Tested: Motobecane Fantom 29 XTR

29er Cross Country

In between my travels, I showed up to a couple local rides recently on the Motobecane Fantom 29 and folks had a ton of questions for me about the shiny bike I was riding. What is it? How does it ride? Is it full XTR?

A few rides in, I’m happy to report that the bike checks out. It rides as a proper hardtail should, responsive yet smooth. Titanium frames are often a tricky bunch as some can have too much flex in them and be sluggish and handle poorly. But the Motobecane has a stiff front end with its stiff head tube area and it steers accurately with the Rockshox fork. The rear end is stiff laterally as well and this bike carves the singletrack well.

On climbing, I rocketed past a couple of my peers on their titanium hardtails even though my fitness is lacking this season. I’ll credit some of that to this bike as it is 22 lbs and the bottom bracket is plenty stiff to transmit power to the ground.

The Frame

We’ll let the photos tell the story here but we are pleased by the shaping of the tubes and the quality of the welds. Tubes are oversized and the big down tube is bent to meet up with the top tube to save space and maximize weld area with on the join with the short head tube. The join at the seat tube area is clean as well. Bent stays, Ritchey dropouts and a standard BB area all check out as well so we are pleased with this frame. And it doesn’t cost over $2000 like most carbon frames these days.

Full XTR

The real story here is the full XTR drivetrain. It’s a 2×10 system with full XTR on the shifters, derailleurs, crank and brakes. These components are the best in class and are normally unattainable for a bike under $7000. Shimano has excelled in braking in the last couple years and the XTR brakes are their flagship. Shifting is clean and accurate as nothing shifts like an XTR, especially in the front where the design and materials of the crank and front shifter work in concert to deliver a clean shift under power.

Components

The components are good, but not quite up to par with the frame and the XTR bits. Vuelta wheels, Ritchey stem, post and bars and WTB saddle do the job, but can be upgraded according to personal preference. The Maxxis Aspen tires are ok and are fast enough, but we’d rather see bigger tires that offer more cush and traction for a hardtail. A nice wide rim and tubeless 2.3 Schwalbe tires would probably be our next upgrade. The bars were too short for us and the stem too long, so we quickly replaced it with a 70mm stem and 720mm bar.

The RockShox fork is a highlight, as it is very smooth throughout its 100mm of travel. Steering is accurate and the lockout is handy for this hardtail.

Sizing

The test rider is 5’8″ and normally rides a medium or 17″ frame. But this bike 17.5″ bike was slightly too big. Their sizing recommends this size rider to be on a 15.5″ inch frame so we would say that their sizing runs big as we’ve never been sized with a 15.5″ before. So heed their guidelines:
15.5″ fits up to 5’8, 17.5″ fits up to 5’10″
19″ fits up to 6’1″, 21″ fits 6’3 and taller*

2014 Highlights
  • MaxleLite 15mm Through-axle Rockshox Forks (tapered steerer)
  • NEW Ti29er Frame design with Titanium 3AL/2.5V Butted and Geometric Multishaped tubes
  • Tapered Head Tube 1.125″ to 1.5″ Zero Stack for improved steering response
  • Ti SForm Downtube, OptiCurve seat tube
  • Shorter chain stays for better climbing with clearance for most 2.35″ tires
  • MSRP $4999

Conclusion

We received the bike 90% assembled. We bolted the remaining parts together and hit the trail. The bike looks great and made us look like rock stars. So it does check out and we’re happy with our our first Motobecane bike experience. Construction looks good, the bike is light at 22 lbs and rides very well up and down. Weight of the bike was 22.75 lbs with inner tubes and light pedals and we were able to drop it to 22 lbs by converting to tubeless.

We’ll call personal preference on some of the components, but some folks may be ok with it as this is an XC Race bike after all. But give us meatier tubeless tires, wider bars and a better saddle and this bike can keep us smiling for a long time.

The greatest story and enigma here is the question of value. This bike has an MSRP of $5000 and it is a very fair price since it is full XTR and Titanium in a well designed frame. But peeking in to the Bikesdirect website shows that it is currently selling for much, much less. The website is a bit difficult to decipher, but we found the bike here and it really looks like a deal at that price.

We’re happy to report that the bike rides well and we’ll put many more miles in it and report back.

Tested: Motobecane Fantom 29 XTR Gallery
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Fantom 29 weight.

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Side Profile

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Rear Quarter Profile

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Top Tube Welds

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Seat Tube Welds

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Head Tube Area

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Head Tube

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Motobecane Fantom 29 with Full XTR

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Dropouts

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Cable Routing

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Motobecane Fantom 29 Bottom Bracket Welds

About the author: Francis Cebedo

The founder of mtbr and roadbikereview, Francis Cebedo believes that every cyclist has a lot to teach and a lot to learn. "Our websites are communal hubs for sharing cycling experiences, trading adventure stories, and passing along product information and opinions." Francis' favorite bike is the last bike he rode, whether it's a dirt jumper, singlespeed, trail bike, lugged commuter or ultralight carbon road steed. Indeed, Francis loves cycling in all its forms and is happiest when infecting others with that same passion. Francis also believes that IPA will save America.


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  • Jason Wong says:

    So it looks like an FSA crank and a avid elixir 9 brakes. The only thing that is xtr is the rear and front derailleurs and shifters.

    • Lumberjake says:

      It would have been nice if they tested the model they sold but for the money your still getting a bike that no other even comes close. I have the model sold and while the cranks aren’t Xtr they perform great but admittedly I upgraded to Wickwerks which shift incredibly fast. Plenty stiff arms. The new Trail brakes have very good reviews with its 4 piston action there’s plenty of power and modulation so it’s not like your missing out on performance.

  • Luis says:

    Can’t remember ever seeing a BD bike with XTR cranks and brakes. Like Jason Wong posted, usually FSA cranks and Avid elixir brakes. Still a good deal for these bikes. Only thing I wished for my Fantom would be for it be slacker. 72 deegre HA !!

  • JRT says:

    I would sugest that your readers would have been better served if you had be provided an example of a bike that they could actually buy. Until bycycles like this are offered for sale, this is really just a review of an Ora titanium bicycle frame with some Motobecane decals, configured with a nice set of components including RockShox SID fork, Shimano XTR crankset, XTR derailleurs, XTR shifters, XTR calipers, XTR brake master cyclinder lever sets, Cane Creek head set, etc.

  • Cloudbuster says:

    So how did you got the bike with Full XTR???
    They only offer it with FSA crank and crappy brakes
    Something is not right.

  • dahad says:

    Yes, looks like they gave MTBR a “teaser” bike with full XTR just for the free press. Come on MTBR, keep ‘em honest!

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