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  1. #1
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    How is Motobecane vs. the big brands?

    Hello folks, I've been lurking in this forum for some time now trying to gain some updated knowledge on the purchase of a new road bike and I will admit, you don't disappoint. You are a very knowledgeable group of riders. My last roadie was a Peugeot U08 back in 1974 but lately I have gotten the bug to get back on another one. I have been riding an old Specialized MTB and it's just too much work for a 6:00 am, 8 mile fitness ride. I'm also aware of the different models that the big 4 manufactures have on the market today. I'm 57 years old and looking for a bike that will allow me to ride for casual fitness and I also plan to ride the RAGBRAI ride across Iowa on my brother in law's team next summer, so I need to start logging some training miles. My budget at this time is around $800. I see plenty of used Trek, Specialized and Cdale on craigslist in the price range. However, they're used bikes and I don't know what problems may surface later on. Several experienced riders on my brother in law's RAGBRAI team ride Motobecanes and swear by them. Does anyone have any experience with this brand through Bikes Direct? Thanks for any input. ~ Mike

  2. #2
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    Very satisfied with my BD experience

    I got a Moto Vent Noir in 2011 and it's exceeded my expectations.
    I'm 60 and my last bike was a late 60's Astra 10 speed.
    Wasn't sure I'd still be able to handle the aggressive position of a road bike, so I didn't want to spend a boatload of money.
    Did my best to fit myself using online fitting tools and then spent 700 bucks on the Vent Noir. It's nicely equipped for the price: Tiagra front, 105 rear, Vuelta wheelset. BD did a nice job of packaging and it was easy to finish the assembly. Got the derailleurs working smoothly by using internet tutorials. At the time, I couldn't have touched a similarly equipped big-name bike at the LBS's for less then 1200. (albeit that extra cash would have gotten me a real fitting and other benefits that an LBS can provide) Only have a couple of thousand miles on it but it's still running as smooth as the first day. Replaced the cheapo tires with Dunlop 4 Seasons and replaced the saddle this summer. And that's it.
    Best of luck whatever route you go.

  3. #3
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    Thank you and that's what I was hoping to hear. I understand the fact that you need to assemble and fit yourself by trial and that's fine too. I'm sure the LBS's don't like to see them, because they didn't sell them but maybe a backyard mechanic could care less. One of my LBS's trashed the hell out of them, which made me concerned about the integrity of his shop. And he is my Trek dealer.

  4. #4
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    I did toss around the fact that I would need the services of an LBS and that they would know that I got my bike online.
    Felt a little guilty because I always try and ANY items from a local
    brick-and-mortar before succumbing to the internet but, in this case, they just couldn't get any where close to the BD price.
    I DO make a point of buying accessories and clothing from the LBS's
    if prices are comparable, even if I pay a little more sometimes.

  5. #5
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    I bought a BikesDirect titanium mountain bike about a year ago, a Team Fly 29er. The bike has been great. I have replaced a few items, such as the saddle and the seat post clamp, which were functional but not very high quality. The frame has be fine and the SRAM components (XO) have performed well. I did the assembly myself which took a couple of hours going slowly. I would check some of the basic assembly. The bottom bracket threads had no grease and the head set needed more lubrication. The derailleur hanger screws were loose. My experience has been very positive and the price was certainly good. I would personally consider getting a road bike from them.

  6. #6
    pmf
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    Motobecane doesn't exist as a company anymore. Its just a name that Bikes Direct put on their frames that they contract to have made in China. The factory that makes these frames for Bikes Direct probably also makes bikes for big brand names, so you're getting a decent frame. Their prices are hard to beat. Often, I see bikes where the cost of just the components exceeds what Bikes Direct is selling the entire bike for. You won't find a LBS that can compete price wise with them.

    I still think a used bike is probably the better deal if you can find one you like.

  7. #7
    Cranky Old Bastard
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    Search on Motobecane; there are tons of threads about them. Most people agree that they are good bikes for the money.

    The real problem is getting the right size. Since you haven't been riding a road bike even if you were to try a bike and decide it was comfortable you really don't know which parts of the "fit" are important. Then as you get used to the road position you will probably need to adjust things later as you get more flexible.
    It is worth it to take the bike to a good dealer and pay for a fitting.

    You're lucky that you have your brother's experienced friends to help you. Ask to try some of their bikes for sizing and ask for their advice.

    Put some thought into geometry; the two most common types of road bikes are the racers and the comfort/endurance bikes.
    The racers are made for speed and efficiency with sharp (twitchy) handling and can be rougher riding.
    The comfort frames are generally more stable with a more relaxed and less-harsh ride and often allow a more upright position that's easier for a beginner or older fart like me.
    "When you know absolutely nothing, anyone who knows 1% more than nothing sounds like an expert."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowboy56 View Post
    Thank you and that's what I was hoping to hear. I understand the fact that you need to assemble and fit yourself by trial and that's fine too. I'm sure the LBS's don't like to see them, because they didn't sell them but maybe a backyard mechanic could care less. One of my LBS's trashed the hell out of them, which made me concerned about the integrity of his shop. And he is my Trek dealer.
    Not surprised seeing as you were discussing with him his competition. Since he's a Trek dealer, he may well have said the same about Specialized, Felt, and Oreba too. Money you spend with BikesDirect is money you're not giving him.
    I have one of their 29ers and it's been a great bike, and plan to ride it for a long time to come. Don't feel bad if you decide to buy one though, you're spending money to get a bike to ride, not spending money to keep LBS's in business. It's great to help the local economy, but what good is it if you don't get what you want and need? I see buying from BD like buying a used bike. It's a straight up transaction (short of a manufacturing defect) and so once the money changes hands the deal is done and you're on your own. If you need the services of a LBS, they will charge you the same no matter if it is a Motobecane or Mcipollini, if you didn't buy it from them.

  9. #9
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    My main bike is a Trek Domane 5.2 but I have this bike from BD as a back-up and to ride with friends who don't have a roadie.

    Save up to 60% off new Hybrid Bicycles | Road Bikes Cafe Century PRO

    It's a great bike, good components, fits well and is VERY comfortable. I would buy from BD with no hesitation.

  10. #10
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    Another Motobecane 29er owner here and it's been a great bike for going on four years at 50% of the cost of a big name bike. The BD stuff tends to have (somewhat) outdated frame designs and a hodge-podge of non-drivetrain components, but it all works if built up correctly and should serve you for many miles, especially on a roadie. That being said, a newbie is better off buying from a good LBS if they can afford it, for both a proper sizing/fitting (which can involve component swaps) and tune-ups/warranty work. But that's not always in the budget, so hit up your BIL and his team to figure out sizing if you can't stretch your budget to get there.

    The Moto Gran Premio in orange looks killer!

    But something like a Trek 1.1 or Specialized Allez fits your budget as well.

  11. #11
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    I got a Bikes Direct bike (Gravity Liberty X) last year and the bike itself has been great to me. I've put her through 5,600 miles since I got it and its holding up just fine. At $600 with Sram Apex it just couldn't be beat for my first road bike.

    I've had a few issues, but nothing major. I bent the stock chainring after a few months so I ended up grabbing a cheap Tiagra crankset for a song on eBay. Also had some issues with the stock wheels breaking spokes as did a friend of mine with the same bike.

    I have managed to bend the rear triangle a bit so its not perfectly square anymore, but still perfectly rideable. This happened when I laid it down at 25 going through a corner in a crit. Can't really blame the bike for that one.

    I also got the frame media blasted to get rid of the red paint job and Gravity logos that were all over it. Much happier with the way it looks now.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldnewbie52 View Post
    I did toss around the fact that I would need the services of an LBS and that they would know that I got my bike online.
    Felt a little guilty because I always try and ANY items from a local
    brick-and-mortar before succumbing to the internet but, in this case, they just couldn't get any where close to the BD price.
    I DO make a point of buying accessories and clothing from the LBS's
    if prices are comparable, even if I pay a little more sometimes.
    I get it but my LBS knows that if I can get a great deal, I will buy online. That said, they know that I am really into the sport and get others into the sport. I refer business there that exceeds what I would spend by at least 3-4 times. They are not jerks. They know that is the reality. They don't survive off the 10% of us that are serious, they survive off of the 90% that are not.
    From a business stand point, I would rather the referrals and emergency (and small stuff like tubes) from my serious customers.

  13. #13
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    I have the Champion SL, I think its a 2010 model. Almost 20,000 miles with no trouble at all. Gets lots of compliments, I removed the decals, folks think its a Linsky.

  14. #14
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    the gravity frame is the previous generation giant defy, which was highly acclaimed. a good frame, but bikesdirect change the forks, depending on th model this will affect handling and weight significantly.

    you need to know your ideal geometry though.

    as far as the bike shop's feelings: they know the drill, they'll charge you to assemble it, and you'll spend lots more upgrading and fueling your activity as you spend more time on the bike.

  15. #15
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    Re: How is Motobecane vs. the big brands?

    I bought a Le Champion CF frame set fro BD. It has been fantastic. A coworker bought the Motobecane Apex-level road bike and loves it. I would have no hesitation buying anything from them.

    I don't know about the other Motobecane frames, but mine had a "Made in Taiwan" sticker (not China). Of course good frames are made in China too, but I don't think these are just the open-mould frames you see for sale on eBay, etc.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pushstart View Post
    I don't know about the other Motobecane frames, but mine had a "Made in Taiwan" sticker (not China).
    Because Taiwan is a Province of China.
    Thats like something thats made in Puerto Rico saying its "Made in the USA"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesscan View Post
    Because Taiwan is a Province of China.
    Thats like something thats made in Puerto Rico saying its "Made in the USA"
    My point was that "made in Taiwan" for bicycle components is viewed as distinct and superior to "made in China". Some have suggested that superior grade Japanese CF is available in Taiwan (implication being that it is not readily available to mainland factories). I have no idea. But Taiwan has a very distinct economy from the PRC.

    (I realize that Taiwan is considered a province of China by the PRC; however, Taiwan, or more correctly the ROC, claims to be a sovereign nation. This is probably more analogous to Serbia and Kosovo than the USA and Puerto Rico.)

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesscan View Post
    Because Taiwan is a Province of China.
    Thats like something thats made in Puerto Rico saying its "Made in the USA"
    Depends on who you talk to. To the PRC it's a breakaway province. The Taiwan government would beg to differ.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pushstart View Post
    My point was that "made in Taiwan" for bicycle components is viewed as distinct and superior to "made in China". Some have suggested that superior grade Japanese CF is available in Taiwan (implication being that it is not readily available to mainland factories). I have no idea. But Taiwan has a very distinct economy from the PRC.

    (I realize that Taiwan is considered a province of China by the PRC; however, Taiwan, or more correctly the ROC, claims to be a sovereign nation. This is probably more analogous to Serbia and Kosovo than the USA and Puerto Rico.)

    IDK about you, but when I see made in Taiwan, TO ME that means made in China. And better yet... NOT made in the USA!

    Quote Originally Posted by mpre53 View Post
    Depends on who you talk to. To the PRC it's a breakaway province. The Taiwan government would beg to differ.
    Refer to my above comment.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesscan View Post
    IDK about you, but when I see made in Taiwan, TO ME that means made in China. And better yet... NOT made in the USA!
    So, pretending that Taiwan and and China are the same really does not provide any insight into the manufacturing of bicycles or help further the discussion of Motobecane quality specifically. Taiwan and the PRC are really only the same in that they're both in Asia have some common history and language and are located near each other. That is like saying that the US and Canada are the same country (though they are probably more similar than the PRC and Taiwan).

    More to the point here, there are different labor laws and environmental standards, so it's not fair to equate the impact that a factory has in Taiwan to that of one in China. Even more to the point here, though, it's not helpful to lump all the factories together in Taiwan -- *or* in China. Obviously companies like Giant, Surly, etc. have (or claim to have) relationships with high-quality Taiwanese factories. There are certainly low-quality factories too. Same is true, of course, in China. I know that excellent-quality work happens in China (my Habanero ti frame is a great example of that), but I'm sure there are also factories that will cut corners to deliver lower cost items.

    But this thread is about the value of Motobecane vs. big-name brands. For a variety of reasons (economy, and some claim quality) frames from big name brands aren't built in the USA. I think it would be fair to say that Motobecane being built in Taiwan is probably on par with the majority of big-name brands also being built in Taiwan. It would also be relevant to note which factories are being used here -- and what that implies for the quality of the product or the quality of life for those doing the work. I think anecdotal evidence is that Motobecane frame quality is on par with quality one would expect from a big-name brand. The BD bikes tend to get very positive reviews; generally the weak points are component choices (e.g. old model year groups, cheaper wheels), etc.

    I think it's great to care about how (and where) things are made, but I don't think it's useful for bicycles to just lump everything made outside the USA together and imply that it's somehow inferior to USA-made products. ... That's pretty much the entire bicycle market.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by pushstart View Post
    I bought a Le Champion CF frame set fro BD. It has been fantastic. A coworker bought the Motobecane Apex-level road bike and loves it. I would have no hesitation buying anything from them.

    I don't know about the other Motobecane frames, but mine had a "Made in Taiwan" sticker (not China). Of course good frames are made in China too, but I don't think these are just the open-mould frames you see for sale on eBay, etc.
    They're definitely the run-of-the-mill frames for sale everywhere... but thats not really a bad thing. I think its fair to say that stuff has proven itself by now.

    A LOT of motobecanes lineup is stuff like a sora-level bike sold with a 105 rear derailleur and called a "105" bike. The overall build is very much lower quality that a big brand "105" level bike. Its definitely cheaper, but you are getting less for spending less.

    As you go up in price on moto stuff, you get some flashier parts and still a bike with some junky sora-level stuff on it.

    For example, their 105-level bike is $899 bucks. Its got some good parts on it, but at the same time my giant OCR1 brand new from the LBS (last year model, on sale) was $850 out the door with all 105 stuff. My bike has better parts on it overall.

    Theyre still a decent deal, but its nothing phenomenal and very easily not a better deal than what you can find locally. Those "$699" wheels they're offering for an upgrade on many of their bikes are worth about 100 bucks.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by pushstart View Post
    So, pretending that Taiwan and and China are the same really does not provide any insight into the manufacturing of bicycles or help further the discussion of Motobecane quality specifically.

    You asked why they say Made in Taiwan when they are supposedly made in China.
    I believe I answered that question, but apparently not to your liking.
    Regardless, Taiwan is a Province. Whether a breakaway or imprisoned or liberated or whatever, it really doesnt matter.
    Im not sure anyone buying a made in China/Taiwan/Mars non USA bike really cares.

    If YOU do, then great. I dont. I couldnt care less what China calls Taiwan or what their government thinks about themselves.
    It has nothing to do with me buying a bike and ultimately that what this is .... a BIKE forum, not a social and political history lesson forum.
    Last edited by Lesscan; 11-04-2013 at 04:46 PM.

  23. #23
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    Re: How is Motobecane vs. the big brands?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lesscan View Post
    You asked why they say Made in Taiwan when they are supposedly made in China.
    I believe I answered that question, but apparently not to your liking.
    Regardless, Taiwan is a Province. Whether a breakaway or imprisoned or liberated or whatever, it really doesnt matter.
    No, I did not ask that. My point was they they are /not/ all made in China; some are made in Taiwan. I wasn't trying to reconcile some "fact" about them being made in China with a "made in Taiwan" sticker.

    It is obviously futile to try to convince you that Taiwan and China are not the same, so I won't bother. I am racking my brain trying to think of another liberated/independent set of provinces that might have taken offense at having their distinction denied ... maybe a couple hundred years ago ... yeah, nothing is coming to mind.

    Yes, this is about bicycles. Where bikes are made matters to some people (like you, obviously), which is why this is relevant when talking about Motobecane. Of course, for the lucky folk whose globe has been simplified to two countries -- "USA" and "NotUSA" --, I imagine this conversation does seem a little pointless. ;)

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesscan View Post
    IDK about you, but when I see made in Taiwan, TO ME that means made in China. And better yet... NOT made in the USA!
    You're entitled to your opinion, regardless of how ignorant it is. You should go research the quality of bikes made in Taiwan before opening your mouth.

    http://www.bicycleretailer.com/sites...ry_10_1_11.pdf

    inrng : who made your bike

    http://cyclingiq.com/vertical-limit/

  25. #25
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    Last edited by Lesscan; 11-05-2013 at 04:18 PM.

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