Speaking of cheap bikes

February 25, 2023 § Leave a comment

I just don’t know what to make of bikesdirect.com.They sell bikes branded Motobecane, a venerable old name from the pages of bikedom. (The name is the only connection with the past, as the original French Motobecane went bankrupt in the 1980s.) Now it is a more typical online retailer of bikes ordered up from experienced factories in the Far East with considerable price savings over mainstream brands you purchase from your local shop. My prior experience with a Titanium framed road bike in 2000 and my last carbon framed hardtail MTB was excellent, so a place like this gets my attention.

Minimal initial experience suggests the quality is good. I know one person who has a Motobecane road bike obtained from bikesdirect from several years prior to Covid and and he seems to like it. I’ve seen it on the road several times and it’s a perfectly fine bike from what I can tell.

The full suspension MTB products at bikesdirect appear to be very competitively priced for a given parts spec level. I was keeping a close eye on their pricier, carbon frame offerings during the Time of Covid when I was in the “maybe” phase of a new bike purchase. Direct sales of lesser brands and whatnot has often been my jam.

Prices in the entry-enthusiast level on bikesdirect.com are competitive with the Polygon products.

Here’s an example of a $1,999 aluminum framed dual suspension bike. Deore spec drivetrain and brakes, 140 mm travel, Rock Shox Revelation fork, dropper post and workhorse DT wheelset. Seemingly a good alternative to the Polygon Siskiu T8, currently $2,199 ($2,399 MSRP). Another one is spec’d with Eagle AXS electronic shifting for $2,100. This is a large savings compared with similarly equipped bikes from the big brands. The ride is always a gamble with online purchase of lesser known bikes, of course, but this is true all across the price and discount spectrum. What works for another rider may not work for you. So it’s a very promising alternative.

The problem with this outfit is availability. The carbon frame bikes have been listed as sold out most of the time from somewhere mid 2020 to present. They claimed a 25 pound weight for the SL model and a 28.5 lb weight for the normal frame. That sounded pretty attractive for a 140 mm travel bike, which is why I have been paying attention. In the end I’m really happy with my 120 mm travel XC choice but undoubtedly would have enjoyed a larger travel bike too.

The aluminum frame models have been much better in availability, according to the website, although these also come and go. When there is availability, the website will often promise delivery months in the future. This implies they maybe had the bikes assembled in factory and were awaiting shipping during this time of shipping delays. Or, maybe, they were hanging their hat on a promise of delivery from one of their suppliers.

Even this might have been tolerable. Certainly people were placing orders with mainline bike shops and waiting months for delivery 2020-2022. Nobody gets annoyed if they are willing to wait and the bike shows up on schedule. But I had one friend with an order in at bikesdirect in late 2020, early 2021. Delivery was promised. Delivery was pushed back. Repeat. Not sure how long it took, but he eventually canceled his order and found a ~2020-2021 Polygon Siskiu T7 in good shape on the local used bike market.

Maybe that was a unique Covid experience. Hard to know. But until I see more reports of positive experiences I’m going to hesitate to recommend these bikes.

[ One Facebook interest group for Motobecane is hilarious because posts about bikes direct Motobecane bikes alternate almost evenly with posts about vintage Motobecane bikes from the 1970s. ]


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