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Review - Bikes Direct Fantom Plus x9

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Review - Bikes Direct Fantom Plus x9

Old 09-10-16, 01:59 PM
  #1  
alathIN
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Review - Bikes Direct Fantom Plus x9

Got my Motobecane Fantom Plus x9 in the mail last week, got it put together quickly, and I've had a few chances to ride. Very pleased so far.
Save Up to 60% Off Plus FREE SHIP 48 STATES ON ALL BICYCLES FREE SHIP* Motobecane NEW Fantom 27.5 PLUS X9 27.5 PLUS Wheelsize Bicycles, Fat Bikes, Mountain Bikes
FYI this is a 27.5 PLUS bike, PLUS being oversized tires but not quite into fatbike territory. It is basically a 29er size frame, with wider forks and dropouts to accommodate the bigger tires. The wheels are 27.5, but the tires are big enough that actual rolling diameter is about the same as a 29er.

I originally wanted the x7 version of this bike, which as the name suggests sports SRAM x7 components instead of x9. The other differences are through axles front and rear, and a better front shock on the x9. SRAM instead of Textro brakes, both hydraulic disc, so probably not a huge upgrade there. Overall, it was $200 I didn't want to spend for these upgrades, but now that I have the bike I'm glad I got what I got.

I've heard the gamut on Bikes Direct experiences here and other forums; people saying things like "It wasn't bad, but I had to repack all the bearings, bleed the brakes, true the wheels, and weld up a hole in the frame. Other than that, assembly was a snap."

Thankfully I didn't have that much to do. The hardest part of the whole deal was getting the thing out of the box and all the packing material removed (it was packed about the same as a much more expensive semicustom road bike I got two years ago). The second hardest part was inflating the dang tires - it takes about 10 pumps to get one PSI difference with all that tire volume.

I haven't had to touch the shifter or brake adjustments. It shifts and stops just like I'd expect from a bike I purchased from a LBS - dreamy, crisp, precise.

I am not enough of a mountain biker to really comment on the MTB-specific performance of this bike. I'm mostly a commuter, dream of touring, and some triathlon and group rides here and there. So this was basically me wanting a versatile bike for rougher surfaces and to experiment with some MTB fun.

My buddy is primarily a MTB guy who also does some road and tri rides, so getting a foot in his world is a way for us to ride together more. He has mostly high end MTBs, and I will say that the group set on this bike has feel and function a lot more like his bikes than other people's low-to-mid grade MTBs I have ridden.

I am glad I went with the PLUS bike concept for my first MTB. I feel a lot more secure/stable/controllable over crazy surfaces; a lot more confident to ride over things and through things that would previously have intimidated me. Given some back issues, I wanted either fat/plus or full suspension to soften up the tail end. A poster here advised that given a plus bike and a full suspension bike at the same price point, the plus bike is probably a bit better quality - "Better to have a mid grade plus bike than a low end FS bike." This seems like good advice so far. I love riding by buddy's FS mountain bike, but it's a high end all carbon one that cost more than all of my bikes put together.

Bikes direct was pretty good about communication. I got prompt accurate replies to my inquiries. I am "between sizes" for most bikes, and wasn't sure what size Fantom Plus to get. I went through their "fit process" which is two body measurements and about three or four questions about riding preference/style. They strongly recommended the larger size for me, which turned out to be the right choice.

My overall take on bikes direct is that if you feel fairly confident with do-it-yourself bike maintenance, and you're sure of what you want with no intention to resell, you can get a very good dollar/quality value from BD. I'd have no hesitation about buying from them again in the future.


Last edited by alathIN; 09-10-16 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 09-10-16, 03:50 PM
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Old 09-10-16, 11:30 PM
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Interesting that is still has the normal angles and fit in spite of all the new-ish components
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Old 10-31-16, 07:57 PM
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I am also interested in the Fantom 27.5+ with the X9 components, just wondering if you are still happy with your purchase and if anybody else on this forum has had any experience with this bike or the X7, would really like to hear your comments. You did not mention your height when going with the large frame, I'm 5-8" and the BD sizing chart says a 16" frame for my height, do you think they are pretty accurate on their sizing because that does seem a bit small to me?
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Old 11-01-16, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by M3guy View Post
I am also interested in the Fantom 27.5+ with the X9 components, just wondering if you are still happy with your purchase and if anybody else on this forum has had any experience with this bike or the X7, would really like to hear your comments. You did not mention your height when going with the large frame, I'm 5-8" and the BD sizing chart says a 16" frame for my height, do you think they are pretty accurate on their sizing because that does seem a bit small to me?
I originally wanted the X7 but they were out in my size.
I'm really happy with the X9 group set. It feels like perhaps the equivalent of 105/Ultegra, has that "good group set" feel. Not sure whether there is a noticeable downgrade to X7 or not.
The X9 does have thru axles front and rear, which I am starting to see the point of for a MTB. They are obviously stronger than the standard QR setup.
I've also been told by people who know a lot better that the front suspension is a lot better on the X9 than the X7. No personal knowledge to back this up.

I wasn't sure about sizing either, and the chart had me borderline between two sizes. So I did the BD "sizing quiz" and sent it in. They recommended this size bike for me, which turned out to be correct. If you hunt around their web site you can find their size advice procedure. You measure your standover height and overall height, and answer a couple of questions and they email you back with a size recommendation. Process worked for me.

Still really happy with the bike. I've done some more challenging trails and really enjoying it. Had a couple of crashes, as expected for a MTB newb. Zero problems with the bike. About to convert it to tubeless (only needed the sealant and the valve stems; the tires and wheels are fully tubeless compatible).

PS, I am just a smidge short of 6'1"
Ask me how I know this so precisely - my employer's health plan has a BMI bonus and I thought I hit the target at 6-1. They counted me as 6 feet 0.7 inches, which meant I didn't quite make the discounted premium cutoff
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Old 11-26-16, 09:38 AM
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Size and measurement

If its at all possible at 6ft 1ish which size did you get?


Second thing is I am actually looking to electrify the bike, can you take a minute to measure the bottom bracket for me? I would like to get in on a deal before it ends 😀


Thank you for your write up!
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Old 11-26-16, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by alathIN View Post
I am glad I went with the PLUS bike concept for my first MTB. I feel a lot more secure/stable/controllable over crazy surfaces; a lot more confident to ride over things and through things that would previously have intimidated me. Given some back issues, I wanted either fat/plus or full suspension to soften up the tail end. A poster here advised that given a plus bike and a full suspension bike at the same price point, the plus bike is probably a bit better quality - "Better to have a mid grade plus bike than a low end FS bike." This seems like good advice so far. I love riding by buddy's FS mountain bike, but it's a high end all carbon one that cost more than all of my bikes put together.
Extremely good well written review and take on these new plus bikes from a newer riders point of view.

I started on a 29er HT when companies were rushing out these bikes to catch up on lost sales. They were heavy with the wrong Geo and just handled poorly, not like modern good 29ers.

I moved to a full suspension for a few years and am back on a 27.5 plus hard tail and very very happy.

What you said below,
" I feel a lot more secure/stable/controllable over crazy surfaces; a lot more confident to ride over things and through things that would previously have intimidated me. Given some back issues, I wanted either fat/plus or full suspension to soften up the tail end."

I want you to know your not alone, I've got 4 years on single tracks, and my plus bike gave me all of this,,

My point? As a new rider you see the value of the plus bike, as a not so new rider I take the pluses you see and turn them Into a faster far more stable safer ride. I am doing more technical trails with greater confidence and doing them faster.
All that traction and the newer slacker Geo combined with the efficiency of a hard tail without the harsh ride of a HT makes these new plus bikes a real game changer.

I've read and agree that the 27.5 plus will really become a big deal for the recreational trail riders, leaving regular 27.5 bikes for the more gonzo riders.

Great write up on BD and your bike buying experience... Kudo's !

My Scooter:

Last edited by osco53; 11-29-16 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 11-26-16, 10:24 AM
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Knowledge Is power...

A few secrets for your lower back Issues.

Work up to 1000 crunches a week slowly, a strong core helps support you taking the load off your back.

Set your fork up a bit on the stiff side and go a bit thick with the rebound damping.
A fast moving quick rebounding fork goes into every little hole, slowing you and will wear you down.
Don't go so slow the fork packs down,,google that one..

The other advantage of a stiffer front end, you will feel most hits soon enough to lift your a$$ to lessen the spinal Impact and this will make your rear suspension(Yer Legs) stronger and faster really fast..

Last but not least, GET A DROPPER POST~~~~~~

Keep In mind that a hard tail will reach Its limits on really crazy trails before a full squish. be careful following a FS trail bike with a good pilot Into the rock gardens at mach 3
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Old 11-26-16, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
Knowledge Is power...

A few secrets for your lower back Issues.

Work up to 1000 crunches a week slowly, a strong core helps support you taking the load off your back.

Set your fork up a bit on the stiff side and go a bit thick with the rebound damping.
A fast moving quick rebounding fork goes into every little hole, slowing you and will wear you down.
Don't go so slow the fork packs down,,google that one..

The other advantage of a stiffer front end, you will feel most hits soon enough to lift your a$$ to lessen the spinal Impact and this will make your rear suspension(Yer Legs) stronger and faster really fast..

Last but not least, GET A DROPPER POST~~~~~~

Keep In mind that a hard tail will reach Its limits on really crazy trails before a full squish. be careful following a FS trail bike with a good pilot Into the rock gardens at mach 3
Thanks for the kind words.

As a MTB newbie, I'm not sure I would have noticed all these things if my MTB buddy hadn't been saying, "Now try this, and see how it feels."

I don't think my forks allow separate bump and rebound adjustment. There's just one "soft - firm" knob, and it's more toward the firm end. I can add more pressure if that gives me different options/mixes.

Crunches don't agree with me, but I am working on my core with some plank-like things my PT showed me with a giant exercise ball. Most of it, I lie with my shoulders on the floor and plank across to where my feet are on the ball, then I am supposed to roll the ball toward and away from me. It seems to target a lot of the same muscles but with less wear and tear.

Thanks again.
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Old 11-26-16, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by rallymaster View Post
If its at all possible at 6ft 1ish which size did you get?


Second thing is I am actually looking to electrify the bike, can you take a minute to measure the bottom bracket for me? I would like to get in on a deal before it ends 😀


Thank you for your write up!
I got a 19.5"
I am just a skosche shy of 6"1' with proportionately shorter legs, and the frame is big but good for me - very glad I didn't get the smaller one and the taller one would have been WAY too big.
My guess is it will be fine for you.
BD has a "sizing quiz" where you measure your standover and answer a few questions, and they recommend a size. I'd do that just for the a second opinion.

What dimension of the BB do you want measured?

Just FYI, everything at BD is always "on sale."
They do tend to make a big run of bikes all at once, though, and when those run out it is unpredictable how long you will have to wait for them to restock.

Just one fit issue - I was noticing a bit of upper body fatigue and wound up cutting 1/2" off the ends of the bars.
Odd because I almost always find the bars too narrow and often replace them a size larger on other bikes; my touring bike has the widest bars 3T makes. But the Motobecane ones ware just a nudge too wide for me.
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Old 11-26-16, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by alathIN View Post
I got a 19.5"
I am just a skosche shy of 6"1' with proportionately shorter legs, and the frame is big but good for me - very glad I didn't get the smaller one and the taller one would have been WAY too big.
My guess is it will be fine for you.
BD has a "sizing quiz" where you measure your standover and answer a few questions, and they recommend a size. I'd do that just for the a second opinion.

What dimension of the BB do you want measured?

Just FYI, everything at BD is always "on sale."
They do tend to make a big run of bikes all at once, though, and when those run out it is unpredictable how long you will have to wait for them to restock.

Just one fit issue - I was noticing a bit of upper body fatigue and wound up cutting 1/2" off the ends of the bars.
Odd because I almost always find the bars too narrow and often replace them a size larger on other bikes; my touring bike has the widest bars 3T makes. But the Motobecane ones ware just a nudge too wide for me.


Thanks for all the advice for starters, sorry that I didn't get back to you sooner, ironically I went under the weather shortly after purchasing the bike late last night. Sounds like we are about the same torso size, I got the 19.5 too, I rode a lot of bikes and that is the size that I turned out being. Good tip on the handlebars.


I guess the measurements I need are located in another forum, electricbike forum to be exact. I think a tape measure would work if you don't have a caliper. I guess I also need to worry about the chainstay bopping out too quick, might you be able to get a pic or measurement?


I bought the bike last night because they have a BF deal, I noticed they always have sales, but I have seen things go up and down. Last night this bike went to 799 so I bit even though I wanted a fatty.


Thanks again!
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Old 11-26-16, 04:20 PM
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I should also add the link if I forgot it in the last reply
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Old 11-26-16, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by alathIN View Post
I don't think my forks allow separate bump and rebound adjustment. There's just one "soft - firm" knob, and it's more toward the firm end. I can add more pressure if that gives me different options/mixes.
Looks like you got the Raidon air fork, a good one. I had a Raidon on my 29er, was very happy with it once it was broken In, Break in/smoothing it out took about 100 miles, then small adjustments made real differences.

Try setting the sag first at 30% ride that a few times, then change it to 20%, This Is a good way to try out 'stiffer'.

The rebound, click it all the way to one end of the range, matters not slow or fast. Then click it back to the other end counting the clicks. Start in the middle, If It has 5 clicks set it at 3 to start with.

If You feel the front end moving too much acting too busy or If It feels like every rock, hole and root are slowing you down add one and only one click of damping.

If the fork packs down go the other way one click. Only the most extreme riders benefit from more than a single click above or below the middle if the fork Is sprung correctly for a riders in gear weight and riding style/conditions.

Start a note pad, make only one single adjustment to the bike per ride, keep track.
If you change tire pressures do nothing else that ride,
Click the fork,
move the seat back,
only one thing per ride.

But DO set up your cock pit, your FS buddy should know how.

Last edited by osco53; 11-26-16 at 08:55 PM.
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Old 11-26-16, 08:58 PM
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Don't forget to wrap that chain stay, I use a Lizard skin, a bike tube works just as well.

Your chain will beat on the stay, and make Its mark In short order,
Plus the Lizard skin or the tube takes away so much noise.
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Old 11-27-16, 08:02 PM
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Originally Posted by osco53 View Post
Don't forget to wrap that chain stay, I use a Lizard skin, a bike tube works just as well.

Your chain will beat on the stay, and make Its mark In short order,
Plus the Lizard skin or the tube takes away so much noise.


You must work for Lizard skin Very good advise, my old Scott chainstay was rusty when I sold it 10 years ago!
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Old 11-28-16, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by rallymaster View Post
I guess the measurements I need are located in another forum, electricbike forum to be exact. I think a tape measure would work if you don't have a caliper. I guess I also need to worry about the chainstay bopping out too quick, might you be able to get a pic or measurement?
I bought the bike last night because they have a BF deal, I noticed they always have sales, but I have seen things go up and down. Last night this bike went to 799 so I bit even though I wanted a fatty.
Sorry it took me a bit to get this back to you.

$799 is actually a drop from their regular "sale" price for the X9 so it sounds like you got a deal.

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Old 11-28-16, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by alathIN View Post
Sorry it took me a bit to get this back to you.

$799 is actually a drop from their regular "sale" price for the X9 so it sounds like you got a deal.


I completely understand, sales are still kicking and you didn't need to do this for me but you did.


You are a superb human being and I love the fact that you own a caliper, you have no idea how much I greatly appreciate it.


BD just got back to me saying they wouldn't give me the size of the bottom bracket for electrifying a bike as it will void the warranty.


I am a larger fellow who wants to get back on my bike and kick the trails again with friends, and I think this will help me. Hopefully to a point where I wont need the "assistance" in the future.
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Old 11-28-16, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by rallymaster View Post
I completely understand, sales are still kicking and you didn't need to do this for me but you did.


You are a superb human being and I love the fact that you own a caliper, you have no idea how much I greatly appreciate it.


BD just got back to me saying they wouldn't give me the size of the bottom bracket for electrifying a bike as it will void the warranty.


I am a larger fellow who wants to get back on my bike and kick the trails again with friends, and I think this will help me. Hopefully to a point where I wont need the "assistance" in the future.
I was about 70 lbs heavier than I am now when I started into cycling.
Good luck on your journey.
My suggestion would be go ahead and try without the e-adapter for a while. In my experience, generating power was not the only limiter on my tolerance for cycling - I'd be sore/tired/worn out in multiple ways, such that I'd probably have had to get off the bike at about the same time even if I did have a power assist. Everything grows together ;-)
BTW, I'm doing TrainerRoad's half ironman plan aiming for a 70.3 this coming July. If I can do it, you certainly can.
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Old 11-28-16, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by alathIN View Post
I was about 70 lbs heavier than I am now when I started into cycling.
Good luck on your journey.
My suggestion would be go ahead and try without the e-adapter for a while. In my experience, generating power was not the only limiter on my tolerance for cycling - I'd be sore/tired/worn out in multiple ways, such that I'd probably have had to get off the bike at about the same time even if I did have a power assist. Everything grows together ;-)
BTW, I'm doing TrainerRoad's half ironman plan aiming for a 70.3 this coming July. If I can do it, you certainly can.


That is superb on your weight loss, I tried a punching bag, but all I got was sore wrists then I recalled my college years and remembered the biking. I would be sweaty, great workout and you got to have fun. Semi-fat tire bike, mixed with not a fat tire bike, mixed with lower price... why not?


The electrifying is also a means for me to travel back and forth to work 10 miles to and 10 back, I was hoping to pick my son up from daycare using one of those pull behind carts which ironically I bought before he was born he is 3 now... alright almost 4. If I have to ride with that thing open it would be like pulling a parachute for 10 miles yikes!
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Old 12-15-16, 07:27 PM
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Have any of you guys that got this bike converted to tubeless? I order the bike this week and will hopefully pick it up this weekend. Everything says tubeless ready but wasn't sure if it came with the correct rim strip or if I need that. I know I need the correct valve stem, just seeing what else.
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Old 12-20-16, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jtm54 View Post
Have any of you guys that got this bike converted to tubeless? I order the bike this week and will hopefully pick it up this weekend. Everything says tubeless ready but wasn't sure if it came with the correct rim strip or if I need that. I know I need the correct valve stem, just seeing what else.
Got the bike home yesterday. The wheels do need tubeless rim tape to covert. Also I was disappointed that the brakes need bleeding right out of the box, everything else was very close on adjustment.
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Old 01-08-17, 06:50 PM
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Hi alathIN, I am getting back into mountain bike riding after many years (a lot has changed) and really like the looks of this bike.

So close to pulling the trigger on it, and was wondering if would care to give an update on what you like about it and what you don't.

The main thing that has prevented me thus far from ordering are the couple of internet posts that knock the 71 degree head tube angle. I am trying to determine how big of an issue that really is. I am sure the 92' Trek 930 that i used to ride is steeper, but its a lot of money to spend on something if i am going to hate it.

Thanks,
dave
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Old 01-16-17, 01:04 PM
  #23  
jtm54
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Originally Posted by MambaJack View Post
The main thing that has prevented me thus far from ordering are the couple of internet posts that knock the 71 degree head tube angle. I am trying to determine how big of an issue that really is. I am sure the 92' Trek 930 that i used to ride is steeper, but its a lot of money to spend on something if i am going to hate it.
I believe it all comes down to how hard you plan to push the bike. For most cross county riding 71 degree will be fine, when you want to start going pretty fast, doing large jumps and drops the angle will come into play. Basically as the angle gets smaller the bike with have slower steering which is nice going fast and making corrections during landings. Where riding cross country you want the more nimble steering to deal with tight trails and obstacles. Also note, the fork is not designed at all for free ride type rides.

After a few rides I am very happy with the bike. All the components work nicely together, making a nice trail bike. I am still trying to dial in the fork pressure but shouldn't be too hard to do. Also, I did have to replace the saddle to something better.
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