I recently purchased a Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Titanium from bikesdirect.com and I want to give back to the community by posting an initial review. I hope this helps anyone considering this bike or a bike from bikesdirect.com
Briefly, I wasn't really in the market for a new bike. I just built up a Pedal Force Fusion to race with this coming season and I thought I was set. But then this came up on bikesdirect and I convinced myself to purchase it. It's good for the economy. Worst case, if it was horrible, I could return it in 30 days. I have wanted to race 'cross for a while, so the bike had to be race worthy, and I want to use it as a touring bike. The titanium frame, brazeons for a rear rack, components, and price convinced me. I know that BD has a mixed reputation on this site, but I have been tinkering with bikes for a while, so I was not too worried. I see Motos at road races sometimes, and everyone I have spoken to is satisfied.
I purchased the bike on Sept. 30th as I wanted to get the pre-order deal ($100 off the stock price). The bike arrived in less than a week.
The bike arrived with a broken derailler hanger and in need of lots of wrenching. It arrived nicely packed and with no damage to the frame, but it must have been laid flat and crushed at the rear of the bike. I emailed BD about the derailler hanger and they dropped a new one in the mail the next day (USPS priority) and it arrived in 3 days. The bike also came with one brake pad upside down, and the front derailler cable frayed at the derailler. All cables needed adjustment, the headset needed adjustment and alignment, and the rear wheel needed to be trued (it was not too off). All-in-all, it took about 6 hours (not straight), and the bike is fine on the road now.
Also, I believe the chain is too long. I raced twice on this bike and I dropped the chain in each race. Also, the chain was jumping around in the back on the smaller chainring, tensioning the rear derailler cable during the race did not help. Some racers apparently run their chains shorter than recommended in cross. This bike came with the chain about 1 or 2 lengths too LONG (using the big front/small back, derailler gears perpendicular to ground method). I have yet to re-size the chain, but I will do so before my next race. The brakes are also very hard to adjust. Finally, one of the o-rings on the crank looks mangled. I might reinstall the crank/bb to make sure it is fine.
Strange, the bike came with Shimano 105 spd-sl road pedals. Um, yeah. How can I race cross using road pedals? I bought a pair of Shimano 540's which are fantastic so far.
The look of the bike is stunning. The decals are great. The welds are good. I compared them to a Seven and a Litespeed. They are not as clean as those bikes, but nice. In the end, I don't care. The down tube has great shape it to. I love the curved seat/chain stays. The bike frame does seem to scratch easily. I crashed a few times and the ti is scratched, but nothing too noticeable.
So I raced twice with the bike, put about 200 road miles on in, and went single-tracking once with it. The titanium frame is a dream. I compared it to my Trek 1200 aluminum framed bike using the same wheels on both bikes. It absorbs road vibrations very well. Very happily surprised! I have always been very skeptical about whether frame material makes a difference in ride characteristics, but it does. Ti is comfortable and I have noticed zero flex while hammering on climbs. The bike is not exactly light (no exact measurement, sorry), but that does not matter for cross.
As for the components, the front double chainring isn't what I would prefer. i would rather have a single-gear in the front, maybe just the 38, but the stock setup is versatile (road riding and cross). The wheels and tires have been fine, no complaints, but I'm new to cross, so I don't have much to compare to. I cannot comment on the saddle. I swapped it out post haste for my Specialized Alias.
I think the bike is prefect for touring. Very comfortable. Good geometry for touring and cross. A bit more upright than a (road) racing bike. And it comes with shorter stems which is good for cross. Before touring I would have to swap out the crank though. Probably put in a compact 50/34.
I'm 5'8" and the 52cm fit me perfectly. The top tube has a bit of an angle (semi compact?). This was a perfect bike for me, 170 cranks, 40cm bar, although some people like to run wider bars for cross. Size was a worry, but I used measurements of the horizontal top tube from my current bikes; this was all that was needed. I do have toe overlap on this bike. But apparently that is normal for cross bikes in smaller sizes because of the knobby tires.
Conclusion: I really like the bike and I'm happy with my purchase. Bikesdirect is not for everyone. Here's a bike, you are on your own. One must be comfortable wrenching or have a trustworthy shop to take the bike for adjustments. The titanium frame won me over, and I thank Mike for making ti more affordable. Components are almost all race worthy. The versatility of this bike is incredible. Again, I praise Mike for adding details that are hard to find elsewhere: cantilever/caliper/disc support, rear rack brazeons, dual water bottle mounts (can't race with water bottles in cross, so some high-end cross bikes don't have brazeons).
I get a lot of compliments and queries about the bike and no one judges me for having a bikesdirect bike, or a fake motobecane. Most don't even know about bikesdirect. Cross racing is unbelievably fun with a great atmosphere and nice people. I'm glad I got into it. I really want to tour on this bike. It is just so comfortable.
Hope this helps. I'm happy to answer any other questions. I have some pics if anyone is interested, but the pics on BD are complete.
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Thread: Moto Fantom Cross Team Ti Review
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