I’ve had a blue 1978 Peugeot PR65 in my shop for some time. The bike was 100% original when I acquired it, and is in beautiful condition. I had put it together after its arrival from France, but was unhappy with the ergonomics and with some of the components.
There were two versions of the PR65 in 1978, but only one appears to have been built with the Reynolds 531 tubing used on this bike – the “luxe” model.
The paint quality is very nice, and the bike looks nearly new. All of the nicer components of this era are present – a Stronglight TS 3 arm crankset with 48/38 rings, Mafac Racers, Mavic rims and Bluemels fenders to name a few.
But the incredibly uncomfortable ergonomics (long top tube combined with low stem and no rise porteur bars) along with the ugly plastic-infused Simplex components made me want to make some changes, which is not something I will usually do with a 100% original bike. But, a bike that gets ridden is always a better bike than one that is not.
A good example of the hideousness of Simplex’ obsession with plastic during this era is shown above. A normally elegant downtube cable guide is made into a bizarre monstrosity. Often these plastic components will break, especially the plastic clamp for the front derailleur, so I also regard these plastic Simplex components as unreliable.
First up was the need to do something about the Simplex dropouts, since I wanted to have other rear derailleur options. I decided to attempt to file notches in the the plain round unthreaded dropout, and to tap it out to 10M. I created both a “7 o’clock” notch for Shimano style derailleurs, as well as a set of notches for Huret. The process took quite a while, but I was successful.
Wanting to be true to the bike’s French heritage, I chose to use replace the Simplex components with Huret, selecting a Svelto for the rear derailleur. The Huret front derailleur is a bottom pull style that needs housing, so an appropriate Huret cable guide with a housing stop is also needed, as shown above.
Replacing the bars was also not a simple swap, due to the French sized steerer tube. Since I wanted to use a modern upright handlebar, I needed to sand an appropriate stem down to French size (22.2 to 22.0), which also takes a bit of time and patience. This is a vintage Cinelli stem mated to a set of Nitto tourist bars. I needed some strong and reliable shifters to handle the Svelto rear derailleur, and these lovely vintage Suntour bar mounts do a great job.
The bike as now configured is amazingly comfortable – perfect for commuting and for exploring. If I were to keep this bike, I would probably cold set the rear triangle to 126mm (from 120mm), and build a set of 650b wheels around a nice, vintage hubset. This would allow use of wider tires than the 700c x 28mm tires shown above, which is about as wide as the bike will accept with the Bluemels fenders. I’m planning to list this bike soon on my store page, so I’m hoping it will find a new home and have a chance to get back out on the road, as the bike certainly has many miles to go, and will get you there in true French style.
“Plastic Simplex” – Two words that really should never be spoken in the same sentence.
Bang up job on the small but substantial modifications, Nola!
Simplex of course did offer many exceptional components over the years, especially the Super LJ line.
“Reinterpreting,” I love the idea of of taking a less than perfect older bike and re-thinking it from a more modern perspective. You don’t need to lose the character of the original to create something that is ultimately more useful and desirable. Great job! I’m sure that it will be a loved companion by it’s new owner.
Thanks. There’s a lot of intrinsic value in these older bikes, and it’s nice to be able to mine that while making them a bit more suitable in terms of comfort and performance.
Replacing plastic Simplex derailleurs is almost a must. I remember seeing these derailleurs breaking from a bicycle tip over and such. Your choice of handlebar shifters is tops. I use a set of these to shift a 10 speed cassette with a Shimano Shadow 10 speed mtb derailleur. To my horror upon first trying the rear shifter it would only shift about 7-8 gears. I then bent down the two travel stop tabs on the rear shifter and wonder of wonders it has been precisely shifting a 10 speed cassette for many years now. Making older bikes useful again even if it means non original parts is excellent.
Thanks. Interesting modification of you bar mount shifters!