9 Apr

Motobecane Fantom Elite Review – Part 1

So the bike was delivered by UPS yesterday. The shipping took about a week, from TX to CA. I’m pretty satisfied with the overall transaction. It actually exceeded my expectation. I placed an order on the 1st, the following day I received my UPS tracking number. The transaction is through Paypal. I was skeptical at first because I don’t really trust Paypal when it comes to large amount of money. I’ve been scammed on Ebay before and I tried to get my money back from Paypal but never got a penny back. Anyway, the transaction with Bikesdirect went smoothly.

The Package:

The bike came in a big box. It has Motobecane’s name on it and instructions on how to stand it up. There’s a small rip on the side but when I checked, it didn’t look like it damage anything inside. I give bikesdirect an A+ for a very well done packaging. All the parts are securely and nicely arranged inside the box. I didn’t see any scratches on any of the parts. The brake and shifter controls are already mounted to the handle bar and the cables are also wired up. The quick release skewer for the front hub is zip-tied to the detached front wheel. The seat is also detached but its already mounted to the seat-post. The small box contains the free pair of Gravity clipless pedals and a white reflector. The box also comes with a bunch of parts manuals and a generic owner’s manual that I didn’t bother to use.

Inspecting The Bike:
Before I began assembling the bike, I thoroughly inspected the bike first because some parts are zip tied and locked. I didn’t need to do this yet but it’s easier to work on something when everything else is freely moving. Besides, I might even forget about them and who knows, they may do some damage to the bike.


Plastic caps on front wheel hubs


Plastic cap on rear wheel


Plastic cap on rear wheel


Crank arm is zip-tied to the wheel


Plastic fork stand

Assembling The Bike:
As you can see from the picture above, the bike is about 90% assembled. All that’s left to be done is mounting the hydraulic brake to the fork, attaching the front brake rotor to the wheel, mounting the handlebar to the stem, installing the seat post and the pedals. Bikesdirect made it really easy for online customers to assemble the bike. It’s almost RTR (ready-to-ride). You don’t even need to set the hydraulic brakes because it’s already bled and set unless you want to adjust it to your own taste. It’s really that easy to assemble this bike. But if you prefer a fully assembled bike without putting any labor on it, you can take it to your local bike shop and they’ll do it for about $50 to $70. To those who wants to get their hands dirty, you might find the following instructions useful.

Tools Needed:

  • Allen Wrenches
  • Torque Screw/Nut Driver (required but I say its optional)
  • Pedal wrench
  • Cutter (this is really just for cutting the zip ties)

Assembly

1. Start by removing all the plastic caps, zip-ties, paper wrap and rubber bands.

2. Mount the handlebar


Use a 4mm allen wrench to loosen all four bolts
on the faceplate of the stem clamp.


Position the stem clamp directly in the middle of the handlebar.
Rotate the handlebar until you achieve a relax position of your wrist.
Once set, secure it with the front plate and four bolts.

3. Remove the quick release skewer from the front wheel.

4. Attach the brake disc/rotor to the front wheel.


The disc package comes with 6 bolts and 2 zip ties
for securing the brake cable to the fork.


Lay the disc to this side of the hub. Left side of the wheel when mounted.


Make sure that the disc facing up has the markings on it.
You’ll also notice the directional arrows on the disc.
This is how the disc should be rotating when the bike is moving.


The bolts are applied with the blue thread lock coating
so that they don’t come loose during bouncy rides.


If you have a torque driver, torque the bolts at 55in-lbs.
Or you can just do it by feel ;)


Try to use a criss-cross pattern when tightening the bolts
for best equal torque distribution.

5. Install the quick release skewer. The cam can be positioned on either left or right.

6. Mount the front caliper to the fork


Remove the red plastic tab and save it for later
when you need to service the caliper.


The caliper already comes with the right bracket for the fork.
Loosen the two bolts on the caliper and bolt it to the mounting tabs on the fork.
Torque the bolts to 80 to 90-lbs.

7. Mount the front wheel and make sure that the disc seats properly between the caliper’s pad. Tighten the skewer and lock the cam by pushing it towards the wheel. Secure the brake cable to the body of the fork by using the provided zip-tie.

8. Install the seat post and adjust according to your height or your desired position. You can also adjust the seat by loosening the bolt underneath. I found the top tube on the fantom elite to be short for me so I slid my seat backwards.

9. Mount the pedals and your bike is now complete and ready to ride. Make sure to check if the brakes are all working properly. You may also need to inflate the tires. On-road, I normally inflate my tires between 50 and 60 psi and for off-road, it’s between 35 and 40 psi.

First Impression:
Honestly, when I first saw the bike on the website, I wasn’t too impressed with the frame’s design. I also wasn’t digging the black frame. But now that the bike is in front of me and fully assembled, my pessimistic view about this bike all went down to drain. The 16″ frame actually looks better than the larger ones. The gap between the top tube and down tube when they meet on the head is not apparent anymore. And the matte black finish… it’s gorgeous. I really love this bike now. The welds are beautifully done. I just wish they spend more time in smoothing it out. The pre-assembled parts looks pretty good to me. It seems like they were put together well except for the stem which I have to align, but this is minor.

Now for the cons. Let me start it off with the front brake cable. Out of the box, the cable is kinked. This is not something that I can ignore because this is a hydraulic cable. It actually affects the braking. It’s inconsistent and seems to lose pressure every time I squeeze the brake lever. I already emailed bikesdirect about this and I’m just waiting for their reply. The top tube is also short for my taste. I had to slide the seat backwards so I can get a better seating position. The free pedals are ok but I would definitely get something better. Oh well, it’s free! And lastly, this bike is quite heavy. It weighs approximately 29.5 lbs on my bathroom scale. I’m sure there is still room for improvement but I need to loose my own baggage first before I put this baby on a diet.

Overall, it’s not a bad bike for under $1000. But the real test has yet to come. I’ll probably just break her in on a smooth pavement for now then we’ll make her eat some dirt later.

If you are not picky about brand names, I suggest to check this bike out from bikesdirect.com.