Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno Review - After 7 months

I was looking back at some old posts trying to figure out when I built my Fantom Cross Uno, and it looks like I've had it for 7 months now. For some reason, it feels like I've had it longer, but now's a good time to give it a refresher and my current review of the bike.

I'm still extremely stoked on the bike, and after messing around with three different bars (the Ritchey Lo-Rise WCS Carbon bars are on there now), a couple of different tire combos and even riding it fixed, I think I've found the "sweet spot" in it's current form.

Since I didn't have anything else to compare it to aside from my mountain and road bikes, I couldn't give the frame a fair assesment. But now, especially after completely abusing my Pake C'Mute, I think I can give it a fairly good rundown and hopefully give you reasonable insight on how this thing rides.

Compared to my C'Mute, the geometry is very twitchy and fast. When seated on the C'Mute, you feel as if you are "in" the bike, but with the Fantom Cross Uno, you feel like you are "on top" of the bike even with a drop handlebar. The steering is twitchy, and there is even some slight toe overlap, so you Sasquatches need to be aware of that.

The steel frame has a nice feel to it, and it climbs like a champ. I have mine geared 44/22 (I have track cranks on there and 44T is all I could find in a 144bcd bolt pattern), and it does great on the dirt. With a slick'ish Ritchey Speedmax rear and a heavily knobbied and wide Kenda Kwick front, it handles well for smooth off road. This frameset can accept up to 700X42c tires - I have yet to find a worthy CX tire in that size. It will not take a skinny 29'er tire.

I think this frame is more suited for urban duty with some dirt thrown into the mix, or even racing. For trail riding, it is a bit on the skiddish side, and you really feel yourself getting loose - not nearly as stable as my Pake C'Mute on the fast off-road descends. I'm not sure if I would set this up in a Monster Cross SS touring bike even if it has all the mounts for racks and such. I think the tight geometry would not fair well when loaded up with gear.

Unless you need mud clearance, the cantilever brakes aren't necessary if you are going to only take this on the road. This is why I would recommend an SS road frame with horizontal drop-outs with regular road brakes if you are sticking to the road primarily (see my posts regarding my Motobecane Messenger).

The Fantom Cross Uno is fast and does well when built into a bare-bones single-speed trail rocket. It is quick on smooth single track and narrow fireroads, but a little sketchy on pure mountain bike trails. Any kind of loaded touring or long, all day adventures should be left to framesets with a more relaxed geometry, such as the Surly Long-Haul Trucker - don't let the rack mounts on the Fantom Cross Uno fool you into thinking it should be taken across the state.

If fast riding, mashing climbs and loose descends on smooth'ish off-road trails is your thing, The Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno may fit your needs.


  1. thanks for the post! i'm considering this deal:

    still not sure what i'll do, but definitely appreciate hearing your experience!

  2. This was a really helpful review. I'm a potential buyer, and I was looking for information like this. Thanks!

  3. Dion,

    Fairly new to checking out your blog, really like your posts!

    I am currently looking into buying a Pake C'mute or the Uno, after reading your reviews I want both because they seem to cover the total extent of riding that I would like to do.

    Anyhow, I was wondering what wheelset you are running on your Uno and what might you recommend for SS cross racing? Have you tried racing with the Uno? And lastly, what stock components would you recommend replacing immidiately vs later down the road?

  4. Hi Nick,

    This blog entry is over a year old and I've since sold the MotoB Uno. However, I can say a few things about both.

    The Uno was a fun bike, however, as a C Class racer, there is no way I'd take the Uno out onto the course and be even slightly competitive. Seeing the SS class was a reality check on how fit those guys really were - they all looked like they were carved out of wood. They climbed like goats on steroids and descended like a monster truck tire down Lombard St.

    I don't know your fitness level, so you may be one of those guys! For me, it was intimidating and I was more-than-happy to race with my Pake.

    My Uno was equipped with some regular Deep-V fixed gear wheels from eBay. I liked them because they were super strong albeit a bit heavy. I did realize that the Uno's rear is spaced for 120mm hubs, which are track hubs - this limits the wheel choice; you have to use a track hub.

    The Pake C'Mute (which I currently have and happily ride) I'n my opinion is a better frame. The best thing about the C'Mute is you can run it SS if you want to... or geared - whatever floats your boat. It is an all around frame that will handle any set-up: road, mountain, CX, commuting, SS... anything!

    If you have to go with just one, I would advise the Pake. The Uno is limited whereas the C'Mute is not.

    If you order a C'Mute from Pake, please tell them they owe me a t-shirt. I have driven so much business their way I deserve one!!! :)

  5. Hi Dion,

    I'm wondering if you could possibly measure the headtube length on your Uno? I'm looking at a size 52, but since the headtube length is nowhere to be found, making a final decision on the frame is getting to be frustrating without that bit of measurement.



    1. http://motobecane.com/uno_geo.html

    2. That does not have the headtube length. I've looked. I've asked. I've contacted BikeIsland - no help. I've contact BikesDirect - no help. This is why I asked you. Even headtube length on a 54 would be of some help and indication for a 52's headtube length.


    3. Sorry, man... I read "top tube". I can't help you... I sold this bike some time ago ;(. I think there is another review of this bike on Bicycle Times website. Good luck finding the info you need.