A French wind blows in

Today was the first time I have used the recently acquired Puch Mistral se for any more than a quick ride around the block .


Puch Mistral se


It’s been a long time getting ready for use for various reasons the main one being the ongoing struggle to remove the crankset off the bottom bracket on the drive side. It refused to budge using an extractor and ended up stripping the threads on the crankset in the process , after trying a small bearing puller it was still stuck fast . I ended up removing the bottom bracket and taking that side out whilst still attached to the shaft .


Puch Mistral se


Even now after having copious amounts of release spray left to soak it has not been parted from the shaft . It was annoying that I couldn’t re use the original Shimano Golden Arrow crankset as the rest of the groupset is complete even down to the hubs . This was all original equipment according to what I can find on the internet . The original fitment Weinmann 906 tubular wheelset  has also not been re used and has been replaced by a later set of Shimano Exage hubs that are laced to a set of Campagnola Berlin rims .


Puch Mistral se


The original decals are all intact along with the pearlescent white paintwork which is in very nice clean condition and has had a very light polish to try and bring the paintwork back to life . The tubing is Reynolds 501 main tubes with Puch’s own 2500 material forks so all in all a fairly quality frameset right down to the slotted design on the underside of the bottom bracket shell .


Puch Mistral se

The bike came to me with original white bar tape and moth eaten brown brake lever hoods still in place , unfortunately the hoods fell apart the moment I touched them whilst renewing the brake cables . The genuine gear cables had a nice layer of service rust so these were replaced with some nice stainless ones, the original Shimano brake pads were also replaced at the same time . The original chain has  suffered with years of no use and is awaiting replacement .


Puch Mistral se

The initial test ride around the local roads went well and felt quite responsive with a nice stiff feeling frame . I am looking forward to watching the test miles go by on this classic machine . It might be kept as my winter road bike if I can graft a set of full guards on with some P clips as no eye fittings are included on the frame .

Being a steel bike person , the Genesis range has interested me for a while for one reason or another but unfortunately they either crop up miles away from Northamptonshire or are well over my budget .


Well imagine my surprise last week when a Genesis CDF popped up for sale in nearby Buckinghamshire. It was just over my budget so after a quick couple of messages I found out the seller would quite happily do a deal . Arrangements were made to meet up Friday pm at a point half way between the pair of us .



Olney Town Sign

The seller volunteered to bring a second bike so that I could go for a proper test ride which was a very generous offer indeed , but I was quite happy with a visual inspection and a few laps of the market square in Olney just to make sure everything worked as per my expectations.  I felt a full on test ride would have meant swapping pedals , lowering the saddle , raising the bars and fitting some lights.  Only then I would have been ready to hit the road on a bike I had never ridden before in the centre of the town whilst riding with a total stranger who’s pride and joy I was sat astride .



Genesis cdf


Upon visual inspection I could see that the bike appeared to have been well looked after even though the seller had used it as a winter bike since buying it towards of the end of 2014. He even mentioned to me how he used it once to do a cyclocross event as they are sold as a cyclocross bikes , he thought it was a great winter bike but certainly not a competitive cross bike for somebody at his level . I have always thought of them as a great all-rounder bike . An all-rounder bike is something that is at home pootling along the local cycle paths , doing a 30 mile leisure ride with some mates or setting off for a week’s camping trip which would mean having to carry a fair bit of equipment with me .


The 4 laps of the market square I completed were very successful and the bike felt nice to ride and all the gears changed nice and crisply as the standard fitment shimano Sora should do. The disc brakes felt like a huge stepping stone forward compared to a set of  Weinmann centre pulls of yesteryear that I am more used to . The previous owner had upgraded the standard rear caliper to a dual piston one for improved rear braking .



Genesis cdf

The tyres fitted on the standard Alex rims were Bontrager 32mm All Weather Tyres that gave a surprisingly smooth and firm ride compared to the ride I was expecting from such a wide tyre . These were newly fitted so still have the little spikes on them which I always find interesting to watch as you ride along .


The CDF is the Reynolds 520 tubed brother of the highly praised Croix de fer that is offered in Reynolds 931 and 725 tubing and slightly better shimano group sets and Alex rimmed wheelsets .

I thought it would be wise to miss riding it on Saturday morning as it was raining well and I didn’t think it was fair to have my first proper ride in such conditions. Sunday promised to be dry with damp roads so I decided to leave my first ride until then by which time I could mount some lights , swap pedals over and do some other tweaks .


Sunday’s ride was planned to be 30 miles over a mixture of quiet main roads and the majority on even quieter back roads that wind between little villages with the occasional hill thrown in for good measure . Once I had got out of town and on the open road I could relax a bit more and get on with riding . I soon found an a nice rhythm that was comfortable for me and kept the average speed over the 16 mph mark without any issues , the hills were handled with ease and I only dropped on to the inner ring on one occasion .


Genesis cdf

The bike certainly behaved itself and took in all the various levels of road surface very well without any excessive crashing about , the tyres were rolling along nicely without being harsh and gave a very nice amount of wet weather grip and reassurance when required .  The sora gearing system was working faultlessly with nice solid and crisp gear changes and those disc brakes were stopping very well indeed .


Genesis cdf


As the ride progressed I thought how competent this bike was and I certainly was enjoying it very much. The last few rides I have done have been on a Trek 1.1 which I had also found to be a nice bike , if I had to choose between the two it would be a tough decision based on only 29 CDF miles, as these progress I think the decision will become easier .


Trek 1.1 Alpha

Am i undergoing the change ?

Over the last few months I have noticed that I seem to be looking more at newer style bikes than at the normal 70’s – 90’s Retro bikes . I am not quite sure why this is the case really .


Specialized Allez


I still have a garage partially full of older steel bikes like the red Ian May , orange Lomas , red and white Simoncini ,1950’s Raleigh Roadster , red Pollard single speed ,Lee Cooper Single speed , Puch Mistral se ,Marin Bear Valley mtb and the Pennine Italia that sits waiting in the corner for work to be started on it .




Ian May

So as you can see from above there is enough steel goodness to be getting on with especially as you can only ride one bike at a time . Most of my November miles have been done on newer machines like the Trek 1.1 Alpha and Planet X Pro Carbon bike. The Pro Carbon was a great bike but I couldn’t manage the rattling noise it made on the slightest uneven road surface, it was almost embarrassing to be honest so as you can guess this was quickly moved on to a new owner to make way for the Trek which I am actually really enjoying riding now . I find the ride quality and its general poise on the road very good .


Trek 1.1 Alpha


I am looking forward to getting the Puch Mistral back on the road as that looks like an ideal machine to me with Reynolds 501 tubing coupled to Puch’s own hi tensile front forks. A nice set of lightweight Campagnolo wheels have replaced the original sprint wheels along with a Campagnolo Mirage crankset that has replaced the original Shimano Golden Arrow crankset as the drive side crank is well and truly stuck on the original bottom bracket spindle and has so far resisted all attempts of separation from said shaft .


Puch Mistral se


The Lomas bike is awaiting a set of retro wheels to be built up from a set of Wienmann rims and a pair of large flanged hubs that will replace the newer set of 27” wheels currently fitted to it , once these wheels are built and fitted I will crack on with getting some more miles on this bike before making a final decision as to whether this is a keeper or one to be sold onwards .


G.E.R Lomas

Bargains to be had

I have noticed over the last few weeks  that a number of lightly used road bikes are being offered for sale that have covered little or no mileage at all since the original owner handed over his wad of cash .


Somebody said that for the last few years Cycling has taken over from Golf as a way to further your career if you are that way inclined . It also seems that some people buy a bike to enable them to do a charity bike ride and once that is done it never gets used again until they sell it at a fraction of the original cost .




I blame some of this down to the various Cycle to Work schemes where you purchase a bike through your employee and it’s paid from your wages before tax is applied as far as I am aware . It’s something I have never really looked at doing myself so the above statement might not be completely correct .


Over the last 2 or 3 years I have picked up 4 or 5 newer style bikes that have been purchased and ridden perhaps less than a dozen times before being resigned to a life stationary in the shed / garage or attached to an unused turbo trainer .



Specialized Allez


The Specialized Allez I had a few weeks ago was 7 years old and had covered less than 100 miles either on the road or the turbo trainer it was mounted to when I bought it  . Its original owner had been advised to do some cycling to help a knee injury and by the sound of it the only thing it helped him do was to lose a fair chunk of its original sale price when he sold it 7 years later .




A similar purchase was a Carrera Virtuso frame set I bought about 4 years ago that somebody had bought and ridden once into town. He  padlocked it up as you would and when he returned all that was left was the frame and its ancillaries but no wheels !!! So rather than buy a set of wheels the seller just sold the rest  cheaply in one lump . So all I needed to do was slot in a pr of wheels and set up the gears and brakes and then ride it off in to the sunset .



Marin Argenta Comp

Another bike I bought was a Marin Argenta that a boyfriend had bought his then girlfriend without checking what size she wanted , she soon realized that the 56cm sized frame was not really ideal for a 5ft 2” lady ! Fair do’s she did try rotating the bars right round to see if that helped but alas it didn’t . When I picked this up she even threw in a complete starters kit ie Track Pump , lights , Helmet and spare innertubes all for the same price .


This week I picked up a Trek 1.1 Alpha that its previous owner had bought 18 months previously on his employees cycle to work scheme. He purchased it to do a sponsored 700 mile week long bike ride and then went out a couple of times with his local bike shop riding group , but soon gave that up and joined a gym instead . Again this was picked up with a Helmet , pump , shoes and a Garmin 200 and all of which had hardly been used .



Trek 1.1 Alpha

So yes there are bargains to be had and these bikes make ideal starter bikes for beginners or fellow cyclists who enjoy riding bikes bought at a bargain price .