Monday, November 16, 2009

Tired Wheel Deal I: Motobecane Mirage Mixte

There were about 4,000,000,000 of these bikes made back in the glory days of French bicycles. Motobecane was the biggest mass-producer of French bikes during the days this was made, but it has since gone bankrupt, so any new bikes you see carrying the Motobecane name are certainly made in Taiwan (not that there is anything innately wrong with that, despite some snobs' protestations to the contrary, but it is certainly quite a different operation than the French production plants).

Fortunately this bike did not suffer from the usual complications that come with being French, however. During the bike boom days of the late 70s and early 80s, all you had to do was slap "made in France" on the side and it upped the value $200. The Mirage was the bottom of the line, cranked out in huge numbers. The heavy straight-gauge 1020 Motobecane steel tubing, original steel wheels and stamped dropouts (among other things) reveal it to be a remarkably unremarkable bike. But it is still lugged steel, and made with the highly functional yet highly misunderstood Mixte design, so bikes of this caliber always have the potential to be spruced up into perfectly decent city bikes for commuting, grocery getting, etc.

When I got this bike it was all stock, and rusty. Suntour drive train (VX if I recall correctly), stem-mount shifters, did I mention steel wheels? I tossed the wheels and replaced them with mismatched alloy-rimmed guys (the rear was a nicer Suzue with an ACS freewheel spun onto it).

Also swapped out the cranks for a set of RX100 (with a single ring of course).


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