Tuesday, January 15, 2013

1981 Motobecane Nomade II (October 2011)

Make: Motobecane
Model: Nomade II
Year:  1981
Obtained: Sept 2011
Found: Bike Works co-op
Paid: $25.00

This bike is the  slightly cooler version of the entry level 10 speed of the Motobecane line up for 1981.  A little better drive train and some fancier paint essentially.
That was true in 1981 anyway if you wait 30 years you might get something more like this.

It didn't actually come with the wheels I provided those from my parts bin, the bike came with the frame-set, bottom bracket, brakes and a seat-post with mangy saddle all for $25.  At first I wasn't sure what drew me to this one, I mean it wasn't a full bike so I was going to have to scavenge parts and it was not in the best shape but as I thought about it I realized that it had a lot of things I liked in an old 10 speed that I had not really put into a list before.  I discovered I really like; paint jobs where the head tube is a contrasting color to the frame, chromed fork tips, cool head badges (and the Motobecanes is great), and its French which gives a certain -how do you say?-je ne sais quoi.

Looking back I realize that I didn't really know what I had with this bike and didn't really do it the justice it deserved.  I was thinking "its just an entry level bike"  get it cleaned up, rebuilt and road worthy and sell it on Craigslist.  I had mistakenly ordered some black-walled tires (read the description don't just look at the photo of the item!) for a previous build that I didn't really like but were new and perfectly good so I slapped them on the Nomade II.  Never again its always gum-walls on old 10 speeds from now on, or cool colored sidewall just not black.  I had purchased an Italian bike that ended up being too big for me and sold it as a frame so its derailleurs and brake levers came over the Nomade.  I got a few blue items to accent the frame, an Origin 8 saddle since the original was toast. and brake cables but didn't do much to add "zing" to the bike like it deserved. 

The thing is once I had gone through the bike and cleaned it up and repacked all the bearings and actually rode it I discovered that it fit like a glove! I mean it just felt so right that I briefly considered not selling it but discarded that idea because it was "just an entry level bike".  I took careful measurements thinking that someday I will find a Grand Jubilee or Grand Touring in the same size but I think I missed the point.  I was being a label snob and not listening to my inner cyclist, I read a great post by Randy on mytenspeeds (Here) where he talks about finding the joy in a "mundane" road bike.  And I never really understood what he was talking about until this Motobecane, instead of asking if it had Reynolds or Vitus tubing I should have been thinking about how it fit so perfectly and brought a smile to my face just pedaling it down the street.  One of my test rides was with my neighbor on a beer run and even he commented that the bike looked like a perfect fit.  After riding so many bikes in the last couple years I realize now that there are bikes that fit good and then there is the rare bike that fits great and you shouldn't dismiss the ones that feel tailor made.  Anyway, I was apparently not the only one taken with this bike as it only lasted about an hour on Craigslist after I put it up for sale.


PS The need to find a Grand Touring in this size never faded and in May of 2015 I finally found one (blog post here)


  1. Do you ever miss the Moto? I was also all hung up on whether or not the SLT was "worthy". Well, about $250 and five thousand miles later, it is I who must strive for worthiness and the last few days I have been doing just that, putting in a minimum of twenty five miles daily and there have been a few fifty's. Unemployment and life in a warm flat place has its perks.

  2. I do occasionally miss it and wonder what if..? although I have so many bikes in my life I don't have to spend long pining for the one that got away. I am envious of your mileage Brother I got stop making excuses and get out and ride- warmth and flatness be damned!

    Thanks for stopping by


  3. I with ya Ryan, I am way jealous of the miles TJ is getting in. I am going back country skiing with my kid this weekend, while fun, it is not riding my bike in the warm sun.
    I find the fit thing to be a tricky factor, especially for my size (6'5"). I don't think I would be a "label snob" but I could be a color snob. Not sure I would ever start with that color blue bike, but, you made it look alright. Surprises me that it sold so fast!

  4. Hey, you guys might enjoy the video Stevil put up over at AHTBM:


    l'eroica bella!


    1. L'Eroica is definitely on my bucket list!

  5. L'Eroica is cool.
    "Fuck It, It's not flat"

    1. I was in total sympathy with that guy. I was thinking: "that would be me."

      Dirt rules! I may be a roadie, but I'm a dirt roadie.

  6. I still the nomade my dad bought me new in 81 or 82. It's that same blue one but its in much better shape. Has new pedals and brakes. And it's used but the paint is sharp and it gets ridden.

    1. Always nice to hear that old 10 speeds are still being ridden.