Motobecane Elite Trail 29er Adventure Hybrid Review
Please don't hate or accuse me of being a shill. I cut this review. ASK QUESTIONS IF I SAID SOMETHING UNCLEAR. I don't want to be responsible for your buyer's remorse. Oh yeah, it would be nice if you could add to my rep by clicking the thumbs up icon at the bottom of my post. If you have any SPECIFIC questions, go ahead and PM me. Thanks for reading this rather long review:
I've been looking around these forums and I noticed something. There aren't many reviews about A) BikesDirect bikes, B) Lower end bikes, C) Dual sport bikes. Maybe I'm not looking hard enough, but that was my experience. I'll keep editing this review.
Not much. Ordered it on a Sunday, it got delivered in 6 business days. The box was undamaged. I had to sign to receive the package. There was a moderate amount of packaging; just enough to protect the bike. Yay for UPS.
Pretty easy. Putting it together takes about 30 minutes, but adjusting will take a couple of weekdays as it did for me. The wheels came true and tensioned. Everything but the pedals and seatpost was greased. The disk rotors were slightly bent. The front wheel would make this tinkling sound when it rotated. I couldn't tell what is was. I opened up the wheel and saw that the punched out eyelet for the Schrader valve was stuck between the walls of the rims! It took some shaking and poking, but it popped out. Front and rear derailleurs obviously needed adjusting, as did the brakes. Some bolts came loose, so those needed tightening. Comes with front and rear reflectors. BEWARE: the factory installed bolts are INHUMANELY TIGHT! Loctited, in fact.
On the website, this looks like a model bike. It isn't, but it's definitely good looking. It has a simplistic, matte black paint job and simple is nice, in my opinion. The 28" wheels don't look as out-of-proportion as I expected them to be.Although the slimmer, 1.5" tires do seem a little odd in comparison with the rest of the bike. After comparing it with my beautiful new stem, I declare the headset top cap to be officially ugly! I think it would be worth it to spend 6 bucks on a Thomson cap or 12 on a Chris king color cap.
The geometry is nice and upright. I'm 5' 6" with 31" inseam and the 15.5" fit is fine. The seatpost is really short. It works for now, but I'm going to get a 350mm soon. The seat is VERY hard. It hurts after a little while. The crankset feels a little flimsy, but I've never actually seen it flex, so it might be in my head. The grips are a bit tacky, and that's a good thing because dry, slippery grips cause blisters. EDIT: Sweat will cause these grips to become exceedingly slippery, which is why I wear gloves. I expected the 700c wheels to be clumsy, but they're not. At least, not on flat trails and pavement. I don't believe 29ers are used for technical trails, and there's likely a reason behind it. I can't really pop a wheelie on this, whereas on my $120 Wally 24" FS, I could hold it for upto 2 seconds.
I was hoping that this would be a true hybrid, but it's not. It's just as heavy as any 29er MTB in its range minus the weight of the tires. Expect a weight of around 28 pounds (I'm estimating, and that's only for the 15.5"). The lockout fork can be ultra stiff, or it can be pretty forgiving. EDIT: After a few more miles, I feel that the EF51's are uncomfortable. The thumb lever is set really far towards you, so you have to stretch your thumb like crazy! This makes it really hard to shift to bigger chain-rings and sprockets. Almost impossible while standing. Also, the FD shifter is REALLY tight (hard to push). It'll feel weird if you have never used triggers. Use mechanical advantage to your, well, advantage, by pushing your thumb against the outermost part of the lever.
The front derailleur is Acera and RD is Alivio. I was having some problems with the RD rubbing against the largest cog. An hour of adjusting fixed that problem. Kinda. There's like a hair's width between the chain and sprocket. I seriously doubt that this derailleur would fit a 34t cog. It barely clears my 32t cog. I'll contact BD if this happens again. Shifters are trigger shifters. Crisp and accurate. They give you tactile and audible feedback, which is good for blind shifting. An 8 speed cassette is a nice upgrade from the 7 speed freewheel I had before. I'm not a fan of integrated units, but it's cheaper in the short run. If you want to upgrade either the shifters or levers, you'll have to replace both ($30 for Alivios off of amazon, $20 for Avid Speed Dial 7). The shifting is silent and smooth. Under LIGHT pressure, the derailleurs still come through. The cassette isn't Shimano, and neither is the chain. I would replace them with Hyperglide parts if I could. When you are abusing the front derailleur by shifting to the extreme (Ex: 1x8 or 3x1), it makes a noise rather than silently destroying itself. That's nice.
Albeit the fact that this is a low end bike, it seems to take abuse pretty well. It doesn't feels like it's going to snap when I go down a couple stairs. I don't think it could handle much more, though. I wouldn't put this to the test and risk long-term damage. The brakes are bottom of the barrel Tektro Novela's, which are ubiquitous when it comes to low end MTB's. Many people complain that they squeal. For me, they are amazing in both power (Only the rear brake, which locks up almost immediately) and decibel count. This is most likely because of the warm climate where I live. I can't lock the front brake, and that's my only complaint. (Actually, the front brake is pretty useless) EDIT: I got my discs wet for the first time today, and they howled like banshees. No joke. It was the most blood-curdling sound I've heard come from something other than multimedia. And that was only from the passing by of a rogue sprinkler. If you live in a rainy climate I recommend just not using your brakes. Even V brakes or pretty high end brakes will squeak a little when wet.
The tires are rather grippy for their width and handled the flat, dry dirt trail pretty well. I ran over some glass by accident once, and that didn't puncture my tires, but that could have just been luck. (My first flat: Over one of those darn spiky seed casings) The 28" wheels are huge and roll over many things, so you won't be coming to many jolting stops. EDIT: Suntour (The company who make the NVX fork) says it's safe to run over things while locked out, but BD says to keep the suspension on as much as possible. A sharp impact to the Mechanical LO will break it, rendering it unusable.
Every BikesDirect bike is going to be a good value, especially when it comes to components. You may not be able to show off your graphics. You may not be able to show off your "brand name" bike. But I doubt that's worth 100's of bones. But if you simply MUST be able to brag, you can spend around $600 and get a similarly spec'd bike at a local bike shop. EDIT: I stand corrected (by myself): Trek frames are custom made and offer unique geometry for better handling and feel. Not even the most high end BD bike will give you that "custom geometry", because it requires several people conducting tests and studies and lots of planning to build a custom frame. Something that BD will never have. [end edit]For the $350 I dropped on this bike, I'm more than satisfied, and I couldn't care less about the brand name. By the way: if you are concerned about the frame quality, it may ease your worries to know that one company makes frames for the big boys and Motobecane: Kinesis, Taiwan. For the money I saved (~650 - 350 = 300), I can get all the upgrades I need (below).
I know you have heard this before, but if you can afford it, get the 399 Elite Adventure for $50 more. you get a better rear derailer (Deore), better front derailer (Alivio), better shifters (Alivio standalone), Separate brake levers (which you can upgrade to the Speed dial 7s), a 9 speed drive train, and a better crankset. Just a thought.
Overall, a good MTB for lighter trails. You shouldn't be using HT's for anything too hardcore anyways, no matter the price (AFAIK). Destroyed my Moto... The frame is pretty much as tough as any other AL frame out there (again, AFAIK). Thinner tires are the only reason BD is calling this a "hybrid." I might have been better off with a flat bar road bike the Mercier Galaxy Tour, but I like having the assurance that my bike can handle most anything I can. I was looking for a commuter that could be used on trails with my legit HT MTB buddies. Cyclocross bikes are the closest thing to that and those are pricey. The cheapest one is the Gravity Liberty CX and it's $399 for rather low-end parts. Don't expect this to feel "hybrid-y" because it won't. It'll just feel like a slightly more responsive 29er HT MTB. But if that's what you want, and then this bike is perfect. If you want a heavy commuter that can take trails, get a fb roadie or a cyclocross. I like this bike. It looks like it can take abuse, and that's important to me.Mountain Bikes - 29er Multi Speed - Dawes Haymaker 2900 If you want a true 29er with a 100mm travel fork, 2.25" wide tires and *slightly lesser* components for 50 more then you're cool with the Dawes 2900.
BTW: BD isn't falsely advertising. This does truly compare to the Trek DS series, and similar (actually slightly lower) specs cost $670 + tax.8.3 DS - Trek Bicycle So final rating? ****/*****. Took off two stars for not being as light as I'd like it to be, flimsy-feeling crank, too short of a seatpost, counter-intuitive shifters, sub-par brakes, pretty bad housing and cables and no kickstand (which is ULTRA minor). But I had to give it one star back for sheer value!
If you bend your derailleur hanger, which isn't covered by warranty, you will need to drop $21 on a new one from the BikesDirect site. Get the 400HT-700HT roundstay hanger. Name brand components are warranted for 1 year. Home-brand components are warranted for 5 years. The frame is warranted for 10 years. Compared to other "big boys", this is OK, but not good. I'm not sure how readily BikesDirect/ Motobecane will honor the warranty, but I hope and think I'll never have to use it. EDIT: I've been pestering Matt from BD with some questions and he's responded promptly and in-detail (detailed-ly?). to Bikes Direct for great CS!
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-06-2012 at 10:14 PM.
Motobecane Elite Trail OBSCURE SPECS: (For 15.5") BD doesn't feel it is necessary to post these kind of things.
Seatpost diameter: 27.2mm
Seatpost length: 300mm
Seat rail diameter: 7mm
Seat tube diameter: 31.8mm
Stem length: 90mm x 10 degree rise
Tire size: 700c x 40mm or 28 x 1 5/8
Rim width: (not 100 % sure) 17mm
Rec. Kickstand length: 305mm
Steerer diameter: 1 1/8 (I think it is not tapered)
Handlebar Length: ~625mm
Handlebar clamp: 25.4mm
Pedal style: Cage (Not platform)
Fork travel: 75mm
Disk brake mounts: IS 54mm (Not post mount 74mm)
Pedal Axle Diameter: 9/16"
Handlebar rise: 40mm
Will post more soon.
EDIT: other than the fork and brakes, I would not recommend upgrading the stock parts. They are surprisingly light and sturdy.
Things to check upon arrival:
Grease: Check headset bearings, wheel hub bearings, and if you feel like it (I didn't) BB bearings.
Brakes: Are the disk brake rotors HORRIBLY bent (as in there is a visible bend)? You should call (or email, rather) BD. If only slightly bent (not really visible to the naked eye from 3-4 feet away), then it is normal and fixable.
Wheels: Give the wheels a spin, with your bike upside down. Keep your eyes on the rim. Look for up and down bob, or side to side wobble. Your wheels may need truing.
RD Hanger: Make sure this isn't bent.
Chainrings: Are these SEVERLY bent? Same rule as rotors.
Derailers: Are all bolts nice and tight? Is the front mech clamped on EXACTLY parallel to the chain? Is it at a good height? The RD isn't so much a problem.
Frame damage: Doing any MTBing w/ a dented frame is dangerous. If there is a scratch, it's up to you if you want to talk w/ BD.
Cable routing: Depending on how long your housings were cut, you may choose to reroute the cables. I switched my RD and FD cable routing. There's less tension on the housings now.
Will post more if I think of any.
I'll have these within 4 or 5 years.
Rockshox Reba: The NVX sucks so I'll be on the lookout for a used Reba fork. The lower stuff isn't worth upgrading to.
Avid BB7: Absolute must-have before I do any Cat 3 racing. Yes I plan to do that. Soon. I'll probably only upgrade the front ones but all the good deals are on f+r.
Kenda Karma 29 x 1.9": This is a must have for real XC riding. Wider tires. I don't think I'll get this until my Happy Mediums are 3/4 worn out. BTW: These SHOULD FIT on 17mm rims. A lot of people have gone past 2.0 and still had good experiences. But don't come and sue me later.
After a quick google max tire width on 17mm rim - Google Search
I concluded that a 29 by 1.95 tire WILL work. I know, call me capricious but BD did say that 17mm rims are too narrow. Some forums on mtbr say otherwise and speak of going wider. I think it might be worth the risk to just get wider tires when these wear out. The forums say that such a wide tire will cause squirming if you're heavier, but 130 isn't really heavy IMHO. So I'll be taking rims off my list of upgrades.
Race Face Ride XC seat post The 30.9 x 375mm post is up, if anybody wants it.
You might have read this earlier, but I'd like to shout out to the nice people at JensonUSA for shipping everything ASAP. When they sent the wrong sized seat post, they fixed it by just sending me a better, new one. They let me keep the bad one. ^^^. I would recommend JensonUSA for your bike stuff for their great CS and shipping time.
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-06-2012 at 10:35 PM.
Nice looking ride! I love the Matte Black.
I went with a Fantom Comp 26" and had to go gloss black - would have preferred Matte. Other than that I love my new ride
Thank you for the solid review!
I am considering this bike and you helped solidify my choice.
Just some follow up questions...
I read some of the upgrades you were considering doing. Can you elaborate on them and why? & where to get them.(I am a lay man)
I am considering the 23". I am 6 foot and 240 lbs with a 30 inch inseam. I have a XL torso and I like big bikes. Any concerns?
When I buy a bike I will take it to a shop and have it fitted and gone thru. Any suggestions on what sort of work/setup I should request?
I am 90% on the road and 10% smooth trails. I ride 30 to 50 miles at a time. Once a week or more. Any concerns?
I like flat bar and I dig the disc brakes. I also like the styling and of course the price!
Thanks again for your help!!!
Last edited by bbbeaver; 09-12-2012 at 11:29 PM.
Reason: more info
"I like flat bar and I dig the disc brakes." Hmmm... Just remember that this isn't a true hybrid. It's just like any other MTB of its price level, which come w/ disk brakes and flat bars standard.
I'm not sure how it'll play out on the other end of the size spectrum. I'm 5'6" with ~31" inseam. I wear a 32. I think I should have gone for the 17.5", but I can't be sure. I would seriously recommend going to a local bike shop and getting your size checked. It could be free, and ask them which size 29er would fit you, because those size slightly differently. My legs (as you might have guessed) are rather long and out of proportion, so I need a longer seat tube. But you may not need one. Either way, seat tube length shouldn't be considered (too much) when buying a bike because you can always just change it out.
The Novelas are a pain to adjust, and they have a very hollow, weak braking feel. If you live in a cold area, then you will have even worse results. The BB7's are widely considered the top of the line when it comes to Mechanical (cable-actuated) brakes. I'm OK with Tektro's for the rear because I use my rear to control speed, not stop. Which is why I'll only be investing in one BB7, for the front.
The cables and housings will have to wait. Those are not too shabby for my needs. But pros will feel some resistance. $ is tight.
But if you're gonna be doing a lot of road riding, invest in some slicker tires. Michelin City Reflective Strip Tire > Components > Tires and Tubes > Tires | Jenson USA Online Bike Shop You can also go thinner. These are 17mm rims. EDIT: Again, don't take my word for this, ask your LBS.
See this chart for how thin you can go. It says 700x25c, but I would keep it a little thicker due to the the size and weight of the bike. Tire Sizing Systems
When you first get the bike, don't have the guy assemble it. Do it yourself. Then, let the pro do the tuning IF you are not comfortable working on your own bike. But it's a nice skill to have.
When you put it together, make sure that the brakes aren't rubbing. Then, spin the wheel. If you think it's too slow, you can have the guy repack, or "overhaul" the hubs. If you notice that the rim isn't perfectly circular, then have him true the wheels.
Lastly, have him do the derailleurs, but I recommend doing that yourself, as those can need some regular maintenance.
And, if you hear a grinding noise every time you pull the brake levers, then have him clean the cables out.
Of course, you could ask him to give it a "general tune up."
Best of luck,
Last edited by sauprankul; 09-24-2012 at 08:11 AM.
I pulled the trigger. I purchased the 21".
I noticed the derailleur in your pic is different then the one being sold on BD right now.
I assume its because this is the 2013 model. Any thoughts?
I also just reread this thread and read your edits! About the brakes...I am almost 2 times your weight...I hope I dont crush the frame!!
Are the BB7s the brakes that were "terrible" or the Tektro??
I will be taking it in to my LBS had have them put it together, tweek it, and size it for me.
Ohh...and then whats this about it NOT being a 29er?? How should that concern me?
21" sounds right if you're average proportion.
Derailer (I hate spelling it the French way): Nope: Mine is the 2013 model. Just checked BD. You might have gotten the SRAM X4 version. In which case, you wont have to deal with integrated shifters! Good for you.
The brakes: I'm only speculating. It could be that they rub all the time, and I only notice it rubbing at certain times. But you will definitely have some hard time stopping.
P.S. Spin Doctor Tech Tip – Breaking In Disc Brakes « The Performance Bicycle Blog will help you not ruin you brakes. Do this before your first ride.
The Novelas are stock w/ the bike. They are the most low end brakes that I have heard of. The BB7s are THE BEST in the mech brake world, or at least, so I'm told. I haven't had the honor of using 'em, but 2.5 stars and 5 stars are quite different in my opinion. (Amazon)
EDIT: 28 vs 29. Who cares? You only lose out on 3 inches of circumference. So, it don't matter. Besides, if you're not satisfied, just slap on a 29 x 1.9" tire. You MIGHT feel some squirming with this configuration though (you're almost double my weight). So, I suggest a)getting a 1.7-8" tire or b)getting new rims/wheels.
Overall, don't worry. For lighter trails, this bike is fine. the frame will take some abuse (but the fork actually flexed quite a bit a couple times). The BB7's are a needed upgrade, so that should be on the top of your list.
Don't fret, you've made a good purchase. Have fun.
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-06-2012 at 10:42 PM.
Great review! As for the brakes, I think thats the issue with all mechanical disc brakes. I have mechanical disc on my Trek Fx and they are 'OK' but not amazing. I have to constantly adjust them. On the other hand, my new Moto Fantom Comp came with hydraulic brakes (Avid) and they are amazing! Im 280lbs and flying downhill on a trail, I have to make sure I dont apply too much pressure if in a panic becasue they WILL lock out on me with little lever pressure. The front and back brake are very strong and its nice to know that the stopping power is there if needed.
Originally Posted by sauprankul
At least you have the hardware in place if you want to add hydraulic brakes.
@magohn I wish I could get hydros. But I doubt I'll be getting them anytime soon. I really don't need that much stopping power on light trails and on the road. Besides, one good hydro costs more than two BB7s. I'd rather have two decent brakes than one respectable brake and one cruddy one.
@bbbeaver Can you post a review + pics here? It would be appreciated.
Last edited by sauprankul; 09-19-2012 at 08:20 AM.
Thanks for the review. I actually just made an account just to thank U! I've been lurking on different sites trying to find reviews on these no-name bikes from BD.
Since I spent 90% on the road and 10% on gravel trails, I think I won't get this bike, better off getting one of their Mercier hybrid road bikes rather than this mountain bike hybrid as I desire something light weight.
@webdoctors Thanks! As I said, this bike isn't for everyone, but it's great for me because I (hate to admit it) abuse my bike a lot. A fully rigid mtb would have snapped at the welds for me, let alone a road bike. Edit,: I'm afraid that the weak link in this bike is the fork. It's not so bad that I fear riding around the block, but I definitely will not be trying bunny hops on this thing. The fork wobbles WAY too much. EDIT: Sorry guys. Torqued the headset bolt a bit more and seems to have reduced the problem a little. Still would prefer a Rock Shox.
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-02-2012 at 05:13 PM.
I'll probably get the 2013 Mercier Galaxy Tour, based on the weights page on BD, it should be around 22 lbs (bikesdirect.com/weights.htm).
I used to have a mountain bike that I put thin tires on, but it was stolen recently, so I'd like something light that I can carry up 3 flights of stairs into my apartment so I don't have to constantly worry about theft.
Nice bike, pictures and detailed review!
Can anyone comment on the pros and cons of Elite Trail vs Elite Trail X4?
Note: Asking from a newbie who doesn't have experience nor preference between the different components. The 2 bikes are of same price, and folks on this thread either already gone through the decision or is currently considering the options. Thanks!
Last edited by lfc.reds; 09-25-2012 at 05:36 PM.
Shimano has better quality when it comes to low end. Performance might be the same between the X4 and Alivio, but a lot of reviews online tell me that the X4 is cheaply made. It won't last as long as the metal Alivio. The Alivio is more expensive than the X4. Go figure. EDIT: several people on this forum disagree with me. So I guess the x4 is not a bad deal.
BUT, the X4 version comes with dedicated shifters and brake levers, as opposed to the EF 51 integrated unit. So, you won't have to replace both if one breaks on the X4, but you will on the Shimano. The Shimano unit seems to be well made. Can't be sure about the Tektro and SRAM stuff. Edit: again, several people say that the X4s hold up fine.
Pretty colors! SRAM comes in silver, gloss black, matte black and white. The forks are matched to the frame (white, silver, matte and gloss black!). Shimano in Black, Blue. Forks are both gloss black. Also, I think that while Shimanos tend to be be very industrial in look, SRAM stuff tends to be very stylish.
Take your pick.
Last edited by sauprankul; 09-26-2012 at 10:07 PM.
@bbbeaver and whoever else purchased this bike. Where are da reviews?! I want to see some conflicting opinions.
I am getting the bike fitted this week.
I purchased a new front brake, lights, new pedals, a trip computer, and bottle holder for the bike.
I plan on a 30 and 50 mile ride this month so reviews to come...
Here are some pics...
Dang bro. I'm jelly. You got a much better looking bike with much better looking components! Plus you have more than 2 square meters of space to work on! Unlike me, who had to work in a stuffed, messy 1 car garage. Anyway, cool and Congrats! (Oh yeah, good luck adjusting the brakes.)
Speaking of which, can you list specifically what add ons you bought in your review?
P.S: I recommend buying a red permanent marker and coloring your top cap. It'll be worth the few cents and 5 mins.
PS: Ask the lbs to make sure your fd is clamped correctly and that your chainrings aren't bent. I just realized i had those problems.
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-04-2012 at 05:27 PM.
Appreciate the info, have been seriously considering one of these for my wife. Look forward to updates as you put more miles on these bikes.
before Motobecane was French
hello du Limousin in France
@KIKI Here in America we speak in complete sentences. :P not really. If you were warning us not to be expecting french quality with the bikes labeled MOTOBECANE USA, then you were late. We all fully realize that these are hollow brand names that build generic bikes in Taiwan and just ship them here for you to assemble right?
EDIT: Speaking of which, I don't like to pronounce this the French way (pattern?). I don't pronounce Motobecane as Mutubicaan or w/e. (No offense to the French) I pronounce it as just plain Motobecane. ("Moto" as in "motocross" and "becane" as in "became") That's because Motobecane IS NOT A FRENCH COMPANY anymore. It's American. Just clearing it up.
Last edited by sauprankul; 10-04-2012 at 11:02 PM.
Those red rims look way way better than I expected.