A Neat BikeJan Heine
When I was working with Peter Weigle on an article on fender mounting for the Winter 2010 issue of Bicycle Quarterly (now at the printer), Peter sent me a photo of his latest bike (above). His bikes always have been special, but on this one, I noticed a lot of features that went beyond what you commonly see even on custom bicycles.
The rack clearly shows the influence of Jo Routens, the legendary constructeur from Grenoble. The entire bike is an alluring mixture of old and new. The frame is made from a vintage tubeset, including my favorite Reynolds 531 “Super Resilient” fork blades that make my Alex Singer so comfortable. Here they are combined with our fork crown to provide room for 42 mm-wide Grand Bois “Hetre” 650B tires. The tires themselves have been “shaved,” removing the tread to make them even more supple and even faster.
The hubs are Campagnolo Tipo hubs. Inspired by Campagnolo’s first high-flange hubs, Peter drilled extra holes into the flanges. Instead of quick releases, Peter’s special wing nuts hold the wheels in the dropouts. The Stronglight cranks have been reshaped and profiled to remove excess material.
The shellacked handlebar tape covers what look like 1950s Philippe “Professionel” handlebars. The Shimano aero brake levers are not to my taste, but they offer undeniable advantages on the road. Functionally, they harmonize well with the old Mafac cantilever brakes.
At the back of the seat tube is Peter’s custom-made taillight. (The front light is hidden by the tires in the photo above.) The rear reflector is a vintage item from Peter’s collection, as are the reliable Simplex seatpost and the superlight Huret Jubilee derailleurs.
While I admired all this, I did not even notice the fender attachments until Peter pointed them out to me. The fender stays are flush against the fender, and the drawbolts do not appear to have cups. This is not just elegant, but also provides optimum support for the fender.
I had seen this arrangement on a few special French bikes, but never really had figured out how it worked. So I asked Peter about it. From that came the a Builders Speak article for the Winter issue, in which he shares some of the secrets of his fender installation. On Peter’s bikes, the details tend to be subtle, but they all combine to create a bike that is very elegant. And judging from the Weigles I have ridden, it probably rides as well as it looks. Click here for more photos on Peter’s bike.