This is a Motobecane in nice condition for its age. Well, at least, this is what went through my mind when I first saw it and met its owner. I use “owner” here in the loosest sense, as he was a guy who dabbles in fixie projects and had never got round to converting this Motobecane. In any cse, it was neither a complete racing bike nor a was it a fixie, as there was no rear derailleur or chain, and the saddle was also missing. Worryingly, the seatpost was bottomed out in the seat tube and that did send alarm bells ringing.
The Super Sprint
The Super Sprint was a mid-range model which had its main tubes built with Vitus 888. Some models of this bike were built with a chrome fork, but I’m glad that this one had a matching green fork, even though it was made of 28-19 “Haut Stabilite” basic steel. It’s interesting that this bike is very similar to the Grand Sprint that I review a while back here; there are slight differences in components and the main tubes of the Grand Sprint were built with Vitus 172 and not 888, but they look nearly identicial.
This bike has lost some of its original parts, most noticeably its wheels and saddle. I’m quite sure its proper wheelset would have been identical to that of the Grand Sprint, which had Rigida rims and high flange Normandy hubs. Although it’s still a ten speed bike with a 2 x 5 transmission, the spacing on the rear wheel is wider than it should be, being 126mm. It’s difficult to slot the rear wheel between the stays. These more modern wheels are mismatched, and frankly, aren’t worthy of the frame.
The Missing Crankset
You may have noticed there’s no crankset on this bike, but admittedly there was one fitted when I bought it. I removed it to give it a good clean, and probably to sell, if needs be, to recoup the money I paid for this bike that may never get on the road again. Bear with me here, I haven’t explained its serious issues yet. Anyway, the crankset in that was on there was a lovely Shimano 600 Arabesque, in very nice condition, and is now currently for sale on my Ebay page. I don’t believe that it was the original crankset on the bike; most likely it was an upgrade, as the rest of the Shimano parts are not of that quality.
The Bent Hanger
What’s the best way to sell a bike with a bent hanger? Advertise it as a fixie project. This is what the seller of this damaged frame did, and he wasn’t forthcoming about this serious problem. Now I realise why the rear derailleur and chain were taken off, as surely they must have been damaged too. I wonder what caused such a strong piece of steel to warp like that, and my conjecture is that the rear derailleur got mangled up with the chain and freewheel in some catastrophic transmission event.
I’ve had a number of bikes with stuck seatposts, and a few have resisted all attempts to extract them. Interestingly, this is the same model of SR seatpost that was stuck in this Peugeot frame which refused to budge, and it has the same weathered and rather lifeless grey colour. What you’ll notice immediately is that the post is bottomed out on the frame, which is quite unusual. It also means I have less of the seatpost to work with, and even more worringly, that a lot more of its aluminium is potentially bonded to the steel frame. It has so far resisted all attempts at normal rotational removal.
The Seatpost Problem
I decided to cut off the head of the SR seatpost to enable a chance of dislodging it with the downward blow of a hammer. It would also enable me to go at it with a blowtorch or drill or necessary. However, after removing the top of the seatpost I had no luck striking it downwards with the hammer, it just refused to budge. I get the impression that much of the seatpost’s length is bonded to the tube. It feels just as intransigent as the same steel and seatpost I faced last year. I’m getting rather discouraged.