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Throwback: Motobecane Le Champion Team Ti

From issue 5 | Images by John Maynard

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The Motobecane name has a long and storied history in the archives of European cycling. Founded in France in 1923 the company originally produced bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s Motobecane’s were mainstays in the French and European pelotons. In 1981 the company filed for bankruptcy, but was reorganized in 1984 after being purchased by Yamaha for the motorcycle and scooter divisions. The company was renamed MBK and now is one of the largest scooter manufacturers in Europe. Separate from the French company, Motobecane USA keeps the Motobecane name’s rich heritage alive via Taiwan and Japan.

The Le Champion Team Titanium sits at the top of the Motobecane line. It is constructed with butted 3/2.5 Titanium tubing. The front triangle uses a slightly sloping top tube design with oversized tubes mated to a machined head tube that houses an internal 1.125-inch headset. The tube features a rounded triangular profile, while the down tube is bi-axial ovailzed to increase bottom bracket and front triangle stiffness. The chain and seat stays use conventional tube profiles connected via breezer style dropouts with a replaceable derailleur hanger. The weld quality on the Le Champion Team is extremely good with small even welds. The frame is then mated to a AeroCarbon SL high modulus monocoque 3K carbon fiber fork with a carbon steerer.

The Ride
Titanium frames are renowned for their lively and responsive feel. The Le Champion Team lives up to this reputation and produces a ride quality that is pure Titanium. The frame, carbon fork and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels combine for a smooth and comfortable ride. The Le Champion Team is not as stiff as a lot of carbon bikes in either the front triangle or the bottom bracket. However, what might be lost is a finite amount of efficiency, but what is gained is an incredible ride quality and the feeling that the bike snaps forward with every pedal stroke. The Le Champion Team has a spacious rider compartment. Built around parallel 73-degree seat and head tube angles that are connected via a long 57.2-centimeter top tube that gives the Le Champion Team Titanium a stable and predicable feel.

The Le Champion Team Titanium is equipped with a unique of blend components. The heart of the component spec is the Shimano Di2 electric drivetrain mated to a carbon fiber FSA K-Force Light crank with a ceramic bearing bottom bracket. The rest of the bike is equipped with FSA K-Force Light brakes and with a Ritchey WCS seatpost, Ritchey WCS Bar, WCS Stem, Ritchey WCS Seatpost, Ritchey Pro saddle and Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels. The Le Champion Team Titanium tips the scale at 16.7-pounds. The Shimano Di2 Electric group is the pinnacle of shifting technology. Shifting was fast and flawless throughout the test. All the other parts worked without issue. Our 56-centimeter Le Champion Team came equipped with 46-cenitmeter handlebars. Shorty after starting the test we switched them out for 42-centimeter FSA Energy New Ergo bars to better fit the testers.

Climbing is where the Le Champion Team really shined. Turning a high cadence up climbs was the Le Champion Team preferred method of climbing and allows the rider to take advantage of titanium’s responsive feel and quick acceleration. Out of the saddle efforts were also best handled with a high cadence. Mashing a big gear muted the Titanium frame’s ride qualities and stripped the Le Champion Team of its responsiveness and quick acceleration. Climbing was enhanced by the Le Champion Team’s smooth ride and frame’s vibration dampening qualities. The bike seemed unfazed by broken or chip-sealed pavement, allowing the rider to maintain their speed.

Descending on the Le Champion Team Titanium was also pleasurable. The Le Champion Team is not an aggressive descender. Not delivering the stiffness of the top carbon bikes on the market, a more refined approach to going downhill is needed. The Le Champion Team prefers lots of counter steer and wide arcing corners. Hard braking or diving hard into corners takes the Le Champion Team out of its comfort zone. On open roads, the Le Champion Team’s predicable handing and vibration dampening qualities allow the rider to increase their speed with confidence.

On level roads, the Le Champion Team rolls effortlessly and quick. The titanium frame and stretched out riding compartment are ideal for sitting back and churning out the miles. The frame’s smooth ride really comes to the forefront as the miles pile up. Road vibration is absorbed at a level that few carbon or even steel frames can rival, leaving the rider more relaxed and fresh after many hours in the saddle.

The Rider
The Le Champion Team rider prefers centuries, Gran Fondos and all day club rides. They favor ride quality and technology above all else, but require performance that allows them to keep pace. The Motobecane Le Champion Team delivers great performance and ride quality bolstered by Shimano Di2 electronic shifting technology.

The Le Champion Team sits at the top of Motobecane’s full line of titanium bicycles. The entire line uses the same frame and fork, with only the components changing. Below the Le Champion Team sits the Le Champion Titanium Inferno with SRAM Red components. The Le Champion SL Titanium that comes with a Shimano Ultrega group follows the Inferno. Fourth in the line is the Le Champion Titanium that uses an Ultegra/FSA built kit. Finally there is the Le Champion Titanium Heat with SRAM Rival components.

Size: 56cm
Groupset: Shimano Di2
Wheels: Mavic Ksyrium Elite
More stuff: FSA K-Force Light brakes, Ritchey WCS seat post, Ritchey WCS Bar, WCS stem, Ritchey Pro saddle
Weight: 16.7 lbs. (w/o pedals)

From issue 5. SOLD OUT!