Friday, April 26, 2019

Peugeot UO 14 - A More Practical Setup

I've barely ridden my Peugeot UO 14 in five years, mostly due to an impractical setup. Using only a front basket (pictured below) meant I couldn't swap my work pannier between bikes, should I discover some morning that I had a flat tire. And as functional as the basket is, it's also too large - I had trouble tightening the bolts to keep it from rubbing on the tire.

The old setup.

My husband has a beautiful old English steel rack that hasn't been used in a long time - dare I say the 1980s - when it graced his old Peugeot! It's a perfect, simple solution to add functionality back into my Peugeot. I polished minor rust with steel wool to bring out the shine once again, detached the Mafac brakes to allow the non-adjustable bracket (see above) to connect with the brake bolt. In the end, I also readjusted the brakes.

I test rode the bike in the neighborhood and realized I needed to slide handlebars towards me plus tilt the seat so I sit more upright - apparently my tastes have changed over the years - and this 20" frame feels much better. I've been commuting for several days now on this bike - at least until I fix my regular commuter bike - and enjoy the zippy ride to work, especially on comfortable Panaracer Pasela tires. Stock gearing, however, on this old 12-speed isn't optimal for my aging legs so I ride mostly in the smaller chainring. Still, it's nice to have a fast, alternative bicycle should I need it.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dahon Boardwalk 6-Speed - A Smaller Chainring is a Winner

Dahon Boardwalk 6-speed with new 48T chainring.
After riding the Dahon 6-speed for nearly two years and struggling up hills near home, I wanted to lower the gearing with cost effective changes. It was rather fortuitous that Beth of bikelovejones had recently upgraded a Dahon of similar gear range, so when I was ready, I contacted Beth to find out particulars.

Dahon with original chainring.
Armed with information, I left my Dahon with Old Spokes Home, but also gave them the opportunity to come up with an alternative solution. The mechanic agreed that swapping the front one-piece crank arm/ring assembly was the best bet and would first take a look in their parts bin before ordering new parts. A couple days later a mechanic called, failed to locate suitable used parts, but could order the new parts, offering my requested 48T plus a 38T alternative. Of note: I regularly only used the lowest 4 of 6 gears, so switching from 52T to 48T made sense, whereas drastically lowering 12 teeth seemed too much of a change. I worried that had I chosen the big drop, then riding on flat terrain meant I would be coasting rather than picking up speed. What I particularly love about this bike (among its varied versatile features) is its surprisingly smooth ride - the bike rolls well and zips along, often keeping up with or passing other riders on descents.

Two weeks into riding with a 48T chainring has made a world of difference! I climb much easier and use gears 1-5 regularly, with only occasional drop into gear 6 with tailwind/and or when I need to get somewhere fast. I think the only other change I might explore in the future is whether the drive train could accommodate a larger freewheel, which might further enhance gearing for optimal range. But that's splitting hairs for a 6-speed, so-to-speak, and I'm perfectly happy with the new setup.