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  1. #1
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Unveiling My Motobecane Zombie Bike

    Here's the Motobecane Mirage that I just bought from Bikes Direct.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_xi_steel.htm

    I intend to use this as a commuter bike once I get all of the bugs worked out of it, and once my job site gets a little more bicycle-friendly - right now there's a lot of very rough dirt, which turns into mud if there's any precipitation.

    Anyway, I got it completely together on Saturday and took it for its first ride - only a couple of miles as I needed to make a seat adjustment and forgot the proper tool! Today I took it for a little bit of a longer ride - about 12 miles. I'm still learning the downtube shifters - a first for me - as well as learning my way around the area.

    The bike rides great. The steel frame gives a ride over rough cold-patch blacktop that I can only describe as springy. Handling is good - maybe a little sportier than my Surly LHT.

    As to the bikes direct part, their "manual" is pretty much worthless. But assembly is really pretty easy - the hardest part is cutting all the zip-ties holding it together. Here's a pic of how it comes out of the box:



    Pretty discrete box, huh? The UPS lady asked "You gettin' a bike?"

    The wheels seem to be true right out of the box, and the derailleurs seem to be perfectly adjusted.

    There was one snag during assembly, and that was in mounting the front brake. If you look at the following picture there is a boss welded on the front of the fork where the brake mounts. This provides a flat surface to which the brake mounts. However the brake ships with a spacer that is flat on one side, but the other side is chamfered to fit a curved surface. The spacer included wouldn't work, but some sort of spacer was required, otherwise the brake mounting bolt was too long. I figured I could either cut the bolt a little shorter, or I could come up with some sort of spacer. For now I went the spacer route, and a trip to Home Depot yielded three 1/4" washers that seem to do the trick.



    Any suggestions on a better, more elegant fix for this?

    Oh, here's the bike in all its glory:





    I added a Brooks B17 saddle to replace the el-cheapo plastic one that came on the bike, and added my own seat bag, bottle cages, rear blinkie, CygoLite headlight, and a Mini-Morph pump. I managed to fit a spare tube, a combo tool, patch kit, and a cable lock in the seat bag, and I have a U-Lock hooked through the seat rails. Also I have a CatEye Astrale 8 computer.

    One thing I did NOT know I was getting were the in-line brakes:



    I could have done without these, as I had planned on mounting a large handlebar bag. The brake levers leave no room, however.

    Derailleurs and shifters are SunRace and MicroShift:





    Regarding the frame, here's a couple of snaps of the welds (butted 4130 tubing):





    All in all I'm pretty happy. I think all I have to add yet is rear rack, and maybe a trunk bag.

    Oh, I call it the Motobecane Zombie because I know that Motobecane is really dead as a brand, and this is just a sort of Motobecane-back-from-the-grave sort of deal!
    Last edited by tpelle; 03-13-11 at 04:50 PM.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I've been checking this bike out myself. So far it looks like out of the box it's a great deal. Can you give another update once you get a few more miles on it?

  3. #3
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Sure. I'm trying to figure out how to take a little tension off of the front derailleur shifter. It's got a kind of D-Loop thengie on the shifter, but it's so danged tight it doesn't want to move, and I'm afraid of twisting on it with a big tool of some sort.

    The rear derailleur shifts easy, but the front one is a little too hard.

    Is that D-Loop what you use to adjust the tension? Do you just turn it, or what?

    First time with downtube shifters.
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  4. #4
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    You would have to undo the bar tape to run new housing, but those inline levers are easy to remove. You are better off without them. If you spend enough time on the tops for them to be useful, your bars are too far away from you.

  5. #5
    This bike is cat approved monsterpile's Avatar
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    That looks like a nice bike out of the box. I'll look forward to hearing more about how you like the bike as time goes on.
    My SUV is a bicycle

  6. #6
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    Regarding the cross levers you got by surprise, I vote do nothing but ride the bike as is for a while. You stated that this will be used for commuting and those levers can/will come in handy one day while commuting. I love mine, though I never had any intention on running a handlebar bag. You can always remove them, but might as well keep your tape and cables as is and try it for a while.

  7. #7
    nashcommguy
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    Looks good. I'd tilt the saddle nose down a little, but otherwise very nice. 3 years ago I bought a Motobecane Fantom CX2 and gave it the full commuter treatment...rack, bags, etc. and have been really pleased w/it's performance. Swapped out the stock tires for SMPs and have been good to go ever since. Enjoy your new ride!

  8. #8
    856
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    Thanks for the up close pictures, I've been thinking of picking up a Mirage and these pictures cleared up some of my questions. Is the shifting indexed front and rear?

    I know it is a different brand, but on the Shimano downtube shifters I have dealt with in the past, the D ring either adjusted the friction level (righty tighty=more friction) OR switched between index and friction modes.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DVC45's Avatar
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    Nice bike for the price!
    I would move the U-lock though, I'm afraid it might bang on the seat stay and ruin the paint there.
    "Cycling is for pleasure not penance"

  10. #10
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    Thanks for sharing. That's great.
    __________________________________________
    "You spend the whole time afraid you're weak, but clawing every second knowing that if you can just shut your mind off and turn the pedals 1 more time you're going to be 1 pedal turn closer." -- Psimet

  11. #11
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 856 View Post
    Thanks for the up close pictures, I've been thinking of picking up a Mirage and these pictures cleared up some of my questions. Is the shifting indexed front and rear?

    I know it is a different brand, but on the Shimano downtube shifters I have dealt with in the past, the D ring either adjusted the friction level (righty tighty=more friction) OR switched between index and friction modes.
    Rear is indexed, front is friction. I believe that's the way all of these "old fashioned" shifters - bar-end, sten, and downtube - normally are, with a provision, usually, to make the rear friction as well.
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  12. #12
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by relyt View Post
    You would have to undo the bar tape to run new housing, but those inline levers are easy to remove. You are better off without them. If you spend enough time on the tops for them to be useful, your bars are too far away from you.
    I disagree. I like this sort of lever for controlling speed while descending steep hills or when coming to a stop at intersections, both times when an upright position can be appropriate. I also find that they provide a bit more leverage than my STI levers.


    Also, that's a nice looking bike.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    Oh, I call it the Motobecane Zombie because I know that Motobecane is really dead as a brand, and this is just a sort of Motobecane-back-from-the-grave sort of deal!
    +1 - I was wondering about this thread, and you saved me two comments by this one line!

    A) What makes it a zombie?
    B ) It's not a "real™" Motobecane.
    1993 Cannondale T700 - 1994 Specialized Rockhopper - Actionbent T1 (Electrification in progress!)

  14. #14
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    *duplicate post - please remove*
    1993 Cannondale T700 - 1994 Specialized Rockhopper - Actionbent T1 (Electrification in progress!)

  15. #15
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    I was looking at this bike online this morning!

    I'm curious to know as how wide you could go for tires and finders. It comes with 700x25. Do you think it handle 28 w/ fenders?

    lnical.

  16. #16
    Get on your bikes & ride! xB_Nutt's Avatar
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    PM me your address and I'll drop a flat spacer for your front brake in the mail. I must have a dozen or so kicking around in the basement.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    I disagree. I like this sort of lever for controlling speed while descending steep hills or when coming to a stop at intersections, both times when an upright position can be appropriate. I also find that they provide a bit more leverage than my STI levers.


    Also, that's a nice looking bike.
    Yeah, I agree. I think I'll keep the in-line levers. My only issue with them is that they prevent the use of my handlebar bag.
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  18. #18
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lnical View Post
    I was looking at this bike online this morning!

    I'm curious to know as how wide you could go for tires and finders. It comes with 700x25. Do you think it handle 28 w/ fenders?

    lnical.
    Well, I don't have my tape measure - left it at work! But I took a couple of snaps of the area, and maybe you can tell from them:





    I think there's plenty of room between the forks and the chainstays and seatstays, but I would worry about the brakes. The brakes that came with the bike have no provision for any sort of quick-release, so if you were to flat there's no way to open the brakes up any further so as to slip the tire between the brake pads.

    I haven't looked around yet, but are there any brake upgrades that would work with the bike?
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  19. #19
    afraid of whales Mr IGH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
    ...The brakes that came with the bike have no provision for any sort of quick-release....
    The button on the levers where the lever meets the body, push it in.

  20. #20
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    I think there's plenty of room between the forks and the chainstays and seatstays, but I would worry about the brakes. The brakes that came with the bike have no provision for any sort of quick-release, so if you were to flat there's no way to open the brakes up any further so as to slip the tire between the brake pads.

    Hi tpelle.

    Thanks for taking the time to post the photos. I agree there looks to be plenty of space for 28.

    I'm envious of your new ride

    lnical.

  21. #21
    This bike is cat approved monsterpile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    The button on the levers where the lever meets the body, push it in.
    Thanks for the tip.

    This bike has inspired me to get my Ross road bike put together and try out some retro downtube shifters again. It also helps me keep from wanting to buy something like this. =P
    My SUV is a bicycle

  22. #22
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
    The button on the levers where the lever meets the body, push it in.
    Well, Sonuvagun! I would have never noticed that! All of my other bikes have some sort of mechanism down at the brake to take the tension off of the cable! Thanks!
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  23. #23
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    How is the sizing on your Mirage? I am considering getting one, and I don't want to get the wrong size. My inseam (barefoot) is 85 or 86 cm when measured from the floor. To me, the 58 cm size frame looks like the best fit, with its 841 mm standover height. I am 6' 1" and have average length arms and legs.

    I don't want to get too big of a frame and struggle to be able to straddle it when stopped.

    EDIT: I answered my own question... I went to one of my local shops and tried out a couple of road bikes to find my right size. They had the red 2010 Specialized Allez in stock in 58cm and 61cm. Since the Bikes Direct site compares the Mirage to the Spec. Allez, I figured it would work well for comparison. As suspected, the 58cm fit best. Even better than that, the shop sold me the 2010 Allez for $399 on clearance! I like the green color of the Mirage better, but the Allez fits perfectly and appears to have better components, and for over $200 off the original price!
    Last edited by Scooby214; 03-26-11 at 06:38 PM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    OK, someone earlier asked for a second impression of my Mirage after I got a few miles on it, so here it is:

    First off, i don't have a TREMENDOUS number of miles on the bike yet. Remember that I only live out here part time, and what with work, weather (I thought that it didn't rain in southern California......I mean they even wrote a SONG about that!), travel, etc. I only get a few chances per week to ride.

    My total miles so far is only about 40 miles. I'm not commuting on the bike yet - there's about 1/2 mile of dirt and gravel road to get from the street to the paved part of the lot, and I would have to carry or push the bike for that distance. Doesn't seem worth it. Besides, they have a water truck that almost continuously sprinkles down the dirt drive to keep down the dust, so there's always a slick of mud even when it's not raining.

    I've made a few adjustments and changes to the bike.

    I tweaked the rear derailleur adjustments - probably due to cable stretch - and I found the B limit screw was too loose. It shifted good before, but after the adjustments it's even better. I was having a few issues with chain skip, and i think it was because the B limit screw was not touching the hanger. Seems to be good now.

    I dropped the seat about 1/2 inch, as I was getting a little chafing and think I had the seat too high, causing my hips to rock. Much more comfortable, even riding just in jeans and without benefit of any specific bicycling garb or chamios, thanks to the Brooks saddle.

    I added an Italian Race Bike mirror to the left side bar end, and re-taped the bars. I'm kind of mixed on my feelings on this change, as the mirror is pretty small and far away making it hard to make out oncoming cars. I may have to try something else.

    The stem may be a little too long, and I'm keeping my eyes open for a shorter one to go on sale somewhere. I get a little shoulder and neck pain, and think I'm a little too stretched out with too much weight on my hands.

    I ditched my seat bag and added a rear rack and some cheap Nashbar panniers that I picked up on sale. I've used the bike for a couple of errands - bringing home take-out food and such - and the panniers work OK for that. I also just added an elastic cargo net to strap things down on top of the rack.

    Now for the good stuff:

    I'm still pleased with the way the bike rides. The frame seems eager to GO - don't know how else to describe it, but pulling away from a stop sign or traffic light, when I stand up to that first pedal stroke, it feels like the bike sort of winds up and just LAUNCHES!

    I have no clue how much the bike weighs, but it seems to climb good - better than my Long Haul Trucker and my Trek 820.

    I've gotten more used to the downtube shifters, and am almost as comfortable with them by now as i am with the bar-end shifters on the Long Haul Trucker. As long as I'm not in traffic I can hear if the chain is touching the front derailleur cage, and can reach down and give the FD a little trim to quiet it down.

    The roads around here are a combination of concrete, chip seal, and blacktop. It handles all surfaces well, but will vibrate your fillings on the chip seal! Nothing new there, though. The Kenda 700 x 25 tires run at 90 PSI, by the way. So far no flats, but the first time i get one I think I'll put in tire liners - fixing flats ain't my idea of fun. As a matter of fact, I may just buy the tire liners anyway before I get the first flat.

    So, all in all, I really like the bike. I was a little suspicious of the Microshift and SunRace components, but they seem to be working fine and I pretty much don't think about them any more. I'm still scouting the area and finding places to ride - actually kind of hard, as there really don't seem to be a lot of surface roads in or out of this valley - it's pretty much freeway in and freeway out. I'm going to keep riding, though, and see where this bike takes me.
    Steel Club = BF-STL-00064

  25. #25
    Saving gas on my commute Scooby214's Avatar
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    Glad to see the update. I almost went for this bike when I got my steel Allez. Very similar bikes with the downtube shifters, but the Mirage has a longer wheelbase. At $300, it looks like the Mirage is a phenomenal deal.

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