21 January 2011

First Ride Galibier

Finally I could pick up the Peugeot Galibier from the LBS. I must say they did a very good job AND left my bike out on the yard in the rain.

The nice white handlebar, so Euro stylish, is gone as the the brakes needed to be rewired and I had only an orange spare left.  Already in the shop I noticed that the shifting was very smooth when I tried it. The guys gave me some warning, as the rear cogs were already pretty much used and that might result in some problems. And they said nasty things about the brakes, being so much inferior compared to the brakes of today. So I was warned.

After lunch break I dressed up in full cycling gear and took her out for the first longer spin - but still only 30 km. The first things that I noticed was, that the bike is very comfortable, much more so than the unforgiving Cervelo or even the Gazelle. I am not sure why, but I guess it is because of the wheels with 36 spokes that absorb much more vibrations. I built them up myself, and asked the bike shop to check them. Them said I did basically a good job in truing and dishing the wheels but the applied tension was way too low. They told me that they gave every spoke another two turns until the wheels were ready to be ridden.

The whole bike feels very comfortable, also thanks to the wonderful Charge Spoon saddle which really surprised me. I thought plastic or artificial leather saddles would be out of the question for longer rides, but this one is really comfortable - and priced at only the third of the cost of a Arione or Gel Flite saddle.

The disadvantage about a bike being comfortable and "soft" is, that it is harder to accelerate as some of the power goes into the frame  and spokes and not into driving the bike forward. Compared to the Gazelle and Cervelo the Peugeot is a slower bike. It is still fast enough though to be raced in the flats in the 30 - 33 km/hr bracket which I find most comfortable over long distances (not that I could maintain that range for long time anyway).

I was a little bit scared of braking after what the guys in the shop said so, but no, the brakes are doing well. Sure they don't have the power of today's Ultegra brakes and they behave completely differently, but once one is used to them they are doing fine.

Also the drive train behaved nicely. Shifting is so smooth (and silky). Yes, in the world of bicycle riding the words "and silky" must be added to the word "smooth" if the topic is shifting. Like nook and cranny: "Books were stuffed into every nook and cranny of his office." Isn't it possible to stuff the bloody books only into the nook?

If only 140 years ago bicycles would have had 44 gears (Campa Super Record with 4 cogs in the front), I am sure the phrase would have made it into le dictionaire des idees recues by Gustave Flaubert.

I continued to ride along the river Wümme while the sun started to set early. The only somewhat negative surprise that I had was, that the bullhorn bar isn't as comfortable as I thought it would be. Steering is somehow strange when the hands are so far in front of the fork axis.

I have ordered another set of cogs so that I can replace the worn one and a new Golden Arrow rear derailleur. Now I have a Shimano Arabesque derailleur fitted and that is just a gross breach of style which cannot be possibly kept undetected by the knowing eye for much more time.

Summary: Very happy, very proud that I was able to realize somuch of my own bike. I like the look and style and it is also a good ride. Due to its softness it is hard to imagine that I will do longer rides on the Galibier, but for a ride up to 50k it is a good alternative. I can also think of further modifications.

Of course, until the Faggin is ready.


David L. said...


The bike looks great.

And even the orange bar tape looks great. How could you NOT go with your signature orange, given the paint color scheme on the seat post?

As for the bullhorns, you definitely want to compensate a bit for the different hand position on those bars in thinking about frame size and stem length/position. My commuting bike (w/ bull horns) has a shorter top tube than my other bikes, and I have the (non-quill) stem flipped to give a slight (8 degree) upward angle instead of the usual racer's downward angle. And my bullhorns are flat -- no downward slope like the ones you have. So maybe you should get a shorter stem and/or one with a less aggressive angle, to bring your hands closer to your body?

As for the other contrasts between the softer steel ride and the harsher aluminum ride of your Cervelo--try carbon.

Manfred von Holstein said...

Congratulations on completing this project! The old parts look nice. I'm not convinced by the handlebar though and think it destroys the overall classic look. The orange in turn fits neatly.

David L. said...


Correction: I meant "seat tube" not "seat post" ... if that was not obvious.

Supplement: I don't want to inspire any anti-carbon raves or big debates about pros/cons, but I would be curious to hear about experiences with "high tech" steel frames like the Duell (Dedeccai high end steel tubing), or the U.S. Waterford R33 (which uses True Temper S3 tubing and some Reynolds 953, I think). I've seen some of these FRAMES that have rider weight limits, which surprises me a bit (as opposed to low-spoke count wheels, or maybe paper thin saddles), so I'm guessing that shaving weight on a steel frame has its limit, in terms of impact on durability/strength, and that for someone like me carbon or maybe Ti frame will probably be the answer. ... but if you really wanted to try Transalp with a steel frame, maybe Duell can help you out now with a steep discount that you've acted as "nakōdo" for their marriage with C-Speed?

mob said...

Thanks for all the praise.
I am reading this as I am looking out of the window from my office. Snow yesterday, rain today.

Concerning the strength of steel frames, I believe it is like that: Older steel frames were made out of standard round tubes with butted end pieces. They were welded by craftmen in Italy, France and the like by means of lugs and the result was very heavy and sturdy. The Pinarello I owned weighted more than 3 kgs with fork, frame size 560 mm.
As everyone had steel frames, weight wasn't such an issue comparatively.

Now, we have much lighter Al, Ti and Carbon frames. The frames are lighter for some reasons:

The material itself might have a lower density than steel:

Steel Reynolds 531: 7.8 g/cm3
Titanium 4.5 g cm3
Al 6061 2.7 g/cm3
Carbon Fiber 1.5 g/cm3

More details are here: http://www.caree.org/bike101framematerials.htm

Also the tensile strength of the new materials can be higher than steel.

And the material itself is not round and flat ony longer but manufactured into different shapes to better absorp maximum stresses.
Plus multiple buttings.

I guess there is also a tendency to manufacture oversized members with thin walls rather than small members with thick walls. All this is possible and cost effective now with modern production technology.

So if steel should be kept competitve as material, then modern frames are lighter because:

- modern steel alloys have higher tensile strength thus

-tubing is oersized and has thin walls and

-little room for compromise, making it as light as possible, resulting in weight restrictions.

So for me this is rather a question of design and purpose than of material. You could also manufacture very sturdy carbon or Al bikes, if you make the members thicker. But for what purpose?

Also I believe that old frames were designed "on the safe side". Because it wasn't possible to mass produce them, some tolerance had to be allowed for mistakes in the production. Welding, for example.
So the frame could bear, say, 20% more weight in average, but some poorly wleded frames were just 0%.

Today the tolerance limits are tighter due to mass production and technology.

I have to say that I am not so particular about the material itself. Sure I have some hesitations about carbon frames, but as I explained above, this is more a combination of design and material. Thin walls are my main concern.

Anyway, one day I will buy a cheap carbon frame and check by myself how the ride feel is.