Thursday, September 16, 2010

My MotoBecane "Special Sport" Part 1

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Above: I got a call from one of my "pickers" Cal a few months ago.
The conversation went something like this. "Hugh, I have a bike I think you might be interested in. It`s a Moto something". Talk about "getting my attention." I thanked him and we set a day and time to meet at his place. Strangely enough Cal lives on the same street as one of my oldest childhood friends. About 25 miles from here.

Above: This is how I found the bike. My first thought was to restore it "as is" a practical commuter bike. But after checking the dimensions and realizing it would be a perfect fit for me. And not being real keen on commuter bikes (for myself) I decided to go with something more basic.

Above: I love many things about this bike, But these "MAFAC RACER" Brakes are fantastic. At first I thought, where am I going to find these straddle cables?
Then I realized that they are just shifter cables. When I buy universal shift cables and use the disc shaped end (on some old Schwinns) I always save the left-over short end to use for a front derailleur cable. So basically they were free (:

The Motobecane`s original wheels are chrome plated and have the dimpled sides, that make the brakes sound like an electric motor when applied. Also they are quite heavy. And the rear hub made a loud clacking sound. I purchased a woman`s Raleigh "Persuit" at a church/garage sale for the Belguim made alloy wheels (above) and some of the other components for 30.00. These wheels are a huge improvement, that did not cost a lot of money. Of course they did need polishing and truing and some fresh grease. Some of the other components went into my next project, A Raleigh Record

Above: The original crank while a bit heavy, it is straight and smooth. When I took it apart, to remove the bracket for cleaning and grease. One of the cotter-keys gave me fits. At one point it (threaded end) folded over (bent) and I thought Oh great! This bugger is never gonna come out. But I cut it off smooth and braced it using an old steel seat post (to absorb the shock) and managed (after several hits) to punch it out using an old nail-set. Not a method I would recommend. A little tricky, bike mounted on the stand then lowered to the correct height to slip the steel post over the fat end of the key. the holding the post and punch steady with one hand and swinging the hammer with the other. Great I trimmed the threaded end of the key flush with the nut for a cleaner look. I did this using a cutting wheel on my 3/8 (plug-in) drill.

Above: I did decide to replace the original derailleurs with some more modern and reliable SunTour derailleurs. I did however re-use the original shifters. Not like I had a choice, as they are mounted to a brazed on post (on one side) to the down-tube. But they look and work fine, no worries there.
There is much more I want to talk about with this project. So I will do a Part 2 Soon. In the mean time Ride-Safe and remember to always RESCUE,RESTORE & RECYCLE
Cheers, Hugh


  1. That bike is very similar to my "Champion du Monde." Mine originally had Simplex dérailleurs, along with the steel Rigida rims and the cottered steel crank.

  2. You need one of these to remove old cotters.

  3. Thanks Anonymous,
    It is my understanding (and I may be wrong) that Park Tool discontinued the cotter-pin press. I had located one in the past from a different manufacturer for 60.00 Today I located one at Now offered for 55.00 + 7.00 shipping. Seems a little steep for such a basic tool. I paid less than half that for my chain pin press.
    But if it is high quality and works 1/2 as well as they say. Probably a good investment.

  4. Hey Steve,
    I found a pic of a Champion du Monde online. Very similar for sure, especially the crank.
    I have one of those old Simplex front derailleurs that is (for lack of a better word) piston operated. The MotoBecane had Huret derailleurs on it. They did not look like they were worth saving. So I went ahead and installed the SunTour(s).


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