Motobecane MB1, 175 cc (1924)
Motobécane was a French manufacturer of bicycles, mopeds, motorcycles, and other small vehicles, established in 1923. “Motobécane” is a compound of “moto”, short for motorcycle; “bécane” is slang for “bike.”
Motobécane is a different corporation from Motobecane USA, which imports a wide range of bicycles from Taiwan manufactured by Kinesis Industry Co. Ltd. under the Motobécane trademark.
Luis Ocaña won Tour de France on Motobecane branded bike in 1973.
In 1981, the original Motobécane filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by Yamaha and reformed in 1984 as MBK. The French company continues to make motorscooters. They also made fingerbar mowers[clarification needed] at least up to 1981.
For many years Motobecane was France’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles. Charles Benoit and Abel Bardin joined in 1922 and designed their first motorcycle in 1923, a 175 cc (10.7 cu in) single cylinder two-stroke-engined bike. By the 1930s Motobecane was producing a best-selling range of motorcycles. In 1933, they produced their first four-stroke machine with 250 cc (15 cu in) capacity. During the 1930s, they manufactured a longitudinal shaft-drive inline-four engine motorcycle in 500 and 750 cc (31 and 46 cu in). During this period, the firm entered road racing competitions and won the Bol d’or endurance race.
After the Second World War they produced the single-cylinder D45 motorbike that filled a need for cheap transportation. The successor was the Z46, equipped with modern suspension. Like many European motorcycle manufacturers, the 1960s proved difficult for Motobécane as cars became affordable. As a result, sales decreased. The arrival of cheap, efficient Japanese motorcycles also hurt sales. They continued to produce two-cylinder 125cc motorcycles throughout the 1970s. They also manufactured a small number of two-stroke, three-cylinder 350cc and 500cc bikes.
For a time in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the company competed in Grand Prix motorcycle racing claiming several victories in the 125cc class and finishing second in the 1980 125cc road racing world championship.