The Flagship of 1980
Unridden for twenty years, left standing in a shed and forgotten by its original owner, this lovely bike was under a cover of dust and in dire need of restoration. Made by Motobecane in 1980, this C5 was equivalent to the Le Champion sold in the US, but featured a Huret Success transmission and not a Campagnolo set which wowed the Americans. I love the gold paintwork of this bike and it’s nicely coloured decals which make it quite a thrilling find.
The bike didn’t make it out unscathed from that long storage in a shed. Strangely enough, it was the chrome fork crowns that fared the worst and were heavily oxidised. Why, is an interesting question, but I can only assume that chrome is more prone to rust than a bike frame itself, which is protected by layers of paint. The fork crowns were the second thing that struck me after seeing this bike for the first time, after my initial thrill of seeing it’s beautiful frame. Next were the wheels; flat tubular tyres and crusty hubs, suffering from years of neglect. I wasn’t sure they’d be any use any more, they were seriously close to being nothing more than scrap.
Rust and Titanium
The Stronglight 105 ter black crankset looked in pretty decent shape, save for rusty dust caps. I’m not a big fan of the black finish of this model, I think the silver finish looks much better on any bike. Nevertheless it had survived well, unlike the poor Huret front derailleur which had been frozen in one position for decades, eaten by rust and now a strange golden bronze colour. It’s rear counterpart had come off much better, having a titanium body and therefore immune to oxidation. The Weinmann brakes were now the colour of clay and under a coat of grime, but I could see that the stitched leather grip and the superb Philippe Professional bars and stem would recover well.
It’s amazing how quality parts recover when you think they could be destined for the bin; how they are able to shine once more, move freely and become perfect working machines after years of abandonment. Perhaps this is where the addiction is to restoring old bikes and classic cars, that great feeling of discovering a logo underneath years of dirt, seeing the shine return to forgotten beauty. Needless to say that after a lot of hard graft, cleaning off rust and road dirt, spider webs and hard dust, then polishing each part to the best shine possible, the difference was amazing. However, the wheels being badly affected by age, and needing new tubulars, it was going to be quite expensive to rebuild the bike to its original specification. It was a tough choice to make between a full restoration or parting it out.
It was the wheels that did it
For a complete restoration, this bike need a new set of wheels, and I’d already spent far too much on rescuing it from its original owner. Don’t get me wrong; I’d much prefer to restore than part out a bike of this quality. However, I believe it could be rebuilt into a more beautiful bike: with a new classic silver crankset, a better saddle, new wheels and a caring owner, this C5 frame set could be better than ever. The frameset is for sale on EBay for £79, which is a steal for a Columbus frame of this quality. Long live the C5.
- 58cm Frame Size, C-T, 58cm top tube C-C
- Columbus Tubing, Frame and Forks
- Huret Dropouts, Long Lugs, Chrome Fork Crowns
- Braze-On Mounting, Made in France in 1980
- Frameset Weight: 3134 Grams Complete with Headset and BB
- Huret Success Transmission
- Stronglight 105 ter Double Crank 53/42, 170mm Arms
- 5 Speed Super Champion/Alpin Tubular Wheelset, Wolber Tubs
- Challenge Pro Saddle, SR Laprade Seatpost
- Weinmann 605 Brakes, Medium Reach
- Philippe Professional Bars and Stem
- French Threaded BB, 22mm steerer, 26.6mm Seatpost