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  1. #1
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    Need some help with Motobecane Grand Touring

    Hello everyone, long time lurker first time poster here. I just picked up a Motobecane Grand Touring. I've done a ton of research (mostly through this site) and it looks to be from around 1980, but still am not sure about a couple things. I haven't been able to find one with exactly the same decals through google images. The person I bought it from was selling it for a friend, so they couldn't help with too many of my questions. They said the frame wasn't original, the owner bought the bike new and at some point had a problem with the frame, so Motobecane sent him a replacement. Anyway it's vitus 888 tubing, and is super lightweight. The fork is completely chromed and doesn't match, and I haven't seen pics of one similar. Most of the parts seem non-original (so if the frame and parts are non-original what is, right?); it has Shimano Dura-Ace brakes, and a Shimano 400EX rear derailleur. The Huret shifters and front derailleur are probably correct, but when I got it home and began to adjust the derailleur I realized the clamp that attaches it to the seat tube had broken, it looks like it's made of that cheap white metal stuff. Also I don't know what the wheels are, the front wheel is alloy but the rear is steel.

    So I removed the front derailleur and have been riding it as is, trying to decide what to do with it. I want to use this bike as a commuter and for rides around town, maybe longer rides here and there. I'll probably just remove that other chainring and ride it as a 5 speed, I actually kind of like the idea. The main thing for me is I rarely ride in the drops, mostly in the flats (sometimes in the hoods). So I want to get at least one brake lever I can use while riding in the flats, will it be hard to find something that works with the French handlebars? I could even leave the old one one there unused or get a pass through lever (I think they're called interupters).

    But I'm also considering redoing the whole thing. I'd also like to raise the handlebars up a bit, I've been sitting on it and posing to see where it feels comfortable to hold the handlebars and they'd need to come up a solid 2" or 3". So I'm thinking about getting a longer stem and maybe some bullhorn bars with new brake levers. The stem right now is labeled Pivo, and I'm guessing is that odd french sizing. From what I understand I can get a 1" (7/8") size stem and sand it down, correct? Seems easy enough, does this have any effect on the strength or structural integrity of them stem? And what if I got a different fork, would a standard stem fit then?

    I'd eventually like to get some fenders as well, so I can use the bike into fall and spring. Do I have to worry about stopping power with the steel rear wheel in the rain?

    OK so lotsa questions, I appreciate any help, here's the pics from the ad:

    bike1.jpgbike2.jpgbike3.jpgbike4.jpg

  2. #2
    Senior Member VeloBrox's Avatar
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    Nice bike! Reminds me of something my father used to say: "This is my dad's axe. He changed the handle and I changed the head, but it's still my dad's axe!"

    For total frenchness, why don't you try the "guidonnet" brake setup?

    rochet04.jpg

    Dia-Compe still make those levers. Velo Orange sell them, amongst others.
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    ...and a basement full of unrideable old stuff.

  3. #3
    Senior Member pcb's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard! Cool bike, bit of a mutt, but that's not a big deal. You do seem to have lotsa questions, I'm hearing these:

    1. Provenance? Can't help you there, not much sounds original, fork is probably a replacement, decals/headbadge prob give clues, any Motob experts here? You might want to find the serial number, that might help date it.

    2. Ride as a 5spd? Not a bad idea, but you can get chain drop using a rder/single chainring without a chainguard/s. Some leave a fder installed, without cable/shifter, just to encourage the chain to stay on the chainring. I understand your clamp is broken, not suggesting you reuse it, just making note that simply removing the fder doesn't necessarily lead to an easy single-ring conversion.

    3. Top-position brake levers: regular modern cyclocross interruptors should work fine, I use 'em on most of my bikes now, even my pretentious go-fast bikes (as if I could ever go fast...). You can get them sized 24.0mm and 26.0mm, if your bars are narrower than 24.0mm you can easily shim the lever. 'Cross levers usually work better w/aero brake levers, but I guess you could use std levers as well? You can also use them stand-alone, without "primary" brake levers.

    4. Higher stem? The Pivo almost certainly doesn't have much more upward room. You've got the stem there, so if you measure it you'll know if it's French sized or not. Nitto Technomic stems are the king of handlebar height, doubt they're available French size. Measure and let us know, options will be clearer then.

    5. Sanding stem? I've never done it, sounds like something that's harder to do than it sounds. You'd want to maintain symmetry in wall thickness to avoid stress raisers, prob need to use sandpaper strips?

    6. Changing fork/stem dia? Good question, you'd probably need to replace the headset if everything's sized French. Sounds like a lot more work than just replacing the stem, but if that's the only way to get the bars up...

    7. Steel rim stopping power? Steel stops badly in wet weather, and steel rims are a lot heavier and less efficient than aluminum. I wouldn't want to be wet-weather commuting on a steel rim. Shouldn't be hard to find an affordable rear wheel the right width with alloy rim. You'll need to either move your freewheel over to the new wheel, or get a new/used freewheel. Make sure you're getting the same size wheel, of course (700c or 27"), any you'll need to measure the distance between dropouts to the get the right axle length.

    8. Redo the whole thing? Looks like a nice frame to base a rebuild on. You'll want to make sure you know the frame dims and threading before jumping into parts purchases if you decide to go that route. On the one hand it's fun to spiff it up with new stuff, on the other hand you can find yourself sinking a lot more time/money into a rebuild than if you first paid a bit more for something complete closer to what you really want.

  4. #4
    billy chuck eschlwc's Avatar
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    what i'd do ...
    look for a craigslist rear wheel built on an aluminum rim in the same size as the front (in both diameter and width). buy a brand new, inexpensive freewheel if necessary (sunrace or similar, or find a good one on ebay). if price is no object, buy an ird freewheel for $40 online. replace the chain with a sram pc-830 if necessary, and keep it clean and waxed. i doubt the steerer is a size other than iso being a 1980 or so. to make sure, take it down to your lbs and borrow their digital caliper to use on your quill stem. it's a cool stem though -- keep if possible. your lbs or a co-op might have used f.derailleurs to pick from. it's worth having unless your roads are completely flat. a used fd should be $10 or less. best of luck.
    Last edited by eschlwc; 08-15-12 at 05:14 AM.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the responses. So I spent some time cleaning it, adjusting, etc. The stem is 22.0mm and the handlebars 25.0mm. Didn't measure the seat tube. Has TA cranks. It's hard to read the numbers on the underside of the bottom bracket, because the cable guide is obscuring it, and some of the numbers aren't punched in very well to begin with. One side clearly says 109, and the other 3109 (maybe the 3 wasn't punched well enough on the first side). The longer number is impossible to read, maybe if I knew how many digits it was supposed to be I could make it out better.

    Rear wheel is Rigida Superchromix. I think the original frame wasn't a Grand Tour but something else.


    Quote Originally Posted by VeloBrox View Post
    For total frenchness, why don't you try the "guidonnet" brake setup?

    rochet04.jpg

    Dia-Compe still make those levers. Velo Orange sell them, amongst others.
    Whoa. Never seen those before, those are really cool.


    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    2. Ride as a 5spd? Not a bad idea, but you can get chain drop using a rder/single chainring without a chainguard/s. Some leave a fder installed, without cable/shifter, just to encourage the chain to stay on the chainring. I understand your clamp is broken, not suggesting you reuse it, just making note that simply removing the fder doesn't necessarily lead to an easy single-ring conversion.
    First off, thanks for the well thought out response. So I ended up with that second chainring off anyway, I wanted to get in there to clean and see what was going on and decided to just remove it. You guys did make me nervous though, and I spent a solid 40mins yesterday trying to get the chain to come off when shifting, up shifting hard, back and forth, etc, and it stayed on like glue. The chain line looks pretty straight to my eye, especially in the middle gear. I see you can get one of those chain watchers to keep it from falling to the inside, I might get one of those.


    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    4. Higher stem? The Pivo almost certainly doesn't have much more upward room. You've got the stem there, so if you measure it you'll know if it's French sized or not. Nitto Technomic stems are the king of handlebar height, doubt they're available French size. Measure and let us know, options will be clearer then.
    22.0mm. I saw the Technomic (already let one go pretty cheap on eBay) but am thinking I'd actually prefer one with an adjustable head.

    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    5. Sanding stem? I've never done it, sounds like something that's harder to do than it sounds. You'd want to maintain symmetry in wall thickness to avoid stress raisers, prob need to use sandpaper strips?
    It makes me nervous too. Doesn't seem you'd be able to make it even, too easy to end up with flat spots. But here's a link that makes it sound pretty straight forward:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/french.html#stems


    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    7. Steel rim stopping power? Steel stops badly in wet weather, and steel rims are a lot heavier and less efficient than aluminum. I wouldn't want to be wet-weather commuting on a steel rim. Shouldn't be hard to find an affordable rear wheel the right width with alloy rim. You'll need to either move your freewheel over to the new wheel, or get a new/used freewheel. Make sure you're getting the same size wheel, of course (700c or 27"), any you'll need to measure the distance between dropouts to the get the right axle length.
    The way I was looking at it most of my stopping power is on the front, which has an alloy rim, so I should be ok, right? I mean eventually I'd want to replace that rim but is it a first priority?

    Quote Originally Posted by pcb View Post
    8. Redo the whole thing? Looks like a nice frame to base a rebuild on. You'll want to make sure you know the frame dims and threading before jumping into parts purchases if you decide to go that route. On the one hand it's fun to spiff it up with new stuff, on the other hand you can find yourself sinking a lot more time/money into a rebuild than if you first paid a bit more for something complete closer to what you really want.

    Yeah, that's kind of where I'm at. I think I'm going to get one front brake lever for the flats, mount it, and ride it as is for awhile. But something really wants me to change the handlebars, saddle, cables, make it mine, you know? Decisions, decisions...

  6. #6
    Senior Member due ruote's Avatar
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    http://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Catalogs/Motobecane/

    Here's a link to a bunch of Moto catalogs, in case you haven't seen them. Nice bike.

  7. #7
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    The frame you had would have had suntour throughout if it is 1980. Why not try and find all the original parts and rebuild it? I was lucky enough to get (as far as I know) a fully original bike, but If I was you I would build it back up part by part. Given that you can probably get the bits for about $10-15 each, it might be worth having a bash at saving a bit of money and going for it?

    There should be a 7 or 8 digit number inside of the left dropout (you will have to take the back wheel off).
    The problem is there does not seem to be a readily available key to decipher the number. I read people on here want to try but it does not seem to have happened. I can get mine and we can put them both on and see what it means or try and compare the two numbers and crack the code!

    Cheers

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by due ruote View Post
    http://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Catalogs/Motobecane/

    Here's a link to a bunch of Moto catalogs, in case you haven't seen them. Nice bike.
    Cool, thanks! I'm guessing the original owner bought a Nomade or maybe Mirage from around '77 (based on specs), and was sent a replacement Grand Touring frame from maybe '82. Still haven't found a frame with the same color/decals though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthoswart View Post
    The frame you had would have had suntour throughout if it is 1980. Why not try and find all the original parts and rebuild it? I was lucky enough to get (as far as I know) a fully original bike, but If I was you I would build it back up part by part. Given that you can probably get the bits for about $10-15 each, it might be worth having a bash at saving a bit of money and going for it?
    I'm really not all that concerned with originality. Especially because the fork will never match, and it seems difficult to find another in the proper color. Might not be the best thing to say on the classic and vintage forum, just being honest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthoswart View Post
    There should be a 7 or 8 digit number inside of the left dropout (you will have to take the back wheel off).
    The problem is there does not seem to be a readily available key to decipher the number. I read people on here want to try but it does not seem to have happened. I can get mine and we can put them both on and see what it means or try and compare the two numbers and crack the code!

    Cheers

    Cool, I'm pretty busy the next couple days, but after I'll try and get that number and post it in the other thread.

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