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First Road Bike: Motobecane Record, my experience

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

First Road Bike: Motobecane Record, my experience

Old 02-04-09, 02:05 AM
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atxlatino
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First Road Bike: Motobecane Record, my experience

I'm a mountain biker who is interested in road biking, so I decided to take the plunge and try it out. Previously, I've done, at most, 30 miles on slicks, but that was a little uncomfortable towards the end. I really don't want to start another discussion on "the company which shall not be named" so I'm not going to mention it. This post is about the bike, and I just want to provide a realistic report on my experience throughout the purchase, assembly, test ride, first real ride, and so on...from the point of view of a complete road newbie. I've had no previous experience with bike assembly or road bikes at all. I've done my own maintenance on the mountain bike after a crappy LBS job. To others considering a similar bike, here is my experience so far. I will update as I go along.

WHY I CHOSE THIS BIKE

- Price
- I'm just curious like that
- Brand is not important to me
- I mainly mountain bike, and don't want to spend $850 on a Specialized they showed me at the LBS (Disclaimer: I really don't know much about bikes, so I'm not saying this bike compares to one, since I have no idea. I don't know, and I don't care).
- The underdogs need love too
- Again, it all came down to price, and it looked like a good deal. I was left with an extra $300 for accessories (yeah!).

I did several hours and dozens of threads of research before buying. I've already seen so many threads on BF discussing this bike and company, so lets not start another debate.

ORDERING + SHIPPING

I ordered the bike Thursday 1/29/09, tracking info was e-mailed to me the same day, and the bike was delivered to El Paso on Monday 2/2 (shipped from Houston). I was very pleased with delivery time.

The box was packaged well, and had alot of foam and cardboard to protect components. The smaller stuff was in separate bags or boxes, and everything was in order. There was no damage to any components of the bike, so UPS did a great job here. Also included were all the Shimano manuals for the major components, which have very detailed information on installation and maintenance. These are the same PDF docs that can be downloaded from the website.

ASSEMBLY

The first thing I noticed was the front derailleur cable looked out of place, and instead of going straight to the front of the bike and up to the bars, it passed from the left, underneath the top tube, to the right, which made it bend at an uncomfortable angle. It just didn't look right to be bent that way. This required me to take apart the fork, and move the cable over. Being the first time I've ever messed around with that part of the bike, I have to say it was easy and straightforward. Putting it back together was easy as well.

I flipped the stem (angled upwards for now), placed the bars, and tightened everything up. I will probably adjust some more after a few rides and once I get a feel for this type of body position.

Front brakes were self explanatory even though I've never worked on these type of brakes before. These required a few mm of tightening.

The wheels are almost perfect, and probably require a few tweaks for roundness. They are perfectly true from front to back, but there is a slight (very very very slight) wobble on the round side. I still have some reading to do before I start to adjust this, so I'll do this later.

Front derailleur was completely off, but that was expected. This is pretty easy for me, so I had it aligned in about 5 minutes. Adjusted the low, and the high, and adjusted the tension. Ready to go.

Back derailleur was almost perfect, it only required a few tweaks on the high side, and it was good to go.

Tires were of course deflated, so pumped them up.

The chain was nice and tight enough.

Checked the bottom bracket for proper installation, everything looked good and greased.

Everything was greased real good including the fork stem, brake screws, and bottom bracket. I was not expecting this (from some threads I had read) so it was nice to see.

Rear reflector was removed (I have lights). Front reflector did not come installed. I will be removing wheel reflectors as well. Will be adding black and white reflective tape soon (in the mail).

ITEMS THAT WERE DIFFERENT THAN LISTED

1. Front derailleur upgraded to Tiagra, Sora was listed

2. Skye components replaced all M-Wings listed (hubs, handlebar, stem, saddle, seat post). This was actually expected from a previous post and from the pictures on the website. Maybe it's the same thing? I don't know, and it really doesn't matter.

3. Pedals shipped were SPD style pedals (will post pics soon). I was expecting road style pedals on the bike and had planned to replace them with new mountain bike pedals which I bought specifically for this bike. This way, I could use my current shoes, and not have to buy new ones. This is not actually a big deal, cause I'm just gonna use the shipped pedals on the road bike, and I'll just replace the current pedals I have on my mtn bike, which are hybrid platform/SPD.

TEST RIDE

This was basically a ride down the end of the street and back. At first it was weird, but within 2 minutes, I felt more comfortable and confident. Turning felt a little weird, but I started to get the hang of it. Since I've never ridden another road bike before, I have nothing to compare it to, but I can say that I like the way the bike felt and it fit well. The bike rode silently and very smooth compared to my mtn bike on slicks. WOW. I only pedaled like 10 revs, and made it to the end of the block coasting (it's completely flat). So far I like how the road bike feels, and can't wait to take it out for a long ride.

That's my experience so far. I have one question. How high or low should the handlebars be? I know it's about personal preference but...Maybe what I'm asking is...do my handlebars look weird the way they're installed? I'm not really asking about stem height, just handlebar positioning. I have no clue...thanks.

100 Mile Report - ***edit***
100 Miles - So far the bike is running smooth. Shifting is responsive and there aren't any strange noises or squeaks. I've had to try different seat positions and made several adjustments to find the right fit. On my first big climb I noticed I needed the seat higher, cause I wasn't getting the proper leverage I needed. The handlebars have been adjusted several times in order to try and get the proper reach while in the hoods and drops. This is where a LBS would come in handy. The good thing is working on bikes is not rocket science, and anyone can learn. Not only that, I find satisfaction in doing things on my own. So far I haven't had any buyers remorse, and I feel that I've made a good purchase. Being a first time road rider, I had some hand soreness the first 2 days, but it is now gone (a good sign I suppose). For now, my review is complete. I'll probably have more thoughts and opinions around mile 1000, so I'll probably update then.

500 Mile Report - ***edit***
I made some more seat and bar adjustments to the bike and have found the perfect fit, finally. Hands are not sore anymore, and I feel very comfortable on the bike. So far, parts are working flawlessly, wheels continue to be true, and other than size and fit adjustments, I have not had to make any other adjustments so far (drivetrain, brakes, etc...). I think I'm past the break-in period, and this bike finally feels "mine" and it has my confidence and trust. Fast downhills, stop-on-a-dime braking, and high speed turns. My initial concerns about the bike are gone, but of course it is still too short of a time span to entirely judge the long term quality of the bike. I'll report back someday, maybe at mile marker 2000. For now, I feel confident in my purchase and I'm glad I saved a significant amount of money which I used on needed accessories and goodies.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:08 AM
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First!


EDIT: Now that I got that out of the way, I'd also like to add an ITBL.

EDIT2: Now that I got both of those out of the way, welcome to BikeForums, atxlatino. The positioning of your bars is usually your own personal preference. Some (such as myself) like to position the bars and the shifters so that the upper portion of the bars, as it transitions to the hoods (that's the rubber above the shifters), is parallel to the ground. Others may like it to dip down a bit. BikesDirect positioned the shifters on for you, so you may want to go in there and re-position them yourself, but that's up to you and a little bit of work. For other points of reference, consider checking out the websites of some major bicycle manufacturers and see how the bars are positioning in their various models.

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Old 02-04-09, 05:09 AM
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Does ITBL = introduction to bike language? Thanks for the suggestions, I appreciate it. I didn't even think to mess around with the shifters, but I'll probably look them over now.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:11 AM
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I think the T and B are supposed to be transposed...

Thanks for taking the trouble to sign up to the forums and immediately post a long review of a Bikes Direct bike. Glad the packaging etc was okay...
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Old 02-04-09, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Hendley View Post
I think the T and B are supposed to be transposed...

Thanks for taking the trouble to sign up to the forums and immediately post a long review of a Bikes Direct bike. Glad the packaging etc was okay...
Yeah, I know...I figured someone would bring that up. In my defense, this is my 3rd post. I've been reading these forums for a while now, just unregistered, and since I finally got a road bike I figured I would finally register. Did the same thing over at mtbr.com a year ago when I bought my mountain bike.
http://forums.mtbr.com/member.php?u=366080

I'm really just trying to stay unbiased here and report my results. We'll see how it goes 1000 miles from now...2000, 3000...??? Maybe this thing will make it this far, maybe not. I'm just doing my own little experiment.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:47 AM
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So, you know how to adjust derailleurs, check to see if the BB is properly installed, true your wheels, etc., but you don't know if your handlebars are at the right height? And all the things they did wrong were actually exactly what you wanted anyway? Sweet!
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Old 02-04-09, 06:04 AM
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Originally Posted by kwrides View Post
So, you know how to adjust derailleurs, check to see if the BB is properly installed, true your wheels, etc., but you don't know if your handlebars are at the right height? And all the things they did wrong were actually exactly what you wanted anyway? Sweet!
Since I've had to do it on the mountain bike, the answer to your first question is yes. I bought my mountain bike at the LBS, and haven't had to touch handlebars. Even if I did, they are way different than these road bars.

Second question, no. What I really want is a nice Specialized from the LBS, ready to go. Only problem is, money is tight, and this is an alternative to what I was willing to spend (~$850 including tax and all accessories I needed). I'm 26, full-time college student with no financial aid assistance, wife and 2 toddlers. I can't be picky right now. Maybe later in life, you know?
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Old 02-04-09, 06:08 AM
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And no, I don't know how to true wheels (please read carefully), but by the end of the week I'm going to try. I need to do some more reading before I try. Sheldon Brown's site has helped me alot. I like learning new things, so why not?

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Old 02-04-09, 06:59 AM
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On truing the wheels, some advice:
  • before you do anything, "pluck" each spoke on either side of the wheel and listen for pitch. If it's pretty close to the same pitch, leave it alone.
  • If the pitch is significantly off, yet the wheel is pretty true, have a shop true the wheel. You could get into a world of frustration trying to get the tension and trueness right.
  • If you insisit on adjusting the wheels, go very carefuly, particularly on back wheels. Think 1/8 turn adjustments (or better yet 1/4 turn, then back off 1/8 to accomodate spoke wind-up).

My first wheel build took 4 days to get true and tensioned. The second took only 2 days. However that wheelset has stayed true for about 3,500 miles so far.

Wheels are very finicky to get right, but great when they are.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:31 AM
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Congratulations ! Its a nice looking bike, it will give you many miles of joy. I can relate with you in terms of the budgetary concerns, family comes first. Later in life, if you really get into road biking, you can always upgrade.
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Old 02-04-09, 09:17 AM
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I just got back from a longer test ride. I took the bike out for a quick 5 miles down some residential streets. Once again, I was impressed by the speed of the bike and ease of pedaling when compared to slicks on a mountain bike. I'll be taking it out on a good test ride as soon as I get the chance.

I'll be taking it out on Transmountain Road, which is the best climb we've got in this area, all within city limits:
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Old 02-04-09, 09:55 AM
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Congrats on the bike!! Looks like you are very knowledgeable around bikes so you should get lots of enjoyment.

IMHO....I would have your LBS true the wheels...since that is the only thing between me and the road...my confidence lies in the pro's hands, not in mine.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:33 AM
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Congrats. I was waiting for someone to say it.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:52 AM
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lol me too, me too.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:12 PM
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How's shifting on that bike? I admit that I've only ridden Dura-Ace ($$$$) on my only bike, the Cervelo, but I've been hearing remarkably good reviews about the lower-end derailleurs/shifters, and as I will likely buy a 2nd bike soon, I'm strongly considering a cheaper derailleur set.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:14 PM
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Hah, Shill.
But congrats. I'm thinking of a new bikes (moving up(or down) from C&V) and these BD bikes do have my eye good components and a great price... IF my guy who knows a guy at Giant can't hook me up.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:36 PM
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Oh hey, want to weight that thing? Bathroom scale is fine, be interesting to know the final weight of one of these.
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Old 02-04-09, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
How's shifting on that bike? I admit that I've only ridden Dura-Ace ($$$$) on my only bike, the Cervelo, but I've been hearing remarkably good reviews about the lower-end derailleurs/shifters, and as I will likely buy a 2nd bike soon, I'm strongly considering a cheaper derailleur set.
Well, the speed at which the derailleur moves after I shift feels similar to my mountain bike, which has Deore LX on it right now. Not too fast, not too slow. I'm sure it doesn't compare to Dura-Ace. I'm sure if I ever get the chance to test ride dura-ace I'll be able to really understand the price difference.
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Old 02-04-09, 03:06 PM
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Originally Posted by dsellinger View Post
Oh hey, want to weight that thing? Bathroom scale is fine, be interesting to know the final weight of one of these.
Yeah I weighed it last night @ 23 lbs (+/- 0.5 lbs). That's probably heavy compared to other bikes, but it sure beats the hell out of my Giant @ 36 lbs. That thing is a tank. I didn't realize it was that heavy until last night when I weighed it for the first time.
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Old 02-05-09, 12:02 PM
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I'm a newbie as well. Been looking for last 2-3 weeks. Today I ordered from BD Motobecane Immortal Force and should be receiving it within a month (out of stock).

I agree with you that I think the position of the handle bar looks a little weird. And I think it is because of how it relates to position of the stem. The stem points upward, slope of handle bars goes down. Usually, from what I have learned, one main reason to have stem go up is to bring handle bars closer to the rider for a more relax, more comfortable, upright position - more like a cruiser. Which is ideal for some, especially if you are new or have personal issues which just makes it easier on your body to sit more upright. More advanced riders ususlly have stem point down.

Flipping stem upside down will cause stem to point down for a more aggresive position and will line up with how handle bars look now. You may want to readjust handle bar up little more to compenste for this difference. I think this will take away the weirdness - but in the end, chose positioning that's most comfortable.

You probably noticed - or did not notice - but the lettering on the stem is written right side up -&- upside down for this purpose. Most riders obviously know this. I'm addressing this point to you, or anyone else, who may not have known.

Side note: I'm also noticing that your seat does not sit level but instead slopes downward. You might want to check this out.
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Old 02-05-09, 12:56 PM
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Yeah, I picked up on the stem thing from reading some stuff a few weeks ago. I did change the seat after yesterday's 5 mile test ride. I ended up raising the post, pushing the saddle back a bit and tilting it back a little as well.

I think after a much longer ride I'll decide whether to flip the stem or not. Riding on the hoods doesn't really feel weird at all, but it did feel weird/different while in the drops. I guess it's just something I have to get used to.
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Old 02-05-09, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by fjtb2000 View Post
I'm a newbie as well. Been looking for last 2-3 weeks. Today I ordered from BD Motobecane Immortal Force and should be receiving it within a month (out of stock).

I agree with you that I think the position of the handle bar looks a little weird. And I think it is because of how it relates to position of the stem. The stem points upward, slope of handle bars goes down. Usually, from what I have learned, one main reason to have stem go up is to bring handle bars closer to the rider for a more relax, more comfortable, upright position - more like a cruiser. Which is ideal for some, especially if you are new or have personal issues which just makes it easier on your body to sit more upright. More advanced riders ususlly have stem point down.

Flipping stem upside down will cause stem to point down for a more aggresive position and will line up with how handle bars look now. You may want to readjust handle bar up little more to compenste for this difference. I think this will take away the weirdness - but in the end, chose positioning that's most comfortable.

You probably noticed - or did not notice - but the lettering on the stem is written right side up -&- upside down for this purpose. Most riders obviously know this. I'm addressing this point to you, or anyone else, who may not have known.

Side note: I'm also noticing that your seat does not sit level but instead slopes downward. You might want to check this out.
Give us a break already. You do realize we can check your posting history, right?
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Old 02-05-09, 05:23 PM
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Let's get this right out there- I own a Mercier Serpens (30sp Ultegra, steel frame) online. I was young, I didn't know any better... whatever.

I bought mine from SportyMama (or someone like that) off of eBay. I was looking for a steel bike that had decent components, and the price was right. The LBSs/REI in my area (we're talking Alaska) didn't have anything other than 105/Tiagra aluminum bikes in that range. Most of them I tried I didn't like, but that could have been influenced by my riding the Novara. It also could have been the soft aluminum frames that protested when my 200lbs of pure flab came down on it. At any rate, I decided the components on the Mercier made it worth a shot- even if I had to replace the frame and wheelset at a later date. At any rate, I can't really complain about the service I got (wasn't expecting much), and the LBS owner said I got a good bike. That surprised me, since I didn't buy it through him. Maybe I got lucky.

I was also lucky that it fit me relatively well, since I hadn't gotten a fitting prior to purchasing the bike. That was a glaring mistake, given that my previous Novara road bike was 4cm too small (thanks REI) and caused all sorts of issues. At any rate, I just relied on the standover height measurement for fitting and it worked out in this case.

I've ridden it for a couple years, skipping a summer when life interfered. I mainly use it to commute to work, about 15-19 miles each way, 5 days a week from May to September- primarily on bike paths. Other than minor maintenance (tires, tubes, chains, cleaning...), I've really kinda neglected the bike. Chalk it up to ignorance (wouldn't notice it if something was wrong), but overall it's been pretty forgiving. I like it, and consider my money well spent.

That said, when I put down the money for a carbon TT/Tri bike this summer, I went straight to a local specialty store. That kind of investment requires the personal touch for me, and I wasn't going to mess around hoping the fit and support fairy would bless me again. My next road bike will also be a step up (carbon, DuraAce or whatever), and will likely be from a similar bike store.

Anyway, just another mostly positive experience. Would I buy online again? I don't know. Shipping rates have increased significantly in the last couple years, making a mail order bike less attractive to me. Suddenly the "savings" are less significant when you add in shipping and setup. If the difference comes down to $100 or so, I'm willing to support the LBSs that in turn support the local biking scene.
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Old 02-05-09, 07:24 PM
  #24  
HAMMER MAN
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enjoy your new ride with many miles
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Old 02-06-09, 02:53 AM
  #25  
rooftest
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Your bike sucks.
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