Motobécane in Paris, at the fair
And at the Salon de Paris Motobécane showed that France was ready to compete with Japan. Photos of the 350 cc three-cylinder have been circulating in the press for a few years. The French Moto Journal already published 'spy photos' in the winter of 1970-1971. But now he was there in real life. The Motobécane 350 Triple took the brand to a post-war 'next level'.
Because once Motobécane was synonymous with 'moped' or (light) motorcycle. So all mopeds and light bikes were 'Motobécanes'. This is how much weight the brand placed in the French market for two-wheelers. This phenomenon is not only known from Motobécane in France. In Indonesia, the generic name for two-wheeled motor vehicles is 'Honda'. This is how much impact leadership can have.
The name Motobécane could be divided into two parts: 'Moto' for motorcycles and 'bécane' as the street language for bicycles. So that was a clear matter. Motobécane was founded in 1923 by Charles Benoit and Abel Bardin. And their first creation was an 175 cc two-stroke motorcycle. That was the start and the run-up to top sales in the 1930s. Toppers from that time were the four-cylinder with cardan drive, machines from 500 and 750 cc. The Bol 'd'Or long-distance race was also won in that period.
Motobécane after WWII
But after the Second World War there was no time for such great things. France again had to be helped quickly and cheaply with motorized transport. Because the distances in the French countryside were too long to do by bicycle. And Motobécane did very good business.
The sixties started to hurt Motobécane. The French received a little more money and wanted to move on to the next step in civilization: they wanted to drive. And moreover, suddenly many good, affordable light motorcycles came from Japan. And motorcycling became 'fun' (plaisir). At Motobécane decided to make an effort on the lifestyle element within the reborn motorcycle world. There was a kitty and spicy 125 cc two-stroke twin and with Kawasaki as a shining example, the French also decided to make 350 and 500 cc three-cylinder two-stroke.
According to the surprisingly precise statement for France 350 'plus a few' of the Motobécane 799 Triple were made from 1972 to 1976. Of these, a few were even delivered to the gendarme for evaluation. The engine with its three Ø24 mm carburettors delivered 38 DIN hp at 7200 rpm from the five-bearing crankshaft.
The machine was equipped with an oil pump and electronic ignition. And just like the Kawasaki's, the exhaust gases left the premises via four mufflers. The Motobécane had five gears and a disc brake in the front wheel, and the light-alloy wheels came from Borrani.
To prevent damage from vibrations, many parts were mounted in rubber. And in the meantime, the French VAT on engines of more than 240 cc went from 23 to 33%. In addition, the 20.000 Motobécane outlets should each purchase a stock of parts worth 6.000 French francs. In short: the brand got into financially tough waters.
And so the planned Bosch fuel injection had to be abandoned, which should have made the engines considerably more efficient. According to our information, only twelve 'injectors' were made. The 'normal' 350 weighed around 180 kilos and was 160 km / h fast. And then the 500 cc three-cylinder came into view.
The 500 cc three-cylinder. A myth?
That big three-cylinder was an idea of Eric Jaulmes, head of the Motobécane research department and his son Christian. The basis was the 350 Motobécane 1973 Triple.
But according to many, that big three-cylinder is primarily a myth. For example, the copies shown to the press would in fact be no more than 350 cc machines with other stickers. But not too long ago a real 500 cc Motobécane was found. He has never done anything else but wait for better times at a former Motobécane dealer. There are zero kilometers on the counter. And at least two engine blocks would have been made.
And if the 500 in with Motobécane Museum in Saint Quentin is a real 500? And why the Motobécanes were also sold as Motoconfort? We look it up.
For people who want to know much more and speak French, we refer you to the site motobecane-club-de-france.fr