First ride on the Fantom Pro SL - review- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    First ride on the Fantom Pro SL - review

    First off, I'm impressed. This is my first 29er and aside from a few quick rides on borrowed bikes I haven't really tested a 29er to date. I decided it was time to break down and dropped the $995 for the Fantom Pro SL figuring, what the hell, take a chance.

    It arrived this afternoon while I was at work, and needless to say I couldn't wait to get home and put it together. Took all of an hour to get it trail worthy and I tossed it in the van and headed to a local loop, about 8.5 miles of fire road and double track with about 1500ft of climbing.

    Now my main concern were the big heavy hoops and how much more effort it would require to climb steep inclines. Well those concerns vanished about 20 feet into my first climb when I sprinted out of the saddle and cleared with ease a couple poppers that normally take a little more effort. I was able to climb out of the saddle up steep hills where I would usually spin out. And those rocks felt more like pebbles.

    I can't vouch for the handling characteristics as this trail section doesn't boast any fun single track or tight, hairpin switch backs. But I'm eager to find out. And I'm so happy about the way the bike climbs I almost don't care if it feels slow in the tight stuff. And what really squeezes my juice is the fact that I've got a set of Crossmax UST rims ready to mount up that are lighter and stiffer than the rims that came with the bike, so climbing should be even better.

    Now as far as the build goes...
    The bad:
    • The bars are ridiculously narrow. I mean, seriously, you need T-Rex arms for bars this narrow. Thankfully I already had a 27 inch wide bar ready to mount.

    • The headset is a joke. The bearings rattled around and I could not get rid of the play. I'll be swapping out this part ASAP with a high quality tapered headset.

    • The wheels are a tad heavy and flexy. I can't wait to see the difference the Crossmax wheels make.

    Now the Good:
    • The brakes are spot on. Nice feel and very little effort required to stop on a dime.

    • Now I'm a SRAM guy, but I gotta admit, the Shimano drive train works very well. Shifting is smooth and crisp and didn't require any adjustments out of the box.

    • I can't really find any fault with the frame so far. The steering is nimble and the bike itself feels much lighter than the scale reads.

    Now I'm split on the Reba fork. I prefer Fox, but maybe I just need to get the fork dialed in before making any further judgment. I set the air pressure, but it chattered pretty hard. I prefer a plush, yet firm feel (I know, sounds oxymoronic), and so far these forks are way off the mark. Oh, and they could have left the steerer tube a little longer and let the buyer decide how much they want to cut. I would have preferred a tad more steerer tube to play with.

    Now I'm having a hard time admitting this, but this bike climbs better than my 24 pound Anthem X0. I still need to make some tweaks here and there...different stem, saddle, possibly swap out the crankset, headset, wheels and little adjustments here and there, but this bike rocks. For the price it's almost impossible to pass up.

    For anyone on the fence, I highly recommend this bike. Worth the investment.
    Last edited by i.a.n.; 07-09-2010 at 09:22 AM.

  2. #2
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    about 29 prosl

    what size did u order? and what is the weight?

  3. #3
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    I replaced everything you listed as 'Bad'. Coincidence?? Umm, No. You are pretty spot on with your assessment.

    How will you use a tapered headset? The headtube is standard. So is the Reba steer tube.

    I think you'll be able to dial in your fork to where you will be pleased. It took me a few tries to get it just right. And your 'plush yet firm' statement is exactly how I would decribe my Reba at its current settings. (130+/140- for my 210#)

    I changed a few other bits but not because any of the OEM components lacked.

    I'm sure you will enjoy your Crossmax setup tubeless. I love my tubeless wheelset on the Moto.

  4. #4
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    Climbs better than your anthem? Hmmm Come on' now let's be real here.
    I had a motobecane that had 2 frame welds break....good luck with it.
    Go Solar...

  5. #5
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    For balance, I had a Motobecane Fantom Elite and no weld breaks and never an issue with any of the components, other then the chain. I kick myself in the ass every sunny day for selling it as it was a do all bike.


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    Like life…the trail is unpredictable...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dfms2004
    what size did u order? and what is the weight?
    I bought the large. I'm only 5" 11', but I have a freakish 34.5 inch inseam. For me it's all about top tube length. My sweet spot is a 24 inch TT, and an 80mm stem. Makes for a stable descender and still climbs and handles the tight stuff really well for my body type. As far as the weight is concerned I couldn't tell you yet. Based on feel I'd say around 28-29 pounds, but it hides it's weight well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slee_Stack
    How will you use a tapered headset? The headtube is standard. So is the Reba steer tube.
    Slee_Stack, you're absolutely right. I don't know what made me think it was tapered. Either way, that headset is being replaced pronto. I'm a whippet-like 155lbs, so I'm gonna have ti fiddle with the fork to find a setting I like. I set it up around 100psi + and -. I'll try a few PSI lower on the positive chamber.

    Quote Originally Posted by larlev
    Climbs better than your anthem? Hmmm Come on' now let's be real here.I had a motobecane that had 2 frame welds break....good luck with it.
    Larlev, I was just as surprised. You coulda knocked me over with a feather. I'm a fairly strong climber, and the difference was noticeable, at least out of the saddle. I'll wait until I test it out on some really technical climbs before declaring it an all around better climber, but at least on steep double track the Motobecane has an edge when getting out of the saddle.

    And if the frame welds brake I'll buy a different frame. That's the best part about this build, the components alone are worth the cost, so a frame replacement down the road won't be that big of a deal. For now, however, I'm pretty pleased with this purchase and can't wait to get her out on some fun single track.

  7. #7
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    Aside from weight, what advantage would a 26er have climbing?

    A 29er offers a larger contact patch,and all else equal, better traction.

    That equates to more energy transferred climbing (instead of slipping).

    Add the better attack angle of the 29" wheel and you can roll over obstacles easier if you lose your line going up.

    I'm not discounting weight altogether, but its a lot smaller part of the equation than some WW's would have you believe. If X lbs is a big deal, lose it off yourself, not the bike.

    Traction and Engine (rider) are the big parts. The 29er helps the former.

  8. #8
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    As 29ers are new to me I'm coming to the same conclusions. I didn't realize how much energy I lost due to 'slippage'. Carl Decker (Giant factory rider) has been racing a prototype 29er Anthem this year and Giant is planning to release it in 2011. Once they do my Anthem 26er goes on the block and I'm getting a full squish 29er to round out the stable.

    Now I just gotta work on building the engine.

  9. #9
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    I won't get into an argument over 26 vs 29".....personally I think 29" wheels are a waste of time...that's just me.
    You know how it is, if you buy something and it breaks it pretty much ruins any chance of buying it again or supporting it. I just didn't have much luck with mine.

    Slippage could be from a number of things...technique, tires, pressure, etc. Coming to the conclusion that the 29'er is better is stretching it a bit. You might want to spend more time in the saddle before you toss your 26'er away.
    Go Solar...

  10. #10
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    If I had the experience you had I'd probably feel the same way. And it's not an argument of what wheel size is better, it's a matter of what size is best for the individual rider. In my case I feel like I'm sitting on top of a 26. With a 29er I feel like I'm sitting in the bike.

    And I'm not tossing my Anthem away any time soon, I love that bike. This is also not my first time at a rodeo. I run low pressure on tubeless tires, and my technique, while it can use some work, ain't too shabby. If I'm climbing a 20 percent grade on my Anthem and try to mash out of the saddle I'm gonna slip, period. Same trail, different (less knobby tires) on a 29er and I'm glued to the trail...as they say, the proof is in the pudding.

    I don't need a survey to tell me a 29er just feels better. But what works for me won't work for the next person. I did the due diligence and have ridden a lot of bikes to find out what works best for me. I'm riding my Anthem at Downieville this weekend, but next year I'll be on a 29er.

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