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Question, I have Motobecane 1975

Old 02-04-24, 04:35 PM
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Question, I have Motobecane 1975

I have a 1975 motobecan la champion, I want to ride across the country, in 2026, do you think I could use this bike, or will it fall apart. Columbus steel tubing, campy parts.

thanks,
Eric
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Old 02-04-24, 04:49 PM
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If you give it a sound overhaul before the ride, replacing worn or damaged parts and rubber, it will not fall apart. If something breaks during the ride, however, you might have trouble finding replacement parts.
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Old 02-04-24, 04:55 PM
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Hmmm... some questions come to mind:

What kind of shape is your MB in? You've been riding it regularly since 1975? What kind of shape are you in? Routine rides of 50 - 80 miles three or four times a week?

A 3,000 mile journey on a 50+ year old bicycle, by a rider who's 50 years (maybe +/- 10?) old, to my mind would seem a bit risky.

Remember too both yourself and your MB will be a couple years' older in 2026.
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Old 02-04-24, 04:56 PM
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Help us out with a little more info. Are you going to ride across the country carrying camping gear and basically self-supported or just doing the ride with someone carrying everything for you or something in-between? If you could supply a link to see a photo of your actual bike it would be very helpful so we can see if you have a triple crankset or double, condition of the parts, maximum width of tires it will accept, 27" or 700c diameter rims, fender and rack mounts etc.
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Old 02-04-24, 04:56 PM
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Doesn't really matter how old it is as long as it's in good repair. But what ever bike you use, it needs to fit you well. Putting 6 to 8 hours or more in the saddle will show everywhere a bike doesn't fit you well. At least it will once you get over the a changes, aches and pains your body is going to go through getting use to that much cycling.

Are you carrying all your gear or is someone bringing up the rear with a car or van?
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Old 02-04-24, 05:37 PM
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1975 mb

Thanks for all the inputs, the bike has campy Nuevo parts, it doesn't have a triple crank as for myself, I'm in reasonably good shape, for 64. I plan on latching to a group from adventure cycling, for the bicentennial anniversary. I thought be kinda fun doing the ride on a 70s bike. I have not made up my mind if I will be carrying my stuff. It has rack drops on front and rear. Was going to take it apart, have the frame inspected replace any components.
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Old 02-04-24, 05:41 PM
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1975 mb

I will replacing rims and tires, they are sewups, so they are being replaced, buying fenders, for the trip.
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Old 02-04-24, 05:42 PM
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It would be less miserable with a newer bike with more gears.
I wouldn't try anything less than a 3X9 set up.
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Old 02-04-24, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by erepaal
I have a 1975 motobecan la champion, I want to ride across the country, in 2026, do you think I could use this bike, or will it fall apart. Columbus steel tubing, campy parts.

thanks,
Eric
First hearing of Motobecane using Columbus.
Regardless, riding an old rig would add considerable adventure.
Nothing wrong with riding sewups. Just bring loads of spares and some sealant.
Carrying your own gear. Hmmm...that can prove challenging.
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Old 02-04-24, 06:25 PM
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75 mb

Originally Posted by roadcrankr
First hearing of Motobecane using Columbus.
Regardless, riding an old rig would add considerable adventure.
Nothing wrong with riding sewups. Just bring loads of spares and some sealant.
Carrying your own gear. Hmmm...that can prove challenging.
you are correct, Reynolds 531, I stand corrected.
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Old 02-04-24, 08:45 PM
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It sounds like a neat bike, would I want to ride it cross country, no thank you. That is not to say I wouldn't want to ride it, just not cross country.

If you do wish to ride it as original as possible get it overhauled, replace rubber, get the bearings into shape (either replace or clean and repack) new brake pads from Kool Stop and have someone in the sag wagon carry your gear. That is not a bike I would want to carry a lot of gear on, maybe some light bike packing gear, maybe? It was more likely a road bike than a bike for touring and carrying loads.

I would look for something with a triple and at least 9 in the back or double with 10-12 gears and something in the compact or sub-compact depending on your gearing in the back. No need to work harder and be more miserable unless you are a content creator for a yootubes channel. Trust me touring on my 3x9 with decent disc brakes fully loaded on some sketchy backroads is enough for me I wouldn't want to do it on my 94 Phil Wood bike which is running a mid 80s Dura Ace groupset and 25c tires and is a neat bike but not as fun long distance.
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Old 02-04-24, 09:27 PM
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I'm assuming you are going inn to inn, or perhaps a van is carrying all the camping gear? If this is the case then your MB will be fine, but it wasn't built to haul camping gear, and the Nuovo Record rear derailleur was a short cage system and was made for racing gears which means you will have a far tougher time climbing grades and with old knees it could become quite an ordeal that could get quite painful.

What you could do is go on Ebay and find a Campy Rally touring rear derailleur with a long cage, then you could put on a wide 6 gear rear sprocket with 36 teeth max instead of just 26 that's probably on the bike now. The Rally pairs up with chain rings up to 36 to 54 if I remember correctly, and your stock rings were 42-53, so those stock gears would work. You can also change the inside gear ring to a 36 to help make climbing easier. Ebay had a few of those Rally derailleurs for sale.

It might be difficult to find a freewheel now that will go to a 36, but you could find one that would go to a 32, I did see that Regina made one with English threading as well.

Regina 6 speed Freewheel 14-32 english synchro NOS - Vintage NOS Bicycle Parts

You will have a bit of an investment to put into the bike but it's far cheaper than buying a new bike.
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Old 02-05-24, 09:53 AM
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75 mb

I have had this bike since 75, basically my trek 1000, would be beat into pieces. This has A really comfortable Reynolds frame, with lugs, That makes for a good frame for the durability. Bars are good, brooks saddle good. I will rework the cabeling and the brakes. I will be building new wheels, a touring cassette, a three ring chain ring will also be a must.
I would have bought a touring bike, however, they are way to pricey. Remember, in 1976, during the bike centennial, folks were riding bikes, from sears and others alot more inferior. I know, a lot of you think I'm nuts, at 66 doing this, it's a bucket list item.
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Old 02-05-24, 10:30 AM
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Assuming the bike is in good repair, IT will make it fine, the rider, maybe maybe not. Carrying an extra 5 or so pounds with a 5 or 6 speed with a 39/24 as my granny bailout gear across country wouldn't be my first choice, and I like climbing in a big gear.
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Old 02-05-24, 10:54 AM
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I rode this bike, a 1975 Motobecane Grand Record and a close relative to the OP’s bike, on an 800 mile round trip from New Jersey to Cape Cod in 1977. Sew-ups, carrying all gear on the bike. Of couse it was all relatively flat terrain and I was 21 yrs old.
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Old 02-05-24, 11:13 AM
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The "Le Champion" model is a full-on race bike: short wheelbase, tubular tires, light frame, narrow race gearing. If what you plan is a loaded tour (panniers, camping equipment, etc.), it's not ideal for that. The short wheelbase invites heel clearance problems with rear panniers, tubular tires can be hard to source outside metropolitan areas, and the light frame could be distressingly flexy when loaded up with all your gear. A 1975 model likely has French thread steer tube, bottom bracket, rear hub/freewheel, and pedal threads. Any replacements on the road you may need will likely have to be sourced from the used market. Wider gearing for hill and headwinds could be installed, but the French thread parts may be challenging to find suitable replacements.
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Old 02-05-24, 11:16 AM
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Considering the cost of doing a fully supported coast 2 cost tour, a new bike is a marginal additional cost. The next long weekend, ride three days in a row, approximately 100 miles daily in a moderately to very hilly area with a few steep ramps. If you are comfortable and the bike meets your needs, go for it. Romance of reliving the 70's aside, I would buy a new comfortable adventure bike for the trip with a wide range 2x11 system such as GRX and tubeless tires. Things have progressed incredibly since the 70s, and you should enjoy the benefits of this progress.
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Old 02-05-24, 11:21 AM
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The bike could make it fine if starting in good shape and maintained during the trip. This is far from the bike that many with experience would chose today if current bikes were available.

First thing I thought of is the gearing range being somewhat limited in the low/up hill choices. Campy parts are made for racing and to be ridden by athletic riders who don't carry any thing more than flat tire fixings and water bottles. A cross country tour, even if inn to inn with a support vehicle carrying your gear, will see a far different manor of riding than local training races.

Next up is the bike's wheels and tires. Besides the old spokes (and factory built wheels of that era were not known for their robust build quality even when new) and will they hold up to the added loads and cycles of stress that a tour brings, is the question of tire size. If the bike uses 27x11/4" tires (630 ISO diameter) I would strongly reconsider them. The 27" Tire size is slowly becoming obsolete and the selection offered is dwindling each year. The 700c size is only about 8mm smaller in rim brake track diameter and this tire size is far more available and in a number of widths (I suggest using the widest tire the rim, brakes and frame will allow for). New wheels would also get fresh spokes. But most all new wheels are made for frames with wider space between the two rear dropouts and would likely need some axle length and rim centering (dishing) reworking to fit this older bike.

The bike's fairly short wheelbase, race nimble geometry and fairly light tubing will mean the ride will be lively, more shock transmitting and less stable than a more modern bike intended for the touring use would be. How one loads up the bike with their gear, if any, will contribute to a more stable and easy to steer handling. For self supporting camping tours the classic way is to use pannier bags on both front and rear ends of the bike. I wonder if the bike even has rack mounts.

This topic might better be placed in the "Touring" group here. When I am asked this kind of question I see so many more aspects not yet even known of. The many tours I've done have had the bike be the least important aspect, partially because I know how I want a touring bike to be set up and partially because most of the day isn't on the bike. Andy
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Old 02-05-24, 11:35 AM
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FWIW…I have a 1970s era Motobecane that was given to me in the late 80s. It had all original components when I received it. Eventually, I rebuild it…actually all that’s left of that original bike is the frame, fork, and stem…even had it sandblasted and powder coated…and have been riding it regularly since then. It’s one of the six or seven bikes I rotate through on a weekly basis, and it gets ridden +/- 1000 miles per year. Other than the routine wear that any bike would experience, I wouldn’t worry about it going on a long trek such as then one you’re considering. — Dan
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Old 02-05-24, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by roadcrankr
First hearing of Motobecane using Columbus.
For the US market, Motobécane started using Columbus SL for the Team Champion in 1979 and for the Le Champion in 1982.

https://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Catalogs/Motobecane/
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Old 02-05-24, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by SurferRosa
For the US market, Motobécane started using Columbus SL for the Team Champion in 1979 and for the Le Champion in 1982.

https://bulgier.net/pics/bike/Catalogs/Motobecane/
That's true. I should've been more specific and said, "...first hearing of a '75 Le Champion using Columbus..."
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Old 02-05-24, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by rekmeyata
What you could do is go on Ebay and find a Campy Rally touring rear derailleur with a long cage, then you could put on a wide 6 gear rear sprocket with 36 teeth max instead of just 26 that's probably on the bike now. The Rally pairs up with chain rings up to 36 to 54 if I remember correctly, and your stock rings were 42-53, so those stock gears would work. You can also change the inside gear ring to a 36 to help make climbing easier. Ebay had a few of those Rally derailleurs for sale.
Back in the 70s I bought a touring bike, Campagnolo Rally rear mech, Record front. It had 32-52 TA chainset and a regular 14-28 5 speed freewheel. That's evenly spaced gears from 31 to 101 inches and I could ride it up just about anything, or carry all the camping gear for myself and my GF. My latest build has a 1980s theme, Suntour VX, 28-42 Stronglight chainset and 12-32 7 speed cassette, that's 24 to 95 inches, a slight concession to old knees.
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Old 02-05-24, 04:32 PM
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Guessing doable given the frame passes muster. Easy enough to have all the moving bits spinning like silk. I'd re-lace wheels for clinchers and because busted spokes seem probable on wheels that old with that sort of distance ahead.

You'll never forget you're on a 50 YO bike but because it's a better one, it shouldn't be torture and I'm guessing the ride quality is lovely.

Having owned a '72 Moto Grand Touring the sheer mass would have me leaving the thing in the garage, because I don't possess a shred of that teenage energy.
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Old 02-05-24, 05:01 PM
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Given the whole French threaded thing you're not going to find those parts easily in many urban areas much less in the middle of nowhere should there be an issue.
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Old 02-05-24, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by dedhed
Given the whole French threaded thing, you're not going to find those parts easily in many urban areas much less in the middle of nowhere should there be an issue.
Is he really going to have an issue with the headset or bottom bracket? The freewheel should be standard.

Folks have toured on French bikes for 50 years. He's far more likely needing more training, energy and rest.
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