Saturday, May 17, 2014

1978 Motobecane Grand Touring.....A moment of weakness

I know I said I was going to compare the Peugeot UO-10 (Course) and UO-8 (Sports) in this post, and I will still do a post like that, but something happened this week that I am equal parts embarrassed and excited about.

Just Purchased 78 MB Grand Touring
I just started a new job this week, money is still tight and I should not even have been looking at bikes but I happened to be on craigslist.... and I see this Motobecane Grand Touring, in my size a 23 inch frame, for a reasonable price and think hmmm.  I believe I have professed my love of French steel bikes before and I especially like the Motobecanes.  I occasionally look for them and I find a lot of the entry level Nomades and Mirages, and even restored one,  but very rarely do I see any of the "Grand" series; Touring, Jubilee, Record  and I almost never see a Le Champion or Team Champion the race grade end of the Motobecane line.

1978 Catalog shot
When I saw this Grand Touring and confirmed it was my size I jumped on it justifying it to myself by figuring the sale of the Peugeot Sports (when its done) would offset the purchase of the GT.   Yeah, I got it bad.

Back in 2011 when I restored a Motobecane Nomade II I was shocked by how well it fit and rode and told myself I needed to find a higher-end MB in the same size.  The Grand Touring fits the bill in that the main tubes are a Vitus 172 steel, a step up from the entry level 2040 CroMo tubing but not quite as fancy pants as the legendary Reynolds 531.
what the logo should look like
the remnants of the logo on my GT
There are number of special touches on this bike that I love and are in part why I have been searching for one for a while.  A classic bike boom 10 speed for me starts with a lugged frame and chrome tipped fork.
The original bike shop even did lug lining 

Love me some chromed fork tips

A step up from entry level are the aforementioned Vitus 172 tubing for the 3 main tubes, and then some nice touches like forged not stamped drop outs front and rear.
Huret drop outs

with original adjusters-nice!
A cool engraved alloy handle bar with Motobecane specific "soft stitched sleeve" bar covers.
Cool engraving and a Rando bend

Neat stitched bar covers in surprisingly good shape
I have also always preferred down tube shifters to stem shifters although on this bike I think I will remove the sharpie instruction on which lever does what (LOL)- I just try to remember that "right is rear".
Although the bike is currently rideable I look forward to lovingly refurbing it, cleaning up the paint and making a few changes as I have the money to do so.  I used Continental Gatorskins on my Cannondale go fast road bike and really like them but on this bike I think the Panaracer Paselas would give a more classic look.
Likewise Specialized body geometry line is good stuff but I see a Brooks imperial on this bike (someday).
too cushy?
I think I can sell these two barely used items and offset my costs a bit.  Anyway thank you for indulging me in a gush fest over this new-to-me classic French ride, I'm not sure my 14 year-old self would have loved this bike new anymore than I am loving it 35 years later.  As always Ride.Smile.Repeat

POSTSCRIPT:  I was able to sell the pair of Continental gatorskins and the saddle so that brought my price on this bike down to $75 (120-45).  I feel fortunate to have found a complete Grand Touring in my size for that much and happy someones old Shogun is going to get an essentially new set of tires.


  1. Yes! I can see why you love this bike...look forward to the rebuild. Congrats on your job.

    1. Thank you Annie, after 5 months of looking the job could not have come along at a better time. I am really looking forward to refurbing the Grand Touring and then doing some "credit card" tours with it.

  2. That is one fine prize, Roadie, and a new job to boot! I think I saw elsewhere that you will be working at the Microsoft Campus as a sub? What a market for artisan vintage bikes! Whatever the case, I am happy for you on both counts. I am back at work as well, one of the reasons for my absence from the webs; also I lost my pirate wi-fi signal a couple weeks ago and just got back online with some high-priced cable internet. My new job means I am home all the time and no more motels so it was easy to justify the expense.

    On a long ride today I was contemplating my next bike and after a lot of fantasizing about shiny new stuff the Voice chimed in with what I already knew: the "new" bike will be old, a lugged steel beauty worthy of the work. It looks like maybe you have found yours.

    I will be posting soon I hope, about the art of squeezing 700c x 40mm tires into Little Miss's frame, an act of such depravation and shame that I shudder to think about they are lowly Cheng Shins, which somehow makes it all that much worse. Also a steel Wald rack. She is now ready to tour the Ho Chi Minh Trail loaded with bullets and rice and in fact, she is so stout and ready I may tour Hell this summer, just to see the sights.

    That one's gonna cost me...but I gotta tell ya, those are some rugged tires, and cheap. They also were an experiment to see if they would fit, which they did not, but they do now. So a couple paychecks from now they will (maybe) be replaced by some of those Schwalbe Little Bens. The Chengs are getting the job done, as they say, but the rear tire makes so much road noise that I constantly think there is one of those damnable Scions sneaking up on me. Then today, leaving the Winn Dixie with my milk crate (steel, not plastic) full of groceries strapped to my new rack, I hear the Scion Sound behind me but ignored it and then nearly got creamed when an ACTUAL SCION swerved just in time...

    so I still have a few bugs to work out...

    Fair Winds, Bro


    1. TJ as always great to hear from you, glad to hear you are employed and local, I have a 20 mile commute (one way) so when I am stuck in traffic I just hum "I'm making money" to myself. Cool that you are running 700x40cm rubber on the Little miss, hope you will post about that one of these days. Tail winds Velo Brother.

  3. That is a score. How could you pass it up??? It is my hope that when you get it "right" that you get to hang on to it this time for a bike just for you. I also like the lug striping. Gives it that look of a bike a step above the mass market crowd. And chrome tipped forks.....mmmm. best look on a bike. I am pretty sure I have never seen downtube shifters being labeled like that. I admit to being on a bike back in college with too much fun ingested but I think I always knew what each shifter controlled......
    Gonna be a beauty!!

    1. Thanks JIm , I feel fortunate to have found this model in my size at a reasonable price and I am looking forward to giving it some love. I have also been looking at home remedies for removing Sharpie marker !


  4. You know what is a bit sad to me? My wife made a stop at Target to shop for some gift stuff for a baby shower so I wandered over to the bike section out of curiosity. I see the Motobecane name on some real sketchy bikes there. If I was the CEO of a company I would never let the name of the company be drug through the mud of mediocrity like that. All in the name of stockholder return on investment.
    Probably why I won't be getting any CEO gigs in my future.
    Schwinn does it too.
    Your brand should stand for something besides profit.

    1. I heartily agree. The modern brands for Motobecane, Botteccia, Mericier, and Masi bear little in common with their more heralded predecessors. They should almost come with a disclaimer that they share only the name and not the heritage or craftsmanship of the former brand. Glad my MB is old school.

  5. That goes for Schwinn, too. Last week I was riding my '87 Voyageur around the city and locked up next to a 2013 Voyageur hybrid. No resemblance. Everything changes, but not always for the better. Keep rebuilding the classics. With a little work they are every bit as good as a new bike if not better.

    P.S. Every night I check Feedly for a new post. I love reading about your rebuilds. Think you made a good choice on the Motobecane. Can't wait to hear about your next adventure@

    1. Thank you Mr. Dan I really appreicate that, next in the work stand is the Black '79 Peugeot and it things work out I should be able to work on some over this Holiday weekend. Speaking of Schwinn's I was a modern Schwinn Varisty it was odd to see an Aluminum frame and a flat bar on a bike of that name but as you say things change...On the other hand I really loved working on the Japanese built 78 Schwinn Le Tour III for my sister law very nicely put together bike.

  6. It is all a damnable shame, this corporate stuff...and confusing, too. J Bangs rides a new Schwinn, equipped with S 105 group (my favorite) and that seems to be a fine bicycle. But the name Schwinn is muddied by the cheap crap sold in Big Box stores...How? Why? Coach, where did you get that new Le Tour? BD? I am assembling a shiny new Motobecane hybrid for a friend this week. Does that make me a bad person? It is actually a pretty cool bike, front suspension and shimano this and that...He is 61 and looking for plush, not speed. I will install North Road bars and a sprung Brooks (the guy is rich) and probably some Velo Orange pedals...

    But me, I want mine lugged. Richard Schwinn kindly responded to a late night intoxicated missive bewailing the prostitution of the Greatest Bicycle Company the World Has Ever Known with words of wisdom...there were families to feed and a big deficit between the dark night and food on the table. (Wouldn't a custom fitted Waterford be sweet? Stars and Stripes paint on mine...)

    I'm rambling. I have no philosophy on this subject, other than, liked I said, it is a damnable shame that the uninitiated may fall victim to the ruse of whored-out brand names from the Golden Age of the Bicycle. But Bikes Direct sure has some sexy bikes in affordable prices...I'm talking titanium, here...

  7. Agree that its a shame to see once proud names used on big box stuff on the other hand if Tim Joe's friend is riding around on a new fangled Motobecane with a smile on his face good for him. TPC I hope you are going to do a blog post about the MB custom you are putting together

  8. Well, I did the build and I wrote (briefly) about it too and now, post-build, I rode the bicycle for an hour and I loved it, more for it's newness and it's indexed shifting (what a luxury!) than for any reasons involving quality or class. The front suspension is fun but there is a sense of pushing the front end, or being in a slight uphill all the time. I was looking online at the other versions of this bicycle and I kept nervously twitching my hand towards my wallet and my shiny new corporate credit card but then stopped and instead ordered up another $90 worth of bits and pieces of bicycle parts for Little Miss Dangerous. New wider handlebars, a Tourney rear derailleur and a hyper-glide chain and seven speed cassette...I probably have over $600 in that bicycle now but she is worth it, I think...that includes tubes and tires and chains and paint and so on...not a bad deal for four(?) years and at least 10,000 miles. Did I just say 10,000 miles? Good Lord. It is true, though. I do ride my bicycle...

    Last night I was looking at Shimano 105 gruppos for less than $500 and considering frames...e-bay and Bike Island and BD et al (as well as the Big Names) and I was struck with a dilemma: what frame material? Not carbon...but aluminum is starting to look good again. Titanium would be the first choice. I also sorta made a deal with Mike Varley to buy one of his size-large original run champagne road frames...steel, of course...but that was two (three?) years ago and I doubt that frame is still around. And I really want titanium. Outer Space stuff...

    Either way I think I will squirrel away a weekly hundred dollar bill and buy myself a full-blown 105 package for my birthday, next month. Or maybe Ultegra, if I have any luck and get in a side job or two between now and then....I want a sub-twenty pound flyer that is just for riding fast and for fun. A Century bicycle, and I will e-mail Elden Nelsen and beg for a free Fat Cyclist kit. If he doesn't give me one I will figure out a way to put together a Trailer Park Cyclist Jersey and then buy advertising space at Fat Cyclist and sell them there. I need art. I don't know how long I can get away with stealing the old Airstream logo but it is so perfect for me that I cannot help myself.

    I have a huge pile of work to do this sweet Saturday morning, Ryan, so I started the day by coming here while I chugged my Saturday morning rum-laced coffee to kill a couple minutes and dream a little dream...Ultegra, I think...SRAM? Campy? will be Shimano...


  9. Hi,

    I'm a noob who's been bitten by the vintage bug after I scored a 1989 Schwinn Circuit in PRIMO condition from the local Craigslist.

    I found this site Google "1978 Motobecane Grand Touring" trying to get info on a bike that's been on the local Craigslist for a few weeks. Here's the link:

    I've been looking for a "project" bike to either ride and (probably) flip. This one is close to my size. What do you think of the condition vs. price? It's down to $225 from $275. I want to get it at a price where I won't lose if things don't work out.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

    Stephen Porter
    ABQ, NM

    1. Stephen, Welcome both to this blog and the world of vintage bike refurb. As either a rider or especially as a flip I would see if the seller would be willing to take less - offer $175 and see what happens all they can say is no and if its been on the market a while then they may be game. I would also figure to make this safe and rideable you are probably looking at $50 to 75 in new parts; tires, tubes, cables and housing, brake pads, bar tape etc. If this is going to be your first refurb I might suggest getting something in the $50 to $75 range and then you are pretty sure to at least break even. However, if you really love Motobecanes, as I do, the Grand Touring models don't come up very often, at least not in Seattle, so if it you think its a keeper and it fits try to negotiate them down a bit. Good Luck!

  10. I am jealous. Stumbled upon this blog as I was taking a little trip down Memory Lane about my first "real" bike, a 1979 Motobecane Grand Touring. Actually it may have been a 1978 model, but I bought it in '79. It was beautiful!! Champagne Gold with just a hint of metal flake, dark brown trim and cables, 27 x 1 Weineman concave rims, Pivo handlebars with the one-piece covering like is shown in the picture above, Presta valves in the tubes (whoa, what is that?!?!?), centerpull brakes, SunTour derailers (later upgraded to Campagnolo), and a black suede racing saddle. Arranged to purchase it from $270 from the local bike shop in my hometown, made installments to the shop with money I made from my paper route. When I went to college, I took it with me, and moved into a duplex after my freshman year. Accepted a management job offer out-of-state (at 20?? Hell yeah I'll take it!), but couldn't fit everything in the car, so left the bike and a few things with roommates. Came back about a month later to get the rest of my things and roommates had move out, taking the bike with them. I was crushed!! Anyway, glad I found your blog and wish you well with the refurb. Recently found '74 Grand Jubilee in seemingly great condition. It has Reynolds 531 tubing and bar-end shifters with Huret derailers. I'm gonna see if I can swing a deal with him for a riding bike, not buying it to flip. Anyway, thanks for bringing back some memories!


    Columbus, GA

    1. Lee thanks for stopping by glad I could bring back some good memories, hope you get your hands on that Grand Jubilee as that is a great bike. I will post on the GT again when I get to taking the it apart and getting it back together with the new stuff.

  11. Hi Ryan,
    I just moved to the United States and bought exactly the same model in a 63cm size, in a perfect condition with most of the parts still being original. I wonder how you restored yours in the meantime. Last time I was here about 6 years ago, I had a burgundy-colored Raleigh Classic touring bike, and it had splashguards and racks on it. Since it's kind of rainy where I'm now, I'm thinking of doing something to the Motobecane as well. And it has all the mounting points. Do you know what parts would fit the bike?
    Thanks, and have a safe ride,

    1. Hi Ben, I have not tried mounting splashguards, what we Yanks call "fenders", on the GT yet. I am running Panaracer Pasela 27 x 1 1/4 " (32c) tires and with the rear drop out screws in the current position I am concerned that my clearance is a bit tight in the BB and Front Derailleur area. With narrower tires like some 27x 1" (28c) and the rear tire farther back in the drops I think the fenders would work - something like the Velo Orange Facette 45mm Or the planet bike "Speedez" (45mm) would eliminate the need to worry about clearance near the BB and Front Derailleur even with 27x1 1/4" tires- you can find them on I may do that myself. The rear rack shouldn't be an issue as you can see my GT came with one, I believe any modern 700c road bike rear rack should work. Hope that helps. I am in Seattle so I know about needing fenders for the rain ;-)

  12. I have a bike very simular intrested in selling it actually its a (Vitus 172 MotoBeCane; Grand Jubilee i believe 12 speed)
    Asking $400 but negitiable .
    contact me @

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Hi Layla - thanks for stoping by and thanks for the notice on your MB Grand Jubilee, I will pass thanks as I am very happy with the Gran Touring.