Monday, July 10, 2017

The Peugeot St. Laurent is Commute-Ready

I spent several hours transferring items from the Ross Mt. St. Helens to the Peugeot St. Laurent. My goal was get the bike commute-ready over the weekend, in time for Monday's ride to the office. What I didn't anticipate was accomplishing everything in one day! A rainy Saturday helped, along with a few breaks, one of which was riding the bike with my son, and by the end of the afternoon I had finished.

I started the work outside on our deck, then moved indoors once the rain started, using a tarp to protect the wood floor. I wouldn't recommend either method, risking loosing tools through the gaps in the deck (I lost an Allen wrench and two star tools over the porch rail, but miraculously found them beneath day lilies), and indoors because I was uncomfortably stooped. Without a work stand to elevate the bicycle, my back ended up pretty sore for a couple days, however it's my own fault for neglecting to retrieve the stand from our house. Once we're settled at camp, it's often difficult to leave, even though it's only a 20 minute drive home.

Both the Peugeot and Ross are topless (without handle bars)  - I was in the process of transferring the Ross's handle bars to the Peugeot. I slowly dismantled the Ross (on the right) and while I will keep the wheels, I replaced the original  green, straight handlebar so it will travel to it's eventual new owner. 

The Transformation Process & What I learned
  • Starting with a front tire change, I decided instead to switch front wheels, which necessitated adjusting front brakes because the rim was slightly wider. At the outset, it reminded me that there's often more to bike maintenance than meets the eye - very much like home ownership! And I also noticed that the Peugeot's front wheel needed bearings regreased, so I'll store that wheel for a back up and properly overhaul it when necessary.
  • I tossed the gross, shredded seat and put on a new Nashbar Women's FC1 saddle. The Ross's current seat was, quite literally, a PIA.
  • With impending rain in the forecast, I took a break and rode with my son for a few miles to get some exercise. Little did I know we'd end up riding hills and trails! At that point the bike was bare-bones, sans fenders and racks, and I zipped along - definitely a foreign concept to a bike commuter!
  • I swapped handle bars because the stamped, labeled Italmanubri bar, gleaned from my son's Peugeot has always felt right. It was a slow process, loosening brakes and thumb shifters was a little difficult (more so on the Ross because the screws were nearly stripped), but with patience I'm glad to have familiar, comfortable handle bars. 
  • Transferring fenders was relatively easy. There is more clearance on the rear wheel than when the fender was previously connected to the Ross, but I will keep it as is.
  • I am keeping the included 1.5" rear tire because I see value in retaining puncture proof rubber, for the time being, even though I prefer 1.75" Paselas.
  • I had trouble installing the rear rack. I couldn't free all of the bolts on the slider bracket (I stripped a couple Allen heads), ideally to level the platform, so I attached the rack as is. For now the large Blackburn office pannier works okay and I have heal clearance, but I wonder if shortening the bracket would adversely alter the space. I'm not happy with the rack angle so I'll deal with the rack in the future.
  • The front rack went on smoothly, though because the fender also shared the same frame bolt, I attacked both transfers together. Of special note, the lower rack holes are mounted to the cantilever bolt attachments. The Peugeot lacked Allen bolts, but fortunately I was able to swap the bolts from the Ross. 

Above, the Italian stamped bar; below, original unmarked bar. Visually there appears to be little difference,
but in reality they are not the same.

Unexpected but delightful surprises
  • With more space between the sloping tubes, my water bottle is more accessible.
  • I sit more upright - an unanticipated but welcome advantage as this position allows a natural transition to the Clementine (and vice versa).
  • The frame (and it could also be due to tires) absorbs bumps more so than the Ross. My 15 year old son insists the wheelbase is longer; he noticed the increased fork curve. Everyone knows that teenagers are never wrong! I suspect the comfort is due to a larger frame size. Handle bar position seems to sit further back and not above the center of the front wheel. I could be wrong in this assessment, but the frame geometry feels quite different. Whatever the reason, the bike fits and I'm happy!
  • I'm pleased with the new saddle choice, a comfortable seat the first time around!
  • I sprang for a new set of ergonomic grips, Ergon's cork style.
These items: a lock, tool bag, and pump were hidden in the green bag on the Ross. It's a work in progress, storing the accessories in a basket, because I like to leave them on my bike at my workplace rack. I need to find a long term solution.

Other thoughts
  • The Peugeot was the perfect opportunity to use a front basket. In this instance, I used one of two white baskets that I'd grabbed, years ago, from a neighbor's free pile. New bicycle, "new" accessories!
  • I will eventually add anniebikes' style - possibly coordinate with the orange/red color scheme, and/or decorate with leopard print duct tape? I missed pe-ordering an orange Clementine so you can bet I'll play up the orange on the Peugeot!
  • I cannot locate a Shimano cap locally to cover the lost cap on the right-hand thumb shifter. A mechanic found two extra left-hand shifters, but the cap, unfortunately, is proprietary (go figure). In fact, I found the original shifters  hardware on my son's Peugeot in our parts stash - both are missing caps! For now, I'll keep the exposed parts oiled (my bike stays outdoors at work) and continue looking for a replacement online.
  • I've been riding the Peugeot for two weeks. What strikes me the most is how well the bicycle fits, something I've longed for for quite some time. Go Peugeot! 


  1. Very cool that a bike you have spent a long time searching for rides smooth when you finally get one! Looks like a great set up.

    1. Hi Ryan. Yes, I'm pretty happy! As you know, I've searched for quite a long time for a 20-21" frame.

  2. Nice work! That bike looks like a winner. I might be inspired to pursue a vintage MTB project one of these days.

  3. Your handlebar setup looks very sharp. Good job!

  4. Hello! I just started reading your blog while doing research on grocery panniers.

    Great looking Peugeot!

    Your front basket setup is great, much prefer mounting it to a rack than using 'basket hardware' that runs from the bottom of the basket all the way down to the mounting points at the bottom of the fork.

    Happy commuting,

    1. Hi Doug. I have another bike where I use the traditional Wald basket with mounting hardware that attaches to the fork eyelets. That set up has felt precarious to me - the basket slipped and hit the wheel. I also think it's not an ideal set up. I've really enjoyed the small front rack that attaches to cantilever brake bolts. It's versatile, can haul about 15 lbs., and basket attaches easily, using zip ties. And a breeze to disconnect, which I will likely do for Fall/winter riding so my front light has unobstructive beam onto the road.

  5. I am so impressed! I'm thinking more and more that the best way for me to learn more about how to fix and maintain bikes is to take one apart, or least some of it. This stuff will never come easily to me (don't think I'll ever be able to do what you do Annie!) but I do think it's important to try and learn as much as I can - I hate having to ask Husband for help! I'll always have to ask him stuff though!

    It's how I've taught myself about sewing machines. I have been browsing Gumtree for old bikes..... you have a lot to answer for!!!

    1. Hi Lizzie. I started working on my bikes out of necessity. I still don't enjoy the process, but having the option of replacing my own grips or chain is a very mechanical thing and anyone can learn to do it. I think, for me, this all started with learning to fix a flat tire. That relatively simple procedure can stump a beginner, but can be a liberating experience. One thing led to another...and my husband and I acquired one tool at a time, tools that will last a lifetime of working on bikes. I need my husband's help occasionally. He has stronger hands and often times he's using larger wrenches - something I would not have considered so I am continually learning.

  6. I like this set-up a lot. I'm really coming to appreciate the ease of a front basket. I'm impressed with that saddle: Great cost, padded but not overly cushy, and the cut-outs look perfect.

    1. We'll see how the saddle holds up. In general, I like cut-out saddles and I'm always trying out inexpensive versions.

      I understand the appeal of a front basket. There is more space in this version compared with the front canvas satchel that I used for 2 years, though it's not as easy to hide my tool pouch and pump. I may retrofit or sew a bag, something that can be attached to the basket but can be readily removed. I enjoy these kinds of problems. My tool pouch is a neoprene pencil case that I got at Staples. :)

  7. I like the Ergons myself, but I have trouble keeping mine from sliding on the handlebars (rotation, not laterally). I might need to experiment with applying something tacky, but not permanent. Glad you were able to get this project bike completed!

  8. "I am keeping the included 1.5" rear tire because I see value in retaining puncture proof rubber, for the time being, even though I prefer 1.75" Paselas."

    A mid 80s Peugeot "City Express" came up on my local CL and it appears to be (more or less) the same bike. I was wondering, how wide of a tire do you think would fit between the chain and seat stays?

    1. I'm running 1.9" studded tires for the winter. Bikes of this era traditionally came with 2" knobbies. You could probably go bit more if you don't use fenders.


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