Greetings! I recently purchased a mountain bike from BikesDirect.com. I already own a trail bike, a 2007 Specialized Rockhopper that I've upgraded over the years. Twas my only bike, my trusty steed. I use that bike mostly for the local trails, which are very rocky and rooty, but it sees a good chunk of tarmac as well. The roads around Boston are littered with cracks and potholes and I do a fair bit of curb jumping, so I prefer a mountain bike over a road bike.

Now what led me to purchase the Moto was simple. Sometimes I need to lock my bike up, like when picking up a 12-pack of Sam Adams Summer Ale. The more money I put into my bike the less inclined I was to leave it sitting around for thieving eyes. So I wanted a bike that was good enough to ride for miles but cheap enough if someone broke through my heavy chain lock AND my cable lock it wouldn't be a huge loss.

Now some suggested I check Craigslist but it's hit and miss there, I think alot of people over-value their bike and I didn't feel like dealing with it. Bikes Direct was happy to deduct $329 and a week later a huge box arrived. Initial impressions were good. The bike was mostly assembled as can be seen from the pic of the bike on the workbench. I'll run down what I needed to do to get the bike ride-ready.

I was planning on taking apart the bike completely and putting it back together, but I was happy with how it was assembled for the most part.

1. Tighten headset, adjust handlebars and seat.
2. Check and tighten bolts, oops adapter for rear disc brake caliper is loose! Always good to check.
3. Bit of snag, wheels out of true and spokes need tension. I do my own work but when it comes to wheels I bring them to the shop. $20 later and they are good to go.
4. Pump up tires. Wheels on now I can adjust the brakes. I used a bit of brake cleaner on the rotors. Got calipers aligned and tightened down. Inboard pad easily adjusted with 5mm allen, outboard adjusted via cable tension.
5. Decided to put my old Spesh pedals on. Pedals are one of those things I expect to change.
6. Cut off a bit on the ends of cables as they were a tad long. Didn't even need to adjust the shifters, cable routing was well done out of the box.

Now onto the parts:
1. Frame - Looks quality aluminum, nice finish. Yes I bought it partially on looks
2. Drivetrain - 8spd Shimano, good and reliable. Suntour cranks seem fine. Integrated shifters, brake levers.
3. Brakes - Tektro Novela mechanical disc. Not too shabby! Get them adjusted and they work just fine. Will probably get even better once bedded in.
4. Seat - Seems comfy enough although haven't had a long ride on it yet.
5. Rims - Believe they are Alex Rims. Had a similar set before and broke some spokes on the rear after a year of trail riding, but I still have them and they are OK (they came stock on the Rockhopper). I think these are a bit wider and perhaps lighter which is good. Now that they are trued they should be fine.
6. Hubs - Formula hubs, not much experience with them. They have some rubber seals on the outside which I thought was odd but they spin well enough.
7. Tires - Kenda 2.1's. Thought I was going to have to swap them as I was expecting department store quality tires but they are actually quite nice. Not true 2.1's in that they are measured to include the side knobs.
8. Misc - Handlebars, stem, headset, seatpost all seem adequate.
9. Fork - Suntour XCT. A simple fork, a coil on each side and preload adjustment. Firm enough for my weight around 175. I'll discuss it more below.

Riding impressions:
To be fair I haven't rode it much yet, but it's nice! Rolls smoothly, stops good. What a bike should do! Not too heavy. Actually it looks a bit too nice to use it as a lockup bike, but oh well. For my street riding purposes it will do just fine.

Trail riding?
Now if you are looking into a cheap bike for the trails, these next comments are for you. I think for the most part the bike would handle fine. Perhaps a wider tire on the front for stability. The fork would be my biggest concern. It says right on the fork not to be used for hard riding. It might be OK for some singletrack but I don't know if I would trust it bombing down a rocky hill like I do on my trail bike.

IF I was going to take this thing on the trails I would most likely:
1. Swap tires or at least put a wider one up front. Although to be fair I haven't tried them at the local trails, I find a wide front gives much needed stability. Though this can vary greatly depending on where you plan to ride.
2. Pedals I would swap as I already did. Something with pins that is going to grip your shoes (or go clipless).
3. Fork - I would feel much better with my old Dart 3 up front. Something with some real damping and no warning sticker on it!

All in all I am quite happy with the bike. I checked around for a cheap Trek or Hardrock but nothing came close to the price for a disc brake frame. With a couple upgrades, namely the fork I think it could make a decent starter trail bike, or as is an excellent commuter for rough streets.

Moto400 Slideshow by builder111 | Photobucket