Saturday, January 23, 2016

Motobecane With an Identity Crisis

The Suntour Superbe levers are in excellent condition. The hoods - notsomuch. 

Black and red paint scheme seems wrong for a high-end Motobecane from this era. 

Still, regardless of what tubing may lie under the paint, the attention to detail on the lugwork and fork crown leaves nothing to be desired. 

From what I've read, Motobecane serial numbers are nearly impossible to decipher. 

Brazed-on cable guides for stem shifters denote mid-to-low-end in the Moto lineup for this era. 

Purchased this Motobecane today for just a pinch over $300. I was under the impression that it was a Le Champion, but further investigations are beginning to reveal a lesser model with upgraded components. 

First clue that the parts weren't original? The Suntour Superbe brakes. Then there's the Campy bits - Nuovo Gran Record derailleurs, seat post. The Pivo  bar and stem were typical of a Grand Touring or Super Mirage from the late 70s. Also, the braze-on cable guides point to mid-level frame. By the way, no model name or frame tubing manufacturer decals anywhere on the bike. 

Thanks's okay - it's a fine steed and well-taken care of. The original owner rode the bike for four years after purchasing it, then hung it in his garage in 1985. It's literally been hanging there for the past 30 years. So... the frame and components are in very nice condition. No blemishes on the frame other than a few small nicks under the bottom bracket and chain stay. "Cherry" was a term we used back in the day to describe a car that was a real eye-catcher. I think that term applies here just as well. 

This will be my winter project bike, and will need a thorough tear-down, repack, and new cables, hoods, all the usual suspects. I'll probably sell it after that, as I already have a 1974 Le Champion in equal condition - pic below. Stay tuned, and be sure to chime in on our Facebook page, as well. Share your pics! :)


I have received numerous comments from the helpful folks on the Classic Rendezvous Google Group. Here's one that pretty much summarizes what I've received so far. 

My guess is that what you have is a 1978, 1979 or a 1980 Super Mirage or Grand Touring.
Check the catalogs on Mark Bulgier's site...
The clues are as follows:
- paint scheme and lugs match those frames
- "Motobecane" branded crankset consistent with original equipment specs on Super Mirage
- Pivo stem consistent with original equipment specs on Grand Touring
- brazed on top tube cable guides eliminate the Grand Record option as all the black and red Grand Records I have have clamp on cable housing guides...
- unused cable stops indicate the possibility of stem shifters which is how the Super Mirage was equipped
- I speculate that the derailleurs, brakes and hubs and seat post which are not consistent with any of the catalog specs for those yearswere "upgrades" at some point later.

*** *** ***

Hi Tom,
My money is on a Grand Jubile.  I think Moto made this color scheme on the Grand Jubile near the end of the production run with these graphics.  At that time, I think they had transitioned to Vitus tubing, and had suntour components.  I think the Grand Record from this time period still had the Campy dropouts.  The transition to the new graphics probably happened in '78 give or take a year.  I'm not an expert, but certainly an admirer of the mark.

*** *** *** My 1974 Le Champion *** *** ***

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