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  1. #1
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    Direct to consumer frame quality?

    I understand the marketing behind the direct to consumer brands (Canyon, Airborne, Yt, Motobecane, etc.) that as a package they pass on the savings to the consumer by skipping the middle man. All reviews and discussion I've seen revolves around the package, and no discussion on the benefits/drawbacks of the frame itself.

    Just looking at the frames alone, how do they stack up? How good is the carbon fiber? Is the aluminum butted? How are the suspension designs? Are any of them using materials, technologies, and processes equal to the big boys of the industry?

    I realize this there may be a wide variety of quality since this encompasses multiple brands, but I don't know either way.

    Finally, my apologies if this has been asked before. My searches thus far have come up empty.

  2. #2
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    Commencal sell both complete bikes and the frames separately so you can read all sorts of reviews and comments on how the bikes rides, holds up etc.

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    I suppose my question is more along the lines of where it would fit in a more established lineup. For example, where would the Commencal META TRAIL V4.2 RACE compare in frame quality, weight, etc. to, say, a Specialized M5 frame in material, design, and construction.

    I see to see tons of comparisons of complete bikes, focused on the price point, but I still don't know if the frame of the compared bikes is of the same quality.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    For example, where would the Commencal META TRAIL V4.2 RACE compare in frame quality, weight, etc. to, say, a Specialized M5..
    Without actually riding them, it's impossible to say. You can compare the weight and spec but that only tells you so much, and not a lot to be honest. Two bikes that look very similar on paper can ride very differently.

    I guess you can generalize. For example, every Specialized bike I've ridden felt light and fast for its type.

  5. #5
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    There are a lot of variables here.
    For low to mid-priced hardtails, I don't think you'll see a significant difference between frames in roughly the same price range. The direct to consumer bikes tend to be a bit less expensive, so you may be able to save a few hundred dollars and get a somewhat similar bike, but you can't really compare direct to consumer bike to a bike shop bike that cost twice as much and think they are equivalent (as some claim). In general, I like the direct-to-consumer stuff when it comes to hardtails, even in carbon fiber. You have to look at the build specs closely though because the direct-to-consumer stuff sometimes puts a few nice components in a package with a bunch of lower end components.

    Full suspension gets a lot more complicated. You not only have the quality of the frame, but also suspension design and the quality of the pivots. I think with full suspension, the term "you get what you pay for" applies more.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailville View Post
    You have to look at the build specs closely though because the direct-to-consumer stuff sometimes puts a few nice components in a package with a bunch of lower end components.
    It's worth pointing out that, just like retail bikes, direct to consumer bike companies are not all the same. Some are poorly made bikes dressed up to look good but other are not. Commencal is a long established manufacturer of high-quality bikes which are proven in the world's toughest racing disciplines. Nobody drops down the side of a mountain on a questionable bike! They have long been praised for their wise choice of component spec, spending money on the bits that really make a difference, like the suspension, while saving cash on less critical components.

    It doesn't matter whether you're buying a bike out of a shop or off the internet, the same questions about quality and value apply. You can buy good or bad bikes either way. It's the same as making any other decision. You have to gather as much information as you can and once you have enough facts the decision will make itself. It's only hard to choose when you don't have enough information.
    Last edited by Mr Pig; 01-06-2018 at 11:00 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ctxcrossx View Post
    I understand the marketing behind the direct to consumer brands (Canyon, Airborne, Yt, Motobecane, etc.) that as a package they pass on the savings to the consumer by skipping the middle man. All reviews and discussion I've seen revolves around the package, and no discussion on the benefits/drawbacks of the frame itself.

    Just looking at the frames alone, how do they stack up? How good is the carbon fiber? Is the aluminum butted? How are the suspension designs? Are any of them using materials, technologies, and processes equal to the big boys of the industry?

    I realize this there may be a wide variety of quality since this encompasses multiple brands, but I don't know either way.

    Finally, my apologies if this has been asked before. My searches thus far have come up empty.
    There's not a general rule on this, to be honest. Too much variability in quality.

    Motobecane is going to hit the bottom end of that. They do more with their frames now than they used to, but build quality is still lower than the rest. Their suspension designs are typically old designs that don't work great, and don't require any licensing. They don't seem to put as much R&D into optimizing that suspension for anything in particular, or matching it with a shock that suits the suspension design well. They buy a bunch of random parts for cheap and toss whatever they've got onto their frames.

    I'd put Airborne in another tier. Probably similar to Diamondback (who has some kind of hybrid customer direct/box store sales model). Midrange, pretty reliable. Not terribly flashy, but much better build quality than Motobecane. At least with Diamondback, their basic stuff tends to be box store, while their higher end options tend to be consumer direct.

    Companies like Canyon and YT are in another tier still. More focus on the higher end market. High specs, they put some dough into top level race teams and product development. They have demo trucks. By all accounts I've seen, they make great bikes.

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