MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

197? JEUNET MIXTE - INTRO

FINDING THE JEUNET MIXTE

BUILD & RIDE THE JEUNET

 

BICYCLES OF FRANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINDING THE JEUNET MIXTE

I volunteer a considerable amount of my time to an organization called Bicycles for Humanity (B4).  This group of people salvages unwanted bicycles from Thunder Bay and surrounding area.  Our volunteers then prepare and share the bicycles with people who truly need basic transportation.  And for the people of whom I speak, a bicycle can literally mean the difference between hope or no hope and even life and death.

Twice a year the B4H-Thunder Bay (B4H-TB) organization conducts bicycle drives.  In October 2008 the group conducted such a drive that spanned a bicycle drop-off time of roughly seventeen hours.  During that drop-off time, roughly 450 bicycles were donated to the B4H cause.  Eighty percent of those bicycles are now serving useful purposes in Namibia, Africa where they have been distributed to health care workers, teachers, workers, students and finally, children.  Yes, we finally took a chance and sent kids bikes.  The reception of the children's bicycles brought a lump to my throat.  Anyway...

The remaining twenty percent of bicycles collected are inappropriate for sending to Africa.  Antiques are too hard to get parts for.  Ten Speeds are too fragile for Third World road conditions.  Some bikes donated are damaged beyond repair.  The point is B4H-TB must find a way to use those bicycles that are not sent to Africa.  With this in mind, old road bicycles are readily available to any one of the volunteers.  That said, back to finding the Jeunet.

Pulling up to the B4H-TB warehouse one day, several bicycles presented themselves, obviously dropped off by someone who could not do so during our hours of operation.  Nestled amongst the half dozen or so bicycles was a near pristine Jeunet Mixte.  I asked the B4H-TB Steering Committee if I could earn the bicycle with volunteered effort.  The bicycle became mine after an appropriate amount of time and effort had been put in to earn the it.

That statement should be qualified.  Any B4H-TB volunteer can earn a bicycle for her/himself by helping out.  I donate about two hundred of my own mountain bicycles, roadsters and antiques to the cause each year.  In addition, I serve as a consultant to the Steering Committee as well as the Board.  I am also the person who picks up bicycles from people who have no means of dropping their old unwanted steeds off.  I plan, set-up and conduct vintage road bicycle events and sales, all of which raise funds to help us purchase a shipping container and send, it filled with 550 bicycles, off to Africa.  And I love doing it!  Back to the Jeunet...

It took only a moment to separate the Jeunet from the rest of the donated bicycles.  The bike was, as mentioned, covered with a light layer of dust to which weeping lubricant had mixed with over the years of non-use.  It was, however, immediately apparent that the bicycle was in near mint condition from the cosmetics perspective.  The gorgeous lime green paint and contrasting black lugs, lined with gold paint, presented the perfect vintage road bicycle image.  The Old School componentry further bolstered the vintage appeal and about the only thing that is missing on this wonderful old bicycle is a headbadge.  Though it is probably a personal taste thing, I love the presence of a headbadge on a vintage road bicycle.  Sadly, the Jeunet builders had opted for a simple head tube decal.

The art work on the Mixte had held up very well and the black outlined yellow text proved to be the perfect color choice to maximize contrast with the lime green base, in my opinion.  The art is a combination of decals and stickers.  The decals are simple, but elegant, while the stickers are cheaper looking than I would have liked.  That said, the overall impact of the Jeunet's art is impressing, to say the least.

Of course, the Jeunet is a French made bicycle.  Though it might be unfair of me to comment on the quality of one country's bicycles over another, I can honestly say that, as a rule, the French bicycles I have come across are poorly finished.  And the Jeunet, beautiful though it may be in its own right, is simply another example of poor craftsmanship, in my humble opinion.  Misaligned drops, blatantly evident file marks and even poorly brazed lug work seem to be the general rule for French bikes.  Was this an employee issue or a management mandate?  Hard to say but I have owned French bicycles of all quality levels, including the revered Peugeot PX10 and the only one that impressed me from a craftsmanship point of view was an early eighties Vitus 979 that I often times wished I had kept.

The components that adorned the Jeunet were typically French and common for the day.  Mafac "Racer" callipers, actuated by a set of CB alloy levers handled the stopping chores.  The ever so common Simplex transmission showed little signs of sun fading, suggesting that the bicycle had been stored indoors for the bulk of its live.  A set of steel cottered chrome plated Nervar cranks, fitted with 52/42 steel rings delivered power to the medium wide range five cog freewheel.  The teeth on both the rings and cogs showed all but no wear.  Though it struck me as unusual for such a bicycle, the saddle selected was one of those hard uncovered plastic units that frequently found their way onto seventies something European bicycles.

The upright handlebars seemed somewhat out of place and considerable thought went into perhaps substituting a set of drop bars in their place.  The bicycle was, however, so original that it seemed a shame to alter anything from the way it left the showroom floor.  With that in mind, nothing was altered on the old bicycle.  The pictures depict the Jeunet pretty much "as made" and "as found", with little more than a coat of modern wax contaminating its original state.  And in over four hundred vintage road bicycles owned and worked on so far, this is one of the best preserved to present itself for admittance to The Old Shed.

And that is how I earned this nice old Jeunet.  And, for what it is worth, two of the bicycles in my collection came to me through the B4H Earn a Bike Program - a very original Cambio Rino SP and an equally clean Norco Magnum Special Edition, both pretty nice high end Canadian made bicycles.

NEXT - BUILDING/RIDING THE JEUNET MIXTE

 

 

 

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