Thursday, October 6, 2011

Motobecane Nomade Restoration Part 1

Hello and Welcome,
I found this Motobecane Nomade about 35 miles from here in my hometown of RoyalOak Mi. I paid considerably more than I normally would for this bike. However it is not that often I run across a mid 70`s Moto. in this condition.
Above: As nice is this bike is, it does have a few issues. Most notably the pedals are missing. Common these days, but not so in the mid 1970`s (at least not here). Also the front wheel has been replaced with a generic steel wheel. The rear derailleur has been up-graded to a Sun Tour Superbe Tech. I will be posting a link to an article about the Sun Tour Superbe Tech on the "Bicycle Related Links" list.

Above: The chain stay accounts for about 94% of the paint touch-up. In other words, the paint is in wonderful original condition. There is also a little paint touch-up to do around the seat tube collar (about 5%). The other 1% is in a few spots around the frame. "All in All" One of the cleanest mid 70`s frames I have seen in quite a while.
Above: As always I rebuilt the bottom bracket and took the crank/chain-rings apart. Each part "including the spacers" was cleaned and or polished. I like how the plating on the ring-guard was done to match the aluminum alloy chain-rings and arms.

Above: The bearings, cups and bracket are all in very good shape. I de greased everything and re-assembled it."after re-greasing of course" I did add a plastic protector or shroud to protect the bracket when I re-assembled the unit. I left the drive-side cup in place. To clean the drive-side cup, I just loosen the work-stand clamp on the frame (top tube) and tilt the frame a little. Then I can spray the Clean-Streak right inside the bracket housing holding the cleaning pot underneath to catch the drippings. Before screwing the left side cup into the shell I wrapped the threads with Teflon Tape. I thread the cup into the housing about 1/8 inch before I wrap the threads with the Teflon. It is just easier for me to do it that way.
Above: Before sliding the crank into place and tightening the retaining nut, I put a little blue "Thread-Lock" on the threads. I think the three piece crank looks really good. Looking at it now, I guess I should have installed a new dust-cap before taking the pic. I`ll try to remember that next time.

Above: Some of the bearing cups had stubborn grease rings after spraying them with Clean-Streak. To clean these and the crown-race I used the Mother`s Mag and Aluminum Polish. Note: I always lightly grease the "Steerer" Tube and lower Stem (below the insertion line) and wedge-nut before assembly.
Above: The Stem all polished-up with Mother`s. I used Turtle Wax Chrome-Polish / Rust Remover on the Stem bolt. There was also some light rust on the wedge-nut and lower stem-bolt. As well as some "rust-staining" on the lower stem. The fine brass "wheel brush" on the 18 volt rechargeable low-speed drill made quick work of that.
Above: As the wheel-set was miss-matched, I decided to replace them with this Araya wheel-set. The rear wheel has a Sun-Tour 5 speed free-wheel, which is a good match with the upgraded Sun-Tour rear derailleur. I am pleased that the Araya front wheel has a quick-release skewer. I will also replace the rear axle nuts with (M) nuts off the original rear axle. That should bring it all together nicely.

Above: Here is a shot of the rear wheel with the Sun-Tour Superbe Tech derailleur cleaned and mounted. As you can see I have also installed the new chain. I like to establish a basic drive train as soon as possible. The tires are PanaRacer Pasela Tour-Guards 27 x 1 (ISO 25-630) 115.0 psi. Yes, they are small and fast. And I got a fantastic deal on them as well.
Above: I had to include a close-up of this beautiful Superbe Tech derailleur. I bet they "snatched these up" in the early 1980`s when they hit the market.

Above: This is an older model of basically the same Huret derailleur that was on the bike. The original functioned fine but had some deep pitting on the chrome. So I cleaned-up this one (left-over from the Special-Sport build) and it works and looks fine. I almost installed an old Simplex, just because I like the mechanism. But I just could not "get past" the dull finish on the Simplex. Besides the Old Simplex makes an interesting knick-knack.
Above: The front brake, broke down and ready for cleaning and polishing. On all the alloy parts I used Mother`s. As for the chrome parts I used the Turtle-Wax. And for the plastic parts I used Simple Green (bio-degradable de greaser) The Mother`s also works well on the straddle cable. And all the nuts and bolts were cleaned-up with the brass wheel brush. As always, I did the calipers one at a time, using the other caliper for a reference. To wheel brush the nuts it is easier to brush them if you screw then onto a bolt. Keep the nut flush with the end of the bolt and the brush will do a better job.

Above: The front caliper all cleaned-up and re-mounted on the bike with a new set of jag-wire shoes. It is possible to clean-up calipers without breaking them down.
But to get them "as clean and shiny as possible" you really need to take them apart. Besides, There is "no better way" to learn how something works, than to take it apart and put it back together again. Even if you "get stuck" and have to go to your local bike shop for help, You will still learn. If you do have to go to the local bike shop, tell them you want to watch the assembly. Most techs and shop owners are happy to share their experience. If not, Go somewhere else! However, You should call ahead (ring them up). And ask "what would be the best time to come to the shop when you would have time to show me what I need to do". I know I would appreciate that. And be more likely to help that person out.
Above: The rear brake incorporates the rear reflector mount into the installation. This is a little trickier but no big deal. I am not happy with the pitting on the mount bracket. I will try to locate another chrome one in the shop. I`m sure there is one around here somewhere.

Above: I have cleaned-up these vintage English road pedals. I think they were on the old Team Raleigh Record. Who`s frame still hangs from the shop rafters, waiting for me to be inspired. I am considering using it for my track bike build. But I think the old girl deserves better than that. And there is another matching dust-cap on the way! A Special Thanks to John Fink for that.
Above: I have polished-up the original 25.5 seat-post. I was considering a micro adjust post. But the only one I could find was anodized orange with a sleeve. So for now I`m going with the original. I am also going with the original handlebars.
They are in good shape and cleaned-up real good. I also polished-up the original levers and cleaned the black hoods. When finished she will have black hoods and black cork infused thick handlebar tape. And all black cable housings and a sleek black racing saddle. And all new jag-wire cables as well.

Above: The Simplex shifters. In a perfect world I would install Sun-Tour shifters and a Sun-Tour front derailleur to complete my Sun-Tour drive-train. But as I paid too much for this bike going in, I have to be realistic. But I will say this, I do like the Simplex "adjust on the fly" shifters. Who knows? maybe I`ll run across another donor bike. Well that`s about all I have for now. The saddle has been shipped by Jenson USA. I ordered this saddle Sunday night and received my item has been shipped e-mail Monday! You can`t beat that with a stick! So Thanks to JENSON USA! Well done! I should have "The Nomade finished" post up by early next week, if not sooner.
And I have come-up with a simple technique that I think might make cork handlebar tape finishing (cutting and taping) easier for the beginner. So watch for that on my next post.
Until Next Time, Ride Safe and Remember to Always... RESCUE, RESTORE & RECYCLE


  1. Again,you did a fantastic clean-up. That is a great looking bike. I remember wanting one of those Superbe derailleurs in the early '80's for my Schwinn LeTour.

  2. That is one righteous Nomade build Hugh, I think that one needs to stay in your quiver for an extended test ride. I mean 27 x 1" gumwall Pasela's, Superbe rear derailleur and some sweet Simplex shifters upfront what more can you ask for?

  3. Thanks Ryan,
    Righteous Nomade build. Ok I feel better now. LTMS. What else? I would have preferred using a Sun-Tour front D and Stem Shifters.
    But unfortunately I am fresh-out of both. Maybe I need to start looking for some more "parts bikes". I am glad to hear you like the Nomade. It is a nice bike. But personally I don`t think it compares to the Special Sport. Other than a Brooks Saddle, I don`t think I would have changed a single thing on that bike. And the fit was absolutely perfect!
    The only other build that came close "comfort wise" was the Fuji Gran tourer SE. But for classic style, The Motobecane SS wins hands down. Thanks

  4. Aww, Hugh, Big O can't be all that bad if he once rode a Le Tour. Me, While I was looking at your post just now I found myself thinking things like "museum quality" and "jewel-like precision" and "I want one of those."

  5. Hey Tim Joe,
    I was just calling it like I see it. It was in my opinion "a poor choice of words". Hey, I have done it myself. We`re all human. But if I am insulted or bothered by something, I`m probably going to respond to it. And that goes both ways. I expect to hear from you guys when I am off track, in fact I depend on it.
    I`m not angry or mad or anything like that. I just had something to say about respect and I said it. That`s pretty much all I have to say about it. Cheers

  6. I give special attention to your Motobecane restoration projects. I am eagerly awaiting Part 2 of this one.

    I once owned a 1972 Motobecane Grand Jubile. It was manufactured at the time when the French bicycling industry was at its zenith, and prior to the time when Japanese components were being mounted on French framesets. My Grand Jubile was silver with red pin striping and had a half-chromed fork. I remember the paint as being only so-so, but the bicycle was very reliable mechanically. It was all French-made. I still think the old, French road bikes are unique in their refined and elegant design.

    I recall that my Motobecane's seatpost had become marred from numerous height adjustments, so I submerged it in an acid bath that lightly etched the surface and gave it a nice satin finish. I think I used a 50% solution of hydrochloric acid, but my memory could be faulty.

    The Motobecane's drive train included Huret Grand Jubile front and rear derailleurs. The rear derailleur was too lightweight and 'sloppy' for my tastes, so it was replaced with a heavier Huret Alvit. The Alvit always worked fine for my day touring and century rides.

    I hope to once again own a vintage Motobecane. French bicycle bargains are hard to find on eBay, but some reasonably priced machines do occasionally appear. I have noted that French-made parts for components are in very short supply, however, such as axles and cones for Normandy hubs, so I doubt if a Motobecane restoration project could be kept all-French.

    My compliments once again on your excellent blog articles. They are always interesting reading.

  7. Hey FujiPulsar88,
    There must be something about those 1972 Motobecanes. The Motobecane Special Sport I rebuilt and owned for a "too short a time" was a 1972. The Special Sport also had a french drive-train. I believe it had a Huret read D and a Simplex front D. It also had the dimpled braking surface on the wheels. But I must confess, I purchased a Raleigh Pursuit (step-through) as donor bike for the SS build. I kept the crank and pedals and the Beautiful Mafac Racer brakes. But I did use the Sun-Tour derailleurs and the wheel-set off the Raleigh. I also changed the stem. I think the stem I used may have been off a different bike. I remember I had to sand the stem town about 1/1000th of an inch to make it fit. It was not a pure Motobecane by any stretch. But I loved the look of the bike and feel of the ride.
    I doubt this one will match-up comfort wise. And if it does I`ll probably sell it anyway. Because that is what I do. I`m always selling bikes to finance the next project. But that`s what it takes to keep this thing going.
    And in closing I would like to Thank You for the kind words. I am glad you enjoy the blog. And I am sure there will me more Motobecanes in my future. As the Motobecanes are one of those bikes that I just can`t walk away from.

  8. Excellent work! But I have to disagree that the Motobecane has anything on the Fuji regarding style. It is hard to beat the quality and aesthetic of those beautiful old fujis.

  9. Hey Matteo,
    You will have to excuse me. I tend to get excited about the bike I am working on or talking about at the moment. The old Fujis are indeed beautiful and classic looking bikes. Although I don`t think they have quite the same mystique that an old Motobecane or Raleigh has. Cheers

  10. This is inspiration for the Motobecane I have out in the garage that is the same color. I wish mine were a bit smaller because I'm not organized enough to keep an eye on providing wonderful bikes for others. And, ultimately, what you do with these bikes falls at different points along a spectrum between cleaning and total rebuild - and picking those points is something I like to read here. Big Oak was being appreciative, or that was my take. It is what I did on my Jaguar show cars, except I had to use more Mothers due to the size of the vehicle. Also cars leak more oil and grease than bikes. I think you have to have done what you do to realize how much is really involved to get those old parts "just so." I'll know you've gone over the edge when you start talking about mixing black gloss and flat paint to match an original semi-gloss.

    Motobecanes ARE special and the Nomade was built towards the end of the real French bike era, with a mix of Euro and Japanese. And they had about the best paint quality of anyone. Mine still has fine paint as well.

  11. Hey Steve and Big-Oak and Tim Joe,
    I broke one of my own rules. Which is to wait 24 hours before responding to a comment or e-mail that rubs me the wrong way. More often than not my first instinct or reaction at these times is wrong. For some reason I ignored that little voice in my head that said "maybe you should publish this response tomorrow". As my father used to say "If it is a good idea today, It will still be a good idea tomorrow".
    I know I can be a grumpy s.o.b. at times and for that I apologize. The only thing worse than being wrong is, being wrong and not admitting it. So thanks to you all for keeping me on the right track once again. I will make a sincere effort to not repeat this mistake in the future. Now I`m going to finish my lunch before it gets cold. Crow tastes horrible cold!
    Thanks again, Hugh

  12. We all respond prematurely at times - I even have a "Grumpy" shirt from Disney World to prove it.

    My own blog doesn't suck me in to see restoration tips that I'll one day use on my cars, or to sweeten up a bike without simply buying something new or NOS. Restoration is a calling that some understand and some do not.

    I salute your calling, and your talent. In a post, I want to hear about how you appropriately use "Mother's Back to Black" in a bike restoration...

  13. Hey Steve,
    LTMS.. Speaking of Disney, The only place on Earth a guy can wear a fanny-pack without surrendering his man card to the proper authorities. This is to prevent loosing personal belongings and cash etc. on all the rides and attractions. To the point, My wife and son got me one with Grumpy on it!(go figure)
    I like to think of restoration work as a disease or at the least an addiction. One I hope they never find a cure for :)
    Funny thing, I was looking at a Specialized saddle the other day wondering if "Back to Black" could bring it back to life. I could not remember who made the stuff. You would think being a "Mother`s product" I would automatically know that. Thanks for the reminder. So... I will probably be posting something about how well "Back to Black" does or does not work in the near future. Thanks
    Cheers, Hugh

  14. Addiction? I think it sounds so much better when you call "Repetitive Recycling"

  15. Hey Ryan,
    I must agree, it does have a nice ring to it. "Repetitive Recycling" it is.

  16. I have the same Motobecane mid-70's Nomade and it definitely needs some work. This should help. Thank you! :)

  17. Hey Anonymous,
    Your welcome. And Good Luck with your project.

  18. I live in Southeast Michigan and would like to restore my 1970 Schwinn crate bike for my son. Have looked on line and only find out of state restoration services. Would prefer the Farmington/Southfield/Livonia area, but I would travel for the right restorer. Please list some recomendations.

  19. Hey Jas Mo,
    I would suggest you check the Bikes for sale in your area on Craig's list. A lot of "bike guys" (and Gals) sell their bikes on there. You can find the restoration guys by reading the descriptions carefully. You might also want to check with the techs at you local bicycle shop. Some do restoration work on the side or can connect you with someone who does.
    There is a guy in Yipsey named Ken who does some good work and sells on Craigs list. Look for his adds on the AnnArbor Craigs list. He is the only one I can think of in your area.
    Good Luck.
    Cheers. Hugh

  20. Nice restoration Hugh. I have a Motobecane Nomade also. Mine is royal blue with gold lettering, and unfortunately about 15% scratches. I am in the process of restoring it mechanically and would like to repaint the frame. Do you know of anyone who reproduces the decals? Also at the top of the seat tube mine is stamped 75. Is that the date of mfg?

  21. Hey Anonymous,
    There are three decal suppliers listed in the "Bicycle Related Links" section in the right hand column. I would try "Velocal Decals" first.
    I think that 75 probably is the manufacture date. But I would confirm it by checking the backside of the caliper arms and the derailleurs for a date. Also, you can do an Image search on Google for 1975 Nomade and compare.
    Good Luck with your project.

  22. Thanks for the reply Hugh. I checked out the decal suppliers and Velocal has 1976 Nomade decals which match as far as the "Motobecane Nomade" font, but the other decals are wrong. However, their 1975 Mirage decal set has the correct looking seat tube/fork decals. That appears to substantiate the 75 stamped in the seat tube as being the mfg date. My bike has Huret shifters but most of the other components are Sun Tour. They were on the bike when I bought it - no idea if they are original.

  23. Hi Hugh, thanks for the great articles.

    I have this same bike and would like to do some paint touch-ups. Do you have any suggestions for touch-up paint?

  24. Hey Mat,
    I always have a few When it comes to colors I often look to the fingernail polish section at one of the local drugstores. Fingernail polish comes in countless colors is reasonably priced and is always close by. It helps if you can bring a part with you for color match. And for small chips I never brush on the paint. It is more like tapping the chip with the tip of the brush. And I am always careful to not overload the brush. For more tips just enter "paint touch" up or "paint chip or scratch repair" in the box near the top of the right side column on this page. (just below the followers) And some pertinent blog posts should come up. Good Luck with your project.
    Cheers, Hugh

  25. Hello,i have the same bicycle...!!! (",) and now i decided for the refurbishing
    i would like to know the size of decals, because the originals have come off.
    Can you help me ?

  26. Hey Anonymous,
    In the right column on the blog just below the "Blogs by Friends and Followers" is the "Links to Other Cool Stuff" section. You might want to try "Velocals" or "Cyclomondo". If you do not find your decals there, try "Custom bike Stickers." I no longer own the bike so I can not measure the decals for you. Good Luck with your project.
    Cheers, Hugh

  27. Hello,

    Your website is very usefull for me.
    As a noob (but very handy) i'm trying to build a custom race-bike by using an old Motobecane (France) frame.
    I don't like the 2 sprockets and i would like to replace them with a single 28T sprocket.
    Does that require to replace the entire crankset? And if so, maybe you know the size of the crankpiece from this bike?
    I don't expect to easily find a new crankpiece + sprocket that fits my bike... Any suggestions are welcome!!



    1. Hey Marjolein
      Wow 28 T is a small chain ring (front sprocket). I think if it is an older Motobecane you might have trouble replacing the bottom bracket. (the axle or spindle the crank arms and drive side chain rings attach to) I would suggest taking it to a shop just to get some idea on what your options are. It is difficult to tell you any more than that without physically seeing the bike. Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.

  28. I have a question, how much do you think a Nomade fork is worth? The paint is in perfect condition, but the frame is shot because of rust.

  29. It is worth what ever someone is willing to pay. I would guess maybe 10 to 15 dollars plus shipping. The real trick is finding someone who needs one :)

  30. Nice work. This bike was my very first "real" bike. Still have it. Nice to see them loved.

  31. Just went searching around for information on my 1970 Normade Sprint - It has been sitting for years and the tubes and tires need replacing. I am not sure of the size, because the last time they were replaced my son's cub scout pack replaced them for a merit badge. I just purchased the 27" tires and they really did not fit all that well. And, that was just a few years ago - he is now 34. Can you help me with this question - what size and what type of tire should I buy?



  32. Hi Hugh,
    I purchased a Moto Nomade yesterday. I believe it's a '75 but I'm confused about the color. It's light green metallic. I don't see that as a Nomade color for '75. Thank you for the great information. I noticed you left the"pie plate" on the bike. Is this a personal preference to keep it original. I've read where some people scoff at these. This is my first Motobecane and adds to my collection of other '70s and '80s steel bikes. to me they have a great look and ride quality.
    Thanks for sharing all the great information.


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