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Riding to a healthy life with classic bikes

Update: March, 17/2019 - 09:00
Sweet rides: Collector Đào Xuân Tình and his wife on their pair of 1950 Peugeot bicycles.
Viet Nam News

By Minh Thu

For collector Đào Xuân Tình, a Peugeot bicycle manufactured in France is not only a vehicle, a hobby or something to collect. It’s a symbol of the past, a part of his childhood and memories of his father.

Now, he owns a collection of nearly 130 Peugeot bicycles. The Việt Nam Record Organisation (VietKings) recognised that he has the biggest collection of Peugeot bicycles made in France.

The collection is worth a lot of money, according to Tình.

“In the past, people often walked or used public transport. Only wealthy people could afford a bicycle,” said Tình.

“Popular brands of bicycle in the economic subsidy era included Thống Nhất and Độc Lập (Việt Nam); Phoenix and Forever (China) Sputnik (Russia); Favourite and Junior (Czechoslovakia); Peugeot, Aviac and Mercier (France); and Diamond (East Germany).”

“The Peugeot brand from France is considered the most elegant and luxurious,” he said.

During the colonial time, the price of the first Peugeot bike he owned was equivalent to a house in a small lane of Hà Nội.

Each Peugeot bicycle had a licence plate and vehicle certification of ownership like motorbikes and cars. People even had to identify the source of the bicycle and prove the source of money spent to buy it.

“So, owning a Peugeot bike is a dream of many people,” said Tình.

His father had a Favourite bicycle and he loved it very much. Unfortunately, the bicycle was lost. Tình tried to buy a similar model but was unable to until his father passed away.

Pride: The lion, symbol of Peugeot on the chain wheel. VNS Photo Minh Thu
Riding high: Collector Đào Xuân Tình and his collection. VNS Photo Minh Thu
Changing times: The logos of Peugeot bicycles over the years.
Old wheels: An antique Peugeot bicycle with a licence plate. The French Embassy borrowed it to display at the celebration of French National Day in Hà Nội last year.

Many years later, when Tình bought the bicycle, he brought it to his father’s altar. Since then, collecting bicycles has become a passion.

Tình has three criteria for his collection: produced in France, original and as new as possible.

“Peugeot bicycles produced in different years have different styles, forms, even different details such as head badges with the symbol of the brand -- a lion,” said Tình.

Amazing collection

Tình praised Peugeot as the only brand that offers elegance and convenience for users.

“More than a vehicle, it’s a symbol of a lifestyle. Many businessmen and intellectuals love this brand. It has a small bell, a mechanism that allows people to ride easily when climbing a slope, and lights for night rides.”

Peugeot produced two types of bicycles, for men and women. Those produced for women were more expensive because they are easy to use, and suitable for teenagers and the elderly. Meanwhile, those for men had a big frame that only men can ride.

Tình tries to collect the bicycles in pairs. When he has a bicycle for men, he will try to find another one for women which was produced in the same year and had the same design and colour.

Once he met the owner of a 1950 Peugeot bicycle in Germany. The bicycle was beautiful and like new, but the owner didn’t want to sell it. Tình tried to convince him. He expressed his special love for Peugeot bicycles and talked about his collection. He also promised that he would take care the bicycle. Finally, the owner agreed.

Sixteen years later, Tình found the female version of the Peugeot bicycle. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He invited the former owner of the 1950 Peugeot bicycle to Việt Nam to see them.

“He could hardly say anything, just embraced me and we understood the happiness of the moment,” said Tình.

Tình and his wife rode the pair of bicycles around their houses. They all felt happy.

In the collection, there is a precious bicycle made in 1918. Tình bought it during a trip to France. Its owner told him that the bicycle was very old and he can give it to Tình for free or at any price Tình wants.

“When I saw the bicycle, I thought it was very new actually. It was just covered in dust and grease,” said Tình.

“The owner was right, it was old because it was produced in 1918, but it’s exactly what I need.”

When the bicycle was sent to him, he was so happy he couldn’t sleep.

On the next day, he rode the bicycle around West Lake. Suddenly, he found many other cyclists gathering around him. He stopped to have a rest on Thanh Niên Road. The riders then came up to him to admire the bicycle.

“They asked about it and even wanted to buy it from me. A small auction was held right there and the price was getting higher.”

“But I just smiled and told them that it’s not for sale.”

Tình dreams that one day he can have a large space to showcase the collection in public. For him, collecting Peugeot bicycles is not a high-end and costly hobby. It’s a healthy lifestyle.

“Through the collection, we can remind the young generation of those things which have gone, we can talk to each other about passion and the beautiful life,” he said.

“I believe that good physical health leads to good spiritual health.” VNS

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