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Opinions on higher end Motobecane cross bikes?

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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Opinions on higher end Motobecane cross bikes?

Old 08-22-11, 10:04 AM
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robo
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Opinions on higher end Motobecane cross bikes?

My girlfriend needs a new bike, and a cyclocross bike seems like the ideal thing for her. It will be used for commuting, weekend road rides, the occasional light tour (S240 kind of thing), and riding on the dirt paths through fields that are all around her college. She is a good athlete and fast rider but hasn't had a decent road bike before.

Our budget is $1,500-2,000 US, and I've had my eye on the Motobecane bikes at BikesDirect for a few years now. At first I was suspicious of their quality but it seems that the company is sticking around and the very few reviews I've seen of their products have been generally positive. I'm a proficient home bike mechanic so the lack of bike shop support isn't an issue. Certainly the level of components is a cut above what you'd get from a name brand at the price level, and the frames appears to be fine.

The two I was looking at in particular are the aluminum Fantom Cross Team ($1500) and the titanium Fantom Cross Pro ($1700).

The aluminum Team model has somewhat nicer components (FSA SLK carbon bar and seat post, etc) and is cheaper, thanks to the aluminum frame. The Ti model has a Ti frame, obviously, and is disk brake compatible, but has slightly lower end components (Richey aluminum parts). Drivetrains are comparable (Ultegra vs Sram Force).

While I like the idea of a Ti frame, the aluminum model seems like the better deal, leaves a bit more money left over for pedals/road tires/new shorter stem/better saddle/rack+panniers, etc. Also, it's in stock while the Ti model is sold out until the end of the month

Anyhow, does anyone have experiences or opinions on these, or reasons I should think twice before pulling the trigger on the purchase?

Thanks,
r
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Old 08-23-11, 11:23 AM
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I have a windsor cyclo (the aluminum framed 105 version of this bike). I use it for cross racing, training in the spring or on rainy days(when the roads are bad and I don't want to mess up my nice bike), occasional commuting, and group rides when my road bike is unavailable. I even did a century on it this summer. It functions really well for most stuff, but has some limitations as it came stock.

First, if you plan on doing much road riding, consider changing out the canti's to mini-V's. Getting a frame and fork with disc tabs would be a good idea too. I would have thrown disc brakes on my bike if I could, I settled for TRP CX-9's instead. The canti's were a pain to adjust and keep in adjustment.

Second as you've noticed, a lot of the secondary components are kind of cheap. yeah, it's easy to be distracted by the nice brifters and derailleurs, but the stem, bars, saddle, and seat post range from similar in quality to specialized or bontrager house brand stuff to somewhat below that. the tires and wheels that came on my bike were also straight-up junk. Don't get me wrong, everything is functional (my saddle is extremely comfortable in fact), but if you're planning on replacing stuff you might as well order a frame from nashbar and do a custom build.

Another thing worth mentioning is that you aren't getting a full component group. The brakes obviously won't be from the road group, but neither will the crankset. The FSA cranks aren't bad, but they do take away from some of the value.

The last thing you'll want to keep an eye on is gearing. Be sure that the gearing on the bike you buy is well suited to what you'll be doing with it. Otherwise you'll end up spending some more money on a different cassette or a set of chain rings. When I do faster group rides on the Windsor for example (which came with a 36-46 crankset and a 12-25 cassette), I spin out at a low speed on the downhill, and I don't have a low enough gear for steep hills.

All in all, I'm satisfied with my purchase. The bike I got is exactly what I ordered and a pretty good deal. I didn't have any issues with customer service or anything like that. The only thing I wish I would have done a better job of is defining exactly what I would use this bike for. Doing Iron Cross in particular is going to force me to make some big changes.
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Old 08-23-11, 11:37 AM
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Cool, thanks. It seems from looking at the spec sheet of the aluminum Fantom Cross Team that there isn't the substitution of cheap parts like there is for the less expensive models. Most everything except the saddle seems to be brand-name stuff, which was one of the reasons I was drawn to this one over the FC Pro Alu model. Somehow I don't completely trust the generic parts on a no-name online bike. I guess I have some latent bike snob in me (the same snob who wishes the horrible decals were removable)

I've really been scouring the web for any mention of this bike (the al framed Fantom Cross Team) from a source other than bikesdirect.com, though, and can't find any. Was hoping for comments from people who had them. I guess most people go for the Fantom Cross Pro, since it's a lot cheaper ($1000 vs $1500) with (maybe? hard to tell) the same frame, but more generic parts.

Good point on gearing. The FCTeam Al has a 36-46 crank, which isn't much of a range, but it has an 11-28 cassette which is certainly better than a 12-25. I think this will be a 'try it and see' thing for the rider. Replacing a chainring (or two) won't break the bank if it comes to that.
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Old 08-23-11, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by robo View Post
I guess most people go for the Fantom Cross Pro, since it's a lot cheaper ($1000 vs $1500) with (maybe? hard to tell) the same frame, but more generic parts.
This seems to be the better value to me too, although I don't own either one. I do own a Motobecane Sprint I got from BD this spring, which is kinda midway between the two cross bikes in spec, and love it so far. It seems like for what you describe her doing, it'd be better to save the $500 and put it towards pedals, helmet, clothing and all the various gear.
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Old 08-23-11, 01:29 PM
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My stock Phantom Cross Outlaw has been through a season of cyclocross racing and training, snowy winter gravel road rides and through the spring and summer, wet roads any time it's raining. I just fired it back up last week as I've started preparing for the next cyclocross season. I've been very hard on it.. still works great. It'll last forever as a simple commuter.
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Old 08-24-11, 11:55 AM
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So after some discussion last night, we are leaning towards the aluminum Fantom Pro. It's $1000, BikesDirect confirmed via email that it's the same frame as the Fantom Team, and basically seems like it's more than adequate - the bling handlebars, brakes and seat post of the Team model aren't necessary for her or anything she cares about, and i actually think the Sram Rival brifters are more ergonomic than the Ultegra ones. Non cartridge bearing headset is fine, the wheels are heavier but might be more durable, the crank, BB, and saddle are the same, and the tires are going to be swapped out for road tires anyway.
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Old 08-25-11, 09:13 AM
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So, we just ordered the Fantom Pro, the $1000 model in black. It's ugly, but seems like the most sensible model. Good drivetrain, sensible brakes and sturdy wheels (although I'm a 32 spoke guy at heart and the 20 spoke Askium wheels give me minor heebie jeebies).

Now off to order pedals, road tires, and a rack...
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Old 08-25-11, 11:42 AM
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Nice, post a review after you get it put together.
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Old 08-27-11, 12:37 AM
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Please, for the love of God, MAKE SURE SHE LOCKS IT UP, even when it is INSIDE!

The college students are arriving in town right now which means it's stolen bike season. Thank goodness you didn't buy the Ti frame. I doubt it would have lasted a month.

Two locks in a college town. TWO! And DON'T let her ride it to the bar!



Sorry, I hadn't ranted yet today.
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Old 09-08-11, 08:51 AM
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One word

Turd
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Old 09-08-11, 09:49 AM
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At a College. Bike thefts are Extremely High and those are theft Magnets .
rethink a Bling Bike for that Purpose ,, save a Buy like that for Graduation Pressies.


Bene Sugg WSD.. if like most women longer legs but smaller size , or
the frame will stretch her riding posture out a lot.

but blanket size standardization only works in robots.
People are all different.
go ride before you buy..

Last edited by fietsbob; 12-02-12 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 09-08-11, 12:56 PM
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Personally I'd go with the TI bike. I've raced several AL bikes over the years and find them all to be harsh rides. My current race bike is steel and rides great though a bit heavier. A TI cross bike probably would be perfect IMO. And with disk tabs you could always go that route down the line. I'd love to have disk brakes on my cross bike. I sold my Airborne a few years back with disk tabs, wish I still had that bike.
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Old 09-08-11, 01:58 PM
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I love my Phantom Cross Pro with Sram Rival. I got it at the start of last season, and am looking forward to racing it again this year.

The stock post and stem didn't inspire confidence so i swapped them for Thomson parts right away. The handlebars also sucked... just a bad bend. I swapped them out for Nashabr Ergo Drops. Also, switched the saddle to WTB to absorb the shock of my clumsy re-mounts. Wheels also needed truing out of the box. Since all of that, almost no problems....

...The one mystery problem I could never solve, nor could my shop, was the front derailleur. Despite being labeled Sram Rival, it didn't have the same bend/curve as the the front Rival derailleur on my road bike, or any others we looked at. We were able to bend it to mostly work... but its still never been perfect. I never sweated it because Ive always planed to switch it to a single ring setup anyway... but still haven't gotten around to it.

Sort of a late post... but maybe you'll want to consider similar part swaps/adjustments.

Last edited by emayex; 09-08-11 at 01:59 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 09-11-11, 04:34 PM
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Don't want to double post but just replied with some info here (in response to emayex too ): https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...=#post13210435

Anyhow, got the bike, it certainly looks far better than in the photos. Not ugly at all. Setup requires about as much adjustment as building a bike from parts, rather as expected. Possible poor tolerances on the carbon fork, resulting in brakes not lining up, but this should I think be OK with a brake adjustment. We'll see

The rider is out of town until the end of the week, so won't be able to see how well it fits her, but I'm pretty sure fietsbob is full of crap... definitely replacing the stem with something shorter and perhaps with more rise is in the cards, but we won't know until she rides it for a bit. Stock stem and seat post both look OK, but are kinda heavy.
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Old 12-01-12, 05:29 AM
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I bought the Fantom Cross Team Aluminum about 5 months ago. So far, I would rate my experience with the bike as an absolute 10/10. It looks great in orange and the components are top-notch. I'm new to cycling, am no bike expert, and this is my first expensive bike. However, don't base my review on my lack of credibility alone.

Seeing as how I have practically nothing of any measurable quality to compare to, this bike "feels" freaking fantastic in every way. The canti breaks are splendid in my opinion, especially if your bike is going to be getting really dirty. The Mavic rims are so light and strong and have served me very well so far. The drive-train has been flawless, even when gunked-up and caked in mud. And the frame is lighter than I could have expected. All of the components compliment the bike very well and are all of great quality. I think you'll really appreciate the Ultegra 6700 drive-train.

I started riding mid-summer on the Conti speed king cycloross tires for the dirt trails and rough roads in oregon. The tires honestly ssuck and i suggest replacing them. Aside from that, the bike did wonderful in those conditions and is now serving as a magnificent commuter on its Schwalbe marathon supremes in wet weather.

Overall, you wont find a complete bike of this quality anywhere for even a remotely similar price. At $1500 this bike is a steal and I highly recommend it to everyone.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
If her torso is extraordinarily long a mens frame bike may fit, if like most women
the frame will stretch her riding posture out a lot.
Nonsense. It's a myth that women are on average proportioned differently than men. No evidence whatsoever supports that women have longer legs and shorter torsos. She's as likely to fit it as a man would be, with nothing known about her proportions.
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Old 12-01-12, 07:24 PM
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Originally Posted by jfmckenna View Post
Personally I'd go with the TI bike. I've raced several AL bikes over the years and find them all to be harsh rides. My current race bike is steel and rides great though a bit heavier.
That's a tire / tire pressure issue, not a frame issue. If you've got the pressures right, the frame material doesn't matter. You've got about 20-50x more deflection in the tires than you do in the frame. Frame deflection is way below the noise floor.
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Old 12-02-12, 11:45 AM
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Mootobecane Fantom Crosss Team TI



Ultegra, have 900 miles on it everything stock except it has new tires now.
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Old 12-05-12, 09:03 PM
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Shimano Ultegra Carbon Fiber Fuji Altamira CX 2.0 LTD Edition $1995
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ross_bikes.htm

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