MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

SITE INDEX   FINDING   BICYCLES   WORK SHOP   TRADING   WHAT'S NEW?

MY "TEN SPEEDS"  

INTER CLUB TANDEM - INTRO

FINDING THE TANDEM

BUILDING THE TANDEM

RIDING THE TANDEM

 

BICYCLES OF FRANCE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FINDING THE MOTOBECANE INTER CLUB

The "how I found the tandem story" has its moments.  The Motobecane Inter Club Tandem was one of the very few bicycles that I have come across by reading the classified advertisements in the local paper.  I called the number listed in the paper and set up an immediate viewing.  The neighbourhood where I was headed was one of the older ones in the city.  I wasn't expecting much of any of the things that I would see or experience in the next half hour of my bike hunting life.  But that has a way of changing...

The narrow two story house that loomed in front of me was, indeed, old and had an unusual rock garden displayed in the tiny front yard.  The garden was very nice but the house itself was in need of something.  Perhaps finishing the started and then pretty much forgotten exterior renovations would have been a great help.

Passing through the little garden and up the steps took only a moment, though I did take a bit of time to appreciate the gardener's work.  The rickety wooded steps creaked as I climbed them, and the door bell did not bell.  I knocked on the door and a lady, in her mid forties answered, inquired as to my interest.  Upon learning that I had come to view the bicycle she invited me in.  Entering proved, what at first looked to be, a near fatal mistake.

No sooner had I entered the anti-mansion than a huge dog, and I do mean huge, rounded a corner and rushed at me.  The monster planted both front feet on my chest and with tail wagging, looked down at me.  A wide flat tongue snaked out of the monster's mouth and lapped my astonished face.  I had visions of the "Alien".  Actually, Fido was only saying hello and licking my face to do so.  I was however, more than concerned for my safety at the onset of this memorable bicycle viewing.

It turned out the Great Dane was an incredibly friendly animal and my trepidation soon abated.  His owners called him off but and to the bike we all went.  The Motobecane was waiting for me in the front room and occupying most it in the process.  I looked the bike over very carefully since the asking price was considerable - certainly more than I had ever paid for an old road bike.

I was soon to learn that the Inter Club was of early nineties vintage and in absolutely great condition.  And why not.  How often does the average vintage tandem, get ridden?  Though it can be ridden solo, it really takes two people, working together to take the bicycle out for a spin.  In this case the two people were visually out of shape and married.

Anyway, I jest.  The fellow probably figured, as I had, that it would be great to take his wife out for a weight reducing spin.  She, on the other hand, probably had unpleasant visions of her view from the rear saddle of his rear.  Doesn't seem too likely that she would jump at the opportunity.  There might be a lesson there for me.

Actually, that is just about the exact story that I was offered, when I asked why the bicycle was for sale.  The fellow expressed his hopeful views first and his wife dashed any thought of the his idea with the fat butt reference.  The dog still seemed happy enough but I had obviously taken a bit of the fun out of a potential sale for these two.  The transaction details would do little to add to the sour moment that had cropped up.

Hoping that the domestic situation would diffuse, I took advantage of the opportunity to have a closer look at the Motobecane.  The bicycle appeared to be reasonably well made.  The tubing decal indicated a high tensile steel product.  Nothing particularly special but at least the material was tubing.  A good sign.  I was however, surprised at the pressed steel drops.  They were pretty much standard issue.  I would have thought that more substantial drops would have been used, considering the loads that such a bicycle would be carrying.

The Motobecane offered one little feature, that I have not run across on any other bicycle.  A badge had been mounted on the seat tube.  This struck me as very unusual.  More so, when one considers the fact that there is no badge, or even documentation, attached to the head tube.

I cannot help but wonder what prompted this departure from the norm.  All other Motobecanes that have found their way into the old shed, sported head tube mounted head badges.  None the less, though I would have preferred a head badge.

Another interesting, but unimpressive feature had to be the industrial design fork crown.  Though it certainly appears to be a substantial unit, it is not pleasing to the eye.  That is, of course, my opinion.  One would have thought that, considering the high cost of this bicycle, a different fork crown would have been used.  That said, I really don't know all that much about tandem bicycles.  Perhaps the industrial appearance is a result of achieving adequate function.  Maybe a regular crown will not bear the extra load.  But, the darn thing looks awful and, in my humble opinion, represents tractor-like technology.  Again, my opinion.

And there were other "tractor technology" items associated with the tandem.  However, none were executed as poorly as the fork crown.  The heavy duty brake system is the first thing that suggests function over form.  The forty spoke rear wheel and brake system alone, probably weighs as much as some complete road bicycles today.  When one considers the center pull Weinmann calliper coupled with an additional Atom drum brake on the rear, the weight soars.  Of course, the question that comes to mind is why go to three manufacturers, to complete a brake system?  Mafac levers and front cantilever brake callipers.  Weinmann center pull callipers on the rear, complimenting and Atom drum brake.  Perhaps this was an attempt to cut manufacturing costs.  Anyway, this is, perhaps the most unusual brake system I have ever seen.  I can honestly say that the tandem's brake system is the most confusing I have ever run across.  That said, it is very effective at slowing the bicycle down, as well it should be considering the loads the Motobecane would be expected to carry.

And this mismatching of components was continued, both with the handlebars and saddles.  Now, I can certainly understand why two different styles of saddle would be mounted on a tandem.  But why seek out handlebars from different manufacturers?  Again, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the component selection.

The drive train was a pretty impressive TA unit and in wonderful condition and deliver power to the six cog wide spread freewheel.  Though I really never tested the gearing properly, my guess it that not too many hills would prove to be a problem.  Though the tandem was impressive in several ways, it was the drive train that was most impressive.  The cranks and ring set was really very nice.

Gear changing chores were handled by a Suntour friction system.  Though I did not spend much time using the set on the Motobecane tandem, I have used these systems before.  My hat is off to both performance and appearance.  The Suntour Vx rear derailleur and Comp-V front have always impressed me.  They are easy derailleurs to get used to and do their job usually without incident. I did have one complaint with regard to the tranny.  Why had Motobecane decided to not use the famous Suntour Power Shifter?  Though the friction shifters, that came with the Tandem worked well enough, they come in a poor second to the power system.  Again, was this an attempt to cut costs?  At any rate, once I had finished looking the bicycle over, my thoughts turned to purchase.

The owner of the big bike and I talked for a while, finally agreeing on a price.  I paid just a tad over half of what had been originally asked.  In an effort to get the price up, I was shown and given the original 1992 sales receipt.  The original selling price was $1,795.00 CND.  I was quite satisfied with my purchase since, at this point in time, I figured that I would be keeping this gorgeous and unusual old French road bike.

The seller, his big dog and I made our way to the Ranger with the Tandem in tow.  I loaded the bicycle into the truck, as the seller regaled me with his many exploits riding the Motobecane.  Judging from the condition of the bicycle, he had already spent more time telling me about the bike than he had spent riding it.  I tied the bicycle into place as I listened to his banter.  Needless to say, the tailgate remained in the down position for the trip back to The Old Shed.  It was a miserable day, weather wise, and I put the Motobecane into the shed, filling roughly half of the available storage space remaining.  And this brings up a point...

If you are going to buy a tandem bicycle, be prepared to loose considerable storage space.  If you are going to sell a tandem online, and pack it for shipping, rethink your plan.  Tandems are difficult to pack and costly to ship, in addition to being hard to fit into the back of a small pick-up.

NEXT - BUILDING THE INTER CLUB

 

 

 

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