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Motobecane pecadillo and a Paramount question...

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Motobecane pecadillo and a Paramount question...

Old 09-19-10, 01:59 PM
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AZORCH
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Motobecane pecadillo and a Paramount question...

So I picked up a Motobecane Mirage off CL today for $20. Too small for me, but in good condition, and I'm thinking maybe I'll wind up with some useful parts for one of my other French bikes. I'm unloading it from my car and notice that the components are actually pretty unremarkable - but there's a real disparity here: there are tubulars mounted to this sucker. Does this seem odd to anyone else?

But that's only part of the story. The guy I buy this from, his dad owned the local Schwinn store. Apparently mom has two bikes in her basement, one of which is a Paramount. Now, my interests are French and Italian rides, and I know next to nothing about Schwinns, but of course just about everyone in C&V is familiar with the Paramount mythos. This guy says the bike is a 1937. Can that be right? Was the Paramount model around in '37?
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Old 09-19-10, 05:06 PM
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The Paramount was introduced in 1938 according to this article by M Gorski, which appears on Sheldon Browns site:


The Schwinn Paramount
by Matthew Gorski

The Paramount was developed for track and road racing by Emil Wastyn, a 6 day racing frame builder, mechanic and Schwinn dealer in Chicago, who immigrated from Belgium.

This was a no expense spared project of Frank W. Schwinn who wanted the bike to be introduced in 1938. It was an unqualified success, aside from the fact that they were very expensive to produce and showed little if any real profit potential. Sponsorship of 6 day riders produced a team to show- case the Paramount, the riders such as Jerry Rodman (The Michael Jordan of that time in Chicago) and the rest of the Schwinn Co. bicycle line.

In time, the Paramount came in a variety of models but remained expensive to produce and purchase.

Fast-forward to the 1960-70's, when Italian-made road and track bikes moved in to take over much of the mid- and high-end market.

After the bike-boom of the early 1970's, Paramount was in a poor state of affairs in regards to competition and advancing technologies. In 1979, Edward R. Schwinn Jr. was made president of the company and promptly closed down all of the Paramount operations until they could be brought up to date.

Marc Muller, a young new Schwinn Engineer was given the responsibility to head up the project. At this point the Paramount operations were moved to Waterford, Wisconsin.

The Paramount was reborn under a modern factory and workforce. Schwinn then partnered with 7-Eleven establishing a team including Eric Heiden. When 7-Eleven decided to hit the big time in racing, Schwinn went it's own way due to a lack of funding. They were however, able to recruit an up-and- comming rider named Lance Armstrong to their ranks.

Schwinn was sold in 1993 to the Scott Sports Group, who retained the Paramount name/ trademark but sold off the Waterford factory. It was purchased and is now run by Marc Muller, Richard Schwinn (the great grandson of Ignaz Schwinn) and George Garner. George got his start at Hans Ohrt Lightweight bicycles in Beverly Hills. George bought Valley Cyclery in Van Nuys, California in the late 1940's( I worked there in 1979 ) and established 4 more shops in the Los Angles area. I mention him and his background because he was instrumental in working with Frank W. Schwinn, Ray Burch and Schwinn's marketing dept to develop the 'total-concept store' as well as uniform work procedures, marketing, advertising and company service schools to keep all dealers up to date.

Waterford Precision Cycles is alive and doing quite well, a great success in their own right. That success, is owed in part to their early pioneering efforts with oversize tubesets such as 753 and 853 as well as their unique relationship with Reynolds.
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Old 09-19-10, 05:09 PM
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PS - Tubeys on a Mirage? - a bit odd I think.
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Old 09-19-10, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
PS - Tubeys on a Mirage? - a bit odd I think.
Yeah, that was my thinking too. Only thing I can figure is that someone, somewhere along the way just grabbed a couple of wheels and stuck them onto the bike to sell it or ride it or - ? They're pretty beat and crumbling and look like they're a million years old, but - inconceivably! - they're holding air.
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Old 09-19-10, 08:09 PM
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Don't ride anywhere on those decrepit tires just because they hold air.
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Old 09-19-10, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by auchencrow View Post
Don't ride anywhere on those decrepit tires just because they hold air.
Oh, I'm DEFINITELY not planning to! They scare the crap out of me. I'm pulling the rubber and checking the wheels out for structural integrity and rust. They look OK and should polish up nicely, but feel pretty heavy. The rubber gets tossed.
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Old 09-20-10, 07:47 AM
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What do you think of the Mirage itself? I'm trying to see a local one myself today. Considering it as a backup but know nothing about them.
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Old 09-20-10, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by jamesdak View Post
What do you think of the Mirage itself? I'm trying to see a local one myself today. Considering it as a backup but know nothing about them.
Honestly, the Mirage is a pretty heavy bike. However, it's pretty cool looking - fully lugged (and rather nice looking lugs on the head tube, by the way, with a nice head badge) and looks like a semi-relaxed geometry. We stripped it down last night, cleaned off the grease and grime, and polished the chrome bits. It's too small for me, but fits my son perfectly - the same son who wants a vintage single speed (he is adamently opposed to fixed gear though.) The Nervar crankset has a 52/40, so I pulled the 52 and the guard and shined up the remaining parts. Things have lightened up quite a bit now, but still on the heavy side I think. I'd kind of hate to ride it as a road or touring bike if it was fully outfitted with the gearsets, etc., but it's going to make a pretty nice "townie" I think. No rattle can crudola is planned, but we are going to swap the drops for a bullhorn handlebar.

I have several "backups" that are French. IMO, there are far better French bikes available than this particular model. I wouldn't pay more than $20, tops.
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