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What is known of who made the top Motobecane frames?

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What is known of who made the top Motobecane frames?

Old 05-09-14, 03:33 PM
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due ruote 
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What is known of who made the top Motobecane frames?

Champion Team/Team Champion and Le Champion.

Were they made by some old guys in the corner of the factory? Were they contracted out, and if so to whom? Does anyone know? Is it a mystery?

The catalogs don't shed much light on the subject.
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Old 05-10-14, 06:57 AM
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The problem with having "elite" and "professional" models is that if you make them too separate, and make a big deal of it, then they're less effective at selling the lower range bikes, for whom there's the buyer illusion that the same "team" made them all. Frankly, I don't see that much difference in the build quality apparent in a Grand Jubilee and a Team Champion (owning one of each frame); but they're both well done. Not at all the case with, say, Raleighs. Even Mirages I see on the street don't look too bad. Motobécane was a great brand IMO.
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Old 05-10-14, 07:29 AM
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Good question, Due Ruote, but I never found out anything of much use when I was doing research on mine. And, unfortunately, I think most if not all of the corporate records and info were lost or trashed when Motobecane shut down, or when it morphed into MBK. Read that, somewhere, about 20 years ago.
"Made by different hands" is about all we've got. Would be interesting to try to track down someone who worked in the factory back in the 70's, but someone more curious than me will have to do it.
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Old 05-10-14, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Good question, Due Ruote, but I never found out anything of much use when I was doing research on mine. And, unfortunately, I think most if not all of the corporate records and info were lost or trashed when Motobecane shut down, or when it morphed into MBK. Read that, somewhere, about 20 years ago.
"Made by different hands" is about all we've got. Would be interesting to try to track down someone who worked in the factory back in the 70's, but someone more curious than me will have to do it.
I think the orange Team Champions received much more attention than the production frames and items like the fork crowns were more expensive. Motobecane also filed the dropouts in the Italian style on a few I have seen, not typical French practice at all, Only brand that I saw that received that treatment in the 70's from France was Gemini. One of the builders of Ocana's Motobecane bikes by the way.
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Old 05-10-14, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Charles Wahl
The problem with having "elite" and "professional" models is that if you make them too separate, and make a big deal of it, then they're less effective at selling the lower range bikes, for whom there's the buyer illusion that the same "team" made them all.
I would think the opposite would be true.

The "elite" and "professional" models are the ones to attain, and until you can attain that- you get the lower model- you get the prestige of the name, and not the price tag.

No matter who builds it or how nice it really is- a bike branded "Huffy" (Serotta) or "Free Spirit" carry the connotations of the brand. Heck, there's people that are incapable of believing there are Schwinn's under 38 pounds.
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Old 05-10-14, 08:31 AM
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Not a real answer to your question but in the '79 catalogue a "special workshop dedicated to artisanal production" is mentioned. I remember reading in another catalogue that Motobecane would produce a made-to-measure frame exactly like the customer wanted it, with Vitus tubing for instance, unlike Peugeot where the special division would only build a personalized version of the PY10. Now and then you see a Motobecane that doesn't fit the normal model designations, not always high end, I assume those are à la carte bikes.

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Old 05-10-14, 09:01 AM
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My 72 Le Champion seems to have been built by some old guys in the corner of the factory, where the lighting wasn't very good. Rough lugs, a big blob of solder on the left seat stay cap, sloppy work on the dropouts. On the other hand my 75 Grand Jubile is much cleaner depite being a lower level bike. Although when I refinished it I noticed a small dent in the seat tube that had been filled before leaving the factory. I always assumed everything was made in-house except for the team bikes, and that those were probably built by some artisan dude.
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Old 05-10-14, 09:38 AM
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Interesting perspective, Kroozer. The earlier Le Champions do seem to be made by a different bunch than the frames from 74 onward, or so. My 75 Le Champion has nearly identical workmanship and details as does my 73 Champion Team. With a few minor differences. I know some folks, including Francophile Chas, believe the two frames were both made by the same crew, and he may be right. I've found the attention to detail on my two bikes to be excellent. Not that I have much to compare them with.
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Old 05-11-14, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by kroozer
My 72 Le Champion seems to have been built by some old guys in the corner of the factory, where the lighting wasn't very good. Rough lugs, a big blob of solder on the left seat stay cap, sloppy work on the dropouts. On the other hand my 75 Grand Jubile is much cleaner depite being a lower level bike. Although when I refinished it I noticed a small dent in the seat tube that had been filled before leaving the factory. I always assumed everything was made in-house except for the team bikes, and that those were probably built by some artisan dude.
Nah, it was probably made just after coming back from Summer vacation. No one wanted to go back to work, and just before the Fall labor strikes. Or, many French machines have what I call, "get in slobber the brass and get out" not pretty but often very effective structurally. I would rather have that than overheated and overworked. On many French bikes stellar workmanship was for the R. Herse's and Singers of the world. The rest got nice riding machines with "out of the bin" lugs.
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Old 05-11-14, 09:07 AM
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The note on the CR page say that the Team Champion appeared to be "made by other 'hands.'" The Le Champion just is described as having better workmanship...which as kroozer attests, ain't necessarily so. Then again...it's noted that the Le Champion 'often shared frameset' with the Team Champion. So the obvious conclusion is that...there's no obvious conclusion!

It would be interesting (okay, to a few of us) to look at Grand Record, Le Champion, and Team Champions of similar years together and compare them closely. I kinda think that only the very rare Team Champion would really have been built by an onsite 'custom shop' or outsourced. The Le Champion looks (from the catalogs) to be differentiated from the Grand Record by being a. all 531 and b. all Campy rather than the GR's mix-and match components. It's all about hitting a price point, something that US importer Ben Lawee was apparently really smart about.

For that matter, these are US and possibly UK models we're talking about, who knows what the French market bikes were like?
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Last edited by Chicago Al; 05-11-14 at 09:24 AM. Reason: confused and conflicted by confused and conflicting info
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Old 05-11-14, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage
Nah, it was probably made just after coming back from LUNCH .....
FIFY.

Presently I have a '74 GT, a '74 and a '77 GJ, and a '75 LeChamp: They are all pretty nicely crafted -(especially when compared to my Raleigh's or Gitane), but I would give the edge to my LeChamp as evidencing a little more care in manufacture.

Could it be from the work of more experienced "artisans"? - Or maybe just a pre-lunch bike? I'll just thave to get a GR and a TC for additional data points and report back.
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Old 05-11-14, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by due ruote
Champion Team/Team Champion and Le Champion.

Were they made by some old guys in the corner of the factory? Were they contracted out, and if so to whom? Does anyone know? Is it a mystery?

The catalogs don't shed much light on the subject.
Excerpt from the 1978 french catalog, hope that helps :

Attached Images
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Old 09-24-14, 11:08 AM
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bump....
Have a few Moto's in the werks and doing a little research. Hope not to drift but reading up on Ocana as well. Obviously, Motobecane marketer's rode on Ocana's accomplishment's but team BIC also used Speedwell. Were some of the 'real' team Motobecane bikes made by someone else? Back to Speedwell and their Titalite frame, the Velobase site notes they were made in Taiwan. Could that be?
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Old 09-24-14, 12:40 PM
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Yes. Reputedly, Ocana's team bikes were made by some other outfit and painted up to look like orange Motos. But I can't remember who made them, right now. An Italian builder, I think.
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Old 09-24-14, 12:41 PM
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Their top brazer was Mssr D. Jean Moutarde. He is old and gray now.
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Old 09-24-14, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Wulf
Their top brazer was Mssr D. Jean Moutarde. He is old and gray now.
Wulf, are you able to expound on this at all? I did a google search of that name and got nowhere. What is the source of your info? Do you believe this individual was at the Motobecane plant? Did you have any affiliation with Motobecane? I'm not trying to question your information (well, maybe a bit) so much as I'd like to find out as much as possible and commit it to the BF record.
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Old 09-24-14, 01:57 PM
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I hate to have to explain jokes but:
D. Jean Moutarde =
Dijon Mustard. Old and gray was meant as a hint.
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Old 09-24-14, 02:23 PM
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woof woof!
........ and where's the poupon you comeback?
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Old 09-24-14, 02:33 PM
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Over my head.
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Old 09-24-14, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by kroozer
... a big blob of solder on the left seat stay cap...
my '73 pr10 came to me like that. terribly ugly, but it's an easy fix with a metal file and touch-up paint.

my motos are perfect in this regard.
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Old 09-24-14, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Wulf
I hate to have to explain jokes but:
D. Jean Moutarde =
Dijon Mustard. Old and gray was meant as a hint.
Hey, don't poupon this thread!
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Old 09-24-14, 04:27 PM
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Jeez Al, now I can't stop thinking of Triumph, the Insult Dog comic and the French poodle...lol
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Old 09-24-14, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Chicago Al
Hey, don't poupon this thread!
gynuk gynuk….
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Old 09-24-14, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Chicago Al
The note on the CR page say that the Team Champion appeared to be "made by other 'hands.'" The Le Champion just is described as having better workmanship...which as kroozer attests, ain't necessarily so. Then again...it's noted that the Le Champion 'often shared frameset' with the Team Champion. So the obvious conclusion is that...there's no obvious conclusion!

It would be interesting (okay, to a few of us) to look at Grand Record, Le Champion, and Team Champions of similar years together and compare them closely. I kinda think that only the very rare Team Champion would really have been built by an onsite 'custom shop' or outsourced. The Le Champion looks (from the catalogs) to be differentiated from the Grand Record by being a. all 531 and b. all Campy rather than the GR's mix-and match components. It's all about hitting a price point, something that US importer Ben Lawee was apparently really smart about.

For that matter, these are US and possibly UK models we're talking about, who knows what the French market bikes were like?

Here are some pics of my Super Champion. Not much is known about this model except that it was made for the European market.





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Old 09-24-14, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Filochard
Excerpt from the 1978 french catalog, hope that helps :

A bit late, and I hope Filchard is still around or will return.

This made me curious so I looked around and found other pages from the (apparent) same French Moto catalog from 1978. There are not bikes called anything close to Grand Record, Grand Jubile, or most of the familiar export market models, however there is a 'Le Champion.' I haven't yet looked at the specs carefully (the scan is not real detailed and my francais mauvais) but a first look suggests that the French bikes are equipped quite differently from those we know in the US. That is, they might have taken a frame originally called the 'Tour de France,' changed some of the components, and renamed and painted it to create the Grand Record.

I'd seen the same thing in another French catalog from the early 80s that is on the net, so this adds to my theory (if you can call it that) that US importer Ben Lawee was heavily involved in specifying exactly what bikes would be built, painted, and called, for the US market.
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