MBK (Montobecane) Super Mistral

After a second knee arthroscopy in August 2013 it was suggested by the physiotherapist that I might purchase a turbo-trainer to assist with recovery.  I was determined to do all that was possible to achieve the best outcome from the operation and so purchased a Minoura B60 turbo-trainer, hooked up the Dawes Audax and got spinning about six weeks after the operation.

1982 MBK (Montobecane) Super Mistral
1982 MBK (Montobecane) Super Mistral

As expected the turbo-trainer can be tedious to use but I was motivated and, in the absence of actually being on the road for the time being, I quite enjoyed getting the exercise.  In time I believe it did help obtain a basic level of fitness that helped when I did get back on the road bike again properly.  However, using the Audax on the turbo trainer resulted in two problems: (i) the turbo-trainer is hard on the tyres – quickly destroying them for road use, and (ii) when I did get back on the road, I still needed to maintain some turbo work and it was quite a palaver fixing up the road bike each time and taking it off; I had also come to the conclusion that during the winter when road miles inevitably decline, some turbo work was just a good idea.  The bike didn’t even need to be road worthy, just inexpensive and compatible with the turbo-trainer.  And so I sought out a cheap bike that could be permanently fixed onto the turbo-trainer, ending up with an old French racing bike which I found through the CTC Forum sales column.

The MBK (previously Montobecane) was built in 1982 and came with all the original equipment.  It didn’t look too bad when I picked it up from the owner at Croydon Station but as I rode it home it was clear that it was a bit of a bone shaker and even for use on the turbo-trainer would require some fixing up.  With a bit of spit-and-polish, change of saddle and some new handlebar tape the bike soon looked better.  I also rigged a cheap cycling computer on the rear wheel to measure speed and distance during training, though from experience I don’t see it as directly comparable to figures achieved on the road.

Turbo-trainer set-up + cable to indexed knob on the handlebars to adjust resistance.
Turbo-trainer set-up + cable to indexed knob on the handlebars to adjust resistance.

The turbo-trainer provides increasing levels of resistance to control the work rate and therefore gears would not be needed.  Being French and over 30-years old the rear drop-outs are narrow 125 OLN but I managed to cold set the rear stays in order to use a spare 135 OLN rear wheel I already had and, as the gears were not needed, just line-up one of the lower sprockets with the smallest chainring and adjust the resistance though the turbo trainer cable.  I have since bought a second-hand 130 OLN wheel through the CTC Forum, which works well and places less stress on the rear stays.

The riding position is quite 'compact' but OK for the turbo-trainer.
The riding position is quite ‘compact’ but OK for the turbo-trainer.

Being essentially a racing bike the handlebars are compact and the top tube is short compared to my road bike, making the riding style quite different to my Audax.  For the brief moment I originally had it on the road, I found the bike quite skittish and tricky to ride – probably the very narrow wheels contributed to this too – but on the turbo-trainer I find it OK.  Altogether it has proved quite successful, which is fortunate, as I am now facing another knee operation soon and expect it to be put to good use again soon thereafter to help with my recovery.


Frame Steel 21.5”
Chainset x2 40 / 52
Crank 170 mm
Rear block x6 28-24-21-19-16-14
Derailleur, front mech & gear levers (friction) Suntour
Brakes Suntour
Wheels 700c 19/23 clincher

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