Tell me about Motobecane/Windsor/Bikes Dir- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Tell me about Motobecane/Windsor/Bikes Dir

    I have been looking at the Windsor 29ers on bikes direct and am really trying to figure out what the company is about. I ride an old (01) stumpjumper 26 that still rolls great. I keep telling myself that if the engine is good enough the equipment does not matter, but as my bike and I get older it gets harder to keep convincing myself of that. A few of the guys I ride with are moving to niner, EMDs specifically, and seem to be really improving their speed. I really have no desire to drop more than a grand on a new bike when mine is still rolling.

    THe component listing on the windsor cliff team looks like pretty solid upper-mid range stuff except for the handlebar and stem which appear to be a house brand. I am a little nervous since it appears that Windsor and Motobecane are only sold on bikesdirect.com. Are these house brands, the biking worlds version of flea market purses, or are these just legitamate bikes that don't hold the "specialized", "Niner", or "Salsa" stickers? I am still a ways away from pulling the trigger on anything, but I am really interested in how this outfit operates. I have read some great reviews on here about some of their stuff, but some other folks seem to be pretty down on motobecane/windsor.

    I would greatly appreciate some input about how the company is able to offer upper-mid range components so much cheaper than everyone else. I am also curious how the Clif Team compares to other 29ers that you may have had a chance to ride. Thanks so much for your help!

    LeftyKyle

  2. #2
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    You can search the archives and find more opinions that you want to read, but here is the summary version.

    BikesDirect runs a chain of shops (Cycle Spectrum) but also sells nationwide at bikesdirect.com. The brands are 'house brands' but all the of parts are what you would find on other bikes. The frames are made in the same factories as some of the big names too. A few of the models (including the Windsor 29) are almost identical to a model offered by other brands.

    Why are they cheaper? To start with, BD sells a lot of bikes and buys parts in volume. The box you get at your doorstep will be the same box that would arrive at a bike shop in that it hasn't had final assembly or tweaking done to it. They don't spend money on marketing, sponsorships, manufacturer reps, or a huge dealer network. They seem to run an efficient operation and pass the saving on to the customer.

    What are the risks? Well, they do provide customer service, but they don't provide the same level of hand holding that you might get at a local shop. You will have to do some assembly and probably some tweaks to the bike when it arrives. I'm talking about things like minor truing, checking bolt tightness, adjusting hubs, and so on. Minor stuff, but stuff a complete newbie or someone who just isn't mechanical won't want to do. You will have some shipping hassles if something does break or need to be exchanged. That said, they also have a 30-day money back guarantee to mitigate some of the risk.

    All bikes are a compromise, especially when you're shopping at a particular price point. Some say the MSRP's on the website are inflated, and they also catch flack for sometimes having some lower end parts tucked in there with component brands that most customers recognize.

    The business model seems to attract a lot of negative heat from the establishment, but there are lots of happy bike owners who saved a ton and bought a nice bike in the process.

    Be sure to check out the Fuji 29ers. They sure do look similar

  3. #3
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    Short version appears to be:

    1. Good component mix for the price point. To the point that some people advocate getting the bike drom BD and then swapping out the frame.
    2. Frames are "generic" taiwanese frames.
    3. People seem to grumble about the comparisons on Bike Direct's website when they make comparisons to specific small/boutique bike builders like Seven.
    4. Ordering from online, it is helpful to have a LBS that you have a solid relationship with to iron out any kinks -- sizing, looking over the bike build up, etc.

    Personally, unless going with a boutique maker, it seems like a lot of the mid-range and above frames from large vendors are sourced in Taiwan. I don't know enough about the industry to speak with any clarity on this. These are just a summary of recurring themes that I have seen when I started looking around when I first ran across BDs site.

    For myself - if I had the cash, i would likely build something up based on a frame from Hunter or Rock Lobster (two local builders), but that will have to wait awhile. For now, I am in the market for something between a touring bike and a cross bike -- and a couple of things on BDs site were fairly attractive given the caveats above.

    -jim

  4. #4
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    I was thinking about going this route last summer.... riding a fairly heavy specialized hardrock I wanted to upgrade to something that would provide me with a little more performance and confidence on the trails. I thought that a 29er was the way to go given that I am 6'2", and I was looking at Bikedirect hard.....but I ended up going with a used FS Santa Cruz blur that I found local. About the same price that I was looking at with the hardtail 29ers. I must say, after 8 months of riding, I could not be happier. Performance is outstanding and it really makes for a better all around bike for the type of trail riding that I do. Something to think about....

    Brian

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumblingcrustacean
    Personally, unless going with a boutique maker, it seems like a lot of the mid-range and above frames from large vendors are sourced in Taiwan. I don't know enough about the industry to speak with any clarity on this.
    Actually, pretty much ALL non-boutique bike frames are made in Asia. This includes the likes of Trek, Specialized, and Giant. In 2007, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong accounted for 99.56% of the total annual bicycle imports (Source: NBDA).

    See here for a great article about the bike industry: http://nbda.com/page.cfm?pageID=34

  6. #6
    mpg
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    I have a Motobecane Fantom 29 and am very satisfied. I have documented my experience with it in a blog at http://motobecanefantom29.blogspot.com/

  7. #7
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    Well I purchased a Motobecane 600HT 4 years ago over a Trek 4500. Long story short...I made a mistake on that bike purchase.

    I took my new Motobecane to my LBS and had them assemble it and tune it for me on day one. Spent $65. It needed a tune every 4-6 months and I had to change out the seat stem in the first month because it made noise and wouldn't hold my seat tight. I then had to have the front stem replaced because it was too long for my size. The Tires wore out quick and I replaced those after about 300 miles. The disk brakes were crap at best. I had those replaced with good V-brakes and that made a huge difference. My chain broke and I had to replace that too. Next I changed out my front Rockshock fork for a better one, but that was just because I was trying to improve the ride.

    At the same time I purchase my motobecane, I also purchased a Specialized rockhopper for my wife. We got it tuned again after 150 miles and never had to touch the bike again. I just sold it after it hadn't been riden in 6 months and it didn't need anything. It was the best bike and twice the bike as the Motobecane. The main reason she didn't ride for 6 months was because mine needed a tune and I was tired of messing with it till I got a new bike.

    So, after my expirence, I purchased a new specialized for me and my wife. I"ll never make that mistake again...

  8. #8
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    I think you're right on target. Someone who wants/needs all the service that go along with a local shop is best off shopping there to start with. Someone who is happy making adjustments and doing the work themselves can find another option at BD.

    I think it has less to do with the name on the stickers are more to do with the level of service the customer is looking for.

    I'm glad you finally found something that you like.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireflock
    I think you're right on target. Someone who wants/needs all the service that go along with a local shop is best off shopping there to start with. Someone who is happy making adjustments and doing the work themselves can find another option at BD.

    I think it has less to do with the name on the stickers are more to do with the level of service the customer is looking for.

    I'm glad you finally found something that you like.
    That's pretty much it. I have a moto and love it, use regularly and I rather do my tune ups.
    I'm not much of a person to deal with lbs, so I'm happy with my moto.
    "Si todos saben lo que ay que hacer por que tenemos problemas" Choose xpst.

  10. #10
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    Man,

    This is a great thread. Thanks for the info so far.

    I am really glad to get the differing opinions.

    Thanks.

  11. #11
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    The Bike Direct Question is frustrating...

    I actually find the Bikes Direct question rather frustrating...

    First and foremost, one wants a bike that fits their needs, fewest problems, and at a great price. BD appears to fit the bill for great price.... but does it fit your needs and is the obvious lack of customer service a huge problem. Let alone the "cardinal sin" of not supporting local bike shops...

    Regarding price and meeting your needs: If you look at the components on a typical bikes direct bike, there are some really nice items (XT drivetrain as an example), but as you starting looking deeper into the set up, you start to find some interesting items. Such as the wheelset construction. What exactly is a "Formula Sealed Bearing Disc with Quick Release" hub? Stem, bars, seat post? huh?... very generic.

    But here comes the interesting questions... do these generic componets really make a difference for the average rider? Will these components affect your enjoyment and progress and you build your skills? I guess in the end, the good news is that all of these things can be replaced.. but you would need to factor this in as you assess the true cost of the bike.

    Customer Service: This to me is obvious. BD is not going to give you the service that a LBS can. Everything from fit, tuning, repair, etc will be left to the buyer... or if you need additional support, you will be paying the LBS to help you... (here is where the "cardinal sin" issue comes in). So in my opinion, this is the gamble and true issue with bikes direct lies.

    Having said all of that, I agree that this thread has been great in providing all angles. Just reaffirms all of the pro and cons that I have been struggling with for some time.

    But then again, another bike has been met with 100% disapproval from the wife, so I have some more work to do on the homefront before the decision is needed...

    ...Brian

  12. #12
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    The Bike Direct Question is frustrating...

    hjk

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by bljacobs
    I actually find the Bikes Direct question rather frustrating...

    First and foremost, one wants a bike that fits their needs, fewest problems, and at a great price. BD appears to fit the bill for great price.... but does it fit your needs and is the obvious lack of customer service a huge problem. Let alone the "cardinal sin" of not supporting local bike shops...

    Regarding price and meeting your needs: If you look at the components on a typical bikes direct bike, there are some really nice items (XT drivetrain as an example), but as you starting looking deeper into the set up, you start to find some interesting items. Such as the wheelset construction. What exactly is a "Formula Sealed Bearing Disc with Quick Release" hub? Stem, bars, seat post? huh?... very generic.

    But here comes the interesting questions... do these generic componets really make a difference for the average rider? Will these components affect your enjoyment and progress and you build your skills? I guess in the end, the good news is that all of these things can be replaced.. but you would need to factor this in as you assess the true cost of the bike.

    Customer Service: This to me is obvious. BD is not going to give you the service that a LBS can. Everything from fit, tuning, repair, etc will be left to the buyer... or if you need additional support, you will be paying the LBS to help you... (here is where the "cardinal sin" issue comes in). So in my opinion, this is the gamble and true issue with bikes direct lies.

    Having said all of that, I agree that this thread has been great in providing all angles. Just reaffirms all of the pro and cons that I have been struggling with for some time.

    But then again, another bike has been met with 100% disapproval from the wife, so I have some more work to do on the homefront before the decision is needed...

    ...Brian

    Well put.

    Something else to consider is the wieght of these bikes. My Motobecane HT was a lot heavier than my rockhopper and even more heavier than my Stumpjumper FSR.

  14. #14
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    Most likely due to the wheelset, step, bars, seat post, etc that appear to be generic in nature.

    Brian

  15. #15
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    This is a question I had also wanted to ask. I have a local Bikesdirect shop that sells all the motobecane and windsor bikes for just a little more than the online prices. They offer lifetime tuneups and the like. Wouldn't this make a decent first niner while also supporting the LBS?

  16. #16
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    I decided to pull the trigger last week and try out an 09 motobecane fantom elite. Ironically I was also upgrading form an older stumpjumper. My price point was exactly the same as well. Only difference was not after a 29er. While I haven't had the bike out on the trails yet, I was simply dialing it in today around the house and can certainly say I think the fantom elite is a FAR superior ride in comparison to the ol' stump.

    I have had a good experience with bikes direct so far. The bike shipped quickly, was packaged well and the price was right. Assembly and dialing in went smooth, but I can easily see how one may wish to pay the LBS $50 or so to do the rest of the setup.

    All in all I'm happy with bikes direct and my order went through as smooth as possible. No idea how well they handle things where there's a problem.

    Best wishes in your hunt for a new ride!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunerinaz
    This is a question I had also wanted to ask. I have a local Bikesdirect shop that sells all the motobecane and windsor bikes for just a little more than the online prices. They offer lifetime tuneups and the like. Wouldn't this make a decent first niner while also supporting the LBS?
    You're buying the same product from the same company. You're just getting a higher level of service in the shop than you would if UPS brought the bike to your door. The LBS purists wouldn't consider the shop close to you to be a real local bike shop. They will say it's a chain shop, which they consider to also be inferior.

    What really matters is....do they provide the bikes and service that you want or need? If so, go for it.

    Pick the option what works best for you, and don't worry about where other people think you should spend your money.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fireflock
    You're buying the same product from the same company. You're just getting a higher level of service in the shop than you would if UPS brought the bike to your door. The LBS purists wouldn't consider the shop close to you to be a real local bike shop. They will say it's a chain shop, which they consider to also be inferior.

    What really matters is....do they provide the bikes and service that you want or need? If so, go for it.

    Pick the option what works best for you, and don't worry about where other people think you should spend your money.

    Right... you would get the huge benefit to negate one of the major concerns. You can actually touch, inspect, and ride the bike before you buy. Same company - probably not helping out the small independent bike shop, but a least you will have more confidence in pulling the trigger then most.

  19. #19
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    I had many of the same thoughts and concerns with BikesDirect when I made a big purchase (Fantom Team). This is a great bike with truly no corners cut. I have been very happy with my bike and the service I received from the owner.
    I had broken a bolt ($50 part) on my full suspension and it was replaced (the piece sent to me in the mail) and my LBS repaired the suspension. Even though I admittedly pulled a rookie move and threw my bike together and did not go over it and tighten everything (surely that, and my riding style, played a part in the bolt breaking) I was still given the part for free.
    My LBS is REI, I have a great relationship with them and the guys there ride the local trails and throw me a lot of freebees in the way of service (ie, they recently trued my rear front wheel and replaced a spoke I dented from slamming against a rock; they did all this for free). I will do small gearing adjustments myself but I was new to disk brakes and the guys at REI actually took the time to show me how to adjust them myself and gave me tips on properly cleaning pads and rotors.
    I love my Moto and ride it often, though I agree, if you cannot do some adjustments yourself (and are not willing to learn) or are the type that is going to blow a sprocket over something that needs adjusting then BikesDirect may not be for you. It is certainly not for everyone, but the Value cannot be denied.
    From what I understand some frames, probably the better ones are from Kinesis (Taiwan), and others are from China. This is no different from any other maker. And yes, other makers (Fuji being one example) will sport the same frame on some of their bikes.

    Don't worry about "supporting" an LBS. I worry about supporting my family. I buy most of my parts on-line, but when I need something in a pinch, I go to my LBS (REI) and pick something up. In doing so, I have a great relationship with the shop and would not consider going anywhere else.
    If you have a local LBS that does not want your business because you did not buy a bike from them, well, they likely won't be in business for long in this economy. Don't even sweat it. Make a purchase you will feel comfortable with and enjoy the ride.
    I no longer deserve a signature. :skep:

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