Motobecane Mixte à la Randonneuse

This photo essay begins with a crappy Motobecane frame and fork that I’ve tentatively dated to 1972 – 73. My best guess is that this is the Grand Touring model. The paint is terribly chipped – “cosmetically challenged”, but the tubes are straight and without dents. Most importantly, after careful measurements I believe this will fit my wife.

I’ve several French bottom brackets and headsets in good working condition, so the first task was installing those components. All of my Stronglight and TA cranksets have tall chainwheels so I decide to go with a nice, lightweight 52/40 SR. As it happens, I also have a nice, lightweight pair of randonneur bars, an Atax stem, and a couple of excellent sets of MAFAC Racer brakes.

The bars and stem polish up nicely with Mothers, and on a whim I wrap the bars in blue. (Originally, I’d planned to go with tan or brown to match the saddle but this color grew on me.)

Comparing the head badge design to Motobecane catalogs helped me to narrow down the year. After 1973, the design became a circular motif.

The first mock up included a saddle that was situated waaaay too high. It was perched precariously atop the seat tube on a seat pin that was the wrong size. It took some digging, but eventually I did locate the correct diameter seat pin.

I tried out several options for the fenders and wound up choosing a pair that are a sort of satin, brushed aluminum.

I’d planned to run a Simplex Prestige but got worried about it being able to handle a big 32t cog in back. Instead, I’ve installed a period-incorrect Shimano rear derailleur that I know can make the jump.

And here we are, mostly mocked up, ready to fine tune and tighten everything down. Red housing? Yup. Another wild hair, I suppose.

I’ll add a chain tomorrow. Now let me think…where on earth did I store those KoolStop brake pads for MAFAC?

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9 thoughts on “Motobecane Mixte à la Randonneuse

  1. Tom Howard says:

    My 1973 Motobecane Mirage, a step down from the Grand Touring, had 27-inch steel rims and Simplex derailleurs, which broke after about 1 year. The best upgrades I made were adding alloy rims and Suntour derailleurs. Oh, yeah. I also moved the shifters from the stem to the downtube to make me look like a racer. And the suicide brake levers? I got rid of those, too. Nice build.

    • And before you know it, Moto switched from Simplex to SunTour Derailleurs also. I do have to go back and check the catalogs but at least by the late 70s they had switched.

      • Tom Howard says:

        Yes, the low-end Simplex bits just didn’t work as well as Suntour. You probably know it already, but Velo Orange now carries replacement hoods for Mafac levers, and Compass carries 4-dot and 5-dot Mafac pads.

  2. Paul Glassen says:

    Unless she is a strong cyclist, that 52 and even the 40 are not very useful. Perhaps you live in a very flat area? You mention a TA crankset (or chainset, as the British seem to say). A couple of smaller rings from Boulder Bicycle might be worth the price.

  3. Good point about the chain ring sizes. I don’t see her using the 52 much unless she’s going downhill. With a 144bcd, my small 40 is as small as it gets. To offset that I’m running a 34t low gear in back which results in 33 gear inches if I recall correctly. She normally rides her upright bike in the 60-ish GI range so I’m confident 33 will be an adequate bailout for her style of riding. And if not, I still have that TA!

  4. Roy H. Drinkwater says:

    I’m in the middle of overhauling a Bridgestone mixte right now. It’s going to be a French style town bike with a porteur front rack and town style handlebar.

    • How ironic the timing and content of your comment! My phone chimed to let me know there was a new comment and I thought to myself, let me finish typing my email and then I’ll read the message. You should know that I was sending a message to a friend to ask if he had a short French diameter stem for the upright handlebars the boss would prefer over the rando bars. She took one spin down the street and decided those would be preferable, despite having made a specific request for drop bars. Thus, I am also building a mixte with town style bars. Small world, eh? 🙂

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