Many thought it impossible; to construct a fully-fledged loaded-touring bike for under $500. I have gone to the “possimmpible” – the land beyond impossible, to a place where the possible and impossible meld and intertwine. Reality must then surely be warped, I can hear you all saying, if I was able to build up a touring rig for under $50 dollars!
It all comes down to the fact that many people in Canada, especially the now-ageing baby-boomers, want to get rid of (*gasp!*) their old bikes cluttering up their sheds/yards/garages/evil laboratories, and so can be had for free most of the time, sitting sadly by the roadside of many suburban residences. No, I did not lick out and find a nearly-complete touring bicycle that I used $35 dollars on to refurbish. But, I did the next best thing, which was to convert an old 70’s Peugeot UE-8 frame and wheelset to touring quality!
I must correct myself; for there are those Peugeot junkies here on the interwebs that are going to correct me if I don not; the Peugeot UE-8 was what in the day the French called a “touring bike”. Basically, it was the version of their ever-ubiquitous UO-8 model with fenders, a dynamo lamp and a chromed steel rear rack. Hardly what I would call a touring bike by today’s standards (it doesn’t even have a decaleur to its name!). Again, even “specialized” bicycles like these were mass-produced by the millions in European and North American cycle factories, so they too should be easily obtained. As long as the front fork has at least one set of eyelets, and the rear dropout has at least one set of eyelets, basically any road bike frame and wheelset from the 60’s, 70’s or early 80’s can be cheaply converted to a basic, light to medium-load touring bicycle.
What I set about then, on this project, was to:
– Change the 2×5 gearing (aka 10 speed) to at least a 3×7 setup
– Change the crappy drop bars/stem friction shifters to flat bars with indexed shifters and bar ends
– Add a front rack!
That’s about it- but it required a lot of parts, which had to be gotten cheaply in order to fit the under $50 bill.
I lucked out again when I found a discarded mountain bike in a snow-bank; I brought it home, called the police and had it checked to see if it was stolen/lost, and satisfied that it was just a dumped bike – I started chopping it apart. From this salvage, I acquired a square-taper BB spindle, a triple crank, a 7 speed freewheel, and front + rear derailleurs.
I already had a flat bar and old MTB 3×7 brifters from updating my other bicycle, so minus cabling, I was good to go!
– I pulled of the $h!tty cottered Peugeot crankset and pulled out the cottered crank spindle. Unfortunately, French-threaded sealed BB’s are hard to find, or expensive, for these old French frames. So, I had to settle upon re-using the old cups with the newer square taper spindle. I then re-attached the triple crank to the spindle.
– I next pulled off the rear wheel, and unscrewed the freewheel. I was lucky; most french bicycles have (once again!) the obsolete “French thread” on their freewheels as well, but this hub had standard threads. Using this, I replaced the 5 cog block with the newer 7-speed Shimano block. I have put the new derailleurs on the frame, but am still missing cabling, which I am in the process of procuring. However, I have to call this a victory. Score count: change gearing; CHECK!
– Later, I pulled off the drop bar and stem mounted shifters, along with the old racing stem. Again, the French stem clamp size is an odd one, so I used the stem from the found MTB along with my handlebars and 3×7 brifters to finish the job. Bar ends from the MTB allowed me to get to this point without spending any money. This part was super easy. Score count 2: drops to flat bars; CHECK!
As of now, I have spend $7.50 on brake cables, and will likely have to spend another ~$7-10 on shifter cables. All that there is left to do is mount the $13 front rack and hook up and tune the derailleurs, and it’s good to go. Total Cost: under $33, for a (soon-to-be) fully-functioning, indexed, 21-speed touring machine. This rig is destined to be used by my el-cheapo friend, who is looking for an economic way into cyclo-touring. Stay tuned for the pics, as right now I’m far too lazy to go and take pictures of the progress!