a Weekend Warrior
from Washington, DC (USA)
Date Reviewed: March 30, 2011
Strengths: Affordability, relative quality of components, frame.
Weaknesses: Lack of distribution network or local resellers and subsequent lack of local support or purchase options.
Let me first begin by clearly and unequivocally stating that I am in no way affiliated with Motobecane USA and, more importantly, that I am a noob when it comes to mountain bikes and cycling in general. Honestly, my biking experience can almost exclusively be attributed to my childhood, a red bmx and an unhealthy and often reckless obsession with the movie Rad (yes, I realize that I am dating myself). So if you are looking for an experienced and wise cycling sage to guide you to some deep and life altering epiphany regarding bikes this is probably not the post for you. The goal of this post is to provide an objective review of my newly acquired bike… the Motobecane 300ht.
Before I actually review this bike I wanted to quickly mention that prior to purchasing this bike I was in your exact position – surfing this forum and many others looking through endless reviews. While any good consumer would due the same I was rather surprised to find how often many of the reviews I found were utterly useless. Many were written by people with unreasonable expectations (wanting a top of the line mountain bike for around $300) or were bike snobs chiming in and denouncing a product often without ever owning it and without providing any real input or feedback. I am sure you know what I am talking about… the comments most often single sentences and are almost always along the lines of “you get what you pay for” or “just spend a few hundred more for a real mountain bike”… blah blah blah. While I completely agree with many of these perspectives in principle (we are a Honda family due in large part to the exact same logic) I could not get past this overly repeated idea of spending the extra money given that I will be a recreation rider at best (i.e. paved trails, compact dirt, and the occasional off-road venture). Plus, after reviewing numerous bikes at local bike shops and online I had an even harder time spending the extra money for only marginal gains in quality (when comparing the frame and component quality I did not see drastic improvements when moving up to a $500 bike from the Moto USA bikes). Look at it this way… the bike snobs of the world due have a point only if the bike you are looking to purchase will be more than a casual hobby for you. But for me, when weighing the pros and cons against my expected use, I simply couldn’t agree with many of those posts – especially now that I have ridden the bike.
Ultimately, and I am sure like many of you, I had a budget of a few hundred dollars and wanted to get the best bike I could for the price (desperately trying to avoid department stores) and now that I have actually purchased one I would like to provide a hopefully helpful review (one that cuts through the crap of delusional cheapskates and bike snobs).
First a little history about Motobecane versus Motobecane USA. As mentioned in many bike forums there is no relation between the classic Motobecane French bike manufacturer(who filed for bankruptcy in 1981, was purchased by Yamaha and reformed into MBK in 1984 and only makes motorscooters now) and Motobecane USA. Motobecane USA is a completely separate company owned by Kinesis Industry Co. Ltd out of Taiwan with a plant in China and a subsidiary in Portland Oregon who sells Kinesis bikes through bikesdirect under the “Motobecane USA” trademark. Now, some poster have knocked any frames/bikes from Taiwan suggesting that people should at least stick to the better mid-quality brands like Trek, Diamonback, GT, or Raleigh without realizing that Kinesis actually manufactures frames for each of these brands (and many more). Manufacturing from a single source and then re-branding and selling the same product through separate companies is a very common phenomenon in the consumer product world and buying the less known brands or white-labels is often a very good way to get the same quality product for much less.
Now, with that out of the way let’s move onto the actual review of this specific bike.
The Purchase: Rating = Good
I bought my 300ht from bikesdirect and had no issue. The shipping was prompt and there were no problems with payment.
Receipt of product: Rating = Good
The bike was shipped via UPS and arrived without damage and on time.
Assembly: Rating = Good, moderately easy.
The bike, like all bikes purchased online, did require assembled. This was not a problem with me at all and I actually enjoyed the chance to get to know my bike. All you really need to assemble is a little common sense, an adjustable wrench and a good allen wrench set (a.k.a. hex key set). I took a bit more time and made use of a proper torque wrench (optional) and made sure to double check everything from the brake and chain tension to the derailleur alignment (all of which were perfect… I just wanted to check it so that I knew how). Don’t let this discourage you… all you need is a little motivation, a basic understanding of tools/mechanics, and a good internet connection. There are many websites out there that will walk you through each process via well laid out pictures and diagrams or video with commentary (youtube).
The only difficult part of the assembly was getting the brake lines situated. Because the handlebars are not attached to the bike during shipping the cables can get a bit twisted and it isn’t exactly obvious where they should run along the frame (i.e. their optimal layout). However, after a few minutes of finagling I was able to figure it out. This did not involve disconnecting the brakes… it was more like those brain teaser puzzles you buy from the cracker barrel gift shop. Just play with the positioning of the handlebars and untangle the brake lines. I would suggest finding a good picture or diagram online if you really need it… this is the one point during the assembly where I wished my bike specific knowledge was a little bit better or the instructions were clearer. However, once I found a good photo online of a preassembled bike it was easy to figure out.
If you do not have the tools or mechanical fortitude to assemble yourself I found many local bike shops willing to complete the assembly for prices ranging from $50 to $100.
I did have to fine tune the brakes a little until I was comfortable (not that they didn’t work, I just prefer my brakes to engage at between a quarter and a half pull on the handle rather than all the way). I also had to adjust the v-brake centering on the front tire… this was surprisingly easy as well. All it took were a few twists to the side adjustment screws. Other than that the ride was perfect. The aluminum frame was light and responsive. The front fork did its job by absorbing impact and the gears shifted like a dream.
I have had a few weekends to put this bike to the test and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have even started to venture a little more offroad and find that the fork has plenty of travel to absorb the bumps and the tires do a great job of keeping me on the paths. I did have to adjust the tire pressure a few times to find what I was comfortable with… to do this I picked up a cheap pressure gauge at a local bike shop for $10 (well worth the investment).
Review of some specific components:
Frame = Excellent, light and responsive. I just wish they would have had the silver available. And remember, it is made by the same manufacturer who produces the frames for Trek, GT, Diamondback and many more.
Fork = Adequate, provides enough travel and suspension for my needs. However, I do wish it would have a lock out feature for the paved trails.
Rear Derailleur = Good, does its job well so far.
Shifters = Good, I prefer the triggershifts over the grip shifters offered on some bikes… it makes it feel a bit more sporty and is, in my opinion, easier and more responsive.
Crankset and pedals = Adequate, the pedals are ATB beartrap and while I am happy they are metal they are a bit gnarly and will take a good chunk out of your leg if you aren’t careful.
Rims = Good, double walled aluminum.
Tires = Fair, probably the cheapest thing on the bike but they do their job.
V-Brakes = Adequate, all I know is that I stop every time I pull the brake handle. Plus, they are easy to adjust and cheap to maintain.
I am very happy with my purchase and would recommend this bike for the casual and fiscally responsible rider. It is absolutely better than anything you can purchase at a department store and is roughly equivalent to the quality of mid-range better known brands for less money. With that said, I may be a victim of blissful ignorance at this point and may have had even more fun on a bike that cost 2x more but that is a hypothetical that my wallet could not afford. All I can say for now is that I am enjoying the trails around the Washington DC area every weekend with a reliable, comfortable and versatile bike that didn’t break the bank… leading to the best part of all, a complete and utter lack of cognitive dissonance (buyer’s remorse).
And lastly, in the words of the great LeVar Burton… “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Seriously you don’t… do the research yourself and you will see that this is a good bike for the money. If you want more details compare the individual components (listed below) to that which is offered on other mid-range bikes at your local bike shop or online. You will not see much difference until you get well above the $500 range. And if you are worried about the frame… well, like I mentioned many times before, don’t be.
Weaknesses: Not a true "cassette". It's a freewheel type hub but listed as a cassette.
True "mounatin bike"? Nope. Good for light off road trails? Yep. Infinitely better than anything from Wally World, K-Mart, Target, etc. Like the double walled rims. The Kenda K-850 tires are good for both light trails & street riding.
For only a few $$$ more than a discount store bike - get this one for light trails. If I can assemble this bike - anyone can. No instructions needed if you are familair with bicycle components.
a Weekend Warrior
from Clearwater Florida
Date Reviewed: December 8, 2010
Strengths: Everything came out of the box with no damage. Slight paint chip on the rear disc brake mount. Nothing I care about. I bought this bike to use it not stare at it. Came with all components listed. No mismatch.
Weaknesses: Cheapo tires so far
Bottom line is I paid 259 dollars and it shipped to my house in 4 days......one of those days being a weekend. The box came here with no damage and the bike was a breeze to assemble with no directions needed. Ive never put together a mountain bike and it was still a breeze. Good bike for someone aon a budget who doesnt want some wlamart crap.
Similar Products Used: Been riding cheap bikes forever. Besides my BMX days.
Bike Setup: All stock. Soon to change tires though.
a Cross Country Rider
from Jacksonville, FL,USA
Date Reviewed: December 26, 2009
Strengths: A lot of bike for the money.
Weaknesses: NONE if you take into consideration the person who SHOULD be riding this.
If you can tell the difference between an air sprung fork and a springer then this is not for you, but i can say that the wife is amazed at the difference in this from her Wal-Mart bike....It is so much better in every way just don't expect to set any course records with this. With upgrades....the sky is the limit because if i'm not mistaken, thuis is the same frame used all the way to the 700HT so it can improve with you as your ability increases.
a Cross Country Rider
from tucson az
Date Reviewed: December 18, 2009
Strengths: nice paint, disc mounts, would be happier if i got it 100 bucks cheaper or off of craigslist.
Weaknesses: front derailleur, wheels, fork..the price i paid.
Now that front derailleur is alivio my shifting is better but still what you expect from a bottom of the line bike. The avid bbdb are fun got em for $30 bucks and thanks to mtbr reviews i now know they are just as good as bb7. The rst fork sucks it's just there for looks and it may soak up a bump here or there. The front hub is grinding..but i got some new wheel so i won't bother fixing i just threw them to the side for a friend. I paid way too much even the bike shop guys were cool. I've learned now to shop online or craigslist unless i'm going to spend some real money. I know a little more now then i knew then. so three chilis because the frame is good but components suck dirt. Go to the bike shop to spend 500-600 minimum, otherwise get some park tools learn a little service info and buy used if you can't buy the good stuff.
Similar Products Used: mongoose efx(walmart) now building a specialized hrxc frame deore lx, marzocchi, craiglist stuff, avid bb7
Bike Setup: I wrote the last review just opened new account. Put a 2002 avid bbdb on the front, rear soon to come and swaped out the crappy front derailleur for alivio i got free from a friend.
a Weekend Warrior
from Tucson, AZ, USA
Date Reviewed: September 30, 2009
Strengths: yes i paid 370 but i have free life time tune up so it was well worth it. Light frame, light fork, stem,,etc..very agile and nimble..bike loves to banged up on the rocky trail with a wild downhill ride with jumps and all and it has responded well so far. this bike is my first upgrade from Walmart brand.
Weaknesses: tires suck 5 flats so far..went to walmart and got the super thick inner tube but i need new tires ill wait until i've got too many holes to count. Front derailluer shifts to slow i have to hold down the trigger until it catches. I've already bent derailluer and hanger but bike shopped fixed for free. I'm not getting good reviews on the rst omni but we'll see how long it lasts.
Love the bike I want to ride it like I stole it and get the MTB training in then once it's broken ( 1-2.5) years then i'll spend 699-1500 on next bike. Please don't complain about this bike overall decent components at price point although i wish derailluer was better and better then bottom line kenda tires put on..Was told by bike shop the first and best upgrade will be wheel set.
Similar Products Used: Mongoose efx( Walmart) full suspension or fools suspension.
Bike Setup: truvativ iso flow cranks, tektro v brales, cane creek neck, weinmann double walled rims, crappy kenda tires, shimano altus derailluer. skye stem, riser bars, hubs, seat post, wtb seat. rst omni 191 80mm fork and my super duper walmart inner tube that is so thick and trustworthy.
from Overland Park, KS, USA
Date Reviewed: May 4, 2008
Strengths: Everything about this bike is awesome. I have owned Klein, Gary Fisher, Cannondale, ETC. And this bike stands up to these, for much less money. I am thouroughly impressed with all Motobecane products that I have ridden.
Weaknesses: No weaknesses. For the price, this is the bike to get!!!
Get this bike!!! You will not regret it. And Bikesdirect was the place to get it. Cheapest prices!!!
Similar Products Used: Klein, Cannondale, trek, etc
Bike Setup: Standard.
a Weekend Warrior
from Baton Rouge, LA
Date Reviewed: March 13, 2008
Strengths: Excellent bike for a beginner or weekend rider. I am a large person, 250 lbs and have crashed this bike multiple times, hit ramps/jumps going 3, 5 and 6 feet in the air, flipped it, broken my collar bone and the worst damage the bike has incured is the wheels getting warped (trued up by l.b.s. for $15/wheel) broke the derailleur hanger and the rear derailleur when debris got in the chain and rear wheel. Not a manfufacturer defect.
Weaknesses: Wheels do not hold up to my weight and aggressive riding. Bike is an entry level and I knew this when buying so not a fault of the bike, just the rider. Not fond of the bear trap pedals. Would advise replacing them with something else to avoid scratched calves.
Overall this is bike is a great value for getting involved in Mountain Biking. As you begin to advance and demand more from your bike you will need to upgrade. Until this this bike can take the abuse you throw at it.
Bike Setup: stock with a wtb velociraptor front tire on the back b/c the shop is so stupid they put it there, and specialized sidewinder grips
a Cross Country Rider
from Asheville, NC
Date Reviewed: May 31, 2007
Strengths: This was my first bike purchase. Very pleased to begin with. Now I wished I had spent another $500 and gotten a better fork and components. Great frame, had a bad crash that caused the chainrings to cut into the frame but it has still held up after a year.
Weaknesses: Grips wear fast. Fork wears fast. Replaced rear wheel for another low-end wheel because the shop said it was cheaper then truing it. Cheap shifters and derailers. Shifters have locked up twice and i replaced rear derailer.
GREAT DEAL! Great for entry level and it's not a common bike on the trail.
Bike Setup: replaced Altus rear derailer with XT derailer.
a Weekend Warrior
from Houston, TX, USA
Date Reviewed: January 19, 2007
Strengths: i haven't had any problems with the frame. or the handle bars. back brakes r pretty good
Weaknesses: front fork is cheap as crap! looses travel gradually until u have a no suspension bike. grips wear out quickly. the seat is a little uncomfortable if u arent on the trails. stock tires were crappy- horrible tread. brake and shift cables wear out constantly and have to be replaced. front brakes arent that great.
ok bike, but has its flaws. dont expect to be able to really rip it up on the trails in this bike. buy it if ur a beginner... but if ur ANYTHING above that, look for a bike that costs a bit more, but that u get higher quality from.
Favorite Trail: cypress creek trails... all of them
Duration Product Used: More than 3 years
Purchased At: Cycle Spectrum
Similar Products Used: first real mountain bike
Bike Setup: stock... except for a replacement rear tire cuz the last one blew out
a Weekend Warrior
from Rochester NY
Date Reviewed: December 3, 2006
Strengths: Good value for the $$; priced out similar bikes that cost almost 2x as much. The rear dérailleur shifts flawlessly. the front dérailleur isn't as responsive. Both dérailleurs are mfg by Shimano
Frame is very light; comes with bosses to make for professsional installation of rear rack and water bottle cage.
The only thing I updated were the seat (replaced with spring leather-brooks) and the tires (atb road)
For the money and weekend road warrior-this bike is a real value
a Weekend Warrior
from Florence, KY, USA
Date Reviewed: July 14, 2005
Strengths: Very good components, WTB Speed-V saddle, Tru-Vativ Isoflow crank, metal pedals give good grip, light weight, great rims, easy-shifting and smooth drivetrain.
Weaknesses: Could use slightly wider tires. Advertised as having 2.1" width and came with 1.95".
The best bang for your buck if you're a beginner, on a budget or simply don't ride often enough to justify spending a lot. A lot of the issues apparently have been addressed since the other reviews. The only plastic parts on my bike are on the shifters and it came with the WTB Speed-V saddle which some people had to upgrade to. I paid less than half the price of other bikes with the same components and less than half the MSRP.