Peugeot UO8
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Low-End Quality with some Quirks

Hardy Menagh   10/6/09

Ever since my wife got her Peugeot UO18C, I've been wanting my own Peugeot. Once again, keeping my eye on the "Free" listings on craigslist, paid off.

UO8 Right Side

This 25" frame UO8 turned up in a neighboring town. The owner, a woman of medium height, said it had been given to her upon the death of the original owner. It was obviously way too large for her to ride and after a few years of storing it, she just needed it to be gone. She told me it had been tuned up just prior to the owner's death and still had the bike shop tag attached.

Like my wife's UO18C, this Peugeot was missing the serial number tag from the bottom bracket. Since I didn't see any pry marks on either bike, I'm wondering if the serial number tag rivets on some of these Peugeot bikes were routinely drilled out or chiseled off, possibly by the importer or bike shop? Both bikes have aftermarket serial numbers stamped on the dropouts. The UO8 has "73" stamped on the Rigida rims so I know it's either a 1973 or possibly '74 model. Later models had plastic headbadges.

'Special' Alloy
When I got the bike home and inspected it, I found that the bearings hadn't been serviced or adjusted. They were in good condition but the grease was old, dirty and nearly dry. There was a broken plate on one of the chain links. The cables needed adjusting badly. In fact, the only thing I could tell had been done by the bike shop was to mount a new set of inexpensive Kenda tires. Someone had also replaced the original leather saddle with a heavy, sprung, highly padded comfort saddle. I replaced this with a lighter sport/touring model. As usual, the original frame pump was absent.

With the overhaul of my wife's Peugeot still fresh in my mind, I was in very familiar territory with this one and had it in peak condition in no time.

The Quirks

The Simplex derailers used on the low end Peugeots, have bodies made of Delrin plastic. Although Delrin is a tough material when it's new, it can become brittle as it ages. It also doesn't wear like steel or aluminum. Fortunately the derailers on this UO8 are in good condition and have no signs of cracks. They shift smoothly but are compromised by the flexible plastic shift levers. These make precise shifting difficult, to say the least. I will be exchanging the levers for some alloy ones when I find a suitable pair that will work with the UO8's braze-on, or I may bypass the braze-on altogether. Precise shifting is doubly important with the vintage Maillard freewheel which has absolutely flat sprockets and teeth. It's quite easy to shift between gears and have the chain just skate around the freewheel.

AVA Stem

Unfortunately, prior to the mid '70s The UO8 and other Peugeots came with an AVA (death) stem. The one on this bike is the later improved version, which had a single expansion slot at the base. Older versions had two slots and would fatigue and break off just above the expander wedge. In any case, the concept of an internal expander wedge which works fine on steel stems, is completely wrong on an aluminum stem. Hard aluminum alloy fatigues far more than steel when you force it to deviate from its normal dimensions. It doesn't take much to start a crack. I will either replace the AVA stem with another vintage stem or possibly modify it by cutting a bevel on the base and fitting it with a sliding wedge.

The steel Rigida rims are well made, even and lightweight. The texture on the braking surface is quite noisy in operation. You're likely to turn some heads when you apply the brakes. I haven't noticed that they're any more effective than smooth steel rims. When they're wet, they may actually make it more difficult for the pads to clear the moisture away, making them even less effective than smooth steel rims.

Of course the major quirk of these vintage French bikes is the non-standard threading and sizes. That's one reason why I won't do any major upgrades to these bikes. If you don't love them the way they are, you'd be well advised to look for a different bike.

The Ride

The frame size of this bike is at the upper limit for me. I normally use a 23" frame but had a 25" Raleigh when I was younger and still have the automatic reflex to lean the bike and/or stand slightly on my toes when mounting and dismounting, as necessary.

Those who praise the Peugeot, often try to describe the way it feels to ride one. They do feel different from many vintage road bikes. It's a solid, stable feeling. You either feel completely comfortable with the ride, or absolutely hate it. I like the smooth stability of a steel touring bike and the UO8 doesn't disappoint me in that respect.


Original Specifications

Frame:   Brazed lugged steel, tubing type not indicated
Crankset:   All Steel, Cottered Cranks, 40 - 52 Chainwheel
Pedals:   Steel Lyotard, adjustable bearings
Hubs & Wheels:   Quick release Normandy alloy hubs, Textured steel Rigida rims, 36 spoke, 27", Schrader valve
Freewheel:   Maillard 14 - 28
Derailers:   Simplex Prestige
Shifters:   Simplex, friction down tube
Brakes:   Mafac Racer center pull
Brake Levers:   Mafac
Stem:   AVA single slot, vertical clamp bolt
Handlebars:    Steel drop
Tape:   Black textured vinyl
Seat Post:   Steel
Seat:   AGDA leather saddle
Weight:   31 lbs.

Top Tube
Drive TrainSeat Tube

For more information see:
Sheldon Brown's French Bicycles page.
Cycles Peugeot

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Copyright © 2009 Hardy Menagh