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A History and Review of the Peugeot A- and U-series Bicycles

This webpage is being revised.
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For those interested in the history of Peugeot’s bicycle endeavors, I recommend Lucien Hilger’s “Peugeot et le cyclisme,” published in 2004 by Editions Saint-Paul, Luxembourg.  The text is in French and the 350 plus photographs are spectacular.   An account of the book can be found on the VeloChronique website at http://www.velochronique.com/chroniques/article.php3?id_article=338I purchased my copy from (Alfred) Jasmin Derome’s Ebay 'carebike-store'.  Also, see Jim Ruggieri’s Cycles Peugeot website for another historical account.

The UO-8 was introduced into the U.S. market in the 1960's and sold through 1980.  It is difficult to determine exactly when the model appeared, since Peugeot did not begin operations in the United States until 1974 and ended them in 1989.  Prior to1974, the only published records are undated Distributor’s pamphlets.  In 1974 and thereafter, catalogs, brochures and fold-out posters of the Peugeot line were published by Cycles Peugeot USA.  Consequently, information on Peugeot bicycles in the United States is poor for the 1960's, good for the 1970’s, and excellent for the 1980’s.  However, Cycles Peugeot USA did not always date its literature, and photographs of bicycles were sometimes re-used from year to year so the text and photos do not always agree with one another.  In addition, actual components on bicycles did not always match published specifications; for many years, bicycles were not painted or decaled with model numbers or names; and stamped serial numbers during the 1960’s, and early to mid-1970’s are unreliable for determining model and production year.  Nonetheless, color schemes, decals, components, and date codes can be used to determine the model and production year of Peugeot’s within two to three years of accuracy.

In the United States, the AO-8 was the entry-level Peugeot, followed by the UO-8.  Basically, the UO-8 differed from the AO-8 in that the former had a half-chromed fork, high-flange hubs, and quick-release skewers; while the latter had a fully painted fork, low-flange hubs, and winged-axle nuts (at least before 1976 when they were eliminated by CPSC regulations).  The UE-8 was similar to the UO-8, but was equipped with fenders, lights, rack and light generator.  The AE-8 was similar to the AO-8, but was equipped with fenders and rack.   The UE-8 and AE-8 frames had braze-ons for attachment of this equipment.  The AO-18, UO-18/18C and UE-18 were mixte versions of the AO-8, UO-8 and UE-8, respectively.  These A- and U-series model numbers seem to be unique to the United States and Canada.  The UO-8 and UE-8 models rarely appeared in the Dutch and Japanese catalogs from the mid-1970’s.  For the most part, the P-, PL- and PX-8’s seem to be most similar worldwide to the U-series sold in North America.  In 1977 the racing UO-10 and in 1978 the touring UO-9 were introduced, but these were not entry-level models.  In 1980 the PH-8 displaced the UO-8 as the entry-level Peugeot bicycle.

AO8 Axle Wing Nuts & Low-flanged Hub
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UO8 Chrome Fork, Quick Release & High-flanged Hub
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Photo by Raitanen, 2007

The UO-8 has been referred to as the ‘poor man’s’ PX-10.  It was a lower-end bicycle sold in large numbers during the bike boom of the early to mid-1970s.  During the peak bike boom years of 1972 to 1974, French bicycles were produced in numbers so large that there was very little quality control, and parts were often substituted to meet the high production demands (marshal1@ripnet.com, personal communication).  The UO-8 was considered to be an inexpensive 'lightweight' for its time, and it had the long wheel base of its French counterparts that provided a soft ride on the rough roads of France (Thomas Kunich, http://sheldonbrown.com/kunich.html).  The UO-8 competed directly against the much heavier Schwinn Continental and just below the Raleigh Super Course and American Eagle Semi-Pro (Nishiki Competition); whereas the AO-8 competed against the Schwinn Varsity, the Raleigh Record, the Nishiki Custom Sport, and the Steyr Clubman (John Ellis, personal communication).  The A- and U-series bicycles of the early to mid-1970s can generally be identified by the "Tube Special Allege Peugeot" decal on their seat tube, steel cottered cranks (i.e., cotter pins are present on the pedal arms), and chrome-plated steel rims.  The "Record Du Monde" decal on the seat tube is a generic label used by Peugeot and simply means "World Record."  "Tube Special Allege" translates to "Specially Lightened Tubing" (Sheldon Brown, personal communication).  Higher-end Peugeot models from this era, notably the popular PX-10, were made with Reynolds 531 tubing and are labeled accordingly, and were equipped with alloy components.  Unfortunately, uninformed sellers and buyers confuse low-end and high-end Peugeot models because of their superficial similarities.

Seat Tube "Tube Special Allege Peugeot" Decal
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Cottered Crank with Cotter Pin Removed
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Seat Tube "Record Du Monde" Decal
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Chrome-plated Steel Rigida Rim
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This website was last updated 3 November 2011