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  1. #1
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    Fantom 29 X4 or Expert

    I'm looking to pick up a bike in the next few days and have my eyes set on one of these two bikes. I'm still fairly new on looking at the levels of components so any suggestions on the pluses and minuses of each would be appreciated.

    Fantom 29 Expert - Save up to 60% off new 29er Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 29 Expert

    X4 - Save up to 60% off new 29er Mountain Bikes - MTB - Motobecane Fantom 29 X4 with Custom Colored Wheels + Hydraulic disc brakes

    Thanks
    Bill
    Last edited by wburbage; 06-29-2014 at 06:32 AM.

  2. #2
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    need links. First off, are you able/willing to do the assembly yourself, have you worked on bikes before, and willing to take your life in your own hands (trust your life on the brakes you setup)? If you say yes to these, bikesdirect is good. If not, it can be easier to get one from your local bike shop (LBS).

  3. #3
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    I updated the original post with the links. I've built a couple bikes before so I'm familiar and comfortable with doing that. The difference that pops out to me is that the Expert includes the SRAM X5 components while the X4 includes the SRAM X4. I'm not familiar enough to say if the other components offset that. I'm leaning towards the Expert but would like some input from people know this stuff better than I do.

    Are there other options in this price range I should be looking at too (i.e., Gravity)?

  4. #4
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    Much better bike that you'll enjoy a whole lot more, but it is more expensive. The cost to quality ratio is really high though. 10-speed, Avid elixer hydraulic, Recon fork for $600.
    Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Gravity 29Point4 29er Mountain Bikes

    Also, the motobecane 529 has a good price point for what you get, and to me would be a much better buy than the X4 or expert. If I was starting out and wanted to speed the least amount for the best quality, this is probably the one I'd get. Save up to 60% off new Mountain Bikes - MTB - Gravity 29Point4 29er Mountain Bikes

    The graivty 29.1 would be a close second because it has a slightly better drivetrain, but the brakes on the 29.1 are not as good.

    What I don't like about the bikes:
    I don't like 8-speed drivetrains with "megarange" cassetes. I'd rather have an 8-speed with a 11-32 shimano/Sunrace cassette or 9-speed with the 11-34 cassette. They have much smoother gear transmittions from one cog to the next. My preference would be from best to least, Gravity 29.4 (10-speed), moto expert(9-speed), 529(good 8-speed), and the worst is the X4(bad 8-speed). I would avoid the X4.

    crankset. The 26-36-46 tooth crankset on the expert is more for road/asphalt,smooth dirt use or someone whose really fit. I'd rather have a 22-32-42 crankset on the 529 or gravity for rocky/rooty trail use. I'd rate the cranksets highest to lowest as gravity, 529, X4 and the expert. The expert is better quality than the X4, but not by much and I'd have to replace the chainrings.

    brakes: cheap hydraulics can be cheap, but if they work, they'll work fine. If they don't work, warranty. Before you open up any of the fluid paths to bleed, make sure someone is around whose done it before or watch a whole lot of youtube videos. The avids will be better, but they'll all be good and similar in performance. Shimano does make better hydraulic brakes.

    frame: the motobecane X4, expert, and 529 are similar frames and use a straight 1 1/8" steer tube, so future fork upgrades will be a challenge since industry is going to the tapered headset. You'll be able to find straight tube forks, but they'll be more expensive than the tapered equivalent and you'll be limited with the quality level. High end forks will not come straight tube. The gravity frame comes with a 1 1/8" straight tube, but the frame can accept an external headset that allows it to use a tapered headtube. Not a huge concern if you don't plan on upgrading forks anytime soon or if you plan on selling this and getting a better bike when that time comes

  5. #5
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    Awesome breakdown, thanks!!

    I was looking to save a little on the X4 but it sounds like the Expert will fit my type of riding a little better, especially when it comes to the crankset. The Gravity looks like a really nice bike but is a little out of my price range.

    I think I'm now down to the 529 and the Expert. Both of them have SRAM which I prefer. The 529 coming with the x4 and the Expert coming with the x5. It also looks like the 529 does not have a lock-out fork. Since I ride 75 road/25 dirt would I see more benefit with the Expert when it comes to the crankset?

  6. #6
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    For the money, I'd think you'd be better off with the 529. Once you start wearing stuff out, you'll have a much better idea what you do and don't want to spend money on. Unless you're standing and really rocking on your bike, you won't benefit from lockout too much. For flat travel or continuous force cranking, I barely notice my fork compressing. Also, the expert comes with a mechanical lockout, which really isn't that much of an upgrade. I've seen people break the MLO before. Not worth the extra cost in comparison to just buying a better fork down the road.
    And X4 vs. X5 derailure is a wash. Both work, and if the X4 RD goes out, you can easily justify getting a better one. I doubt you'll have much problem with an X4 though, especially with an 8-speed.
    For road use, comparing a 32T chainring against a 36 is a wash too. I have a 29er with 32T middle chainring and another 29er with a 38T middle chainring. The 38T is a litle better for road, but the 32T works just as well when I shift the front gear to the big ring. It's on the trails where the difference is really noticible I'd much rather have a 32T chainring for trail use.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the input. I think I'll be going for 529 and put the savings towards a better pump and some other odd-and-ends when needed. Thanks again!

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    How hard and how much would it be to put a lock out on the 529?

    That's one of the reasons I'm going with the x4

  9. #9
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    Relatively easy fork swap. You can't convert a XCT fork without lock out to one with. In reality, the xct mlo fork isn't a good upgrade over the regular fork. Spend $100 on eBay to get a new fork from China or a used Rockshox or manitou. Just get hydraulic damping. If you really want it for the lockout function, consider buying a rigid fork from Nashbar for $50.

  10. #10
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    Thanks guys, I know this an old thread, but they still have all these models, and this thread helped me decide. I went with the 529, and it comes with a Lockout fork now.

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    So a good starter would be the 529HT? That is what I've been eyeing...

  12. #12
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    At this point in time, I'd go with the 429. It's $300 for basically the same bike. Only difference is mechanical vs. hydro brakes, which considering the brand isn't that big of a deal, and the fork lockout. Just not worth the extra $100.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  13. #13
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    My friend is telling me that I should seriously consider buying a 2015 Rockhopper closeout for a couple hundred+ $'s more. Would the difference be worth it?

  14. #14
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    It won't be that much more bike compared to the 529, but it is a better bike. Assuming he's talking about the base level rockhopper, it will have better and lighter tires (which are very important) and a hydraulic lockout fork vs. the mechanical lockout on the 529. The hydraulic lockout is a worthwhile upgrade. Not great, but better. Almost comparable to a rockshox XC28 TK, but can't control rebound adjustment. Still has it, just can't adjust it. The rockhopper will also have decent resale value if you decide to upgrade, while the moto will not. If you plan on keeping the bike, this doesn't matter.

    Once you consider the bikeshop support, for me, if the rockhopper was under $550, I'd go for it. Much more than that, you're paying for the name. IF the LBS has a good reputation or customer service, would go to $600.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

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    It'll actually be $630 out the door after taxes, discount, etc. And the folks at the LBS are top knotch, been in business for 30+ years... not to mention the warranty, 1 year of maintenance, and 1 year of 10% off all in store accessories. Probably a no brainer huh? Lol

  16. #16
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    If you're starting out and want to know if mountain bikes are something you'll enjoy, I'd go with the rockhopper or the 429. The rockhopper will handle better in almost every way, and can be upgraded. It's part list isn't that great, but most bikes under $1000 won't be.

    Comparing it against the bikesdirect offerings really comes down to price and knowledge of bike repair. If you don't like turning wrenches, BD is not a good option. The parts are OK, but assembly can be hit or miss. If you know what you're doing, you can easily fix the bike up. If not, you can easily have the bike fail at the worst possible moment.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

  17. #17
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    I bought the rockhopper. Felt it was the best deal. I do all of my work myself, thank God for YouTube. So I can do any upgrades myself. Thanks for the input though friend.

    Cheers!

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    It was the sport btw, not the base... right place, right time...

  19. #19
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    no problem. Great price for the rockhopper sport. Looking through the spec, and there's nothing I'd change right now. Always preferences, but that can come in time. Things like a 1x chainring setup, different grips, seat or stem length.
    "a hundred travel books isn't worth one real trip"

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