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  1. #1
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    Looking for advice / opinions - It's old, but is it classic/vintage?

    Looking for some opinions on my bike.

    I'm new to road bikes - picked up a french made Motobecane Mirage Sport back in May. Bike shop said the frame was chromoly, probably made in the mid to late 70's. Bike weighs around 20 pounds, which seemed light at the time I bought it. Since then I've picked up some modern bikes and realize my bike is not so light.

    The bikeshop that sold the bike turned out to be slightly shoddy - in addition to being unable to size the bike correctly - they had the seat at least 4 inches too low - the bottom bracket was bent and the brake calipers had practically no stopping power.

    I originally paid 180 for the bike, and have spent an additional 300 on repairing the bottom bracket, replacing the brake calipers and levers, adding clipless pedals, as well as a thorough cleaning of the drive train components.

    I realize at this point I would have been better off buying the entry level road bike at a reputable bike shop for around 700. Unfortunately that lesson has already been learned.

    At this point I'm wondering - do I have a decent bike? Or should I abandon it and start saving for something else?

    Currently on the bike:

    1. Original frame, some scratches and chips in the paint. Not sure if I could find touch-up paint or not. Frame definitely looks like it's seem some use, but there are no cracks or rust.

    2. Fork, Stem, Handlebars, Seatpost - unsure if these are original. They have some scratches, but they look functionable and not needing to be replaced.

    3. Brakes - Had sidepull weinmann brakes, replaced with Shimano tiagra. Levers were also converted to aero style. Braking power increased significantly.

    4. Wheels - rims are aluminum, stamped Weinmann. Probably original. Tubes/Tires were replaced at time of purchase. Tires are a cheap road tire - made in China. Any benefits in replacing these with a quality tire?

    5. Derailers/Down Tube Shifters - Huret components. I replaced the cables. Should I expect these to last? Shifting seems pretty smooth. Internet research seems to indicate Huret made quality components.

    Ultimately I would also like to know if this is a respectable bike. I can put 50 miles on it and it feels good. But when I take in to the bike shop I feel like I'm getting some grief over it.

    Also - should I consider a professional fitting? I usually end up with some neck / back pain, as well as a sore butt towards the end of a long ride (30 - 50 miles).

    Thanks for any thoughts / opinions!












  2. #2
    Don't call me sir cmdr's Avatar
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    Man, that's a lot of money to have spent on that bike. I'm sorry to say that you could have bought a really nice lugged steel bike with good components for that money. The goal now should be to get your money's worth out of it. Ride it a lot and learn how to do some wrenching on it yourself. You can save yourself some dough in the future if you don't have to keep taking it to your LBS.
    To answer one of your questions, I don't think that you can get any 27x1 1/4 tires that aren't made in China or Taiwan unless you can find some NOS and tires generally don't age that well.
    1969 Bob Jackson, 1989 Schwinn Paramount, 2004 Santa Cruz Blur, 2011 Specialized P-3, 2013 Salsa Colossal Ti

  3. #3
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    I'd ride the heck out of that bike.

    I've ridden centuries on bikes that make that thing look like a Masarati. Just keep playing with the angles/hights of the the stem/bars/seat and you should be able to get a good fit.

  4. #4
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    Not classic, perhaps, but vintage. You spent quite a bit, but it seems like you learned quite a bit, too. I assume a lot of that was labor, and just hope you didn't give much of it to a bike shop that can't get within four inches of setting saddle height (!?). The brake upgrade was money well spent, too. IMO, non-aero brakes are fine on museum pieces, but the commuter in me thinks the extra stopping power makes aeros mandatory for a bike that will actually be ridden on the street.

    A bent bottom bracket would have me concerned, only because I have trouble imagining the kind of abuse it would take to bend one, and how it could happen without deforming the BB shell. Are you confident that the new one meshed well with the threads, or was that work done by the aforementioned shoddy shop?

  5. #5
    SNARKY MEMBER CardiacKid's Avatar
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    Obviously you got ripped off. When you buy a bike from a shop, you expect it to be in working order.
    However, you need to put that behind you. You have a decent old bike that belongs on this forum. I still think you are better off than if you had bought a $700 new bike. That bike would now be worth about $400. You paid $480 for a bike that is probably worth about $250. You are ahead of the game.
    If you can ride this bike for 50 miles and feel good, it probably comes close to fitting. If the saddle height is correct in the photos, the set up doesn't appear to be too far off. You can probably raise the stem about another centimeter and still be under the max line. You might want to look for a used Brooks saddle. It would go well with the bike and is probably more comfortable than what you have. It is kind of difficult to tinker much with the fit of some French bikes because of the unique sizes of some of the parts, as you probably know from your work on the BB. For example, it might be difficult to find a taller stem because a standard 22.2 mm stem might not easily fit.
    As far as getting grief from your lbs, join the group. At some shops, you could bring in a Rene Herse and someone at the shop would tell you it is time to upgrade to carbon.
    Try going around to various shops and talking to the employees. You will eventually find a Francophile. Of course, when you are doing this, make it clear this isn't a Bikesdirect Moto.

  6. #6
    Prodigal road guy MajorA's Avatar
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    +1 about what cmdr said about cost ... close to $500 is a lot to have paid. But having paid it, you've got a pretty good steel road bike which will serve you well for years if you keep it clean, dry, and lubed. As far as the option of dumping this bike and getting an entry-level modern roadie goes, I'd give this bike a chance, and spend some time on whatever bike you're thinking of switching to before you make a change. One of the things which you'll read here, again and again, is that many people prefer the ride of lugged steel as "softer" and more forgiving, as opposed to the aluminum which you'll find in an entry level modern bike, or carbon fiber is a more expensive bike.

    Finally, you really shouldn't be hurting after a two or three hour ride, and as you've probably found already, the combination of things which can be adjusted on a bike are pretty endless. Either fiddle around yourself, or get a fitting ... but the fitting will cost you even more money. That said, my first move would be a different saddle; used quality saddles can be had for $10-$30 if you keep your eyes open, because saddles are the ultimate YMMV item, and there are a lot of guys who put a couple of hundred miles on a really nice, expensive saddle only to find that it just doesn't make their buttbones happy.

    Good luck.

  7. #7
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    There are some decent quality 27 inch tires available. Depending on your needs...

    I am not a fast or high performance rider, so someone else will have to let you know what some good choices are if that is your need. But for my style of riding, I like the Continental Ultra Sports available at Nashbar and elsewhere. I don't have a lot of mileage on them, but I like the way they ride.

    For my Voyageur, I haven't had a chance to ride it yet (still in the shop) but I bought the Panaracer Pasela TG (TG = Tour Guard) tires for it because I hate changing flats... They are supposed to be pretty good tires for what I want. They are also available at Nashbar.

    As far as the attitude from the LBS. That is a problem with the shop not the bike. I have been in the LBS I shop at when someone came in on a Roadmaster (K-mart type bike) and they got treated well. I bring in old bikes, I get treated well. If there are other shops around you, maybe it is time to look around and see if another one provides better customer service.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by GCRyder View Post
    A bent bottom bracket would have me concerned, only because I have trouble imagining the kind of abuse it would take to bend one, and how it could happen without deforming the BB shell. Are you confident that the new one meshed well with the threads, or was that work done by the aforementioned shoddy shop?
    I bought the bike from a used bike shop in Chicago - Nearly New Bike Shop. I took the bike back several times because I was getting a constant clicking sound when I pedaled. They kept telling me nothing was wrong.

    I finally had the sense to get over to a different shop. They diagnosed the problem and made the repairs. They were baffled as to how the damage occured as well, but they didn't think anything else had been affected. It seems like they did a good job on the repair work.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MajorA View Post
    That said, my first move would be a different saddle; used quality saddles can be had for $10-$30 if you keep your eyes open, because saddles are the ultimate YMMV item, and there are a lot of guys who put a couple of hundred miles on a really nice, expensive saddle only to find that it just doesn't make their buttbones happy.
    Good luck.
    MajorA - I've been thinking about a new saddle for a couple of weeks. What kind of saddle could I expect to find in the 10-30 range? I have a $75 Amazon Gift Card if that opens the options.

  10. #10
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Do you like the bike?

    Yeah, you could have gotten more bike for the money you spent but that's water under the bridge. In 7 years that new entry-level bike you would have bought wouldn't be worth much more than the one you've got.

    As far as what to do now, that depends on what it is you're looking for. A newer bike will have more gears and shifting on the bars. It'll also be lighter but I guess I'm not sure how much lighter than 20 lbs. an entry level bike would be.

    Do you ride in hilly terrain or in situations where downtube shifters seem really inconvenient or dangerous?

    I've never had a bike fitting but it might be worth it if you're uncomfortable. You'd probably learn something in the process that would be transferrable to helping you get comfortable on another bike that may be in your future.

    Your clipless pedals might also be an investment that last beyond this particular bike.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  11. #11
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Forget the money spent. Ride the heck out of this bike, don't put any more into it unless you have to, and save up for another should you decide to upgrade.

    What that "other" one will be will depend on your preferences and your budget, but you should use the time with this bike to discover what your requirements are.
    "Love is not the dying moan of a distant violin, it’s the triumphant twang of a bedspring."

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  12. #12
    Seńor Member USAZorro's Avatar
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    With regard to tires - what you have on are a pretty good value, and should ride reasonably well. When they wear out, consider Panaracer Paselas. They're a notch above the basic Kendas, and with some bikes/wheels, they give a really nice, plush ride (IMO).
    The search for inner peace continues...

  13. #13
    Prodigal road guy MajorA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbosh View Post
    MajorA - I've been thinking about a new saddle for a couple of weeks. What kind of saddle could I expect to find in the 10-30 range? I have a $75 Amazon Gift Card if that opens the options.
    The Amazon gift card probably doesn't help much for used stuff ... I was thinking more along the lines of Craigslist, or a local bike swap meet. Even eBay can produce deals on parts, including saddles, now and again.

    Examples: I ride two Selle San Marco Era saddles (not vintage, guys, I know ... but they are SWEET saddles ...) which I grabbed for $20 on eBay and $10 at a local bike swap; they retail for $100 or so, more with titanium rails.

  14. #14
    Novist senior member tolfan's Avatar
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    The modern touches look great on that old moto. Bike shop labor is a killer even when you do find a classic/vintage friendly shop. I have a great shop in my town. I asked what he would charge to do what I do when I "restore" a bike, its about $250 with parts and labor and his prices are very reasonable.You could have done a little better for the money you spent but its spent now and you do have a nice old classic for the money. If you like the way it rides keep riding it. 20lbs is pritty good for a steel luged bike.
    There are some things a man needs to believe in wether they're true or not;

  15. #15
    SNARKY MEMBER CardiacKid's Avatar
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    $75 can get you a new Brooks B-17 on Amazon if you act quickly. Every Brooks dealer is raising prices as we speak. If you are willing to look around, you can probably get a slightly used one on Ebay for a little less. These are usually a better way to go, because you don't have go to the hassle of breaking it in and if you decide you don't like it, you can just repost it and you will only be out the initial shipping cost.
    BTW, you might want to get a new scale. The Motobecane catalog says the Mirage Sport weighs 25 lbs. I have never heard of a company overstating its bike's weight before.
    http://equusbicycle.com/bike/motobecane/motobecane.htm

  16. #16
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    Your goals and your wants/needs set your requirements. For example, I have a bike that's way above my ability but I like it so I got it.

    That Motobecane is very similar to a bike a friend of mine had in middle school (we're going to the early 80s here). Nevar crank, that frame, 27" wheels (he "upgraded" to a narrow 27" wheelset), his bike was light blue. He covered a lot of miles on the bike and he "domestiqued" for me during a 4 hour 74 mile or so bike-a-thon (he'd pull for a few laps then sit out and then do it again for four hours). It's a reasonably responsive bike and there's nothing wrong with it. The super skinny seat stays were a trademark feature when the bike came out.

    Downtube shifters, esp friction, mean you can work on techniques lost to the rest of the world. I still heel-toe when I drive but those with automatics or paddle shifters will never have the feeling of accomplishment when making a great downshift under hard braking while flying into a turn.

    If you want a bar mounted shifter, you can get a bar-end (just on the right - left isn't necessary). I rode and raced with one for many years and there are guys out there still racing with them.

    The derailleurs and shifters will last forever - friction (not indexed) drivetrains don't have to be nearly as precise as indexed stuff - the shifter (you) does the indexing on the bike.

    However, as you've found, 27" tires are hard to find. Tires really help make (or break) the way a bike feels and handles but unfortunately 27" is not common and there aren't a lot of choices out there.

    I'd use the bike as a learning experience and save up for a more current bike (700c wheels). I'd limit parts purchases to things which will transfer to a new bike - perhaps try out a seat or two (used or maybe take-offs from a shop). Other transferables would be pedals (you have them), bars, accessories like computer or seat bags etc.

    I wouldn't do anything with the wheels/tires except for wear/safety. The headset, if I remember, has weird threads so you can't touch it. Not sure of the stem but I thought that was also non-standard. I'm not positive so you'd have to verify this - regardless, those items won't transfer to a new bike.

    There's pain and there's soreness/fatigue. Pain isn't good. Soreness/fatigue? Sort of normal. Is there a local club you can ride with? Although not necessarily experts at fit (like I can tell without seeing you on the bike), a rider might offer you advice or point you towards a "nice" shop. If you get a consensus or ribbing like "why do you have your seat so low/high" then it may be something you should check.

    hope this helps,
    cdr
    "...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson

  17. #17
    Since 1938... JunkYardBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbosh View Post
    I can put 50 miles on it and it feels good.
    I think that sums it up. As others have said, ride it. Get your money's worth. I suspect the wheels and tires will probably be the first to go - not a certainty, but a strong possibility if you ride it frequently. It looks like those Tiagra calipers may have enough reach that you could fit some 700c wheels on there if need be. You only need an extra 4mm of reach front and back to fit 700c rims. If the time comes that you need wheels, I'd go for a decent set of modern (i.e. 130mm rear hub) 700c wheels. I suspect your rear dropout spacing is 126, so it should be no problem to simply spread the drops manually to fit a 130mm rear hub. You can always take them with you, and if you get a nice set, they will likely be better than anything you can find on a modern LBS $700 road bike.

    Don't feel too bad about upgrading parts, because as long as they are not proprietary (like a French threaded bottom bracket or headset) you can always use them to build up a different frameset.

    As for the neck and back pain, +1 on what carpediemracing suggests - it could simply be normal soreness. However, you may find you are too crowded and need a longer stem, or (as is my case) you need to raise the stem to alleviate neck pain.

  18. #18
    Senior Member colintdesign's Avatar
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    I have an 82 motobecane mirage sport that I picked up recently. I love it. One word of caution, yesterday I busted my duret RD clean in half on my morning commute. The seller had included a set of campy record derailleurs that I was going to sell to recoup, but I put on last night. Rides and shifts much smoother. They are staying. The price you paid for the work done seems high, but it should run like a new bike now. My advice is buy the parts and do the work yourself. There is a learning curve, but it is way cheaper and very rewarding.

  19. #19
    Senior Member colintdesign's Avatar
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    Oh and I just put these 27 1/8 tires on it. They are cheap $ wise (and on sale), but high quality and nice ride. Way better the bottom end kenda 27. They also sell the kevlar version for a little more. http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=5420

  20. #20
    Disraeli Gears Charles Wahl's Avatar
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    I try not to worry about money that's already been spent. Any bike that gives you a good feeling to ride it is worth several hundred, even if you think you could have done better.

    And I can't abide people, especially those in LBSs who should know better, that sneer at this or that bike. Any bike being ridden is heaps better than someone not riding, or worse, driving instead. When I see this sort of thing going on, I leave and I don't come back. Life is too short to waste time in the company of *****#*!!@s, let alone pay them for it. Fortunately, I can do almost all the work myself, and I live in a place that has a lot of bike shop choices.

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