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Thread: Moto 550HT

  1. #1
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    Moto 550HT

    Just pulled the trigger on a 2014 Motobecane 550HT in silver.

    I was originally looking to spend 250-300 on a budget bike and slowly upgrade as I progressed, but I stretched a bit to come up with the $399 for the moto, knowing the trim level is a bit above bigbox stores. It would have been awesome to snag a 2013 at $349, but I can't really complain. I am really just looking for a knock around bike to add some much needed cardio to my heavy gym routine, and after racing BMX for a decade before taking a break, I must admit I miss being on two wheels. And after all, I'm getting a little too old to ride around my 24" dirt jumper everywhere, though I do break it out from time to time.

    While my riding is very recreational / casual, I don't see any need to upgrade the fork just yet, but it's nice to know the Suntour upgrade program is available should my riding progress to a level that warrants it. I've read some mixed reviews on the hydraulic tektro's, but it seems that once broken in most feel they are acceptable.

    Its foolish to buy a bike and already have upgrades in mind, so I really just plan on riding it until components break and upgrade as needed.

    At 6'0" and 225 top heavy pounds (36" waist) I went with the 19.5 frame. I was on the cusp of going with the 21" but I really prefer a lower slung frame closer to BMX. Its the same reason I didn't go for a 29er. I'm hoping I made a wise decision with the 19.5 frame.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say hello as I start my new endeavour. Thanks for all the thousands of posts I've read through.

  2. #2
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    I received a large box emblazoned with motobecane logos on all sides. It was pretty well packaged, with no perceptible damage to the box. Theres a million zipties to cut and a ton of taped foam and cardboard protecting the tubes.

    Rough assembly took about 30 minutes or one sierra nevada if you measure time in those increments as I do. Only one cable clip was broken on the front fork so i have a zip tie in place for now. I hastily set the seat, handlebars, neck and brakes, pumped up the tires, and took a quick spin around the block.

    Initial thoughts:

    I've only gone a thousand or so feet on it, so these are very rough thoughts about the bike.

    The bike was very easy to assemble, and everything was roughly set. Brakes and shifters certainly need fine tuning, but it went down the block and back just fine. The welds look very nice, and the satin paint finish looks great for the most part, but in a few areas you can tell they didn't clean it very well before spraying, as there's some visible dirt and dust and welding flash under the paint. A fully acceptable downside at this price point. All logos and markings are screen printed on, not stickers. I would have liked to debadge, but its not easily possible. I suppose you could try and match up the paint and spray over, but Ill just keep it as is.

    The pedals are crap, but we all knew they needed to be replaced out of the box. The shifters are acceptable so far, and I'm sure once dialed in and I get used to them, Ill like them more. The brakes are actually quite good in my opinion. I dislike the long travel before they bite, so I'm hoping I can tune the travel out. But they seem well bled, and have a nice feel once they grab. I haven't bed them in yet, but they seem to have enough stopping power. Cranks, wheels and other components seem decent enough. Head and shoulders over what you would get as wally-world, sports authority or "Richard's" sporting goods for the same price.

    The fork is a bit anemic for my weight. Even with the preload cranked to full, I'm still getting better than 30% sag. But I wouldn't expect any cheap fork to support 225 Lbs well. The mechanical lockout seems to work well enough, even if not the smoothest. I've not had enough time to see how I like it, but Im already concerned Ill be bottoming it out easily. Then again, I don't have much to compare it to.

    As others have stated, the frame does indeed run big. I'm glad I went with the 19.5" frame as opposed to the 21, and even still the 19.5 is pretty big. I had to cut the seat post slightly to get it down to a comfortable level.

    All in all, I think I will be happy with this bike for a while once dialed in, especial if I do upgrade the fork sooner rather than later. Hopefully Saturday I will finally see the bike in daylight, and Ill be able to put a couple of miles on it.

  3. #3
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    I have a moto too (along with a gravity FSX), and they're good bike for the price. The sizing is the most difficult part of not getting something at an LBS. Kind of wish bikesdirect would work more with some local bike shops and have some showroom bikes so we can get a feel for size.

    Unfortunately, with the size you got, the fork is pre-loaded with the medium or firm spring instead of the xfirm spring. Not much can be done other than keeping an eye out on ebay for a new spring. If you ride it enough, it's worth it to get a decent fork. It will completely change the way the bike feels. I upgraded to a rockshox recon and an XC32 on my bikes, and must say, the air coil is much better than the spring coil. Word of warning; if you keep your preload dialed all the way in, eventually the spring will loose some length from just sitting there compressed. If you ever loosen it up, the fork will feel weird. If it rides good, leave it un-compressed. Nothing wrong with riding at lower than 30% sag if it feels comfortable. On my bike, I would normally ride about 35 to 40%.

    The pedals are acceptable for what they are. Relatively smooth rolling, but big heavy platforms. Not much different than you'd get on any other LBS bike that came with pedals. They have metal cages, and after hitting rocks, the phrase "bear trap" is accurate if you hit your leg with one. As with any bike, I personally think clipless wins at the end of the day. Jenson bikes has one of the best deals on a clipless setup that I've seen lately. $60 to $100 will get you everything you need.

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    Thanks for the heads up on the fork spring. I think I ran across the exploded views for all suntour forks at one time. Ill see if I can track down a source for a heavier spring.

    I immediately notice more difficulty than anticipated while popping the front into a manual or hopping up a curb due to the compression of the fork. But this could be the same with better forks, and simply nature of the beast when crossing over from 24" BMX to MTB. Even though its only a slightly larger wheel, the geometry is completely different, and I'm used to a rigid fork to push off of. Either way, an airshock upgrade looks to be in my future, once I have my foot firmly in the door.

    As far as pedals, I don't think Ill ever feel safe going clipless. I've grown far too comfortable knowing I have the option to bail, and not go down with the ship. I already bought a set of wellgo MG1s off ebay for a few bucks. I know they're soft, but they're cheap enough to replace.

    In a way, I second guess purchasing the 550 instead of saving 80 bucks and going with the 450 instead. Assuming I do upgrade the fork anyway, all I lose is the hydros, and the savings could be applied to the fork. That being said, I really do like the hydros, though it could use some travel / grab point adjustment and not just reach adjustment.

    Thanks for the reply.

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    Hydros are nice, but I'd rather have a good set of mechanical, just because of the ease of maintenance and operation. Plus brake fluid can be messy. There should be some adjustments you can make at the caliper to bring the pads in to lesson the travel. If you haven't done it yet, I'd also recommend moving the brake lever and shifters in about 1/2" (thumb width) from the grips. This will allow you to get a better leverage on the brakes and shifters. Really helpful if you have larger hands.

    The 400HT doesn't have the mechanical lockout on the fork, but as you probably notice by now, an MLO sin't all that great anyway. A hydraulic lockout is much better. I'd have gone with the 400HT myself. The extra $80 really doens't justify the difference, unless you really like the SRAM shifters.

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    I do like the SRAM. Im a fan of the more mechanical / notchy feel in general. Makes me think of the pins in a vault hitting home (not that x4 shifters shoudl ever be compared to a vault). But for the same reason I prefer the rock crusher shifter in my camaro over a buttery smooth wet noodle shifter in an audi or other import.

    I dont have any problems with needing more leverage, as my grip strength is just fine, and the levers feel comfortable in the stock position. But Ill take your advice and look for any adjustments on the calipers themselves. I agree that I would have preferred a good mechanical (avid bb 5 or 7) to the hydros, but the choices were bottom of the line hydros vs bottom of the line mechanicals. Of the two options, I do like the idea of hydros despite the weight and mess.

    The 80 bucks isn't that big a deal. The budget is entirely self imposed. It's just hard to justify spending money on myself when I already have so many hobbies and my wife is in such desperate need for a 300th pair of shoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by watts888 View Post
    Unfortunately, with the size you got, the fork is pre-loaded with the medium or firm spring instead of the xfirm spring. Not much can be done other than keeping an eye out on ebay for a new spring.
    Just a heads up, after contacting both Matt at Bikes Direct and Nick and SR Suntour, both stated that to their knowledge all XCT forks ship with the same spring.

    There are different springs between the 80 mm and 100 mm variants only. Another possibility could be that higher tier forks may have different spring rates, but I have not confirmed this.

    Looks like an air fork is the obvious (and only) choice.

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    I know I got a used XCM that had a "S" sticker on it, and it would ride about 50% sag and bottom out on everything. Later on, I got came across a bike with an "L" sticker on the fork, and it felt much firmer. It might have been because they were XCM forks, so they probably had a few more options as far as sizing.

    Bought a used trek 820 the other day for a loaner bike ($50) that had a beat up XCT fork on it. In comparison, definately worth it to get a better fork. The fork was pretty beat up and barely moving so I worked it over. Even after I completely disassembled it and cleaned it and re-greased everything, it was still rough. I figure I can keep an eye out for a used decent fork, and swap it out later on. For now, the XCT will work well enough.

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    So I finally hit some trails for the first time since the fall. My wife and I recently had our first son, so time has not been plentiful. Over the winter I picked up a cheap Epicon fork, and what a world of difference. I haven't dialed it in yet, I just pumped it up to 100 psi, and its already infinitely better at my weight. Seems that my derailleurs could use some tweaking out these days, but otherwise the bike rode great. The brakes feel fantastic. I dont care how much work hydros will be to maintain, or how much more they weigh, its worth it to have this kind of clamp. But all in all, this bike is an absolute joy to ride. Now I just need to work on my embarrassing stamina.

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    Pumped up the tires to 60 / 55, and pumped the forks to 125, and I liked it even better this past weekend. Rode great, until I repeatedly bent my rear cassette gears. I had to stop 3 times search for a rock, and hammer them straight enough to make it out of the woods.

    Does anyone know what tool the DnP Hyperwave cassette needs? Has anyone replaced this cassette with a different brand? From some ebay listings, it looks like the hyperwave is indeed a cassette and not a freewheel, thankfully. It also stated that it was shimano / sram compatible, so I picked up a SRAM PG850 11-32, hoping it will fit on the free hub.

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    Replaced the rear cassette with a SRAM pg850, and the bike has given me no more trouble with gears. If anyone needs to know, the stock cassette comes of with a normal #5 park tool, same as other brands.

    I put quite a few hard miles on the bike this weekend, and its been great. Pumped up the fork to 125 psi, increased the rebound a bit, and I am just loving the Epicon. And for what its worth, I still really like these hydro brakes. A few people said they didn't like them, but I think they feel great.

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    Just for the record, you seem pretty knowledgeable, but 50-60 psi in your tires is about twice what you should be running on trails. And higher pressure on the street is overrated as well.

    I have a fairly comparable Moto 29er that I'm pretty happy with. The XCT fork is starting to show its limitations though.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TwiceHorn View Post
    Just for the record, you seem pretty knowledgeable, but 50-60 psi in your tires is about twice what you should be running on trails. And higher pressure on the street is overrated as well.
    Thanks for the suggestion, but at 225 lbs bare ass naked, I need to run the tires pretty hard. Yes, I suffer some traction loss in the soft and sandy spots, but its find over the primarily hard pack around here. I may try some 2.2" or larger tires one day, but so far these are doing OK.

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    I'm in the clydesdale club too, rocking 230lbs. I normally run 30-35 in the back tire and 28-30 in the front. Each tire is a bit different though. This is in 2.1" WTB prowlers used primarily in dry hardpack dirt with rocks/roots.

    FYI, went to an open shop night and checked the tension on my spokes. On my 29er, they were OK, which makes sense because the bike handled fine. On my 26", the tension was super loose (from BD). Tightened them up and rode around the lot. Much better feel. If you have a chance, go to a LBS that has an open shop night or check out a bike co-op in your area. Definately worth it to make sure your spokes are tensioned right.

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    How are you not riding on the rim at 30 psi?!?! I cant even imagine riding anything lower than mid 40s, and even there, looking down it looks like I have a flat. Well, hopefully as I progress, maybe Ill grow accustomed to a softer tire. As you said, maybe it has to do with the tire itself as well.

    And good call on checking the spokes, I never really did check the tension, although they were trued extremely well IMO.

  16. #16
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    It's a fine line. If I run 28 in the back, I'm squishy as all hell and the tire rolls on rim, at 32, it stays put. Truly a trial by error. I did it by airing up to 45psi and going fast around corners in the neighborhood and dropping pressure occasionally. Once I got to the point I could feel the tire squirm under me, I checked the pressure and brought it back up a couple psi. This only works for grip on the trail though. On road use, I run at 45psi.

    At 32 psi, I can see a flattening on the tire, but just a litle bit. Still feels good in the corners. Normally front tires can go about 3-5 psi lower than the rear.

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    So I had been kicking around upgrading some things for a while, and finally pulled the trigger. Moving the bike to 10 speed. Had originally wanted 3x9, but found some good pricing on the 10 speed stuff, and figured 10 would go a little further to futureproof it.

    X9 shifters in 3x10
    X7 FDR
    X7 RDR
    Shimano XT cassette in 11-36
    KMC X10.93 chain

    I'm going to see how it shifts with the stock suntour XCT crankset and chainrings first before spending any more money. Some people seem to think I may get lucky, especially with the 22/32/42 tooth counts. So far the move to 10 speed came in right around two bills.

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    Decided not to roll the dice on the existing crankset, and picked up an x7 22/33/44 triple for an additional 119. With how challenging 10 speed setups appear to be to dial in, I didnt want to take the chance on the 3x8 chainrings. Plus it will be nice to have a complete proper drivetrain.

    Incidentally, my x9 shifters arrived, and I don't find any mention of "Exact Actuation" on the box or the documentation. All sram 10 speed stuff uses EA, right? Everything Ive read suggests so.

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