RE: Astra, was[CR]Motobecane History - Chapter 2

Example: Production Builders:Peugeot:PX-10LE
From: "Mark" <>
To: "'HM & SS Sachs'" <>, <>, <>
Subject: RE: Astra, was[CR]Motobecane History - Chapter 2
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 23:46:15 -0400
In-Reply-To: <>

I had a gold colored Astra in the 70's. While they were low end Motobecanes (something I learned about a year ago from this list) a lot of members commented that they were attached to theirs. At the time, I thought I had a prize. Since I was so light then (67 pounds in 9th grade), any bike probably would have felt like gaspipe. I think Dale said he was quite familiar with them,might have sold a few I can't recall... and Dave Tesch also wished he still had his. In short, there must have been something lovable about them.

Mark Breakaleggo Cutrufelli, almost 40 years later; almost 100 pounds heavier, in Laurel MD

-----Original Message----- From: [] On Behalf Of HM & SS Sachs Sent: Thursday, August 28, 2003 8:33 PM To:; Subject: Astra, was[CR]Motobecane History - Chapter 2

David Whitney wrote a good piece, and I appreciate learning more about Astras. I didn't know they were a Motobecane private label product.

I believe that I saw Astras at a motorcycle shop "downtown" in Houston about 67, and predicted that they would never take hold because they used a weird wheel size (700c!). My next encounter was in Providence, RI, where I bought one from a want ad, about '69 or '70. Strictly a parts bike, and priced to match. Had been painted medium blue. Everywhere. Once in a while, while grubbing in one of the myriad of parts boxes, I still find something painted that shade, and just smile. If I recall correctly, it was lugless.

harvey sachs mcLean va

After cooresponding with Mike Edgerton about his involvement with Motobecane, I thought I share this fun story of his. I told him about my 1971 Astra, and this is his reply...

Astra's were a Motobecane private label, the guy on the west coast that brought them in was in southern Washington state, and I can't remember where, it was an odd town for that sort of company, Yakima I think. I can see his face but can't remember his name. They were always setup basically like the low end Nomad and Mirage models. The models I saw were always the steel Huret derailleurs and cottered cranks, steel wheels. If they made one above that I never saw it. I don't remember seeing an Astra after Motobecane switched over to the Japanese components on the lower end bikes. The Grand Jubilee was introduced my last year in the business, whatever that was.

Your mention of how heavy they were reminded me of another story. In Astoria, Oregon I had this dealer. The shop was named BiKing and the owner was a 40ish hippie named Jack Davies. I loved the guy. He wore overalls and an old hat, and he owned three quarters of the town, including several buildings and the bus line. Jack was into the science of sales. I'd stop and see him and he would be experimenting with concepts. One week he would try just telling people to "Buy it". He'd calculate how many sales he closed, how many he lost. He had some young lady that managed the shop for him, but he would keep his hand in it because he enjoyed it. Anyway, in those days there were basically 5 brands of bikes that commanded the top of the bike business in Oregon. Schwinn with it's established dealer network, Raleigh, Peugot, Nishiki, and Motobecanes. All of the sales reps basically ran into each other because we shared dealers somewhere. Anyway, Schwinn sold their low end Varsity as being the best built bike there is. They'd have a cutout of the frame showing the welds, and one of an import bike that hit a truck and was destroyed behind the lugs. The rest of the dealers would take a pot shot at the Schwinn by talking about how heavy it was. It was heavy, probably 10 pounds heavier than a Nomad or a Mirage. Now, BiKing had one competitor in Astoria (it was a small town), and that was a Schwinn dealer. One afternoon I show up and Jack is all excited. We had a quick dinner and after the shop closed, he and I went back inside, stripped down a brand new Varsity, and filled every tube with cement. Let it dry until it was fairly setup and reassembled it. I swear the tires bulged under the weight of this thing. It was out on the BiKing floor the next morning. The first customer that came in that said they were trying to decide on a Motobecane or a Varsity Jack says "go lift that thing" and points to the Varsity. Then he tells them to lift the Mirage. They always went for the lighter bike.


David Whitney
Portland, Maine