Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

20 February 2013

To The Sea On An A-D

 Now I'm going to talk about another "parts bin bike" I built and rode.

I got the Austro-Damiler "Team" frame in the photo in a trade for one of my last sets of tubular (sew-up) wheels.  I don't recall which model it was, but I remember that it was made of Reynolds 531 tubing in the late 1970's.

As I understand, bicycles were sold under the "Austro-Daimler" name only in the United States. The company that made them was called Puch and marketed some bikes under their own name during the 1970's and 1980's.  With a name like that, you know why they felt to come up with another for their higher-end bikes!

My A-D had what many now call "old-school" road geometry--73 degree head and seat angles, and a somewhat longer chainstay and wheelbase than what are found on today's racing bikes.  Any number of racing bikes from the time had similar geometry:  think of the Raleigh "International" or "Competition," Peugeot PX-10E (and its descendants), and other rides from makers like Gitane, Falcon, Frejus and Fuji.  Racing bikes in those days were more versatile than they are now:  It's not uncommon to see them used today as randonneuring or even touring bikes.

As a matter of fact, I took my A-D on a tour:  In August of 1994, I pedaled from Paris to the sea near Bordeaux, and up the coast to Lacanau.  As I stayed in hostels and pensiones throughout my trip, I didn't pack camping equipment except for a sleeping bag.  Everything fit into a small set of panniers and a handlebar bag:  I'd guess that I carried about 15 kilos with me.  Still, the bike gave me a stable and comfortable ride.  The top tube was a bit longer than I have on my custom frames, but I still was able to use a stem with a reasonable amount of horizontal extension.  Thus, the steering was still pretty responsive, but not overly twitchy.

I probably would have that bike now, even after getting my Mercians, save for its unfortunate demise a few months after that tour.  I was running an errand a few blocks from where I was living (in Park Slope) when, in order to dodge an opening taxicab door, I ran into a chuckhole that seemed not much smaller than a manhole cover.  The areas of the top and downtube just behind the head lugs folded like accordions, but the sounds that came out of my mouth weren't as pleasing.


  1. The bike was earlier called the Puch-Steyer and was imported by RVC Cycle in Rockville Center LI

  2. Anon--You are right. The A-D name was only used in the US.

    Puch/Puch-Steyr/Austro-Daimler seemed to disappear from the US market some time in the early or mid-1980's.

  3. I have a Puch Pacifica that was given to me a few years ago, I think around 2009. I didn't get around to riding it until we had a transit strike in the San Francisco Bay Area. The bike was practically brand new except of course it needed new tires. I bought new tires and had it tuned up prior to the strike and test road it; I only had mountain bikes, since 1986, up to that point. I love riding the Puch even though it's too big for me. I think it is about 62 cm and even though I am 5'9" I also have a Peugeot PGN10 that is 56 cm and it fits me fine. Anyway, the commute went fine (riding two different trains plus biking just to get around during the strike.)

  4. Anon--You're 5'9" and you rode a 62cm frame?

    But it says something about the bike that you could feel what a good ride it offered in spite of the fact that it was too big for you.