I've got an old Peugeot bike I've been riding, and I like it but I'd like to make it better for long rides. I'd like to replace some parts, the steel rims aren't good for braking and I'd like handlebars / brakes that are more comfortable.

I can try grabbing random used parts and replacing them, or buying new ones, but I'm wondering if its even worth it. Would I be better off just buying a new bike, or what parts would you recommend I use to improve this?

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  • 6
    How stuck are you on originality? Keeping the bike "period-correct" ? That's a gorgeous bike!
    – Criggie
    Apr 30, 2019 at 4:40
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    We don't do valuation here, but I think we have a responsibility to point out that original condition bikes such as these have real value it would almost certainly be more cost effective to sell it as is and buy something new with the proceeds.
    – mattnz
    Apr 30, 2019 at 9:15
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    I'd like to make it better for long rides A bit off-topic, but level your saddle out to make it better for long rides. The way your saddle is leaning forward means you spend the entire ride holding yourself back from sliding forward off the saddle. And doing that for perhaps a few hours will be difficult and very uncomfortable. If you have that saddle positioned like that because it's too uncomfortable to ride otherwise, you need a different saddle. There's a reason why you can find so many different saddle shapes - different people need different saddles. Apr 30, 2019 at 9:15
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    To clarify for the OP - "is it worth it" is hard to answer because it depends so heavily on criteria, preferences, and values. Some people want to preserve old bikes. Others want a certain utility. Some people want parts or brands they're familiar with. Some want durability, others want lightness. Everyone talks about what would be "cheaper" in an apparent sense to quantify the answer, but even then it's very murky - Do you do your own labor? Do you like doing the work? Do you already own the right tools? Do you care about total cost over 10 years, or just cash out of pocket tomorrow?
    – dwizum
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:21
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    Also, the valve stem of your front wheel is at a rakish angle, which makes it more susceptible to tearing in the hole causing a front puncture and potential loss of control of the bike. You should deflate the tyre, adjust the positioning so the valve stem is perpendicular to the rim and reinflate. It'll only take a minute. Apr 30, 2019 at 13:51

3 Answers 3


This is often called "the slippery slope of knock-on upgrades" which can get expensive quickly.

There are two simple and relatively cheap upgrades to try.

  1. Replace the brake pad inserts with modern compound Kool Stop. They will brake better than the original ones, which may also be a bit hardened with age. There will be a model that fits your brake pad holders. A relatively invisible upgrade.

  2. Replace the bartape with something a bit nicer. I think you've got the thin nylon strap stuff, and its come away from the corners. Try some new modern material/retro style. You might choose to remain with white to match the brake levers, or a more dirt-hiding black to match the saddle, or some other colour that appeals. But wrap it properly and it will be more comfortable.

If you change the wheels to get aluminium braking track rims, then the brakes may not reach - modern wheels are 622mm and yours are probably 630mm or maybe 635mm. This would mean new brakes, which may mean new brake levers as well as new tyres and tubes. See how the knock-on effect works ?

Other option is to sell it on and buy a more modern bike. Someone would love to own that loverly `80s beauty.

  • 1
    I've actually replaced the brake pads, they're a big improvement but it still feels so sketchy compared to any newer bike I've tried. I figured the new wheels / brakes might be the only way
    – bidart
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:11
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    Those Mafac center-pulls are one of the few brakes from that period that can actually work pretty well. Steel rims should not be a problem, It looks like the brake levers and cabling could use some TLC. In particular the front brake seems to have a dogy cable exit from the lever. You can get MUCH better cable housing these days. Apr 30, 2019 at 17:04
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    Newer brakes have a better mechanical advantage so they will feel "stronger", but those brakes should be able to stop the bike just fine with some maintainance and a new cable housing. Apr 30, 2019 at 17:06

If you are planning to ride the bike, replace the handlebar stem

  • Oh excellent spotting! OP should absolutely pull their stem and examine it closely, and replace if there's any concern.
    – Criggie
    Apr 30, 2019 at 11:46
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    When replacing the stem, if you aren't concerned about being historically accurate, you may want to consider getting a quill stem to threadless adapter so that you can use modern stems and bars. You can also use the original bars if you get a stem that matches the diameter of the existing bars.
    – Kibbee
    Apr 30, 2019 at 13:06
  • The handlebar is almost certainly 25.4mm, and most of currently available stems are made either for 26mm or 1 1/8". You can make an adapter for 26mm from soda can.
    – ojs
    Apr 30, 2019 at 14:43
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    Thanks for letting me know! That could be a pretty horrifying injury.
    – bidart
    Apr 30, 2019 at 15:13
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    On an old French bike, it's likely that the stem diameter is 22mm (instead of the more common 22.2mm and that the handlebar clamp diameter is 25 mm instead of 25.4mm. Measure carefully before trying to swap out parts. sheldonbrown.com/velos.html Apr 30, 2019 at 16:00

If you just want a reliable, more comfortable, more efficient and safer bike - just buy a new one.

Upgrading older bikes (or even new bikes) requires and investment in time and money: learning about all the different standards in use and parts compatibility, buying special tools, scouring Ebay for parts etc. However, if that is your idea of fun then by all means go ahead. Just beware that 'a few upgrades' can be a quite complicated endeavor when dealing with older bikes.

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