This post is specifically about Paris-Brest-Paris but applies to all long-distance paved riding, IMO.
Your BQ fantasy bicycle is imperceptibly different from their indigenous equivalent of a yellow Schwinn Collegiate. There’s tens of thousands of old bikes with Mafac RAIDs and fenders locked up all over Paris and at the bottom of canals. I explained to a whole bunch of people from every possible demographic that “oh no every single part on that guy’s bike is newly manufactured and the frameset is bespoke”
In the most charitable light, all the europeans and most of the travelers will perceive you as someone riding an odd bike as a special challenge — like the british guy who’ll ride a bread delivery bike or whatever in period dress, the perennial singlespeeders, or the five fatbike failures this year
Less charitably you look like a historical reenactor tryhard who read old books about PBP instead of doing any actual randonneuring in a first-world country
Theo and James rode really strong in the B wave, but on their 650b constructeur machines with centerpulls/cranks/fenders and the whole high-polished deal. Despite their fully modern lycra clothing and ability to ride strong in a straight line, the other fast 80h riders wanted nothing to do with them — they appeared sketchy and untrustworthy, to be ostracized
Most of the pack riders would much rather deal with the literally 1,000 fat old italian guys wobbling around and avoiding pulls, because at least they fully understand their bullshit and social dynamics.
The optimum equipment for the parcours is a modern stage race road bicycle — with 28mm road tubeless tires, totally normal gearing, minor aero tuning, and a revelate tangle+feedbag for your shit. Dynamo lighting really sweetens the situation, but there’s also so many opportunities for drop bags at controls to get fresh batteries and clothing changes.
Jan Heine’s ideal 650b low trail integrated rando situation is PERFECT for freeform adventure bike camping in mixed terrain exploring backcountry with intermittent services and developing circumstances. PBP is the polar opposite of that. Jan is still a wonderful contrast to QBP’s bikes that are contradictory for anything anyone actually does outside of hyper-specific midwest dirt day ride events, or the bikepacking bikes that are tuned for GDR & Tour Aotearoa instead of real life.