I bought a Motobécane last year (pics below), and now that the bottom bracket is broken, I really need to know the model of the bike, to help me change that piece.

It would also be helpful if someone could redirect me to the Motobécane catalogs of the years 82, 83, I can't find them, and I suspect my bike is from this period.

Technical specifications:

  • frame color: green and black (How customizable was that? I think they didn't sell the same colors each year)

  • frame: tubing inexternal 707, "trainer" (I don't find the appropriate info about it)

  • brakes: Weinmann

  • derailleur: Sachs - Huret. 12 gears

  • Wheel: Maillard

  • Bottom Crank: ?? width of the shell: 74mm. From this page http://sheldonbrown.com/vrbn-g-n.html, the old french ones have special dimensions. Also on Motobécane, they are swiss type (left-threaded). I don't know if this is a cotterless one, shimano octalink, or if I can put something more standard?

[EDIT: As suggested by @Blam, I took the bottom bracket out. First mistake: shell width doesn't correspond to the red line on the pic, but less, so width should be 68mm, I'll double check on the bike. The Brand is Stronglight, french brand, but the threading is the normal one (left-threaded on the right side, and right-threaded on the left side). The axle is 120mm long, tapered square. Like this model: http://www.ebay.com/itm/VP-Components-Bottom-Bracket-120mm-Square-Taper-Unsealed-Bike-NEW-/311359596201?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item487e7a66a9

But anyway, I'm still interested in knowing the model of this bike, and/or finding the Motobécane catalogues of years 1982-83]

Important Note: The rear wheel is not the original (was broken). I also changed the part of the crank where I put the feet when I bought it (maybe I shouldn't have...).

Sorry if it looks quite dirty, I didn't have time to clean.

Pics: full view Chain ring Dérailleur Sachs-Huret Brakes Weinmann (1) Brakes Winmann (2) Frame Frame (inexternal 707) logo Front wheel (Maillard) Bottom crank (1) Bottom crank (2) measured width=74mm

  • 1
    Why not just remove the bottom bracket and measure?
    – paparazzo
    Commented May 10, 2015 at 17:52
  • The original motobecane doesn't exist anymore.
    – Dissenter
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 0:18

4 Answers 4


I don't know the exact model (probably is Trainer as shown on the top tube decal) but it was likely built sometime right around 1984, most likely 1984-1986 judging by the parts. The brand was known as Motobecane for most of their history. They went bankrupt in 1981 and were bought by the Japanese (Yamaha or Suzuki, I forget which) who relaunched the brand in 1984 as MBK (like many other French bike companies, they made more than just bikes - see also Peugeot).

The other giveaway is the Sachs-Huret rear derailleur. Sachs and Huret were separate companies - one German, one French - prior to 1980. In 1987 they introduced an indexing system to keep up with SIS which had come out the year prior from Shimano and was a massive hit. In the late 90s the combined company was bought by the American SRAM company. The shift levers look to be friction so that dates them to after the Sachs/Huret merger but before the advent of indexed shifting.

It is an entry level bike. The big giveaway is the tubing decal which says "Hi Tensile". Hi Tensile (or Hi-Ten) is the lowest grade of tubing used in bikes. Pretty much the same stuff used in Huffy and other department store bikes. That said, not all Hi-Ten is created equal and there are actually some Hi-Ten frames that ride quite nicely even if it's far from being the lightest tubing. Nicer level Motobecanes of the era would have been made using Reynolds 531 or various grades of Vitus steel tubing.

As you've probably discovered by now the bottom bracket is a regular taper with English threads. Most French bike companies stopped using French threads in the late 70s/early 80s much to the relief of bike shop mechanics everywhere!

  • Amazing answer, thanks!!! :D I didn't know MBK actually produced bikes still named "motobecane" although I suspected it with the "trainer" name. Yes thankfully for me the bottom bracket was a regular english standard :) Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 9:57

Small correction, my mistake should have read " "MBK Trainer" on the down tube " .. (but with a Motobecane Badge on the Steerer, some also with Motobecane in smaller letters on the top tube). Checked a couple of the searches I had, you truly have a confounding model. Hi-Ten, Cro-Mo, Motolite, 2040, one states Vitus tubes, but I can't read the sticker to verify it. Some with proper lugs on the steerer, some with "inexternal". I wonder if they were using up stock, after many of the older established models were discontinued after 84.

Fwiw, as long as you are happy with the weight and feel of the bike, nothing wrong with Hi-Ten. As long as I'm only on paved surfaces, I still enjoy loaded touring with a 76 Super Mirage with lowly 1020 tubing. The only bike I've always kept, still very comfortable at the end of long days in the saddle.

Motobecane stared phasing out the Swiss BBs in the early eighties, you are lucky not to have one, tough to find and expensive, the Mirage unfortunately does. Many report good result with the BSA BBs for stripped threads. Mine was in need and was lucky and found one incorrectly listed as French on the bay, I hope I will never need another.


  • Welcome to Bicycles @Geo. I suggest that you edit your other answer to include this material. The two posts get shown with the later post first, which makes it confusing for your readers.
    – andy256
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 3:29

Here's a partial answer (how to deal with the bottom bracket, not what bike it is):

The easiest solution (and likely best) is to buy the universal bottom bracket from Velo Orange (or similar). These basically expand to fit in, and don't affect or use the threads so they'll work on most standard BB road bike frames. It will be JIS (square taper). There is some more information at this link.

I wouldn't bother trying non-square taper -- you're likely not to find a way to fit anything else in. If you want to match the original threading, you'll likely have to buy from Phil Wood or Velo Orange and end up with a square taper anyway. Phil Wood will cost a lot of money, but Velo Orange will be around 40-50 bucks for the right threading (and around 70 for the universal).

Then, just buy your favorite square taper crankset (there are still a lot of good ones on the market) and go to town.

  • Hi, thanks for the Phil Wood tip, they apparently have BB cups of swiss dimensions, which is what I need. Following other people's advice, I'm not so keen on trying a "universal" BB, not always fitting and staying fine apparently... Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 23:18

Turbulent times for Motobecane.

You can find the (last that I have found) French Motobecane for 1985-6 (dated Sept. 85) on forum.tontonvelo.com (with the French model designations).

However, no Trainer in them and there are not many models listed - MBK/Motobecane was producing many other models many with older tube types from the past (decals similar to Peugoet - later with red/orange/yellow colors) during 85-6. The Motobecane name appears to have been dropped late 1986 the same year Yamaha became the main shareholder.

I suspect your Trainer is one of the earlier ones possibly late 85/early 86, the later "Trainers" I've seen have either a "Reseau Motobecane" badge on the steerer tube or "MBK Motobecane" on the down tube. If you check the components and the serial numbers with data on the web, you should be able to get a good idea. I stumbled on a few sources out there on the Motobecane/MBK Trainer when searching for info on another bike of that period.

Recently got caught up into this period as well due to a Motobecane "Ranger" (no MBK on the frame) from the same period, picked it up for the missing Espace bars on a 1984 Mt. Becane. Oddly and apprently the MBK label had already been used for the "Mt. Becane" in 85 (MBK model=Ranger) with the same specs as the '84 Motobecane (with the platform tandem fork and Espace handlebars through 86), the same time Motobecane Ranger was made with a different frame and unicorn fork. The later 1987 MBK Ranger model looks the same as the earlier Motobecane Ranger including the unicrown fork. All very odd.

Hope this helps and good luck! Geo

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