Mid-Life Cycling

Mid-Life Cycling

13 July 2012

A French Dutch City Bike Leads To Romance

Can you guess what comany made this bike, or even where it was made?

At first glance, it looks like a Dutch bike, doesn't it?  And, in many ways, it resembles one.  But it's at least a few pounds lighter.

I'll show you the men's version of this bike:

Its owner added braided cable housing,toe clips, a TA one-clamp water bottle cage and a Brooks saddle bag.  Even if you can't see the decals, there's one detail that should give you a clue as to where these bikes were made.

The headlight has a yellow lens.  Until recently, the bikes (and cars) sold in a particular European country came so equipped.  That country is, of course, France.

Now do you know who made these bikes?  Clue:  They were the largest bicycle manufacturer, and one of the leading auto-makers, in Gaul.  Oh, yeah, and they made those great pepper mills.

Yes, those bikes were made by Peugeot.  When I worked at Highland Park Cyclery, I actually sold one of the women's version.  Back in 1982, there was practically no demand for such bikes in the US.  And, no "serious" cyclist rode anything but a diamond (a.k.a. "men's") frame. But the customer wanted a stable, upright, sturdy bike.  Plus, she liked the style of it.

She wore a skirt when I was fitting the bike to her.  She mentioned, just casually (ahem!)  that she had long legs for a woman her height.  As if I hadn't noticed...

Our relationship lasted, if I recall correctly, about a year.  Looking back, I'm surprised it held as long as it did:  I was in my early 20's and she was about a dozen years older.  She was a surprisingly durable rider, and was a writer. However, beyond cycling and writing, we didn't have much in common.  Plus, as the self-help folks like to say, each of us  had our issues.  

Still, I have some rather fond memories of riding with her.  And, I am responsible for the only sale of the women's version of that bike--the Peugeot VX-40--at Highland Park Cyclery.  In 1982, that was no small feat, if I do say so myself!


  1. I'd figured it was Peugeot even before the pepper mill clue! My Peugeot pepper mill still sits on the counter between my spice racks.

    I imagine the full chain cases would have made either version of those bikes quite odd ducks in a North American bike store in the 80s. The step-through version might well sell rather better in today's market, than it did at the time. The position of the curve in the loop tube down near the BB makes the bike look more Italian than Dutch, to me, but my exposure is limited.

  2. Golly, I never knew about Peugeot and pepper mills until just now. I do recall drooling over a 405 - the last Peugeot car sold in the US.

  3. My salt and pepper mills live on the dining table and my Peugeot van lives in the garage but have never had one of their bikes. Do they even make them any more?