Monday, April 07, 2008

French Bottom Brackets and the like

Please note that Salvagetti Bicycle Workshop is here for the greater good, not to pick fights with people who have strong opinions about weak products.

We see lots of cool old Peugeots and Motobecanes at the shop here. Some of them are rare specimens and some are run-of-the-mill-but-loved-all-the-same. The trouble with French bikes is that the French felt (and who knows if they were right?) that they knew more than the rest of the planet about bicycles. In addition to the geometry being for a select few types of people (oh wait, am I saying they may have been wrong?), the stem and bottom bracket are completely proprietary. This means that the French would have needed to keep making the correct parts and tools in order to keep their good name alive.

And.
They.
Haven't.

And those who love the old French bikes are in for a few interesting discoveries which I will list quickly:

1. The geometry is entirely too long for most folks to ride comfortably.
2. The stems and headsets work together and must be swapped for similar spec'd (and not available new) parts. This limits severely the ability to fit bicycles to their owners.
3. And lastly (for now), the bottom bracket is its own thing all together. Phil Wood does make one but...

You cannot *easily* get the tools to repair any of the French threads. If you find old tools, you are lucky, but not necessarily set up, to get things done.

We recently ran into this problem with several bikes and we are searching out alternative solutions that don't involve a RIG*.
So, the lesson here is that if you MUST get a French bike then you MUST ride it and you MUST get it checked to see if it is something that will work out for you.


*Rigs are using something that isn't made for something else for a different purpose that is gonna probably FAIL!

3 comments:

victor said...

I'm french! and yes you can say that old french bikes sucks but Commen├žal are good ones!
I'm in Kansas right know and, I may go to Denver to have a look to your shop and buy a bike...

Cory G. said...

Just force a English BB to cross-thread in and hope you never have to replace it. And don't try this if said BB comes with the plastic sleeve. Duh. :)

Joshua Barker said...

This information might just breath new life in an old Motobecane collecting dust in my basement. Oh la la. Une bicyclette.