First impression: Motobecane Fantom Cross Uno

By Shannon Mominee

Motobecane is the house brand of BikesDirect.com and the Fantom Cross Uno is their cyclocross singlespeed, my current test bike. The frame and fork is straightforward, 4130 chromoly, butted and tapered. Track-style horizontal dropouts and 120mm dropout spacing make up the rear-end. Braze-ons for a bottle cage, front and rear racks and fender mounts are standard.

The Uno came with a 38-tooth front chainring and 16-tooth cog and 16-tooth freewheel attached to a no-name brand flip-flop hub. Because the crank arms are 175mm in length, I chose to ride freewheel instead fixed gear. I didn’t want to risk catching a pedal and crashing in a turn. If the cranks were 172.5mm or shorter, I’d ride it fixed.

There’s enough clearance in the frame and fork for a 1.7” tire, but 700x30c Kenda Kwicks came stock. After the tires broke traction during a turn on wet pavement and I fell in the street at a busy intersection, I swapped them for a less aggressive tire and add fenders to the bike for commuting friendliness.

The stock no-name 130mm long stem and bar combination was also replaced by pieces that I had in my basement to make the bike rideable. If I had an extra set of brake levers I would get rid of the stock no-name ones. They are by far the skinniest, most uncomfortable hoods I’ve ever used and the levers are nearly impossible to reach in the drops. To accommodate, when I rewrapped the drop bar, I doubled the tape around the hoods to gain some width.

The size 58cm tester has a 570mm top tube, aggressive 73.5-degree head and 73.0-degree seat tube, and short 405mm chainstays. Motobecane’s description calls this a “sport grade track bike, transformed and more aggressive for rougher terrain.” I think that’s a pretty accurate description and I know quit a few people that commute on cyclocross bikes or ride them fixed gear, but no one that rides a track bike off road.

I’m as comfortable as I’m going to get on the Uno, but even with the bar and stem changes, I feel like I’m putting the majority of my weight on my wrists and am holding myself up instead of riding naturally. I need a few more rides to judge the handling fairly.

The "MSRP" on the Cross Uno is $900, which seemed highly overpriced to me, but BikesDirect’s website sells it for the deeply discounted price of $400. That price seems more reasonable, if you can get comfortable on it. The Uno is available in black or white in size 49, 52, 54, 56, 58 (testing), 61, and 64mm. Made in China.

 

 
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