Girlie Bike (almost) Done


I’m just about done with Brandi’s Motobecane Mixte. Putting together the cockpit turned out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated.


As it turns out, old French bicycles take a stem with a diameter of 22.0mm. The trouble is that all the stems available now are are 22.2mm. So, I had to commit unspeakable violence to a Nitto Technomic stem. Following advice from Sheldon Brown, I used some sandpaper to remove those pesky .2mm of metal. It looks kind of crappy, but it works.

Vitus Tubing
Vitus Tubing

We’re taking her out for a ride this afternoon. Brandi is still complaining about the saddle. She didn’t like the B72, so it’s wearing an old diamondback POS from my junk pile. She wants platform pedals too, but the project is seriously over budget at this point. Saddles and pedals are going to have to wait until funds become available.

Old Motobecan Grand Touring Mixte
Ready to roll, more or less

Does anyone know how to determine the age of this bike? I’m guessing late 70’s to early 80’s.

We rode 7 miles of the newly-completed North end of the Cumberland Valley Rail Trail. It was 70°F out today, so I ended up wearing shorts and not the woolly underwear. Brandi does not seem to be a fan of friction-shifting. She’ll come around…

4 thoughts on “Girlie Bike (almost) Done

  1. Lee

    Nice bike. If she gives up on the friction-shifting, you could take a look at an internally-geared hub by Sturmey-Archer.
    They have a new one out with 8 speeds, the ZHU82, which fits the 120mm spacing on frames like these directly. Sheldon Brown sells these, he has a picture of one on his Raleigh Twenty. If that’s too expensive, he also has a large stock of the older 3 speeds and so on…

    I have a Shimano Shimano 8-speed Hub on my Bianchi, and the Sturmey-Archer ZHU82 on my old American OPC…. I totally love them because you can shift gears without pedaling, and the chain never slips or falls off. I bike in city traffic a lot, so this makes all the difference. The gears are widely spaced, so you have about the same range as a mountian bike derailer system,
    so this is by no means a pedestrian system. Actually Sturmey-Archer has been making them since 1902, so the designs are pretty well perfected by now.

  2. I think an internally geared hub might work out nicely here. It’s mainly a matter of budget. I’m also a littbe bit worried about replacing the cranks, as I’m willing to bet that this bike doesn’t use standard bb threadings and stuff.

  3. Lee

    If her rear sprocket is a Regina and Atom freewheel, then that may be a source of her complaints, Sheldon says “European freewheels with grooves running along the tops of the teeth were prone to a semi-freewheeling mode as the side plates of the chain would skate along the grooves.”, so he often modifies these “by re-grinding the teeth of the sprockets so that they somewhat resembled those of Sun Tour or Shimano sprockets…a treatment later known as Sheldo-Glide ”

    This is the same issue that I had with the friction shifting on my OPC bike… but realistically the cogs are very easy to damage if you try to remove the sprocket, because it’s a two-prong puller on those, and they are tightened by your pedaling, so removal will likely be a destructive process… you can get a replacement cog from Sheldon which is modifed, and put that on, but you’d have to ask him what sizes are in stock.

    If you do have a Suntour freewheel on there, you can get interchangable cogs as yellowjersey:

    For the BB you need to get the Sugino Cup Sets w/ French thread,
    get the matching cup and cone spindles (3xx series i think?),
    You can get the tools (VAR#393 Crank puller or Stein Stronglight Crank Puller depending what it is) and once apart, you can have a shop measure the threads with precision calipers.

    Then, just get the Sugino Cup Set w/ French thread, and the spindle, if you need one, and whatever else you want to put in there…

    The other upside to the internal geared hub, is that you can bring the crank back down to one cog (like 42 tooth?) and still have a nice range… the benefit of that is you can add a chainguard like the one from WALD… it’ll look great, and you can wear long pants with it….

  4. Wow, I didn’t realize sheldon had french bbs.

    I have been wanting to do an internal geared bike for myself. At the moment, it’s not too much of a problem for her, because she only rides on rail-trails, which are so level, she doesn’t shift very much anyhow.

    That is a snazzy chainguard though.

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