Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Used bike or new for randonneuring?

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Old 03-10-18, 10:33 PM
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ericjd
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Used bike or new for randonneuring?

Hi everyone,

I am new to the forum and to randonneuring, so please forgive me for asking such a typical question right out of the gate.

Although I am new to randonneuring, I am not entirely inexperienced with long distance riding. However all of it (including a very hilly century ride this past November) has been on a single speed bike and, at 50, I am looking at getting a multi-speed for the longer distance stuff.

Recently, I was looking at a very nicely maintained early 70s Motobecane (price: ~$400) that I was going to convert to 650b. The frame is Reynolds 531 and the components are very decent (stronglight cranks, weinmann center pull brakes, etc). However, my wife thinks I am crazy and that I should get a new bike of contemporary make, even if it is more money.

So what would you recommend? Am I stupid to consider a 40 year-old bike or foolish to pass up a chance to get a classic ride?

Thanks in advance!

--Eric
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Old 03-10-18, 11:18 PM
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What model of Motobecane? Vitus Tubing?

You might check the tire size of your bike. It quite likely was originally 27". So dropping to 700c, you may be able to mount the tires you desire.

Mounting 650b may be problematic with the brakes.

Isn't part of the sport just getting out and having fun? So, why not?

There are people who modify vintage bikes to take modern components. Or, downtube shifters, bar end shifters, and even stem shifters work very well for shifting gears. No need to extremely fancy.

The one warning I'd say, however, is that French bikes are some of the least compatible bikes with everything else in the world. OK if you're keeping them more or less original, but it could be problematic if you choose to do upgrades of stems, headsets, or bottom brackets.
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Old 03-11-18, 03:42 AM
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Old steel bikes are wonderful for distance riding. And if they are maintained at all, the frames at least will last forever. I am quite addicted to old French bikes myself and they can make marvelous tourers. The Motobecane you are looking at would be a perfect choice.
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Old 03-11-18, 04:52 AM
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Thanks for the comments so far.

Clifford, the Motobecane is a 1973 Grand Jubilee with Reynolds 531 tubing. I am aware that a switch to 650B tires might require replacing the current brakes with long reach double pulls, but happily those seem to be reliably available (eBay for vintage, Paul for modern). I was a little worried about the French compatibility thing too but I see that Phil Woods is making BBs for old French bikes, so that's a relief. The headset (original) on the bike has been repacked and regreased. The one other thing I might want to replace is the stem, so that's a consideration but it seems to be relatively easy to convert 22.2mm stems to 22.0.

Are there other reasons though to prefer a recent make bike over this old steed? I ask because I promised my wife that I'd try to get something like an objective view while knowing full well that there might be some bias among randonneurs/euses for old Reynolds frames and French geometries.

--Eric
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Old 03-11-18, 05:26 AM
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IRD also makes French cups for their BBs.
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Old 03-11-18, 05:53 AM
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I have a 1961 or 62 Italian bike with Columbus tubing that I occasionally ride. I really like the ride, but I find that within my fleet I ride it very little because of the inconvenience of the friction downtube shifters.

I made several upgrades to the bike, some of these upgrades may or may not be practical with a French bike. Upgrades are as follows.
  • When I bought the bike used in the late 1970s, it was badly abused. I have repainted the frame twice since then, most recently was a couple years ago.
  • In the 1980s, the early 1960s rear derailleur had a major bolt come unthreaded and a piece of the rear dérailleur was lost in the ditch. I installed a new Nuevo Record at that time.
  • And the last upgrade from the 1980s was adding some plastic fenders from that era. Other upgrades were in the last couple years.
  • Wheels were 120mm rear hub spaced five speed with tubular tires. A couple years ago I got a great price on a used pair of mid 1980s wheels, 126mm rear hub spacing and clincher rims. I tried to cold set the frame to take the wider hub, but the Columbus tubing was like spring steel and I finally gave up. But I use that 126 spaced hub, it just takes more effort to squeeze it into the frame.
  • The original crank with Campy 151mm BCD chainrings was 52/48 and I wanted lower gearing. I installed a Campy square taper cartridge bottom bracket and a Campy triple that was 52/42/30 for better gearing.
  • The original five speed freewheel was 13/21, I put on a six speed freewheel on it with slightly higher gearing. When using the 30T granny, the rear derailleur will only work with the largest three sprockets on back because the derailleur cage will not take up all the slack.
  • I prefer interrupter brake levers. The original handlebars were way too narrow for me and needed updating. I used modern handlebar, modern brake levers, interrupter brake levers, threadless stem, quill to threadless adapter. The reason I went threadless was that wanted the ability to try different reach, meaning different stem lengths without major effort.
  • Clipless pedals.

Everything else is stock including the Mafac brakes, but as noted above the brake levers were changed.

I really like the ride of the bike, but because of the friction downtube shifters, I just do not ride it very much. I just like indexed shifters too much.

First photo, the new handlebar setup, second photo is of the bike, third is the reason I do not ride it very much.

I am now retired and have the resources to make any changes I want. I bought this bike when I was still in college, so it has been an on-going on again and off again project over many decades. I worked in a bike shop before college, so I have done all of my own work on the bike.

The reason I am going through this long list of changes that I made is that you might find that updating an older bike can take a lot of effort and in the end, you do not know if you will still want to use it as much as you would use a modern bike.

And as a hobby, I enjoyed working on the bike but I do not know if that would be the same situation for you.
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Old 03-11-18, 06:19 AM
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Thanks for the insight and congratulations on bringing that gorgeous 1961 Ideor back to life!

Like you (I'm guessing because you said you were retired), I grew up with friction rather than indexed shifting, so it doesn't put me off in principle that the Motobecane would be a return to that kind of shifting. Of course, it has been ages since I have had to do it--my regular bike is a single speed--so I will have to see how it feels when I try out the bike.

Again, thanks for the cautionary note though.
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Old 03-11-18, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by ericjd View Post
Are there other reasons though to prefer a recent make bike over this old steed?
While you can get a new bike that would be perfectly adequate for randonneuring for around $1,500, I suspect you will end up spending more on your project, so there’s that. But you can’t get a new steel frame like the one you are looking at for $400 either.

The other thing to consider is if you’ll like it when it’s done. The 650b conversion route has a lot of appeal and plenty of fans, but I’ve met enough people who tried 650b then went back to 700c that it makes me apprehensive to undertake such a project myself. That said, the Grand Jubile is a good candidate if you want to go that route.
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Old 03-11-18, 08:17 AM
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Used bike or new for randonneuring?

Yes.
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Old 03-11-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ericjd View Post
Am I stupid to consider a 40 year-old bike or foolish to pass up a chance to get a classic ride?
Oddly enough many of the high quality British and French bikes of the '70's were designed for club riders, not road racers, with the requirements of the Audax and/or Randonneur in mind. Designed for riding long miles at pace on the rough secondary roads of the era carrying a self-supported load in Northern European weather conditions they have a faithful following on the BF sub-forum Classic & Vintage for good reason(s).

There is a current fad/sub-culture in C&V for the conversion of these machines to 650B from simple bolt-on retrofit to full-on bare frame re-furbish w/ a suite of braze-ons, re-raking and custom paint. Take a look at C&V and post a conversion question to 650B on a Grand Jubile where you will get a plethora of assistance from those who having done the conversion, drank the Kool-Aid of 650B.

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Old 03-11-18, 12:11 PM
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depending on the condition of the motobecane, it probably will be a better bike than a new bike you can get for a reasonable price. My current road bike has a frame I built in 1980. But the only contemporaneous part on the frame is the headset. Which I need to overhaul.

There is nothing wrong with a bike made in the '70s. I rode my first year of randonneuring with my racing bike that I had ridden as my main bike since the early '80s. That bike had a lot of miles on it, many more than the bike I'm riding now.

Does the motobecane have simplex dropouts? That is one thing that I would hesitate over. I have tapped many a simplex dropout to take a modern derailleur, but a lot of people hate that idea.
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Old 03-11-18, 12:21 PM
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It's not about new or used, but about how well ill or well conceived the bike is. For example, the OP mentions converting a 700c (or 27") to 650b. But the reduction in rim diameter will impose a brake reach issue. Even if the OP finds caliper with adequate reach, the change in geometry will mean far less leverage, coupled with a reduction in arm stiffness.

My rule has always been that not only is it impossible to make a silk purse out of a sows ear, you can't do so even if you start with a canvas purse.

So, my advice is to start by deciding on the basics, such as wheel size, and ONLY consider options that meet that most critical parameter. A used bike with upgrades and modifications can be a great option,but not one totally remade into something it can never be.
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Old 03-11-18, 01:00 PM
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^This post doesn't make any sense to me. Lots of people have already done the 650b conversion on the Grand Jubilee. There's no mystery as to whether or not it will work.
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Old 03-11-18, 01:19 PM
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Like this:

Motobecane Grand Jubile 650B conversion

-Bandera
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Old 03-11-18, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
^This post doesn't make any sense to me. Lots of people have already done the 650b conversion on the Grand Jubilee. There's no mystery as to whether or not it will work.
I don't get what's hard to understand.

I didn't say it was impossible. Just that the change will require brakes with significantly longer reach. Specifically the 19mm difference between the 311mm and 292mm rim radii id starting from 700c, or 23mm if starting from 27".

The necessary calipers exist, so it can be done, but the longer reach, comes at a cost in performance, as I described earlier, plus the OP may not be able to find comparably high quality calipers with the necessary reach.

Of course it's the OP's choice, but he might start by measuring the current reach, adding the correction and seeing what his brake caliper options will be.

BTW - if wider tires are the desired outcome, there may be another option. The OP can switch to wide 700c (29r) rims, and shop from a wide selection of tires in that size. This option probably won't call for new brakes, but he'll be limited by fork and stay clearance, so here too measuring is called for before committing.
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Old 03-11-18, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
that's a nice looking bike, but it makes me want to know if anyone ever made drop bolts for centerpull brakes.
Of course, it might not have so much clearance with bigger tires.
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Old 03-11-18, 02:06 PM
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This is largely a matter of style, no? Modern or old , whatever floats your boat. My next might be a specialized diverge in carbon.
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Old 03-11-18, 02:17 PM
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Another thing to keep in mind is how much of the $400 bicycle you're actually keeping.

A good paint job can be worth quite a bit. However, if you're planning on brazing on canti-posts, or making other major modifications, then might as well find one that needs a full repaint. Water bottle cages? The Grand Jubilee bikes can go from as low as $100 or so up to your price of $400 or so.

Oh, here you go, perhaps you could bring your wife onboard with the project if you went with this route.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Matching-Pa...s/112536448790

I think the Grand Touring is one step down from the Grand Jubilee, but still not a bad base bike/frame. There are also Grand Jubilee Mixtes out there, but they are more rare.
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Old 03-11-18, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
that's a nice looking bike, but it makes me want to know if anyone ever made drop bolts for centerpull brakes.
Of course, it might not have so much clearance with bigger tires.
I don't recall seeing drop-bolts for CP brakes back when, they were somewhat common for using Campag NR sidepulls on frames designed for 610 CP brakes.
I did that for the "Full Campy" effect on my Internat'l and found that they had to come off for mudguard install.

It will take a bit of planning for a 650B conversion as @FBinNY notes but it's "a thing" on C&V and the whole process is well documented, although not my "thing".

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Old 03-11-18, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by skiffrun View Post
Used bike or new for randonneuring?

Yes.
+1.

@ericjd, you will see lots of special bike projects for randonneuring here on BF, and I love me a bike project as much as anyone, but don't feel like you *must* check all of the boxes in order to ride brevets!

The important things are that your bike be comfortable enough for the whole ride, that it be reliable enough to get you the end, and to have some kind of lighting for the longer rides. Any number of bikes, old or new, can get that job done.
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Old 03-11-18, 03:43 PM
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How much are you packing for your trips?

One thing I've noticed about my old Colnago is that it is really flexy when heavily loaded on the rear. At least so it seems.

I recently did a drop bar Hybrid conversion (520 steel), and the beast is rock solid with my panniers... at least up to what I've had in them so far. I haven't gone over 50 pounds yet, I don't think. I'm still doing some experimenting on the Hybrid conversion, and will probably eventually choose some lighter tires.
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Old 03-11-18, 03:50 PM
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anyone randonneuring with fully loaded panniers is doing it wrong, IMHO.
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Old 03-11-18, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I don't get what's hard to understand...
Apologies if my post came off as rude, but I still don't get your point about the silk purse. The whole 650b conversion thing is pretty well understood by now, and I assume the OP has done a bit of research since he already ID'd french bottom brackets and appropriate centerpull brakes earlier in the thread.
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Old 03-11-18, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
....

It will take a bit of planning for a 650B conversion as @FBinNY notes but it's "a thing" on C&V and the whole process is well documented, although not my "thing".
This goes to the crux of the question.

It's up to the OP to decide what he's really looking for. A good randonneur bike, or a nice vintage bike suited to randonneuring. There are some trade offs either way, so while anything is possible, the OP needs to decide what he wants.
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Old 03-11-18, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
anyone randonneuring with fully loaded panniers is doing it wrong, IMHO.
Likely true, but it would depend on whether this is a single use bike, or a multi-purpose bike, and perhaps a bit on the nature of the event.

I'm still having troubles wrapping my mind around the concept of 700 or 800 mile rides. There is a local 10K that is one-way, so if one is bike commuting, it could make for quite a long ride.
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