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Vintage Motobecane Nomade....help!

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Vintage Motobecane Nomade....help!

Old 06-12-18, 08:09 AM
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Vintage Motobecane Nomade....help!

Hey everyone! New member here... I've been lurking around these forums for a long time, picking up tips and tricks about how to restore some of my other vintage bikes, but haven't had the need to post until now.

I will usually pick up an old bike at a yard sale or thrift store and work to restore it or turn it into something useful then get rid of it by selling it or giving it away. Obviously I don't do it for the money, I just like to learn about these old things, and you can usually find them dirt cheap (or free), so they turn into fun projects for me. I also commute through the city about 1.5 miles each way to work, so I ride a bike when the weather permits (I'm in New England, no way I'm riding all year!). Also, let it be clear that I'm NOT a purist. I'm not restoring these bikes like a professional would, or even like a true "vintage bike" junkie would. Sometimes, I even tear them apart and turn them into a Frankenstein bike...it's all about having fun!

Anyways! A friend recently gave me an old Motobecane Nomade that she was going
to throw out. I finally got into it last night, took it apart and cleaned/salvaged what I could. As far as I can tell, it looks like a decent old production bike, but nothing extraordinary. I have 2 old bikes that I use for a commuter and a road bike, so I'm thinking about turning this one into a single speed. I like the idea of not having to mess with down tube shifters and suicide levers on my commute, and since my commute is fairly level, I thought I'd learn how to build a single speed and see how it goes.

Few questions... Am I right in assuming this bike is a vintage production bike that I can pervert without feeling too guilty? Any idea how to tell what year this bike is from? I have the serial number stamped in the bottom bracket (44 59 106 ... I think).

My plan is to turn this bike into a single speed. I like the idea of not having to mess with down tube shifters or suicide levers any more, and my commute is pretty flat.
-- What sort of gearing should I use? I'd love to not have to buy a new chain ring, but the current rings are 44T and 40T (if I remember correctly). Could I use on of those with a new freewheel?
-- I'd like a more comfortable riding position so I'm thinking of bullhorns with bar end brakes. Any thoughts or advice on handlebars with a more relaxed riding position?

There is also this rear cassette that I can't get off because I don't have the right tool...does anyone know what kind of tool I need for this thing? I've been looking a little bit but it doesn't seem obvious to me.

Thanks for reading! I'm a newbie so any advice or wisdom is appreciated!
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Old 06-12-18, 08:13 AM
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Images

Apparently I can't post images until I have 10 posts...So I guess I'm not getting an answer on that specialized tool!
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Old 06-12-18, 08:59 AM
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Yes, make any changes to it that come to mind. It was bottom of the line but decent, and it will make a good commuter bike or whatever. That's what I did with mine. Or maybe mine was a Mirage. The Nomade and Mirage were similar.
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Old 06-12-18, 09:39 AM
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I have an old Nomade and I made lots of changes. It is a perfect old bike to play around with. Does yours have a cottered crank or something more modern?
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Old 06-12-18, 11:49 AM
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No cottered crank! I'll take more pictures tonight to add to the discussion!
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Old 06-12-18, 11:54 AM
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I had a Nomade, mid to late 1970s. Decent bike. Good high tensile frame, fair components. It'd be perfect for modifying. No purists will care since it was Motobecane's entry level drop bar bike. I mostly preferred the one-level up Mirage. Better components. Same or similar hi-ten frame.

The rear gear cluster will be a freewheel, not cassette. I'm pretty sure Park and others still sell the appropriate freewheel tool. That and a stout wrench of decent length, or a good bench vise, will remove it.

Hub and bottom bracket tools should be available too. I sold mine about 15 years ago when I thought I'd never ride again. Wish I'd kept all that stuff. Live and learn.

I'd probably go for an arced bar, but the bullhorns are popular mods.

No idea about replacing with a single gear free or fixed. Not my thing. I like my gears. Many of my friends have at least one single speed or fixie, but they're young and foolish with good knees. Well, younger than I am, anyway. Definitely with better knees. Riding with them I cannot for the life of me fathom the appeal of a fixed gear on public streets or the multi-use path. Some of them are constantly mumbling, grousing or screeching about how tricky it is to navigate tight, fast turns, going downhill, etc. Lots of panicky looking skids to control speed. I just don't see the appeal. Especially after a friend of a friend was killed recently when she was unable to control her skid going downhill -- skidded right through a stop sign or red light and got flattened by passing traffic. A single speed freewheel, maybe. Fixed, nah. That's a track bike.
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Old 06-12-18, 01:18 PM
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If its late 1970s, Motobecane LOVED Swiss BB, more than any other French manufacturer. Now as long as you stick with existing crankset and the BB is OK, no problem. If you want to make changes, it can get tricky. Repop French BB are readily available at low cost. Swiss options are more limited.

I routinely pick up beater Motobecanes just to salvage Swiss BB, French stem, and French headsets.
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Old 06-12-18, 02:42 PM
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OP the only caveat is its French, so you probably want to keep things like the seat post, stem, bb as they can be of a unique size and or threading. Check out Sheldon Brown and MyTenspeeds for more info. If you bike doesn't have a cottered crank it might late enough that it will have more standard sizing/threading but forewarned it forearmed ;-)
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Old 06-14-18, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
I had a Nomade, mid to late 1970s. Decent bike. Good high tensile frame, fair components. It'd be perfect for modifying. No purists will care since it was Motobecane's entry level drop bar bike. I mostly preferred the one-level up Mirage. Better components. Same or similar hi-ten frame.

The rear gear cluster will be a freewheel, not cassette. I'm pretty sure Park and others still sell the appropriate freewheel tool. That and a stout wrench of decent length, or a good bench vise, will remove it.

Hub and bottom bracket tools should be available too. I sold mine about 15 years ago when I thought I'd never ride again. Wish I'd kept all that stuff. Live and learn.

I'd probably go for an arced bar, but the bullhorns are popular mods.

No idea about replacing with a single gear free or fixed. Not my thing. I like my gears. Many of my friends have at least one single speed or fixie, but they're young and foolish with good knees. Well, younger than I am, anyway. Definitely with better knees. Riding with them I cannot for the life of me fathom the appeal of a fixed gear on public streets or the multi-use path. Some of them are constantly mumbling, grousing or screeching about how tricky it is to navigate tight, fast turns, going downhill, etc. Lots of panicky looking skids to control speed. I just don't see the appeal. Especially after a friend of a friend was killed recently when she was unable to control her skid going downhill -- skidded right through a stop sign or red light and got flattened by passing traffic. A single speed freewheel, maybe. Fixed, nah. That's a track bike.


I totally agree about the fixed gears...I just don't get it, I love coasting! Thanks for yours thoughts on the arced bar, that might be a good choice for me.
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Old 06-14-18, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
OP the only caveat is its French, so you probably want to keep things like the seat post, stem, bb as they can be of a unique size and or threading. Check out Sheldon Brown and MyTenspeeds for more info. If you bike doesn't have a cottered crank it might late enough that it will have more standard sizing/threading but forewarned it forearmed ;-)

Wow, good to know, thanks! I almost tossed the seat post.
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Old 06-14-18, 05:40 PM
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Also if you prefer paper books for maintenance manuals, check out Tom Cuthbertson's old versions of Anybody's Bike Book. He rode a Motobecane back in the early 1970s. That in part influenced my decision to buy my Motobecane Mirage in 1976. Easy bike to work on, as were most 10 speeds back then.

I added the 1977 or '78 Nomade later but never got around to finishing tweaking it before I sold it. The rear derailleur seemed finicky to keep adjusted. But that was many years ago and I don't recall the details. Otherwise riding it felt pretty much like riding the Mirage.

If your bike has the original steel rims you may want to consider upgrading, especially if you ride in the rain. Those steel rims can be a bit slick for braking. Lots of good choices for rims and affordable ready made wheels now. Wheel Master has lots of wheels ready to ride. You can order online or sometimes locally -- there's a warehouse in my area.
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Old 06-14-18, 06:07 PM
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If the bike is rideable the first order of business for me would be ride it around in a variety of gears using both chainrings, in order to identify a comfortable ratio for a single speed. I should think you will be able to make use of either of those chainrings. You can also make use of Sheldon Brown’s online gear calculator. Somewhere in the mid-60’s to mid-70’s gear inches is what most people prefer. I have generally used a 42 x 16 which is pretty close to 70 inches if I recall. I don’t have any serious hills btw.
Also consult Sheldon’s excellent pages on SS conversions. Shorthand: you will generally want to get the chainring in as far as possible toward the BB. Sometimes this can be accomplished by reversing the BB spindle. Once you have done that, you can work on the axle spacing so you have a straight chainline. This is important with a SS; even more so with fixed. With no chain on the bike, put a straightedge on the chainring - the cog needs to be in that same line.
Note that all this can be done with your standard wheel. It’s just a matter of re-allocating the axle spacers to get the cog where you need it to be. Then you will need to re-dish the wheel so the rim is centered on the reworked axle.
For a nice selection of townie type handlebars, check Velo Orange. I used the Milan bars on a recent SS conversion for a friend and they were quite nice. You will need new brake levers too if you go with something like that.
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Old 06-15-18, 09:34 AM
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Thanks for all the input and feedback, it's been very helpful already. I ordered some parts and tools last night, I'll continue to post more as I run into problems!

Here is the image of the freewheel. I think I need a tool to fit into this in order to get it off...but I'm not sure. Any advice??

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Old 06-15-18, 10:20 AM
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Yeah, that takes a Specific Tool with two prongs that fit in those slots. Take a look at the Park Tools FR-2.

https://www.parktool.com/product/fre...26%20Freewheel
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Old 06-15-18, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by jimminycricket View Post
Wow, good to know, thanks! I almost tossed the seat post.
Rule 1 with old bikes, especially French ones: DON'T TOSS ANYTHING until you have verified that whatever part you have to replace it actually fits. And I mean by actual measurement first, and dry-fitting second. Learn the French sizes and threads you might encounter, and buy a micrometer caliper and a pitch gauge. It will be less expensive than buying the wrong parts and having to then buy the right ones later, and much less expensive than ruining your frame or fork or hub.
Thread pitches and diameters of French parts are often very close to British or ISO sizes, but are not interchangeable. Attempting to interchange them will damage one part or the other. Make sure you know what you have and what you need before trying to replace it. I've seen way too many French/Swiss thread bikes damaged by forcing in the wrong thread bottom bracket, for example.

Your freewheel uses the extremely common Suntour 2-prong remover.
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Old 06-15-18, 11:31 AM
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I’ll throw my 2 cents in here since I’m currently restoring a Motobecane super mirage and have been hounding the forums for info on the intricacies of theys bikes.
As others have said the biggest problem with French manufacturers is that they used their own standards. Luckily motobecane did forgo some of the now obsolete French standards in the late 70s and into the 80s.
Parts to look out for:
Seat post- French seat post are unfortunately all over the place size wise. Even with in the same company it can vary a few tenths of a mm. So definitely hang on to that. Velo orange does sale a seat post model with several sizes so you might be lucky enough to find on there other wise used would be the way to go.
Stems- Thevstem diameter on French bikes are 22mm as opposed to 22.2 which was pretty much standard for most other bikes and is what you’ll find now when looking for a new replacement. Good news is this can be made to work. Some people are lucky enough that tolerance of the steerer tube allows the larger stem to drop in with out issue so test that first. If not you will need to sand off .2 mm from the stem. It’s time consuming but it opens you up to a whole new range of bars that previously wouldn’t fit.
Handlebars- French bars are also smaller at 23.5 mm or 25 mm as opposed to the more common 25.4mm and 26mm. So most likely if you want new bars a new stem will be in order as well.
Freewheel/hub-I can’t tell from the pic but it’s possible you could have a French thread freewheel and hub. It will say French on there if it is and in that case eBay is your friend. If it doesn’t then you are golden and any new freewheel will work.
BB and Crankset- As others have said you will either have a French, Swiss, or possibly even British bb (if it’s mid 80s) In any case no need to worry as there are a few options out there for French and Swiss bbs that won’t break the bank should your cups or spindle be shot. As far as cranks go you probably have a Japanese brand either sr or takagi which is good because they use square tapers and standard 9/16 pedal thread.

This is all ive learned so far. Hope it helps you.
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Old 06-15-18, 12:14 PM
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@jimminycricket Maybe you already know this, but two things that'll really help in getting off the freewheel:

1) shoot it front and back with PB blaster or some other rust-loosening agent, and let it soak a day or so (the idea is to get it where it'll seep into the threads where the freewheel spins onto the hub; not within the works of the freewheel itself)

2) attach the FR-2 freewheel remover tool onto the freewheel and hub assembly with a QR (obviously, not all the way tight) Mount the FR-2 in a bench vise to 'crack' the freewheel by grabbing the wheel and making maybe a 1/4 turn counter clockwise, then take off the QR to spin out off the rest of the way.

If you're freehanding the FR-2 tool with a wrench and no QR, you'll very likely bugger up the notches in the freewheel face and also the prongs on the tool and never get the thing off.
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Old 06-15-18, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Lascauxcaveman View Post
@jimminycricket Maybe you already know this, but two things that'll really help in getting off the freewheel:

1) shoot it front and back with PB blaster or some other rust-loosening agent, and let it soak a day or so (the idea is to get it where it'll seep into the threads where the freewheel spins onto the hub; not within the works of the freewheel itself)

2) attach the FR-2 freewheel remover tool onto the freewheel and hub assembly with a QR (obviously, not all the way tight) Mount the FR-2 in a bench vise to 'crack' the freewheel by grabbing the wheel and making maybe a 1/4 turn counter clockwise, then take off the QR to spin out off the rest of the way.

If you're freehanding the FR-2 tool with a wrench and no QR, you'll very likely bugger up the notches in the freewheel face and also the prongs on the tool and never get the thing off.
For the visual learners - I use a long pipe instead of a vise (only because I have no vise, vices yes, Vise no)


FW with skewer by Ryan Surface, on Flickr


FW Cheater bar by Ryan Surface, on Flickr
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Old 06-15-18, 06:01 PM
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And if you have trouble getting it done with a long pipe on your adjustable wrench, you can cram the wheel against a wall. There's a guy with several videos on youtube showing how this is done. Youtube, how did we ever live without it?
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Old 06-15-18, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by kisabike View Post
2:24 for a 41 miler avg 17.1mph 873 ft elevation gain
Will you be riding the Tour De France?
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