Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport

    This is going to be a long write-up because I'd like to give an in-depth overview of the bike. I was unable to Google any relevant info or reviews on this model, so I hope this will be helpful to others. It should be noted that the FantomDS Sport has the exact same frame as other (more expensive and better spec'd) Motobecanes...and this is why I ultimately chose to buy it over all other entry level bikes on the market.

    I received a Motobecane FantomDS Sport from Bike Island. I picked up a Dark Silver 16.5" (27.5" wheels) from them for $449 ($150 less than Bikes Direct). The listing stated the bike was new, but with scratches on the downtube. I ordered it on Tuesday night and it arrived in TN (from TX) on Friday via FEDex. I purchased this bike for my girlfriend. My current ride is a Diamondback Catch 2, so I'll use that as a point of comparison.

    Despite the description, the bike has no cosmetic blemishes at all. It arrived in a plain brown shipping container with no branding info and no "fragile" type markings. The box was undamaged. Internal packaging was sufficient, but very sloppy. The bike had sufficient foam and bubble wrap to proect it, but it sure wasn't packaged professionally (more on that in a bit). The rotors were in zip lock bags. The rear derailleur was unmounted and (well) wrapped in a gauze-like cloth.

    The unmounted rear derailleur was a nightmare. I'm a decent bike mechanic and the chain was just all twisted around and loose off the chainrings. It literally took about 45 minutes to just get the chain and derailleur untangled and mounted. Yes, it would have been faster if I had broken the chain, but I didn't have that tool handy. My buddies who were helping me joked it was like trying to do a Rubick's Cube. I'm hammering this home because this would be a show stopper for anyone unaccustomed or intimidated by messing with this stuff.

    The remainder of the bike assembly was straight forward. Just attach the handlebars and mount the rotors. The rotor screws, however, were non-standard and used a star-bit. Surprisingly, after getting the derailleur mounted (and the cable properly seated), the bike shifted flawlessly without any adjustment.

    The frame itself looks awesome. The welds are extremely high-quality--in fact, one of my mechanic buddies who was assisting is a welder, and that's the first thing he commented on. The wheels are WTB i25s (good) but the hubs are unbranded. The specs say that the hub can only accomodate an 8/9 speed cassette. I removed the cassette (to pull the dork disk) and it was way under-torqued and removed with hardly any force. This could be a safety issue, and not one that most people would catch. I took a photo of the hub without the cassette:
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-hub.jpg

    The handlebars are okay, but the stem seems undersized with a noticable gap between the brackets. The WTB grips are cheap and short. I was shocked that the seat post didn't come with a quick release--I should have noted that in the specs, but it is a chintzy way to cut a few cents. The cabling is questionable at best. The cable retaining clips are pure garbage--2 of them have already just popped off on their own. I'll probably just remove them all and use zip ties.

    I didn't expect much from the 3x8 drivetrain, but it was actually okay. After assembling the bike I took it out in the mountains for a quick 4 mile ride up and back down. I mostly stayed in the middle chainring and had no issues.

    The biggest surprise was with the suspension. This model comes with a (coil) Suntour XCM with lockout up front, and an EXA Form 388L coil for the rear suspension. My Catch 2 has a RockShox Pike fork and a Monarch Debonair in the rear so I'm fairly spoiled. I really thought the FantomDS Sport's suspension would be a nightmare--it was not. It actually rode perfectly fine--both up and down the mountain. Granted, I didn't do any jumps, but for XC riding, it was good. The fork's lockout feature was critical. The rear coil shock is still a mystery. The lockout feature sort of works, but you have to flip it to open for it to actually lock out. This shock has settings options, but it's pretty much a mystery how to dial it in. Regardless, it provided a surprisingly smooth ride over roots and rocks, with minimal pedal bob when hammering uphill. The rear shock had been at the top of my list to upgrade but that leads me to the weakest part of this bike....

    The brakes are garbage. Granted, I'm used to having hydraulic LevelT's on my own bike, but I also own a Windsor Cliff with mechanical Tektro brakes--the ones on the FantomDS Sport barely stop the bike. This is unacceptable and really limit what you can do. I literally ran off the trail a couple of times because I couldn't slow the bike down before going into a corner. Even with the 3x8 drivetrain and budget suspension, this bike handles great--but without decent brakes, you're really limited to how and where you can safely ride. Brakes are going to be my #1 priority to upgrade.

    Overall thoughts: The packaging was sub-par. Compared to the way Diamondback ships their bikes "Ready to Ride," the rear derailleur fiasco would force an inexperienced person to pay for bike assembly. The fact that the cassette wasn't torqued on properly is also worrying. The bike itself is great. It handled very well even though it has a number of entry-level components. Of course the best thing about this bike (other than the price) is that it has a tapered headtube, a proven frame design, and will be easily upgradeable over time. I shopped for other entry level bikes, and forget it--nothing comes close. All of them come with the same fork (although not all have the lockout feature). None of them are dual suspension--and this is a humongous deal since you can easily throw an inexpensive air shock on and get a much plusher ride. Also, few entry level bikes come with tubeless compatible wheels, and I couldn't find any that have a tapered head tube. The brakes are the only component that infuriate me.

    Finally, here is a photo of the bike. Ignore the Motobecane box in the back--I ordered a set of 29" wheels for my Catch 2 and they're from the Motobecane Fantom Boost Eagle.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-mb.jpg

  2. #2
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    I'm going to update this thread for a while in the event anyone stumbles across it in the future attempting to find information about this bike.

    I decided to begin to upgrade the bike. Although I had reviewed the specs prior to ordering it, I'll be honest, I wasn't as detail oriented as I should have been. Much of what I'll note might be obvious to someone who reads the specs for this bike with a close eye.

    One of the things I decided to do was to change this bike to a 1x setup. When looking over my options, I discovered some limitations based on the stock components. Of course, if money is no option, there's no limit to what you can do--but I'm on a budget.

    First, the rear hubs are going to limit you. They'll onlyaccomodate up to a 9 speed cassette (it comes stock with an 8 speed drivetrain). You won't be able to go to a 1x10 or 1x11 without switching the hubs.

    Edit: I was wrong--the rear hubs will accomodate an 11 speed cassette. See Update 8 below.

    The best option that I found was to swap the cassette for either a ZTTO (cheap) or Sunrace (not as cheap) wide-range cassette. You'd have the option of getting either an 8 or 9 speed cassette, but if you opt for the 9 speed, you'll need to swap out the rear derailleur and shifter as well. I opted for the Sunrace 11-40t 8 speed cassette (~$35) on Amazon. Note: if you go this way, you'll need to order the wide-range cassette with a derailleur extender. There are vendors on Amazon (and Ebay) who offer these packages. I've actually owned a Sunrace cassette previously, and they're well made--I can't speak for the ZTTO ones (which are priced $15-$25 less). The Sunrace line are extremely highly rated on Amazon as well, and are a favorite of people switching to a 1x.

    Going to 1x necessitates switching out the cranks as well. And the reason you'll have to change them is buried in the bike's specs--it ships with a square taper bottom bracket--and you can't run a 1x crank like this. You'll need a new 1x chain ring as well. I'm doing this project right now, and tonight I discovered that my Park Tool C44 crank arm puller is incompatible with a square-taper. I'll be hauling this bike into the shop because, quite frankly, I don't want to buy more specialty tools for a square taper BB just to pull outdated parts that aren't on my other bikes.

    I've ordered a used Fox Float rear shock and a new KS-eTen dropper post. I found the shock on Ebay so hopefully it both fits and works. The dropper post I got for half-off on Amazon ($50). I'll provide updates on both those upgrades once I get them on the bike. Note: the seat post is 27.2mm which is an older spec, so you'll be a bit limited on which dropper posts you can use.

    Looking at upgrading the fork got me the most frustrated. This is a pretty big bummer IMHO, and one I could have easily spotted in the specs had I paid more attention. The bike does have a tapered headset but it's using a straight tubed Suntour XCM fork with stanchions for a 9mm skewer. I haven't pulled it apart yet, but it's clear that they've used some type of adapter to fit the straight tube into the taper. There's nothing inherently bad about that assuming you could stick another 1 1/8 straight tubed fork in there--but since you've got a modern tapered head tube, it would be nice to just get a modern fork. Of course you can do that--but if you do it, you'll also have to rebuild or replace the front wheel since your hubs are set up for quick release 9mm skewers and not a modern axle. If you're new to upgrading--just go look at what air forks are out there--you'll see the vast majority of forks with a tapered heaset are made for thru-axles, and not the antiquated 9mm skewers. So again, the bike has upgrade potential, but when you get into the details, your upgrade path isn't quite as simple (or inexpensive) as you might hope. Now all that said, you can find some decent air forks with a straight tube and QR (like the Manitou Markhor) <$300. But if you're shopping for used parts, you're likely to be limited in what you'll find since most modern, higher spec'd bikes will be imcompatible.

    Other general observations after owning the bike for a few days--I still like the bike quite a bit, but even though I paid $150 less than what this model goes for on Bikes Direct, I don't think it was an awesome deal at $450. $450 seems a fair price for the bike--at $600, I'd recommend to look for used bikes, or to just save and buy a bike that is spec'd with a 1x11, a decent air fork & rear shock, and one that uses thru-axles (if not boost spacing) on the wheels. As it stands, I'm pulling off 3/4 of the drivetrain and replacing it to just achieve a rudimentary 1x8 setup. I bought this bike because I felt it had great upgrade potential--and it sort of does. But the problem is that they skimped so hard on some of the critical stock parts, that you're not really left with an easy, inexpensive path to upgrade. If you want to move to a modern 1x11, you'll need to replace the rear hub + rebuild the wheel or buy a new wheel with a hub that will support an 11x cassette. You'll need to not only replace the crank arms and chain ring, but also swap out the bottom bracket. You'll need to buy/install a new derailleur as well as a shifter because the 8 speed won't work (obviously) on a 1x11 setup. If you want to swap out that heavy coil-spring front fork you can do it, but you won't be able to get a modern fork with a tapered headtube (most likely) because 90% of those only support through-axles. So again, you'll need to rebuild that front wheel with a new hub or buy a new wheelset in addition to the fork.

    What you're left with is a nice frame as a platform but components that complicate your upgrade path fairly significantly.

    One last thought--the FantomDS Sport shares a number of components/compromises with other entry level bikes--but the full suspension sort of sets it apart. The closest other entry-level bike I can think of is the Diamondback Atroz 1, which is priced at $595 direct from DB (corporate pricing) and is also full-suspension. You can often find it cheaper on ExpertVoice. It has the same type of limitations the FantomDS Sport does (8x3, mechanical brakes, old-style BB, etc.). Although the DB has a straight head set, I'd recommend people seriously weigh it against the FantomDS Sport at $600 from Bikes Direct. I've purchased from DB before, and their stuff really does come "ready to ride." Assembly from DB is nearly idiot proof and their support is (in my experience) top notch. I didn't pay $600 for my Motobecane though--but if you are at that price range, I'd absolutely consider the Atroz 1--especially if you're intimidated by assembling the bike. There are exponentially more people who own the Atroz and have guides for upgrading wheras there are literally fewer than 5 people (myself included) on the web & YouTube who can tell you about the FantomDS Sport.
    Last edited by Forbin; 6 Days Ago at 06:46 PM.

  3. #3
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    Part III of my Motobecane FantonDS Sport journey. I've begun my upgrades and will share for anyone interested. So far, I've changed out the rear shock, as well as the cassette, bottom bracket & cranks moving to a 1x8 setup.

    The bike comes stock with an EXA 388L coil shock that weighed in at 671g. I swapped it out with a used Fox Float R air shock that I picked up on Ebay for $25 shipped. I ended up re-using the upper bushings from the EXA shock. The Fox actually came with an assortment of bushings--I was able to use one of those for the lower bushings. The Fox weighs in at only 232g. It's a basic air shock, but seems to be ok. If & when I have issues with the seals, I'll probably just swap it out for an inexpensive DNM shock.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-shock.jpg

    Next up is the cassette. I thought long and hard about whether to use the existing derailleur & shifter or swap them out for a 9 speed I have on another bike. I decided to just stick with the stock 8 speed because I really didn't want to get into canibalizing my other bike. I ended up ordering a Sunrace 11-40t widerange cassette from Amazon for $33.97. To get this to work, you'll probably need a derailleur extender, which the one I ordered actually comes with. I've had positive experiences with Sunrace cassettes previously and recommend them. When you switch to these wider range cassettes, you'll almost always need a derailleur extender--so my advice is to get one. I forgot to weigh the stock and replacement cassette.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-cassette.jpg

    Next up are the cranks, bottom bracket, and chainring. I decided to order an inexpensive Shimano clone from Ebay. The entire set of parts ran me $62.28. The cranks are branded IXF, the bottom bracket is branded Jiantun. I also got a 32t oval chainring with this set--it is branded Deckas. FWIW, these components have (overall) great ratings on Amazon. They seem well made. The original cranks & chainrings that I removed weighed 881g. The new ones weighed 706g. The stock bottom bracket weighed 341g whereas the new external bearing BB weighs only 105g. Also, I removed the front derailleur, cable, and shifter--these weighed a total of 341g.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-crank.jpg

    If I've transcribed my weights correctly, my total weight savings is 1,191g (or 2lbs, 10oz).

    I also purchased a KS eTen R dropper post (27.2) but it doesn't work--I believe it needs a new air cartridge. I picked it up off Amazon as an open-box item (missing the remote & cable) for $39.95. I had a spare remote, and I ordered a replacement cable for $8. The vendor who sent me the broken dropper decided to just refund me and let me keep it (which was an overly generous gesture). I will eventually be getting around to working on this--but the drive-train issues were more pressing. I haven't weighed the dropper (yet), but I strongly suspect it's heavier than the stock post.

    I haven't converted the bike to tubeless and am on the fence about doing so. I run tubeless on my Diamondback Catch 2 27.5+ tires, but don't know if I want to burden my girlfriend with having to refresh wheels with sealant every month or two. I know there is more weight savings to be had so I'll decide in a month or so after I take a breather from these other upgrades. I've got a spare set of tubeless stems that I can use so other than buying some Gorilla Tape it won't cost me anything.

    I'll continue to update this thread as a resource on this particular bike. My feelings have changed a bit from my more critical 2nd post but I want to re-evaluate things a bit more before I correct some of my negative observations.
    Last edited by Forbin; 04-14-2019 at 07:22 AM.

  4. #4
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    Fantom DS Sport

    FWIW, I was looking for this frame to build my MTB from scratch. Bike Island had it for $550.00. Then I found the entire bike for $450.00. It was a no brainer at that point lol! The first thing I did was remove the WTB Nano 2.1. I installed Conti X-King 2.3 up front and 2.2 round back. I'm in FL so these tires work very well. I'm running the tubes that came with the bike. I'm running 25psi in the front and 29psi in the rear. So far they are holding up well. I was going to go tubeless but the extra expense, the sealant mess, and having to break down, clean, and reseal them periodically was a turnoff. Next, I installed a Brand X externally routed dropper post. I wanted to convert to a 1x system so I found an Alivio crankset on eBay for $30.00. I then purchased a Race Face 32T Narrow Wide chainring, 104BCD, and bolted it on. I also swapped out the stock pedals for some spiked flats. I opted to keep the square tapered BB until it craps out. Then I'll upgrade to Holowtech II and Deore cranks. I was running the stock rear cassette and derailer (8spd) for about a week when I decided I needed a wider range cassette for some of the climbs. I know, when people think of FL they think flat. Our MTB trails here are built down in old borrow pits from the phosphate mining operations. So we have some impressive downhill, albeit short, and climbs. Also lots of manmade features. So, I purchased a Deore 11-42T 10spd cassette, Deore shadow plus derailer medium cage, and Deore 10spd shifter. I made certain to get the matching derailer so I wouldn't have to mess with a Goatlink or longer B screw. It just works out of the box. The stock 8spd hub will accept up to a 10spd cassette. Since mine was a Hyperglide C, I used the original cassette lockring. Now this bike shifts like a dream and I've got plenty enough climbing gears. Since I'm not riding on the road, the 32T chainring and the 11 sprocket give me plenty of top end. Just last week I installed the Manitou Markhor air fork and DNM rear shock. What an upgrade that was! The bike handles so much better, is quieter, and my confidence is boosted! I found the Markhor at Taheahike shop for $217.00 and the DNM on Amazon for $80.00. Installing the fork was simpler than I thought it would be. I just removed the reducer crown race from the crappy, heavy, Suntour fork and put it on the Markhor. I didn't want to buy a new headset so I opted to purchase the straight steerer tube version of the fork. Everything went together well and the performance is awesome! The DNM shock bolted right on in place of the KS. After reading lots of reviews of people having to reuse their old spacers or grind down the shock I was worried. I can say I am happy it bolted right on! I also swapped out the grips for lock ons. The only other thing I'm going to upgrade are the brakes. It's a toss up between Deore hydraulic or SRAM Guide. I'll wait until the BB and hubs crap out on me before I upgrade them. I love my Silver Fox, especially after the upgrades. It's cool to see someone else that has one! I would have posted this earlier but I was awaiting activation from a moderator.

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    The Manitou Markhor fork might be a suitable upgrade. That fork seems to come with all the little variants (straight steerer, 9mm QR, etc.) for upgrading the $500 hardtail. A Suntour upgrade might work, too.

    Oops, mentioned this before I read the immediately preceding post, which also rec'ed the Markhor.

    Bikes Direct bikes, as opposed to the Bike Island scratch n dents, come packaged somewhat better than yours did, typically.

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    Update 4 below, but first I'd like to address @ilanoray.

    That's great information! I've only found a couple of other people (on YouTube) with this bike--as you've probably discovered, there's just not a lot out there about this specific model. Thanks for sharing your experience--I may have more questions for you soon!

    @TwiceHorn--the Manitou Markhor seems like the best bet for this bike. You can get a less expensive Suntour air fork, but they don't seem as well reviewed (or spec'd) as the Manitou Markhor. Since this bike isn't even for me, I'm going to let my girlfriend decide if she wants to buy a new fork.

    FWIW, I weighed the bike twice yesterday--once at a friend's house (more on that in a bit) and once at mine. He had the bike at 34lbs, I had it at 34.6lbs (exact same weight as a stock DB Atroz 1). I'm disappointed the bike is still this heavy. I figure swapping the fork will save a couple of pounds, but I'm running out of ways to get it down to a sub-30lb ride. I'm open to suggestions. The only other things that spring to mind are stuff like swapping the alloy handlebars for aluminium as well as the stem. That won't generate significant weight savings though. Of course there is the option to go tubeless. @ilonoray, I do recommend you consider doing this. I run tubeless on my Catch 2 and it works very well. Yes, you will have to put sealant in periodically, but not only will it lighten the bike, it can save you a lot of time on the trail changing out tubes from flats.


    Update 4: I took the upgraded bike for a 9.5 mile test ride yesterday on a gravel greenway (and minimal single track). I live in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, so there was a lot of steep climbs and decents. I let my friend's wife ride the bike, while I rode next to her to get feedback. She is a fairly novice biker who currently rides a Spot Honey Badger single speed. Her bike weighs 28lbs, so there's around a 6lb difference. The most important takeaway from the test ride was that the bike shifted flawlessly over the entire ride. That actually surprised me quite a bit since I had done the 1x swap less than 24 hours earlier and had only dialed it in by adjusting the shifter cable tension on the handlebar. As I mentioned, there were a LOT of big hills but she was able to get up most (not all) of them with the 1x8 11-40t drivetrain. Now she's coming from a single-speed, and she wasn't even used to shifting a bike, which caused her some initial confusion. Plus, she's a novice rider lacking many basic skills. But I considered the test a mechanical success. She had no negative feedback about the suspension or brakes. That surprised me a bit--her hardtail has a Manitou air fork with hydraulic brakes. Of course, riding the Motobecane FantomDS Sport on singletrack will be a much better test for this stuff.

    I am sort of regreting buying the $25 Fox Float R rear shock instead of the DNM. She didn't have any issues with it, but I honestly can't figure out how to set the sag, and it only has a switch for rebound (no lockout). It holds air, but the max PSI I've been able to maintain is ~150. It works, but with the DNM only costing $80 that seems to make more sense. @ilanoray--did you use the bushings that came with the DNM or did you re-use the ones from the stock coil?

    I'm open to any & all suggestions about future upgrades to the bike--especially ones that will result in weight savings. As it stands, I've got about $571($449 + $122 in upgrades) into the bike. I'm generally satisfied with it, but if we throw another $220 into an air fork, I think it's legitimate to start price-comparing it with bikes in the $800-$1000 range as it pertains to value & convenience. Now if you buy this bike from Bikes Direct for $600, it's not really a great deal IMHO, and I think you should consider either a used bike or a Diamondback Atroz 1, 2, or 3 (with a corp discount or ExpertVoice discount). If you can find it for ~$450 (like @ilanoray and I did) then I think it's probably a better, upgradeable bike than big box bikes like the Mongoose XR Pro, the GT Aggressor Pro, or the Nishiki Colorado Comp. The Motobecane FantomDS Sport is a beautiful bike and has plenty of upgrade potential if your budget restricts you to sporadic upgrades. But it's a heavy bike, and I haven't found a way around that fact.

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    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-silverfoxsus.jpg@Forbin, the DNM rear shock was a direct bolt on. I only used the original bolts.

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    @ilanoray--that's a sweet conversion. I've got some questions if you have time...on the fork--can you walk me through swapping it with the stock? Is it as simple as just undoing the headset, dropping the stock fork, and removing the crown race? Speaking of the crown race--is that how they're adapting the straight-tubed fork to the tapered headset? Did you happen to snap photos or get a part number off it?

    What size frame did you get?

    Do you have an estimate on the weight difference between the stock forks and your new ones? If I'm reading the Suntour website correct, the stock forks weigh 2650g (5lbs, 13 oz).

    Have you weighed your bike since you completed the conversion?

    After seeing your killer 1x10, I'm sort of regretting cheaping out and just doing a 1x8, but I hope my girlfriend will be okay at least for a season while she builds skills.

    Oh, I should probably pass on to you that when I pulled the stock bottom bracket, I found everything to be well greased in there. You never know with mail-order bikes so FWIW, it looks like they paid attention in that area (unlike my loose cassette).

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    @Forbin, with the fork I just disassembled the FSA headset, dropped the old fork, tapped the crown race off the old fork, placed it on my new Manitou, and lubed and reassembled. Before final assembly I measured the steerer tube 3mm above my stem and cut it with a plumbing tube cutter. This is the same height it came with. The crown race they use is a reducer so they could install a straight steerer fork in the tapered headtube. You can go either way, tapered or straight. I opted for straight just to keep from buying a new headset. I didn't see a part number on the reducer crown race.

    I purchased the 16.5" frame for my 5'8" height.

    The Manitou fork weighs about 3lbs. The DNM shock weighs about 1lb. I haven't weighed my bike or the sum of the takeoff parts.

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    Update 5: Although I haven't made any other significant modifications to the bike since the last update, I did loan it out to a lady to give it a extremely thorough test here in the mountains. The terrain consists of 12 miles of single track, lots of climbs, lots of flow, berms, rock gardens--everything but downhill. The woman is 5'10" and stated that the bike fit her fine.

    Without any hyperbole, this gal smoked the rest of us. I mean, she literally took off out of the gate and rode super aggressive for the first 6 miles. She'd wait for the rest of us intermittently, and I'd get her feedback.

    She absolutely loved the bike and praised the way it handled. I specifically asked her about the stock (coil) Suntour XCM fork, and she said it was fine. She reported an issue with slippage in one gear, but I got that dialed back in for her on the last 6 miles. She had no issues whatsoever with the 1x8 gearing and was able to easily climb the more aggressive sections (I live in the mountains). She did say that she'd prefer a 1x11, but she obviously had no problem smoking me and my buddies (to be fair, the rest of the crew were riding single-speeds). Oh, (edit) she did state that my choice in using the stock shifter wasn't ideal--she said it worked fine, but she'd have preferred a more robust one.

    Also, I've held off purchasing hydraulic brakes for this bike--I've been ready to pull the trigger a number of times but knew that my girlfriend (who won't be back in town until June) won't ride aggressively--figured it was better for me to focus getting a new fork instead. Anyway, the gal who test-rode the FantomDS for me had zero issues with the stock mechanical brakes either. I actually swapped my bike with her for about 1.5 miles and can attest to the fact that the mechanical brakes are working much better now that I have them adjusted. I'll still probably order a set of Clark's M2s though....

    So that's the update for now. The gal who test rode the bike is an experienced cyclist who rode the hell out of it and gave it glowing a review. That was important to me for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that my upgrades were "trail tested" and that nothing would fail. Secondly, I wanted an experienced rider who was the right height to give me honest feedback on how they felt the bike handled when pushed. This really validated the bike's geometry and quality of the frame. I'm actually a bit surprised in the feedback I got in this area in that I honestly thought I'd get some negative comments about the bike's weight, handling, or the crappyness of the stock coil fork. Now obviously I expect the bike to perform far better when I put a Manitou Markhor on there, but I'm very pleased that my test rider had no complaints or negative feedback after rock gardens, etc. The FantomDS handles great--like I said, that gal smoked all of us.

    That's it for now--this lady has actually asked me to let her take the bike to our downhill park in a couple of days. I'm going to let her do it with a caveat to not jump it on the black diamond trails. I just don't trust those Suntour forks enough for that. I'll report back for those interested.

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    Awesome! Thanks for the update. Sounds like you're making sure it's gtg for your lady! I just wanted to chime in on the brakes and fork. I just installed XT M8000 hydraulics and all I can say is WOW! Night and day difference. I can feather the brake much easier than the cable actuated brakes and the stopping power is super good. It's a worthwhile and safe upgrade IMO. On the Markhor, after you adjust the travel from 100mm to 120mm, make sure to add the proper amount of 5w fork oil to the damper side. I found Maxima at the local motorcycle shop for a reasonable price. I had to add 6ml to mine to bring it up to 97mm. I would definitely not let anyone jump with the Suntour. They have a disclaimer saying they're not liable if someone uses the fork for jumping, freeride, or downhill. Basically, they're saying "don't use this as a mountain bike fork" lol! I've been riding the Markhor/DNM combo for a few weeks now and it's transformed my mediocre bike into a capable and confidence inspiring machine. I am now doing blacks, drops, and small jump lines. Stay stoked!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forbin View Post
    Update 5: Although I haven't made any other significant modifications to the bike since the last update, I did loan it out to a lady to give it a extremely thorough test here in the mountains. The terrain consists of 12 miles of single track, lots of climbs, lots of flow, berms, rock gardens--everything but downhill. The woman is 5'10" and stated that the bike fit her fine.

    Without any hyperbole, this gal smoked the rest of us. I mean, she literally took off out of the gate and rode super aggressive for the first 6 miles. She'd wait for the rest of us intermittently, and I'd get her feedback.

    She absolutely loved the bike and praised the way it handled. I specifically asked her about the stock (coil) Suntour XCM fork, and she said it was fine. She reported an issue with slippage in one gear, but I got that dialed back in for her on the last 6 miles. She had no issues whatsoever with the 1x8 gearing and was able to easily climb the more aggressive sections (I live in the mountains). She did say that she'd prefer a 1x11, but she obviously had no problem smoking me and my buddies (to be fair, the rest of the crew were riding single-speeds). Oh, (edit) she did state that my choice in using the stock shifter wasn't ideal--she said it worked fine, but she'd have preferred a more robust one.

    Also, I've held off purchasing hydraulic brakes for this bike--I've been ready to pull the trigger a number of times but knew that my girlfriend (who won't be back in town until June) won't ride aggressively--figured it was better for me to focus getting a new fork instead. Anyway, the gal who test-rode the FantomDS for me had zero issues with the stock mechanical brakes either. I actually swapped my bike with her for about 1.5 miles and can attest to the fact that the mechanical brakes are working much better now that I have them adjusted. I'll still probably order a set of Clark's M2s though....

    So that's the update for now. The gal who test rode the bike is an experienced cyclist who rode the hell out of it and gave it glowing a review. That was important to me for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to make sure that my upgrades were "trail tested" and that nothing would fail. Secondly, I wanted an experienced rider who was the right height to give me honest feedback on how they felt the bike handled when pushed. This really validated the bike's geometry and quality of the frame. I'm actually a bit surprised in the feedback I got in this area in that I honestly thought I'd get some negative comments about the bike's weight, handling, or the crappyness of the stock coil fork. Now obviously I expect the bike to perform far better when I put a Manitou Markhor on there, but I'm very pleased that my test rider had no complaints or negative feedback after rock gardens, etc. The FantomDS handles great--like I said, that gal smoked all of us.

    That's it for now--this lady has actually asked me to let her take the bike to our downhill park in a couple of days. I'm going to let her do it with a caveat to not jump it on the black diamond trails. I just don't trust those Suntour forks enough for that. I'll report back for those interested.
    Thanks for that review! I put the Manitou Markhor(26" 100mm) on my old hardtail and I find it to be a great fork. I'm very happy for you and hope you guys continueto enjoy your Moto!

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    Update 5.1

    This is just a minor update, but maybe an important one at anybody who stumbles across this thread and contemplating an upgrade path. Took the FantomDS Sport out to the downhill park tonight and let the same woman ride it. Although she was tearing it up, both up and down the mountain--I got some more pronounced negative feedback. Specifically, she wasn't at all happy with the 1x8 gearing. I knew when I made that modification, that it would really limit the bike to XC riding, but the take-away is that you may want to think twice about taking that short-cut to save some money. I'm not overly concerned about it since I won't be taking my gf to ride anything that aggressive. If she ends up enjoying the bike, I'll do the upgrade to a 1x11 next season.

    So the test-rider didn't like the 1x8 either in climbing OR in the decending. In the climbs, I think it was mainly because she didn't have the range of gears she wanted. On the decents, I think her issue was actually more with the (stock) shifter--it works, but she was really flying down the trails and was trying to rapid shift on that cheap stock 8-speed shifter. She rides extremely aggressively--to the point that I had to warn her to dial it back because I was concerned for her safety with the crappy stock coil fork and mechanical brakes. I did relent and let her go down a black diamond, but I told her flat out to ride that conservatively and not to try to do jumps because I was really worried about that XCM fork. That said, she came down it fine and had a blast doing it. We rode about 13 miles total--5 trips up the mountain and 5 down. Other than the compalints I've already mentioned, she didn't have any real issue. She really has put the bike through it's paces and other than the limitations of my modifications, the bike has more than held up to everything she's thrown at it.

    So here's my current opinion on the FantomDS Sport: It's a solid, legit bike that can pretty easily be upgraded to a legit mid-tier full suspension. You'll need to convert to a 1x (with a wide-range cassette and ideally a better derailleur and shifter), replace the coil shock, and get a legit fork. You'd probably want to upgrade to hydraulic brakes, but honestly, my test rider says the mechanical ones are performing fine. The biggest complaint I have about the bike is that the wheels take a 9mm QR skewer and not a modern thru-axle. Now you can upgrade that, but since one of the FIRST things you'll want to do with this bike is swap out the fork, you're immediately having to either decide from a handful of forks that accomodate those old school wheels OR invest hundreds more in upgrading wheels too. Thhe wheels aside, the frame, geometry, etc. is solid & legit--capable of doing serious trail riding. The FantomDS Sport is a great platform bike that you can upgrade as your skills improve. If you can buy it at an even bigger discount (like I did) and are on a budget, it's probably your best option. If you've got $900+ to spend, then you'll probably have some decent used options. Bikes Direct does sell the FantomDS Comp for $1099 which is the same frame, but with upgraded shock/fork/wheels--but it does still shockingingly come as a 3x10, but that should be simple and inexpensive to convert to a 1x10.

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    Update 6

    I disassembled the headset today and snapped some photos. Just sharing in case anyone is interested.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-img_20190510_191444.jpg
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    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-img_20190510_191902.jpg

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    Update 6

    As I might have mentioned previously, I ordered a KS eTen dropper from Amazon that came with a broken air cartridge. The seller refunded my purchase and let me keep the dropper so I ordered an air cartridge from Performance Bikes for ~$30. I've never worked on a dropper previously (although I have one on my Catch 2). Because I had already dissassembled the eTen a number of times trying to fix it, I also picked up a tube of Slick Honey lube from REI (that stuff is expensive). The air cartridge fixed the problem, but because I didn't have the collar sleeve nut (and screw) I had to get REI to order that for me too. I also messed up a couple of cables trying to jerry-rig it...so I had to get a new cable as well. Ugh.

    I also ordered a Manitou Markhor straight tube fork--I got it for $209 (with a rebate code) from Performance Bikes. I toyed with the idea of installing that myself, but my mechanic at REI told me he'd only charge me $15 to install it, so I went that route. I'm glad I did because he actually had the proper tools, and I know I would have run a risk cutting the tube and driving the star nut in without proper tools. He recommended adding about 20mm to the length of the new steerer tube in case future adjustment for comfort was needed.

    For those wondering, the stock Suntour XCM forks weigh 2761g (6lbs 1oz). The new fork weighed 1685g (uncut). After cutting, it weighed 1668g after cutting (3lbs 11oz). 1093g's (2lbs 7oz) total weight savings.

    So everything went together well, and I've test ridden the new configuration around my neighborhood (not on trail yet). It seems to ride great, but I'll withhold a verdict until I can get it properly trail tested with the new components. I will probably go ahead and convert to tubeless in the next couple of weeks. I just want to lighten the bike up as much as possible. The only other upgrades I see on the horizon are hydraulic brakes. I'm leaning towards a set of Clark's M2 or M3s from Chain Reaction Cycle.
    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-img_20190524_160701.jpg
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    Review of Motobecane FantomDS Sport-img_20190524_160759.jpg

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    Good deal on the fork! Did you adjust the travel to 120mm? I finally went tubeless last Thursday and the wheels are much lighter. Not sure if its placebo but, my climbing has improved vastly. The rear grips better and doesn't spin as I reach the top anymore. I used Orange Seal, WTB tape, and WTB valves. No leaks at all so far. I just now replaced my BB and crankset with the Shimano Zee 1x 10spd with Hollowtech II bottom bracket included. Gonna take it to the trails tomorrow. These bikes are really fun to upgrade and they are definnitely trail capable! Thanks for posting the updates!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ilanoray View Post
    Good deal on the fork! Did you adjust the travel to 120mm? I finally went tubeless last Thursday and the wheels are much lighter. Not sure if its placebo but, my climbing has improved vastly. The rear grips better and doesn't spin as I reach the top anymore. I used Orange Seal, WTB tape, and WTB valves. No leaks at all so far. I just now replaced my BB and crankset with the Shimano Zee 1x 10spd with Hollowtech II bottom bracket included. Gonna take it to the trails tomorrow. These bikes are really fun to upgrade and they are definnitely trail capable! Thanks for posting the updates!
    I haven't done anything with the fork (yet) other than to pump it up. I'll have to look at YouTube to see how to adjust the travel. Is it difficult?

    Glad to hear you're liking tubeless. I run tubeless in both my 27.5+ tires as well as my 29" wheels. I held off going tubeless in my 29" for a long time (lazy) but was shocked at how noticable the difference was. I actually had to adjust my riding style because I was pulling my front wheel up off the ground when climbing?!? When I went tubeless in my 27.5+ tires, the weight difference was less noticable. In that case, the low pressure is actually what actually made a big difference. I'm still running the stock tires on the FantomDS Sport, and boy, they aren't great IMHO. I'm not going to change them out this year though since my girlfriend is a novice and I'd prefer to get some use out of them.

    What size tape did you use with your tubeless conversion? I used 1" Gorilla tape on my 29" wheels (I use Orange Sealant as well).

    What cassette are you using now? Will the stock hub take a 10 speed?

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    There is a video by Takeahike shop that shows how to adjust the travel. I did it to mine just because the bike comes with 120mm stock and I didn't want it to handle wonky. It wasn't too difficult. You will also want to add 5w fork oil to the damper side to be 97mm clearance. I added 6ml of Maxima fork oil to achieve that level. YMMV. I got the fork oil cheap at the motorcycle shop. The lower fork oil is just full synthetic 5w30 motorcycle engine oil. I am contemplating adding the upgrade damper for 70.00 as well. It has high and low compression damping settings as opposed to just lock or unlock with the stock quick toggle.
    The first time I attempted to go tubeless I used the 1" wide gorilla tape, Stans sealant, and Stans valves. Could not get it to hold air for anything! This time round I used the i25 WTB tape, which is 30mm wide, since my wheels are the WTB STP i25. I also used the WTB TCS valves. I figured I'd have better success using WTB's stuff. I reckon I figured right lol!
    I'm running the Deore CS HG-500 11-42T 10 speed cassette. It fits right onto the stock freehub. Only thing is, since mine is a Hyperglide C, I had to use the stock lockring. It fits and runs flawlessly. I had a bad chainline just using the center spot (104BCD) of a 3 ring crank so in my uppermost 3 cogs I'd get chain jump and clunking. Since I installed the Zee 1x 10spd crankset, the chainline is much improved. I can backpedal in the top cogs without the chain dropping. I'll further assess it tomorrow on the trails while climbing. That's when I had the most problems with the chainline. Under stress going uphill.

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    Glad to find this forum

    Hello everyone! I too am a Motobecane DS Fantom 29er Sport owner and I'm ready to do some upgrades so I can feel more comfortable riding. I've already upgraded the rear shock so I'm contemplating the front fork to an SR Suntour Epixon. Any thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian76 View Post
    Hello everyone! I too am a Motobecane DS Fantom 29er Sport owner and I'm ready to do some upgrades so I can feel more comfortable riding. I've already upgraded the rear shock so I'm contemplating the front fork to an SR Suntour Epixon. Any thoughts?
    I was considering the Suntour upgrade program as well, but it didn't make financial sense to me. Maybe I was reading it wrong.

    As I understood it, the upgrade program would allow you to purchase an Expicon for somewhere around $275--does that sound right?

    I have zero experience with the Expicon; I did some online research and there are decent reviews, but pretty much everything I read said the Manitou Markhor was a superior performing fork. Plus, it's cheaper, selling for anywhere from ~$180 (Aliexpress) to $223 (Amazon).

    Also, note that you can purchase an Epixicon via Aliexpress for around $150 (with remote lockout). A Suntour rep has verified that these are genuine Suntour products, but they are slightly different than the US versions. Specifically, these Asian Epixicons use a non-user servicable air cartridge (sealed) instead of a servicable one. They perform well (from everything I've read), but you'll have to either replace the air cartridge eventually or convert it to the US version. There are YouTube videos that explain the details. I was tempted to go this route myself, but ultimately I just opted to get the Markhor. It has a really solid reputation and I the price is decent. If money is a major factor, I'd absolutely look at ordering from a reputable seller on Aliexpress and getting either the Expicon or a Markhor that way.

    All that said, that's my my opinion. Hopefully some other FantomDS Sport owners will chime in with their experience as well.

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    Thank you Forbin for your response! Sometimes when I ride in the group rides, I feel that my bike may be sub-standard in comparison to theirs or it could be my inexperienced riding (or both). I think maybe if I begin upgrading some of the components, I can gain some confidence with practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian76 View Post
    Thank you Forbin for your response! Sometimes when I ride in the group rides, I feel that my bike may be sub-standard in comparison to theirs or it could be my inexperienced riding (or both). I think maybe if I begin upgrading some of the components, I can gain some confidence with practice.
    The stock FantomDS Sport may or may not be a lesser bike that what your friends have, but it is certainly capable of being upgraded to a very solid mid-tier full suspension model. If your friends are riding $2000-$5000 bikes, you won't be able to hang on the stock bike, but after you do some basic upgrades, you shouldn't have any issues.

    Since you're already upgrading the forks (and have done the rear suspension), the only other thing really missing is the drivetrain. What I did was fairly inexpensive although if I had it to do over again, I probably would have opted for a 1x10 or 1x9 conversion. I went cheap and used the stock rear derailleur and stock shifter and just did a 1x8. If money is a real issue, then go the route I did at least for a season or two. If your budget allows, then do what ilanoray did and go to a 1x10.

    EDIT: See Update 8 below--anybody upgrading the drivetrain should just do a 1x11. The hubs do not limit you.

    What I will tell you is that the FantomDS Sport is a great platform to upgrade from. The frame itself is very solid and performs extremely well. Even with minimal upgrades, the lady who test rode my FantomDS Sport was able to smoke my friends and me. With the latest upgrades (fork & dropper), the bike is easily comparable to a $1200+ full suspension bike.
    Last edited by Forbin; 6 Days Ago at 06:53 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian76 View Post
    Hello everyone! I too am a Motobecane DS Fantom 29er Sport owner and I'm ready to do some upgrades so I can feel more comfortable riding. I've already upgraded the rear shock so I'm contemplating the front fork to an SR Suntour Epixon. Any thoughts?
    Kev Central did a review of that fork on one of his bike builds:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GG-V0-Wg1UE
    I have the Manitou Markhor on a hardtail and I love it. I agree with Forbin about the Markhor- better price, better performance, and I think lighter.
    A review of the Manitou:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drvxGGtuTu4

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    I was out of town this weekend (on a biking trip with my crew) and wanted to throw out a couple of things. First, I actually ran into a lady riding a FantomDS on our first ride!?! This was actually the first Motobecane I've seen in the wild, and it just happened to be the exact same frame and color as my girlfriend's bike! The lady I ran into had better stock components, so it wasn't the FantomDS Sport...I can't remember the exact groupset, but she had RockShox forks up front as well as an air shock in the rear.

    That aside, I also wanted to pass on to Sinfonian76 more information about the Epixon air forks on AliExpress. Here's a video where a guy explains the differences and what your options are.

    Again, if you're on a budget you should take a look at going this route because you can save a lot of money and you can upgrade the internals when the air cartridge eventually goes bad.

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    Awesome! Thank you for all of your insight!

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    Next I want to upgrade my 3x8 to a 1x 10. Any thoughts or experience on what I should get? I don't want to run into any hiccups during the install.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian76 View Post
    Next I want to upgrade my 3x8 to a 1x 10. Any thoughts or experience on what I should get? I don't want to run into any hiccups during the install.
    I'd defer to ilanoray for 1x10 advice. What I will tell you is that I have been really happy with using the Sunrace extended-range cassettes as opposed to Shimano or Sram. They provide (as the name suggests) a wider range of gears. That said, some derailleurs will require an extender; there's a vendor called JGbike on Amazon that sells a variety of wide-range cassettes (both Sunrace & Shimano) along with the extenders. The prices are very reasonable. This is what I'm currently running with my 1x8 setup. I will almost certainly upgrade to a 1x10 next year if my girlfriend enjoys riding this season.

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    HI. I am using the Shimano Deore CS HG-500 11-42T wide range cassette. I paired it with the Shimano RD M-8000 Shadow Plus derailer. Designed to work together so it's a direct bolt on. I am reasonably certain it will work on other wide range cassettes up to 42T as is. I'm thinking if the spacing is the same between brands. Not 100% sure though. I am currently using a Race Face N/W 32T chainring. After riding it a while I was having a bit of chain drop from the 3 uppermost (low) sprockets while climbing steep inclines. The chain would skip down to the next sprocket while under load. No bueno lol. I narrowed it down to crappy chainline. I just installed a Shimano FC-640 crankset designed for 1x10. It's a DH part so the crank arms and peddle inserts are steel, for strength. The weight is negligible to me. It came with a Hollowtech II bottom bracket. Instead of placing the 2.5mm spacers as 2 on the drive side and 1 on the non-drive side per Shimano for a 68mm BB shell, I placed 1 on the drive side and 2 on the non-drive side. This brought my chainline in a bit. I haven't tested this adjustment on the trail yet. I'll be going this weekend. If 2.5mm wasn't enough to cure the chain dropping/skipping I may transfer the remaining spacer to the non-drive side of the BB. Visually it looks good in the top 3 sprockets. Overall, I am enjoying the conversion to 1x10. The only thing I have left to do to this bike is lace in some DT 350 hubs and maybe convert the standard QR skewers to DT Swiss RWS. I hope this helps.

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    Update 6.1

    Just a minor update based on my 1st ride after installing the fork & dropper. I took the bike out this afternoon for a short 6.2 mile ride here in the mountains. I spent Memorial Day weekend riding trails in the Chattanooga area, but took my own bike. Today was the first time I've ridden since returning--and the first time I've actually taken the FantomDS Sport out myself in a long while--also the first time it's been ridden at all since the fork and dropper installation.

    I took it up (and down) the mountain twice. Everything is singletrack with a good mix of groomed trail, some roots, and some small rock gardens.

    I had to dismount the bike a few times in the first mile to get the dropper's height adjusted for me. I should note that I'm 5'11" and this bike is 16.5" and supposed to fit someone 5'6"-5'8". That said, with the dropper pulled up fairly high, the bike fit me pretty damn good and I could see myself actually riding it in lieu of my own bike. Without the dropper, I had the seat post pulled up, but lacking the ability to adjust for up & down hills made riding it a lot less fun. The dropper is friggin' awesome. Now that said, note that the FantomDS comes stock with a non quick-release seatpost clamp. I'm glad I replaced that with a QR version, otherwise all the adjustments I did today would have required my bike tool.

    I don't really know what to say about the forks. They rode pretty darn well. I didn't lock them out ever and the bike still climbed fine. They provided ample cushion. I had the rebound adjusted to the fastest setting--I might dial that down a tad to try it. It's nowhere near as plush as my Rockshox Pike, but the Manitou Markhor does the job just fine. I can absolutely tell the bike is lighter. At this point, I have no trouble asserting that my (girlfriend's) FantomDS Sport handles fairly comparable to a bike that costs $1100-$1300 (with some caveats).

    The caveats are my cheap drivetrain upgrade diminishes what the bike is really capable of. The 9mm hubs up front are also pretty dated and devalue the bike, but they don't really impact the ride.

    A few other random notes. Despite my initial criticism of the stock brakes, I've got them properly adjusted now and they are performing very well. Mechanical brakes devalue the bike as well, but since they're performing okay for me, I'm in no hurry to swap them.

    The stock tires are not great on my local trails. In fact, as things currently stand, that's probably the weakest link on my bike. They're not horrible, but they're just a poor fit for the singletrack in my area. Still, I'm going to let my girlfriend ride them until she complains or I decide to spend more money.

    The only other issue on today's ride worth mentioning is I had trouble with the gears slipping and I actually had a chain drop after I used the barrel adjustor to try to dial things back in. I'm really starting to get peeved about cheaping out on that drivetrain.

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    Update 7

    Went ahead and did the tubeless conversion today. I've done a couple before so it isn't really intimidating. I used Gorilla tape to seal the rims and some very inexpensive stems I got on Amazon (I got a set of 4, and used the other 2 on my 29" wheels for my bike).

    Going tubeless is pretty straight-forward and I personally recommend it. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll try to answer. As to the stock rims & wheels on the FantomDS Sport--they're made for tubeless. The tires have a hell of a bead on them, so be sure to wipe it down with soapy water before trying to pry them off (or put them back on). I gave up on trying to use a handheld pump to reset the wheels, although the stock tires on the FantomDS are so skinny, they might pop fine. I used a compressor. I actually did have an issue getting the first (front) tire to re-seal but once I put some soapy water on it the entire bead popped back on with the compressor. Oh, I also used the valve stem to fill the sealant.

    Once you get the tubeless tires mounted, you really should ride it immediately--and make sure to ride it pretty rough. The purpose in this is to get the sealant all over the interior and to also force the bead to really lock in place. Unfortunately, I didn't have time for that so I just took it for a spin in the parking lot for a few minutes.

    As I type this (about 5 hours later) I can tell that the tires aren't holding air the way I'd like. This is fairly typical, however--it might take a few days for the tires to permanently seal. I'm not concerned at the moment, but will keep an eye on it over the next few days.

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    Question... Can I use slime as tubeless sealant?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sinfonian76 View Post
    Question... Can I use slime as tubeless sealant?
    In short, no, do not use Slime in your bike tire. You'll probably want to use a product like Stan's (which is the most common). I've used Orange Seal Endurance on multiple wheels over the past year and it has been great. Do some online research about the various sealants available. Some seal better but have to be refreshed more often (i.e. more sealant must be added to the tire more frequently). Some last longer than others. Some are designed for cold-weather climants. Some work with Co2 whereas others don't.

    Back to Slime--they do market a tubeless tire bike sealant that might work, but be very careful to only buy that and not one of their many other sealants that are 100% incompatible and will likely destroy your tire and perhaps make a horrendous mess of your wheels. Stan's is probably cheaper anyway.

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    Update 7

    My girlfriend (who I purchased this bike for) finally got back into town and has been riding it for the past couple of weeks.

    There's not an awfully lot to report, however, as she is a total novice rider. She did purchase some Ergon grips that I put on for her, and she also insists on using a gel seat-pad cover (which I am totally embarassed by).

    I've spent much of the past couple of weeks taking her out on gravel roads, but have recently introduced her to single track. She's pretty slow, but she's done fine. She's obviously not skilled enough to really push the bike anywhere near it's limits, but the bike is good enough that she's at least getting her sea-legs in the sport on a good bike.

    There's only one area of the bike that I'm totally dissatified with, and that's both my fault and my bad decision--the drivetrain. Sticking with that stock shifter & derailleur has continued to cause issues. It's not that it's complete trash--it just slips sometimes and the shifter is just not ideal for a 1x. The Sunrace cassette and the 30T chainring (and cranks) I put on are okay, but I should have just gone to a 1x10 and gotten a new shifter & derailleur. I think her experience would be much better.

    I have kept the mechanical brakes and that was a solid decision. They're fine--at least for her current riding skill. If you go back and read my original posts about this bike, I trashed the brakes as unsafe (they were). This points to a weak area with Bikes Direct--you really need to have some experience with bike mechanics (and own proper bike tools) to get on the road--otherwise you'll need to pay for assembly and probably frequent adjustments until you get it dialed in to your liking. Back to the brakes--they just needed some adjustments to get them fully operational but out of the box they were a real safety issue. I was surprised because my previous bike from Bikes Direct (a Windsor Cliff) didn't have this problem, nor did my Diamondback (another direct-to-consumer bike).

    Future updates on this project bike will most likely be slow since I'm pretty much done with tinkering with it for the season. I do plan on letting the lady who test rode the bike for me take it out again now that I've got the Manitou forks and dropper post on. I'll probably do an update for that because she's very skilled, rides hard, and will be able to provide useful feedback on those modifications. I wanted to document my experience with the Motobecane FantomDS Sport primarily because there isn't much information about it online so hopefully my ramblings will prove useful for someone googling in the future. If anyone ever has any questions regarding this bike or my experience upgrading, please just ask and I'm happy to give you my .02.

  34. #34
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    Thanks for the update, I recently upgraded my fork and added WTB Trail Boss tires. I can really feel the difference in the weight of the bike. I also took heed to your advice and bought orange sealant. I'll try it out tomorrow on my first ride in a couple weeks!

  35. #35
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    Update 8

    Big changes to the bike are currently in the works. But before I get to that, here's a report of how the bike has done with the previously done upgrades...

    My girlfriend rode the bike a decent amount this summer. Her skills are limited, but overall the bike performed okay--with one exception. She constantly complained about the drivetrain. Specifically, she had lots of problems with the gears slipping. This mirrors the feedback I've gotten from the woman who test rode the bike for me a number of times. No amount of adjusting ever totally fixed the issue, and a 1x8 with the original derailleur and shifter was just an asinine idea on my part.

    So I ordered a new drivetrain. I was really interested in getting a Box One or Box Two setup, but in the end I went with the less expensive SRAM NX 1x11 set--shifter ($29.95), derailleur ($70.95), 11-42t cassette ($66.95)and SRAM chain (~$24.00).

    I need to point out the fact that I was extremely worried that the rear hub wouldn't accept an 11 speed cassette. I believe in my first few posts I even complained that the rear hub would really limit the upgradeability. I need to go back and edit that. Apparently those Shimano hubs will take up to an 11 speed cassette--so if you've got this bike, don't be stupid and do a 1x8 conversion like I did--just spend the money and move to 1x11. Trust me.

    I've also ordered a set of Shimano M315 brakes from AliExpress ($32.89 shipped).

    I put the drivetrain on evening before last, but had difficulty with the chain. I exchanged the chain at REI and put the new one on today. It took me a while to get shifting dialed in (and I'm still not 100% happy) but it seems mostly good to go.

    I'll post some photos once I get the grips back on and have a chance to test it on the trail. Preliminary opinion is that it is a major improvement. The NX shifter is just far better suited for a 1x setup than the stock shifter.

    I probably should also point out that if you're thinking of doing any of these upgrades yourself, you're going to need to buy some specialty bike tools. Specifically, you'll need to invest in either a Pedro's or Park Tool cable cutter. Don't try to cut your shifter cable (or housing) with a non-specialty tool--it will likely end in tears. It might go without saying, but you'll need a good chain breaker tool--I recommend the inexpensive $15 Park Tool. Finally, I also recommend you get a set of bike chain pliers. This might not be as necessary as the other two tools, but it makes things a lot easier if you need to remove the quick link on your chain as you're adjusting it.

    I have no idea how long it will take to receive the brakes. I'll leave that for another update.

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