I orginally intended to do this review a week or so ago, but the holiday/work stress got the best of me and I got SICK! However, I'm all re-cooped now and got a chance to take my new Motobecane Outcast 29er Single Speed out on the trails we have here in Almaden Valley. My intent was to go all the way into the Fortini Road entrance to Santa Teresa County Park, but it's been raining California style here and that made the park rangers put up the no horses/no bikes sign. Oh well... I had to make due with what I had.
Motobecane, as many of you know, is the Bikes Direct brand. If you're not familiar with Bikes Direct, it's a discount bicycle distributor offering bikes that are made in Taiwan - which I don't have a problem with at all (if you read my post "Made in Taiwan" , you'll see where I'm coming from). I bought this bike for $399.95 with free shipping. Not a bad deal, but with a bike that costs so little, you have to know what to expect in terms of quality. By the way, this is my SECOND Motobecane from Bikes Direct: a Motobecane Messenger. I know some people on Bike Forums or Bike Snob NYC just fainted at what I just said. Oh yeah, my road bike is a Scattante CFR Race bike, so go figure. Anyway...
When my bike arrived, it came as I expected. The rims were true and the paint was in fine condition. Immediately, I saw that the quality of the parts was what I paid for, but the seat post, stem and handlebar didn't look like they were even going to last the "ride-up-and-down-the-street" ride, so I took a stem and Easton 31.8 handlebar that I had in my garage and mounted that sucker. The seat post will soon get swapped out, as well.
Another thing I had swapped was the stock 42T front chainring for a 33T that came with the bike. I knew this bike was going to be for trail riding, so I wanted the appropriate gearing. Since we're talking about the drive train, I opted for some Eggbeater pedals, of course, instead of the Wellgo platforms it came with.
I got all geared up, ipod, hydration pack and all the necessary riding items, and started my way to Los Alamitos Creek Trail that runs along Camden Ave. here in San Jose, Ca. This path has small single tracks that run along side a paved path - and so that's where I began. My first impression was, for a completely rigid bike, it sure did handle the bumps well. This could be all in my head from the research I've been doing about 29er's, but it definetely felt good. The geometry allowed for quick climbs and sudden elevation changes when I was faced with them, and it handled getting up and over rocks, logs and other obstacles quite well. When I stepped on the gas, I really felt this bike move. In a sense, it was just like the old "Stomper" trucks we used to play with when we were kids. On the downhill stuff it felt very planted, but not very quick in terms of steering. This could be from my experience with road bikes and BMX bikes with much thinner tires, so it will take some time getting used to for me
The bike seemed efficient, and I'm thinking it is probably a combination of both the big wheels and geometry.
MY BEEF WITH THE OUTCAST
Okay, I really enjoyed riding this bike, and it did everything what I expected it to do. However, there are a few things I wish Motobecane hadn't done with the Outcast (aside from the cruddy parts).
I bought this bike with the intent to ride it on trails, single tracks in particular. Even when you look for this bike on the Bikes Direct website, it falls under the "MTB" heading. However, arriving with a 42T stock chainring, a flip-flop hub + fixed gear cog, and mounts for racks and fenders, the package really says "Hybrid/Commute bike" more than MTB. I know that some people like these options, but the question is, "Why would you buy a knobbied 29er for urban riding? Why not just get a normal street bike which would be much faster and efficient on asphalt?"
Maybe I'm just a purist in this respect, but a mountain bike is for mountain riding. If Motobecane asked me for my opinion, I would tell them to do away with all the rack mounts/flip-flop hub/42T chainring/commuter stuff and upgrade the sub-par parts that we all end up tossing. Plus, if a company is going to market their bike as a mountain bike, make it a mountain bike, not some wierd non-commitment hybrid, fixed gear thing.
If I was in the market for a single speed commuter, the Outcast would be one of the last bikes I would consider.
IN THE END, IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER
Even with my slight beef with how Motobecane packaged this bike, I was very pleased with it. To be honest, I had a sh*t-eatin' grin the entire time. Maybe because I haven't MTB'ed in awhile or I was just stoked with the way the bike worked (or maybe a little of both), but my conclusion after today was that the Motobecane Outcast 29er is good, cheap fun.
Pedals: Mountain Platform
Front Derailleur: N/A
Rear Derailleur: N/A
Cassette/Freewheel: 18T FW - plus 18T fixed cog included in parts box
Chain: single speed
Hubs: GRAVITY PRECISION BEARING Aluminum (black) - FLIP-FLOP REAR
Spokes: Stainless steel
Rims: Alex 29 Black anodized Aluminum
Tires: Kenda Nevegal 29x2.2
Brakes: Tektro Aluminum V-Brake
Brake Levers: Tektro Aluminum for V-Brake
Headset: Tioga Alchemy Ahead Threadless Sealed 1.125 inch
Handlebar: Black Finish Aluminum 6061 T6
Stem: Black Finish Aluminum threadless
Tape/Grip: WTB DualCompound
Saddle: WTB SpeedV
Seat Post: Black Finish Aluminum Mountain 27.2mm
Seat Post Clamp: Super Light Alloy with bolt
Sizes: 15", 17", 19", 21" 29R Geometry
Colors: GlossWhite GlossWhite Gallery, MatteSlate(MedGray) MatteSlate(Gray) Gallery, MatteCopper (Shown Above)