The big test is in September when I ride the Cino Heroica in Montana - 60 miles of rough roads. The PX is totally the bike for it! I've made another one with upright bars I call my "Seattle Fixie". It's a 5-speed. We have a lot of big hills in Seattle so a single speed is for either 1. People who don't understand how to shift gears or 2. Victims of fashion. The bike is a little squirrely but fast. Long live the PX-10's!

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  8. I have a 1972 PX-10 and a 1977 UO-8 sitting in storage; trying to decide whether to donate them or find someone who wants an easy clean-up project, Lots of extra parts, but too stiff for our old bones. jakostlan@aol.com

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  9. i have a 1980 PX10 super competition. sadly my dad painted it in 1990 (before i was born) and put all new parts on it, im in the process of hunting down the decals so i can restore the frame to exact factory look, then put all new parts on it, except for fork. gotta love the px10 forks!

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