Thursday, March 20, 2014

Moto Moto!

My 1985 Motobecane Grand Record

Here it is in all it's pomp and Glory. My 1985 Motobecane Grand Record.
It seems someone phoned the 80's and brought me this Motobecane Grand Record from the past and into my possesion. Actually, I got this bike on a very fair trade from a fellow blogger at Vintage Restorations. He is a really nice guy to deal with, I recommend him for those of you looking for a vintage bike in the Denton area. A few weeks ago, in the middle of an ice storm, I drove out to meet him, the ice blowing sideways by a howling wind. Only a bike nut as obsessed as I am would have gone out on a day like that. Greg, who runs Vintage Restorations and is as obsessed as I am about bicycles, agreed to meet with me for the exchange. I traded a 1940's Korean roaster, equipped with rod brakes and a rear drum brake, for this Motobecane. In the end I think we both got what we wanted, with Greg being more of a pre-war bicycle guy and me being a vintage road bike kind of guy.

Greg on the left holding the roadster. Author on the right.

I spent the next few weeks ordering up some period correct parts and basic replacement parts such as the seat post binder. I took every piece of this bike apart and re-greased all the headset and bottom bracket bearings. I took the old, hardened and burnt grease off using Simple Green degreaser bath. Greg was kind enough to include the Campagnolo hubs laced to Rigida rims that are pictured above. I bought some tubulars on Ebay that are more period correct and could take my seven speed freewheel. In the future, I might go back to these rims if the tubulars fail under duress. They are indeed a great backup wheelset and I am glad to have them in my possession.

Today I took the bike out of a spin around the suburbs and bike paths for about 15 to 20 miles. How does it ride? This bike is a little too small for me to ride aggressively. It is not the type of bike someone my size can do long, sustained efforts on. At the same time, I am used to riding bikes in the 56 and 57cm range, usually with my legs just short of being fully extended on the downstroke. However, once I got a rhythm  going the bike is quite comfortable to ride and cruise around with. For basic exercise and transportation purposes, this bike fits the bill and then some. Here's a few more pictures of some of the bike's details.

You can barely make it out from the sticker, but the frame is made of Columbus tubing,
the good stuff back in the day.

The iconic dove logo decorates the Columbus made and very lively fork.

Campagnolo Triumph derailleurs shift on a dime and are very reliable.

Are those toe clips? Yes they are! Campy ones in fact.
I can see why people made such a big deal about bikes made with Columbus tubing. Together with the best components of it's time, this bike doesn't ride, it hums and sings. It's a feel good kind of bike, kind of like listening to one of Steve Winwood's good 80's songs, and drinking iced tea on your porch in the middle of a cloudless afternoon. There is a very innocent, uncorrupted feeling associated with riding this bike, and that's probably because this bike really is as old as I am. Almost 30 years old, yet the perspective I get riding this bike takes me back to the past, before people got all serious about riding. Just to give the reader a idea of how relaxed I was, I rode in tennis shoes, cargo shorts, a sleeveless tee and a backwards facing barrette.

This bike is definitely a keeper, and I plan on keeping it when my son gets big enough to ride it, as well as to lend it to some of my shorter 5'8" friends so that they can really ride the wheels off of it. Eventually the collector's value of this bike will appreciate to the point I might be tempted or forced to sell it, if I fall on hard financial times. One never knows what the future will bring. But for the moment I am happy I found it. I will ride it, love it just like I do with the rest of my bikes. Stay tuned for more articles like this and subscribe to my posts.

Some interesting facts about this Motobecane:

-It comes with an english threaded bottom bracket, however it comes with a french threaded 25x1 headset, not interchangeable with other forks, headsets, bearings or stems. Thankfully the bearings on this bike were well made and salvageable.

-This bike is one of the first attempts at making a more aero frame, hence the lug-less design, recessed rear brake cable and awkward seat post binder location.

-This bike is very serviceable, even the toe clips can be re-greased by removing the dust caps from the ends of the pedals. 

-If you run across one of these bikes for sale, chances are it was owned by someone well off in the 80's or an amateur bicycle racer. This bike was one step below what the pro's were actually racing back then. My bike came with a water bottle memento of a bicycle tour company that hosted bicycle tours in Tuscany, Italy back in the day.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome entry and nice Moto!!!!! Hope you enjoy the ride Johnny!!! Sincerely, Fellow Bike Nut