Strengths: Durable components.1500 miles of off-road pounding over rocks and logs by a semi-skilled crasher did not do structural damage. Some worn spots on the low aluminum parts.Up hill was fun with the power provided by the gear system.
Weaknesses: Had to adjust derailleurs too many times. Chain came apart twice.
Excellent machine. Great floating ride on the down hills. Good tire grip.
Strengths: The frame is strong. The paint and welds look beautiful.
The drive train is amazing. Shifts flawlessly, even while filthy. Wide range of gears.
The SLX shifters are great once comfortable.
Great power and response on Elixir 3s with organic pads.
Climbs like a goat!
Can roll over anything so far and feels smooth.
Steering is better than expected.
The Rockshox Recon gold forks and Monarch rt3 rear shock both have sufficient settings and perform well under any conditions I have been in. Have not yet bottomed either out.
Weaknesses: Tires are average. Easily replaced.
Saddle isn't comfortable and it doesn't have quick adjust. Already replaced saddle.
Minor pedal bob when hammering aggressively out of the saddle, mostly downhill when suspension is fully unlocked. Fixed by regulating pedaling and picking better gears.
I have never mountain biked and I haven't ridden a bike in years. I am in pretty good shape and consider myself a quick learner. Ordered the 47cm and I stand 5'11" with 32" inseam with slightly longer than average reach. The frame fits me perfectly. I did have to cut a couple inches off the seat post. No big deal. I ordered the XT/SLX model.
Before riding, I took it to a LBS to have them check it out. There were a good few guys who took the bike for what it was, and quickly saw its quality. There were also a couple snobs simply because of the Motobecane name, which was expected. In fact, the individual who thoroughly went over my bike, was rude at first because it wasn't from their shop. I told him I planned on doing all the repairs and maintenance. After inspection, he was much more enthusiastic about the whole thing and tried to give me as much advice and tips as he could.
The first couple days I rode around town about 30 miles, finding any off road terrain to ride over and hills to get in shape. My first experience with hydraulic disc brakes and the power took some getting used to. Great power and responsiveness.
Finally, I took it out to one of the more difficult trails with a friend who has mountain biked for fun over most of his life. He is a bit smaller framed and compared it to a Cadillac after riding it. He had nothing but great things to say. He rides a 26" GT Pantera HT. We hit the trails a day after a decent rain, so there was some wet areas. Most of the grades were pretty steep, a couple requiring us to walk up. The bike flew downhill and handled everything I threw at it. I caught air a few times at high speeds. I took it slow in turns because of my inexperience and the mud. We did get into some areas that were more dry later on. The trip total 8 miles with nearly 2000 feet of steep uphill(15-20% grade).
I took it out again to a local intermediate trail. This time the trail was mostly gravel and mostly uphill to start. The tires lost traction a couple times on loose gravel when hammering out of the saddle, but nothing serious. The bike climbed the entire hill and kept momentum amazingly. Going back down the hill, I could go as fast as I felt comfortable.
Overall the bike handles very well. The steering is tight and responsive. The suspension functions and feels great. Nearly each time I ride, I felt like I pushed my abilities and the bike never held me back or made me feel like I would lose control. I'm worried the bike will give me too much confidence. I don't plan on upgrading anything until something breaks or needs replacing. I am extremely happy with my purchase and I would buy another Motobecane.
Similar Products Used: I've ridden a 26" GT Pantera, 26" Specialized Hardrock FS, and a Trek 4000.
Date Reviewed: October 12, 2012
Strengths: XO drivetrain, suspension front and rear is nicely balanced, with easy sag indicators, mine worked well right out of the box, firm, the way I like,rear shock lockout, propedal positions not always necessary on a climb. It's a Horst link design, and remains active under braking, very sweet. Tires were grippy, although I switched to Small Block 8s with wheel change, for less resistance, good for dry Park City trails.
15mm solid axle and tapered head tube make the bike super stable tracking corners and downhilling. Elixir brakes good, didn't come bled real well.
Weaknesses: XO triple 10 speed seems a design afterthought to the 2X10 version, still very smooth, but clumsy shifting due to larger cassette in the back, I guess. With stock wheels and weight, you will need the lowest gear early in the season!
My shipping weight was 30lb, not terrible if you look at the 26er weights on the recent MTB action $2k bike shootout, but I went with Stan's 29er Crest wheels, running tubeless for another $400. Tracking and climbing much better due to less rolling weight and lower tire pressures.
Narrow handlebars aren't for everyone, but Ritchey stem,post and bar are strong and lightweight, carbonize if you can, another cheap, lighter,upgrade on a great platform.I bought Hong Kong bars/seatpost on Ebay for cheap. Ergon grips or barends help too, if you do long climbs.
After riding this setup for the summer, I'm sold on the BikesDirect product and customer service! Nothing touches the quality of this 29er F/S, and I haven't had any service issues since they sent my missing 15mm axle flange ASAP.
The frame is stout, so there is a weight penalty going up, but it is solid going down, flex was only in my light, aftermarket wheelset. I don't have issues with a 29er on tight Park City singletrack, and love the way those wheels roll over everything. If you're looking to get into a full sus 29er without taking out a 2nd mortgage, I recommend this bike, or a light hard tail. 29ers are faster(my Orbea hardtail over my Ibis Mojo 26, for example) and the technical shortcomings are overstated(mags don't want to lose 26er business afterall).
Weaknesses: seat/seat post is horrible, WTB tires are not the best although climbing was decent, maybe a back tire option. Crappy pedals, to be expected.
I have taken this bike out on a few big rides, VERY satisfied with the ride and feel.
It's a beast!
Date Reviewed: September 3, 2012
Strengths: Value. XTR drive train.
Weaknesses: Image - not a name brand.
I bought the $2400 bike, full XTR drive train. The drive train alone makes it worth the price. I would have gone for the $1600 XT version, but it was sold out. No wonder b/c that is steal. And so is the full XTR version. This bikes rocks. The frame is solid, decent weight, the suspension system (front and rear) completely capable of anything you throw at it. Yes, the wheel set is middle of the road, but that is an easy upgrade (same for seat). All in all, this bike is second to none for the price. You will be hard pressed to find a bike in a shop with the same component set for less than $4 - $5k . . . if they even keep a big boy (or girl) bike like this in stock. If value matters, GO NOW. If you go the Moto route (you should), you'll get over the off-brand image as you smoke the dudes who paid the same but ended up with SRAM 7 and LX. This bike is no joke. This is my second Moto. I have never been loyal to brand, but these guys get it right and I plan to stick with them. Huge value, great product, great service. Moto over-delivers.
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2012
Strengths: Weight. Stance. Components. Grips. Width of bars (narrow).
Weaknesses: Seat is ridiculously cheap. Brakes squeal a little but stop well (and I've only ridden the bike 22 miles, so maybe they ride in and stop squealing).
I like this bike. It seems fine. The welds look beautiful. The shocks work well. I don't have the front dialed in yet--it's too soft right now. The back shock doesn't seem to porpoise at all. I was surprised I liked the tires. I especially liked the rear. It seemed a cheap knock-off tire (goofy words like "wilderness trail" written on it), but gripped well when climbing. I'm going to change the front tire, though. I'm not used to a 29er in the sandy(ish) switch backs, but feel the grip could be better. Also, minor ($9.50) issue, but I got a flat on my second outing, on a trail I've never had a flat, with no real thorns or anything, just dirt and rocks, not sure why (crappy tube?).
I have SRAM X9s on two other bikes. Due to the unavailability (SOLD OUT) of SRAM components on the Fantom, I got XTR instead of XOs. I was surprised the XTRs gear shifter works regardless of the direction you click it (so you can use either your finger or thumb), so it's really no difference to me between the XTR and SRAM components (I don't have to relearn shifting when switching bikes). The XTRs seem to shift fine. I only thought about shifting once in 12 fairly hard core off road miles this weekend when it there was a delay shifting for some reason. No big deal, point is, shifting worked great.
I took this bike (as a first outing) through some pretty tough parts of Austin's Green Belt. Parts were fast and parts were super rocky, like a rock garden. I felt like my top speed on the fast parts was quite a bit faster than my 26inch Specialized Enduro. I climbed up a rocky part I was at first afraid to try but I just muscled up it like a goat--I think the 29 inch tires made a big difference on it--I don't think my Specialized would have made it. I think once I get used to this bike I will be better on it than I was on my Specialized 26 inch Enduro. I still have the Enduro, but I don't know when I'll ever ride it again.
I like the Motobecane. Considering that I actually assembled it in my driveway, it should come with a sticker that says (Assembled in U.S.A.).
Date Reviewed: July 30, 2012
Strengths: Price for quality ratio is excellent. Rt3 monarch is great back shock. I just love the bike, will most likely buy the upgraded someday
Weaknesses: Heavy wheels
I bought the downgraded version of this bike, the one that goes for like 1400. It fit my budget as a poor college rider. I played around a lot with the front end steering to make it fit my style better. Overall though I love the feel and the quality for the price I paid. Monarch rear shock is great for climbing.
Strengths: 1. Ritchey Bars: These are narrower than most which I like because I ride on some tight trails. May not be for everyone though.
2. Suspension: once I got it dialed in, I could basically leave it alone and just ride; whether climbing or descending. Very forgiving ride – which for my style is important.
3. Narrow feel: while the Trek Rumblefish to me feels a bit heavy and tractor like, the Moto feels narrower and nimbler, allowing me to go much faster with more confidence. The HiFi Pro which I like a lot is a much closer comparison to the Moto FS 29er.
4. Tires: I had never heard of these WTB Prowler tires before and actually had bought replacement tires (Nevegals) just in case. To my surprise these tires grip well and are staying on.
5. Stiffness: the 15mm front axle makes this bike feel solid up front. The back end feels normal, nothing special to note.
Weaknesses: The Reba RL 29 Fork blew out on me. BikesDirect customer service was excellent. In the end with no hassle, Rockshox was great and sent me an even nicer fork (SID 29) which demonstrated their customer centric values.
If you asked me, if price weren’t in the equation, and the bikes were equally equipped would you still go with the Moto? I’d say it is a close call, especially because I do like what Specialized has done with their Epic Comp 29er series – that is a unique design and rides well. However, price matters to most people and I have no complaints whatsoever with the new Moto FS 29, actually I’m very impressed and that doesn’t happen often. IMHO it is a solid package and it’s definitely a keeper - at $1,999 with Sram XO components, at least for me a no brainer. So much so that since buying this first one, I've bought two more for my sons and all of them have performed well.
Last comment…when people ask me about getting a bike, 90% I send to one of our LBS because they need that technical support and we have some great local shops that I have close ties to. However, for the other 10% that enjoy learning about the technology that goes into these bikes, reading the latest MTB magazines, and have the mechanical aptitude, Bikes Direct is a good solution. I’ve had good support from them over the years (12 BD bikes purchased) and never an issue with their service. BTW, my LBS still provides me wonderful support and I buy my parts and accessories from them which is a win-win.
The stock wheelset is mediocre, but I picked up some much better wheels and threw them on which made all the difference in the world. With the new wheels the bike weighs in at 26.2lbs which I think is great. This bike handles very well and does a good job at climbing. The geometry is a bit odd, but it fits me well since I have short legs/arms for my frame. As long as you can handle the assembly and maintenance of this bike, you will be hard-pressed to find a better deal for ~$2000.
I would have given 5 Chilis instead of 4 for the Overall rating if the stock wheelset was better. I also would have given 8 or 9 Chilis for Value if that was possible.
This is my first 29er and first FS bike. I rode it for the first time this past weekend on trails that I have ridden last year. I noticed that I was able to go much faster and ride over "features" that I could not normally clear. I'm sure there was some new bike adrenalin going on but I am very happy with this purchase.