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Old 03-31-11, 03:22 PM   #1
tpelle
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Where Does Bikes Direct Get Their Bikes?

I am kind of curious about Bikes Direct. I recently purchased a bike from Bikes Direct, and I must say that, so far, I am quite satisfied:



It's a Motobecane Mirage.

This was my first Bikes Direct purchase - my other bikes (a Trek mountain bike and a Surly Long Haul Trucker) came from LBS's. My reason for buying a BD bike was that

1. I purchased this bike to use during a 6 to 9 month out-of-town work assignment.
2. I was looking for a cheap bike that I wouldn't feel too bad if, at the end of the job I just abandoned it, or gave it away instead of shipping it home.
3. Being unfamiliar with the area I didn't want to take the time to find a used bike or locate an LBS to deal with.
4. I'm pretty tall and require a 61cm frame.
5. I decided I wanted to try a "retro" bike with DT shifters, and one that was simple enough for me to make any necessary adjustments.

A little quick research on the 'net revealed that Motobecane USA bikes are made by Kinesis Industry of Portland, OR at a plant in Guangzhou, China, and that they also make Diamondback, Felt Bicycles, GT Bicycles, Schwinn, Jamis, K2, Raleigh, Trek, Kross and Kona, as well as Motobecane USA, Dawes USA, Cycles Mercier, and Windsor America sold through BD.

I appears that BD goes lowball on their components such as brakes and derailleurs, but the basic frame looks and rides pretty good - and for that matter (except for the brakes feeling a little "spongy") everything else seems to be working great.

Anyway, to my real question: I was curious about where BD gets their frames, who designs their bikes, if these bikes are sold anywhere else under the same or different brand names, if the frames are just name brand frames that are obsolete and now re-branded, or what? What's the deal?
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Old 04-01-11, 05:25 AM   #2
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I'm not sure who designes/specs the bikes but they are made in Asia (probably China) just like 95% of bikes produced by major manufacterers. You mention that BD "lowballs some components" but I think you didn't look far enough down the list of bike, they offer everyhting from basic entry level stuff such as what you purchased all the way up to some really high end bikes with components to match.

There are a few of their bikes that are believed to be re-brands of other bike brands (keep in mind the other "bikeshop brands" are having their bikes made-to-order in the same factory so this isn't terribly shocking) but most of their bikes are made just for them. There is nothign wrong with thier bikes though. They simply use the internet as their primary marketplace rather than using brick-and-morter dealers like other popular brands do.
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Old 04-01-11, 08:04 AM   #3
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I've got a titanium Motobecane LeChampion from BD.com and the stamp on the frame says "made in taiwan".

As for BD.com going "lowball on their components", that entirely depends on the level of bike you buy from them. My LeChampion SL Ti came with full Ultegra 6700 components throughout, Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheelset, and Ritchey WCS post, stem & bars - hardly "lowball" stuff.

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Old 04-01-11, 08:17 AM   #4
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Yeah, that's pretty much what I thought. My remark about "lowball" components was a presumption on my part that most folks who buy BD bikes are looking for a low price and naturally gravitate to their lower cost selections. I acknowledge that I may be mistaken on that, however. But the way my mind works is that, if I'm going to pay $1000 or more for a bike, I'm going to an LBS for the professional fitting, setup, and oftentimes future free tune-ups.

My question was kind of prompted by my purchase of the Motobecane Mirage, above. My personal preferences in bikes was almost exactly met by that bike, and I've never seen anything similar in an LBS. Specifically I prefer a "retro" look, which includes the following features:
- A steel frame made up of thin butted tubing. I really jones for lugs, but no joy on that at my price point.
- A horizontal top tube. I abhor "compact geometry", as it's a feature invented by the frame builders so that they can fit more riders on fewer frame sizes, but at the expense of a less rigid frame. Frankly, I'm a big guy - right now at about 245 lbs - and that long exposed seat post on a compact-geometry bike looks like a potential visit to a proctologist for a seat-post-ectomy.
- I dislike modern brifters and indexed shifters. My experience with them on my mtb is that they always seem to be just a little out of adjustment - even right after an LBS tune-up - and every click is an act of faith that I'm not going to shift the chain off of a chainring. (I'm currently just recovered from a broken kneecap as a result of just that happening.). Also I really wanted to try out downtube shifters - getting in touch with my vintage roots, I guess - and I've never had them on a bike before.

My bike does depart from the whole retro theme, however, in that it sports triple-chainring gearing. But I'm also 58 years old, and the old knees just ain't what they used to be. In retrospect I find that almost all of my riding so far is in the smaller-two chainrings - I very seldom shift up to the big ring, but it's there if I want to use it I guess.

It's a funny thing, it seems, that the only way you can really get these things is by spending 3-months worth of house payments on a boutique frameset and a custom build, or buy an el-cheapo bike from Bikes Direct.

I expect that I'll ship this bike home at the end of my project, and in the future start looking to upgrade components.

Last edited by tpelle; 04-01-11 at 08:22 AM.
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Old 04-01-11, 08:48 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
if I'm going to pay $1000 or more for a bike, I'm going to an LBS for the professional fitting, setup, and oftentimes future free tune-ups.
that's completely your prerogative, and while i'm not explicitly trying to dissuade you from that inclination, it's important to mention that when i went looking for titanium road bikes at a couple of LBS here in chicagoland, the sticker prices i was seeing for comparably equipped Ti bikes were in the $4,000 dollar range. my Ti LeChamp from BD.com only set me back $2,000. that's not an insignificant difference.

at the same time, it was also a HUGE gamble to buy a bike that expensive sight unseen and unridden, but so far, everything has worked out beautifully for me (it helps that i'm a very normally proportioned human being). i've got over 4,000 miles on the bike since i purchased it last May and she fits like a glove and rides like a dream. it's a titanium frame; it's entirely possible that i'll be riding this bike for the rest of my life.

also, because i didn't buy at an LBS, it has kind of forced my hand to learn how to do the vast majority of my own wrenching at the local bike co-op, and that has been a wonderful experience that might not have happened had i stayed with my old habit to drop my bikes off at the LBS and let them do the work (and pay for it). i've found that bike wrenching is almost as fun as bike riding. the deeper you go into this hobby.........

Last edited by Steely Dan; 04-01-11 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 04-01-11, 03:42 PM   #6
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The Siberian Gulag. All other manufacturers source their stuff from Santa's Workshop and/or the smiling diverse clean-blue-hard-hatted American workers you see in commercials... April Fool....
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Old 04-01-11, 08:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tpelle View Post
Anyway, to my real question: I was curious about where BD gets their frames, who designs their bikes, if these bikes are sold anywhere else under the same or different brand names, if the frames are just name brand frames that are obsolete and now re-branded, or what? What's the deal?
Very few "manufacturers" build bikes any more. As Ryan said, most are made-to-order in an Asian factory.

If you felt like it, you could fax your specs to one of these factories, send them a check, and 6 months later have a container-load of bikes built exactly the way you want them. Your only problem then would be selling the other 499 bikes.
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Old 04-25-11, 09:21 PM   #8
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I have seen a few BD bikes and they really looked nice...
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Old 04-26-11, 01:38 PM   #9
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Are BD really cheap compared to LBS? Some of the brands like GT or Motobecane seem comparable to the LBS. not sure about the other brands though..
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Old 04-27-11, 01:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
also, because i didn't buy at an LBS, it has kind of forced my hand to learn how to do the vast majority of my own wrenching at the local bike co-op, and that has been a wonderful experience that might not have happened had i stayed with my old habit to drop my bikes off at the LBS and let them do the work (and pay for it). i've found that bike wrenching is almost as fun as bike riding. the deeper you go into this hobby.........
I agree with you on this. I have taken bikes to the LBS many times over the past years out of convenience. It was really laziness that kept me from learning about bicycle maintenance. I recently purchased a Bikes Direct bike myself and I vowed to myself that I would do the work myself. It has been fun and much easier than I anticipated.

As far as the Bikes Direct bike itself goes, mine is a Motobecane Sprint and I am very impressed. The aluminum frame (Taiwan) seems to be very high quality and equal to the name brand bikes. It had a few lower tier components, but nothing that would be too difficult to switch out if needed. Great value.
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Old 04-27-11, 01:35 PM   #11
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I've often thought I might go the BD route with my next bike, assuming I get the spousal thumbs up. Actually, I'd love it if they carried a step through bike (or better yet mixte) in my wife's size, but I suppose there isn't too much call for a "woman's" bike for 6' tall women.
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Old 04-27-11, 04:41 PM   #12
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I bought a BikesDirect bike a few weeks ago. It's a titanium-frame road bike with SRAM's Rival component group. I then proceeded to hack it up and convert it into a flat-bar bike. http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-titanium-bike

I've ridden steel-frame hybrids, aluminum-frame hybrids, and carbon-frame hybrids, but no major manufacturer offers a titanium-frame hybrid, so I decided to take matter into my own hands and convert one.

The Motobecane LeChamp Ti Heat I bought was a very good value indeed. It rode nice, and the frame is made in Taiwan. Taiwan has always had a good reputation for making quality bikes-- Brands like Giant, Merida, KHS, etc. were all Taiwanese companies.

The conversion went well and I'm very happy with my purchase. Considering how durable titanium frames are, I suspect this is the last bike I will ever need to buy. But if I ever do need to buy another bike in the future, it's going to be from BikesDirect.
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Old 04-27-11, 06:05 PM   #13
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The Direct part is you skip the dealer helping you out with warrantees and the build up labor
and service after the sale..
already a decent mechanic, then it may all go well.

the names on the paint seem familiar , lots of old brand names get sold
and the bikes contracted out to PRC and ROC factories.
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Old 04-28-11, 01:45 PM   #14
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Any decent bike shop will work on any bike and not hold a grudge for you buying it somewhere else. One of my many bike shop owner friends told me a while back, "We sell bike because we couldn't really be a bike shop if we didn't. Complete bikes are the worst profit per square foot of floor space in the store."

I would say I've never had a problem getting my BD bike worked on, but I do my own wrenching. I've had it in several shops while meeting up for group rides, etc. and never gotten dirty looks or anything. Kenesis in Taiwan and PRC makes good frames and forks. I bought a model with low end components and my worst regret is the rims. The upgrade I've been happiest with is the brake pads. Mine had generic Tektros and the pads were too hard to stop well. I picked up a set of Nashbar cartridge pads and they work very well, except in the rain. Now I can get inserts from anybody.
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Old 04-28-11, 06:55 PM   #15
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I've often thought I might go the BD route with my next bike, assuming I get the spousal thumbs up. Actually, I'd love it if they carried a step through bike (or better yet mixte) in my wife's size, but I suppose there isn't too much call for a "woman's" bike for 6' tall women.
My wife's 5-foot-10. If we can find 498 more, we can get a container-load!
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