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Motobécane was a French manufacturer of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and other small vehicles, established in 1923. “Motobécane” is a compound of “moto”, slang for motorcycle; “bécane” is slang for “bike.”
Motobécane was a major manufacturer in the French bicycle industry. Motobecane is known for designing very light weight mountain bicycles. Motobecane was the first French maker to start using Japanese parts, in the late 1970s. This was a very good move on their part, because at that time Japanese derailers and crank sets were much better than the older French designs common on mid-priced 10-speeds. The change was largely due to the influence of their U.S. importer, Ben Lawee. The frames on Motobécane’s mid-to-upper bikes were typically double-butted lugged steel made from Vitus or Reynolds 531 molybdenum/manganese steel tubing with Nervex lugs. Unlike most French makers of the era, Motobecane used Swiss thread bottom brackets for most models. Motobécane finished their frames in beautiful and high-quality paint, a practice not often followed in the French industry. Considered the second most prestigious French bicycle (after Peugeot, whose more durable design they emulated, but ahead of Gitane), Motobécane’s mid-range bikes were good value; the company kept prices reasonable by matching high-quality frames with lower-priced, but higher-quality components from Japan, at a time when competitors were putting higher-priced, lower quality French components on mid-range bikes. Motobécane bicycles included the Nomade, Mirage, Super Mirage, Super Touring, Grand Touring, Sprint, Super Sprint, Jubilee Sport, Grand Record, Le Champion, and Team Champion.