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Motobecane Team Champion history - help needed

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Motobecane Team Champion history - help needed

Old 11-30-16, 02:33 AM
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Motobecane Team Champion history - help needed

Hi
I am putting together an exhibition for Tour Downunder in Jan 2017 which will include an early 80's Team La Redoute Motobecane Team Champion - my own recent purchase as it turns out.
Some technical history is provided with each exhibit typically but am struggling to find some good information about the TC bikes generally and the 80's blue bikes specifically - apart from what is available on the Motobecane catalogues of the day.
Some snippets on internet suggest they were built on their own production line - a bit like the Raleigh SBDU bikes. They were built from Columbus tubing in lieu of the Reynolds usually used by Motobecane but no explanation why.
Classic Rendezvous coverage on the brand is very brief - basically replicated on Wikipedia.
I know there are some Motobecane enthusiasts on this site - as wondering if anyone had some interesting background I could access?
Any help gratefully received


The new addition to the collection and Paul Sherwen on its team mate

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Old 11-30-16, 06:29 AM
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I've been fascinated with Motobecane Team Champion (Champion Team) bikes since I first one saw in 1974. When I got back into road bikes again in 2006, a 1974-76 BIC orange Team Champion has been on my bucket list.

I've done extensive research on those bikes since then.

I have 1978, 1980 and 1982 Team Champions.

I'll get back when I have some time to post the information that I've gathered.

In the meantime here's a Flickr album I put together for discussions a few years ago. Most of the bikes are not mine and some of the info needs to be updated:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/282672...57624510044572

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Old 11-30-16, 06:53 AM
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Thankyou Verktyg - I think mine is either an '82 or '83 judging by the catalogue.
There is something nice about these bikes and I am sure there is more to it that just what meets the eye. I would be very grateful for any information you have.
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Old 11-30-16, 07:04 AM
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[MENTION=111244]dadoflam[/MENTION], please keep this thread updated, if you would. It would be very interesting to learn what you gather and put up for the display at the TdO. The very member here I was going to ping has addressed you, verktyg is the go to man about these bikes. Best wishes on your exhibit, this should be very good reading as it progresses.

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Old 11-30-16, 10:13 AM
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I thought Moto used Columbus in the later years because they were in the dog house with Reynolds. Didn't they fail to get Reynolds' "certification" before using 753 on the '77 Team Champion? So Reynolds cut them off? Or is that just a tale?
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Old 12-02-16, 12:35 PM
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When I bought my 2nd Motobecane, a '74 Grand Record, it was a frame only. A retired French racer had it hanging in his bike shop. He was a Moto dealer. IIRC; a bit later, my wife also got a Moto, a Super Mirage. I had previously owned a Grand Touring Moto, but it wasn't stiff enough & shook far too much on a fast downhill decent, so I sold it.

I built the Grand Record up bit by bit w/ Super Record cmpnts slowly, since $ was scarcer back then. When done, I rode that bike for years & it was one of the sweetest riding bikes I ever had. Very comfortable, stable & smooth w/ it's slightly longer wheelbase, Reynolds 531 tubing & Vittoria sewups. Later on, I used to take it out on holiday rides for long cruises. I still have it & in superb condition, but a wall hanger now & hasn't seen any action in years :-(

However...I always lusted after the Team Champion model, but only got as far as looking at the brochure :-) which I still have.

Good luck w/ your show, I'm sure it will be spectacular...!

I guess it was my interpretation of a TC...
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Old 12-04-16, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by CV-6
I thought Moto used Columbus in the later years because they were in the dog house with Reynolds. Didn't they fail to get Reynolds' "certification" before using 753 on the '77 Team Champion? So Reynolds cut them off? Or is that just a tale?
I don't know the story behind the switch but I remember thinking that it was a very good and well timed marketing move. At the time, all the other major French players (Peugeot, Gitane, Mercier & Jeunet) were still aligned with Reynolds and selecting Columbus allowed Motobecane to stand out.

It was also a time when Columbus was beginning to emerge from the shadow of Reynolds. Throughout the early 1970s the English language cycling periodicals had touted the superiority of Reynolds. The consumer was also being exposed to a constant barrage of Reynolds advertisement touting their superiority and palmares. Most manufacturers used Reynolds on their pro models, with the exception of the Italians, However, some legendary Italian brands such as Legnano and Cinelli offered top models in Reynolds, which many cyclists took as a sign that even the Italians considered Columbus inferior to Reynolds. Consequently, the vast majority of early 1970s cyclists considered Reynolds to be superior to Columbus.

All this started to change after the boom went bust in 1975. Up until that time the only Italian brands that most cyclists recognized were the full range, mass volume manufacturers such as Atala, Bottechia, Chiorda, Frejus, Italvega and Legnano. Of the top manufacturers only Cinelli was widely know, with Colnago and Masi having limited recognition. However, the boom had created many avid cyclists who were now looking to upgrade their entry level models and as they researched the market they found a number small manufacturers of pro frames with names like De Rosa, Guerciotti and Poliaghi. Columbus also started to advertise in America in 1975, touting their 1974 victories in the World Championships, Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Tour de Suisse and Paris-Roubaix. If that didn't get the message to the consumer, the accompanying picture did. It was Eddy Merckx hoisting his victorious, Columbus tubed frame. As the American cyclist became increasingly enlightened about high end bicycles in the aftermath of the boom, the reputation of Columbus grew.

Motobecane's switch appeared to have been timed with Columbus' ascendancy and allowed them to stand out among the French pro level models. IMO, that was a very smart move.
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Old 12-04-16, 12:17 PM
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"America Discovers Columbus" went the advert.

We were told by a few sources that Reynolds was more forgiving to braze, Columbus required more experience and heat control.

What I found interesting on the Orange "Bic" Team Champion bikes was that they filed the rear dropouts and handled the stay ends much like the Italians did, very uncommon for a French frame. Only other maker I saw do that was Gemini.

Last edited by repechage; 12-04-16 at 12:20 PM.
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Old 12-04-16, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar
Most manufacturers used Reynolds on their pro models, with the exception of the Italians, However, some legendary Italian brands such as Legnano and Cinelli offered top models in Reynolds, which many cyclists took as a sign that even the Italians considered Columbus inferior to Reynolds. Consequently, the vast majority of early 1970s cyclists considered Reynolds to be superior to Columbus.
Building on your points, it's interesting to note that throughout the 70s (California) Masi Criteriums were made with Reynolds as standard. My '78 Masi was one of a small special edition run that year that was painted black and built with Columbus instead of Reynolds. So there's today's trivia for you C&V'ers...
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Old 12-05-16, 04:50 AM
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I understand that Faliero had a preference working with 531
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Old 12-09-16, 12:31 PM
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Putting a specific date on a French bike from that era is a bit tough as they seemed to make quite a few "running changes" with the component specification and Motobecane was typical...I would guess 1983 based on the Stronglight 107 crank which didn't seem to turn up in any real numbers until LATE in 1982....OTOH, the Stronglight D8 headset would seem to point to 1982 as the bikes had the Stronglight D9 from 1983....As to who built these bikes, it is a bit of a mystery...I have heard several names mentioned and quite frankly ALL of them may have had a go at different points in Motobecane's history. There is no doubt, though, that Motobecane was great about seeking out VERY skilled builders for their nice bikes....and they definitely never seemed to skimp on their team replicas. The first name mentioned was CNC, and the work is definitely at the CNC high standard....another name mentioned was Bernard Carre...both of these builders were near the end by the early 80's but there is plausibility....The third name that is mentioned I believe to have a very high probability...that is Francis Quillon who was at Meral at the time. There are certain details like the seat cluster treatment that seems to tip the scales in that direction....another factor is that Quillon was a French builder who very much preferred to work with Columbus and was also very "Franco-Italian" with respect to other style elements...In any event, congratulations on the bike...
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Old 12-09-16, 02:34 PM
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Interesting post, El Chaba.
Wouldn't it be neat if someone , who cared, in France could locate someone who was associated with the Team replica bikes at the factory back then. If any of them are still alive.
"Built by different hands" the blurb in the old early 70's catalog went.
It would be fascinating to know just whose hands.
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Old 12-09-16, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dadoflam
I understand that Faliero had a preference working with 531
Of course, it was less expensive.
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Old 12-09-16, 02:47 PM
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You can add this blue Columbus Moto TC, still available on Craigslist, to the mystery as well.


Road bike "survivor" 1979 Motobecane Team Champion
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Old 12-09-16, 02:51 PM
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I am the second owner of this bike.
The original owner bought it from a bike shop in Sheffield - he cant remember the exact year but he believes it was 1982. The bike shop had bought the bike from Motobecane after it had been used as the display bike at bike shows.
The original owner said he went in wanting something a bit different and the bike shop offered up this bike. Motobecane had just achieved a TdF placing with a rider on one of the blue bikes which gave the buyer enough knowledge to snap it up. He was unable to ride it shortly afterwards and it has been stored ever since.
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Old 12-09-16, 03:15 PM
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It's a beautiful example, D-flam. Can we see more pics of it?
Close ups of the decals, joints, etc?
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Old 12-09-16, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by WolfRyder
You can add this blue Columbus Moto TC, still available on Craigslist, to the mystery as well.


Road bike "survivor" 1979 Motobecane Team Champion
That looks like a very nice bike indeed. His comments about custom colors are kind of funny though.
And why doesn't he clean that thing up a bit !?
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Old 12-09-16, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Interesting post, El Chaba.
Wouldn't it be neat if someone , who cared, in France could locate someone who was associated with the Team replica bikes at the factory back then. If any of them are still alive.
"Built by different hands" the blurb in the old early 70's catalog went.
It would be fascinating to know just whose hands.
It may have been different hands, but based on mine, these hands were still having a bottle of Beaujolais with lunch. My seat cluster lug is crooked and the brazing at the chain stay bridge was poorly done. The bike still rides wonderfully and I love it, but the construction quality isn't the best.
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Old 12-09-16, 05:06 PM
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Wasn't there a couple years where the quality on the Motobecane Team Champions dipped a little bit and then came back later? What were those years? anybody know?.
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Old 12-09-16, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
That looks like a very nice bike indeed. His comments about custom colors are kind of funny though.
And why doesn't he clean that thing up a bit !?
His comments on the color are wrong. By that time, the TC was blue. Started the year before.
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Old 12-09-16, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
That looks like a very nice bike indeed. His comments about custom colors are kind of funny though.
And why doesn't he clean that thing up a bit !?
Yeah I thought so too, and actually talked to the guy about the bike. He said he was off base about that, he also said he is original owner and built it up out of box. The bike is intriguing ,and If the bike was my size I might make a run at it. Not sure if he has right year either. I like the bike but no decals, too small and am scratching my head too much trying to figure out the Moto TC history. At least with the earlier orange ones you know what it is.

Anybody ever see a Moto TC Reynolds 753 btw? curious about that one also.
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Old 12-09-16, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by WolfRyder
Yeah I thought so too, and actually talked to the guy about the bike. He said he was off base about that, he also said he is original owner and built it up out of box. The bike is intriguing ,and If the bike was my size I might make a run at it. Not sure if he has right year either. I like the bike but no decals, too small and am scratching my head too much trying to figure out the Moto TC history. At least with the earlier orange ones you know what it is.

Anybody ever see a Moto TC Reynolds 753 btw? curious about that one also.
Those were one year only, 77 iirc.

The MN bike looks nice and not a bad price if it's as little-used as he states. You should be able to go by the RD date code if it's all original. I have a 78, same color (brilliant blue) and it rides wonderfully. The 78 had Huret dropouts and fork tips; only year for those.
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Old 12-09-16, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by verktyg
When I got back into road bikes again in 2006, a 1974-76 BIC orange Team Champion has been on my bucket list.
Too rich for my budget, but it is my size! What about you, Chas?

Vintage 1974-5 Motobecane Champion Team Road Bike | eBay
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Old 12-10-16, 12:25 AM
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Yeah so the Op's Blue MOTO TC looks a little newer, still quite nice. Would like to see more photos of it.
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Old 12-10-16, 07:03 AM
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Doesn't that belong to someone here? Nice bike. Good price too, IMO.



Originally Posted by johnnyace
Too rich for my budget, but it is my size! What about you, Chas?

Vintage 1974-5 Motobecane Champion Team Road Bike | eBay
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