Review: Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Ti

Great parts spec make bike a solid value for racing or touring

Cross
At just $2000, this bike a solid value for new CX racers or cross town commuters.

At just $2000, this bike a solid value for new CX racers or cross town commuters (click to enlarge).

The Lowdown: Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Ti

Most associate Motobecane with antiquated French steel or budget road bikes available via BikesDirect.com. But there is more to the story. The Fantom Cross line has been popular among beginner cyclocross races for quite a few years, and for good reason. The titanium model equipped with full Ultegra 6800 11-speed weighs just 19.5 pounds out of the box (49cm sans pedals and reflectors) and is an excellent choice for someone looking for a capable cyclocross race bike without breaking the bank. It would also make a great commuter bike or touring setup.

Stat Box
Frame: Vari-Butted Titanium Handlebar: Ritchey Biomax Comp Alloy
Fork: Motobecane Alloy Crown Carbon Stem: Ritchey Pro Alloy 31.8mm OS clamp
Drivetrain: Ultegra 6800 11-speed Headset: FSA IS2 Sealed Bearing
Cranks: Shimano Ultegra 6800 Brakes: Avid BB7 Mechanical Disc Brakes
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 6800 Sizes: 49, 52, 54, 56, 58, 61, 64cm
Chain: Shimano 6800 11-speed Color: Brushed Titanium w/ Clear Coat
Wheels: WTB TCS Tubeless Weight: 19.5 pounds
Tires: Continental Cyclocross Race 700x35C MSRP: $4995 ($2,000 via BikesDirect.com)
Saddle: Ritchey Pro Streem Rating: 4 Stars 4 out of 5 stars
Seatpost: Ritchey Pro Streem 27.2mm x 300mm

Pluses
Minuses
  • Titanium frame is light and compliant
  • Lower tier cockpit and seatpost
  • Excellent value with quality specs
  • Avid BB7 brakes lack power
  • Shoulder friendly top tube for carrying
  • Only available on-line
  • Disc brake ready
  • Racks mounts allow conversion to touring/commuter bike

Full Review: Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Ti

Most associate Motobecane with the early 1900’s French manufacturer of two-wheeled machines. Motobecane USA has no relation to the French company. Instead they’re known for an array of bikes available via BikesDirect.com boasting extremely low price points for both entry level and higher end builds, the 2015 Fantom Cross Team Titanium among them.

The full Shimano Ultegra mechanical drivetrain highlights the parts spec.

The full Shimano Ultegra mechanical drivetrain highlights the parts spec (click to enlarge).

Equipped with full Ultegra 6800 11-speed, mechanical disc brakes, and rear rack mounts, this is a great all-around bike. Whether you want to test its limits in a cyclocross race, grind gravel, or putz around town the Fantom Cross is more than capable. And you really can’t argue with the price. MSRP is $4995, but it’s sold via Bikesdirect.com for $2000.

The cockpit is run of the mill, but we loved the extra brake levers for emergency situations.

The cockpit is run of the mill, but we dig the extra brake levers for emergency situations (click to enlarge).

Those (such as myself) familiar, but not experienced, with Motobecane’s lineup may be apprehensive to trust in the Fantom Cross being a solid all-around cyclocross bike, but after testing the beefy, but light Fantom on the road, gravel, and even singletrack I’m pretty convinced you could ditch your current cross bike and commuter bike and be perfectly happy with just the Fantom.

The 49cm model sans pedals and reflectors weighs 19.5 pounds, which is a reasonable number, especially at this price point. From the moment you toss your leg over the saddle, the compliancy and quickness of the frame is felt thanks to the Ti tubing and carbon fork. Shouldering the bike is a breeze – the top tube is shaped with an indented, flat lower section so it lies on your shoulder comfortably.

Shoulder friendly top tube for carrying.

Shoulder friendly top tube for carrying (click to enlarge).

The full Ultegra 6800 11-speed group is by far the biggest selling point on this bike. Often, when ‘budget’ bikes have high-end components, they cut corners on certain parts such as crankset or front derailleur. This year’s Ultegra 11-speed is light, durable, and responsive. The ’cross gearing (46×36 for the 170mm cranks, 11-32T cassette) is super versatile. It was rare to spin out on the road and there was plenty of gearing options for steep, dirt climbs. It shifts well under load – perfect for a bike with loaded panniers or a cyclocross course with rapid terrain changes.

The rest of the components – from brakes to wheelset to cockpit – are a mixed bag, but generally quite good given the cost. The Avid BB7’s mechanical disc brakes aren’t our favorite since only one pad moves it creates a feeling of limited power. However, riders not experienced with disc brakes will be pleased with the feeling over rim brakes.

The carbon Motobecane fork with alloy crown.

The carbon Motobecane fork with alloy crown (click to enlarge).

The wheelset is a big improvement from previous Fantom Cross models. The tubeless-ready WTB Frequency rims laced to Gravity hubs are plenty stiff, but not cumbersome. Don’t be afraid to bunny hop barriers or shred some rock gardens, these wheels can handle it (especially with the beefy 35C Continental Cyclocross Race tires).

The full Ritchey alloy cockpit and seatpost is run-of-the-mill. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but an upgraded carbon seatpost and handlebar would definitely increase the performance and comfort of the ride, whether racing or touring. For commuting, there’s no reason to worry about upgrading.

The bottom line? Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned cyclocross racer, the Fantom Cross Team Ti is a great bike considering the price point. For $2000 you get a light titanium frame, a full Ultegra 6800 11-speed group, and a solid WTB tubeless wheelset. Considering this bike is a complete all-arounder, it’s a deal to consider. Race it in the winter/fall, take a tour in the summer, and commute year around.

For more information www.bikesdirect.com.

About the author: Addie Levinsky

Colorado-native Addie Levinsky knows there was a time before cycling, but she doesn't want to think about it. She started pounding pavement five years ago and after discovering the inexplicable joy of singletrack, she strives to elevate adventure on two-wheels. While maintaing her life-long passion for writing, and earning a degree in philosophy, there seemed to be no better fit than contemplating the meaning of life, outdoors, on a bike. And attempting to put it all into words. Without being too Thoreau-ish.


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