Saturday, March 8, 2008

Motobecane Fantom 29 vs Marin Alpine Trail 29er has a Marin Alpine Trail 29er on sale for $629 plus $37.74 PA Sales tax for a total of $666.74. The shipping is free with in store pickup. So right off the bat it is $70.79 more expensive than the Fantom 29.

The detailed specs can be found on the Marin website at

The Marin Alpine is almost identically spec'd as the Diamondback Overdrive that I compared in a previous post.

The Fantom 29 has Avid BB5 Brakes with 185 mm rotors while the Marin has Hayes HMX-4 Disc w/ 6" rotors. I don't know what the cost difference is so I will assume it is small. The reviews on MTBR indicate that the AVID BB-5 are better brakes.

Both have similar WTB 29 x 2.1 tires with the Marin having Alex TD-20 rims vs the WTB FX-28 Rims for the Fantom 29. I will assume the difference is small.

Both have the RockShox Dart 3 Fork.

The Motobecane and Marin frames are aluminum. I like the Fantom 29 black color over the "brushed silver" or "solar" of the Alpine. The smallest Marin frame is 17" but has a 833 mm (32.8 in) stand over. This would only give me 1 inch of clearance and therefore would be too big for me. So buy these bikes carefully! I am 6' tall and couldn't buy an Alpine.

The Fantom 29 has Shimano Deore Mega-9 Rapid Fire 27 speed trigger shift at $90 for pair vs Shimano Alivio 8spd Rapid Fire at $40 for the Marin.

The Fantom 29 has Shimano Deore XT long cage rear derailleur RD-M761 at $85 vs Shimano Alivio at $29 for the Marin.

The Fantom 29 has TruVativ 5D 22/32/44T Crankset vs Truvativ ISO Flow 3.0 for the Marin. A commenter on my previous post indicated that the crakset on the Fantom 29 is better quality.

The Fantom 29 has Shimano Deore FD-M510 front derailleur $26 vs Shimano Altus FD-M310 at $10 for the Marin.

Conclusion: The Fantom 29 has $122 more in parts and costs $71 less. Therefore the Fantom 29 is a better value.

Most of the major components are basically the same on the two bikes The Fantom 29 has a better drive train, crankset and brakes (larger rotor).

I like the Fantom 29!


Anonymous said...

Hi- I liked the begining of your blog but now people are wondering if you are being paid by either Motobecane or bikesdirect...would be helpful if you had pictures of you riding your bike...

Anonymous said...

dude - the hmx 4 are like schwinn comfort bike brakes

WTF is marin thinking?

check it out:

that there Marin is NOT a serious riding bike

anyhow - dude - you are aweseom but you need to put some pics up of yer b4 you lose cred

ennyhow - peace

Larisa Brass said...

A. Who makes a blogspot about an entry level mountain bike (aside from bikes-direct employees)

B. I was very interested in the motobecane until I read reviews like" the wheel falling off of the rim" "scratched and bent parts" "these are bad bad people, stay away."

Mike said...


When I was researching to buy a mountain bike I was confused by the information that was out there. So I decided to buy the Fantom 29 and report out some real world experience. If it did not work out I figured I was out less than $600 since I could use the parts for another bike.

I hope to report out just the facts based on my experience.


Matt&Jib said...

You left out the 15% off you get on the Marin with an REI credit card and membership. That dosn't compensate for the full "$70.79" difference in price but being fully assembled and having a free tune up after the first 100 to 200 miles helps some too. BD is a little too iffy for me considering REI has time after time came through with their customer service in situations I wouldn't have helped myself if I was in their shoes.

Anonymous said...

How do the bikes ride? A comparison of components is only useful if you're buying the bike to part out. The frame is the heart and soul of the bike.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your research. I own this bike and I love it. My riding buddy spent $400 more on a Specialized and he has already broke his wheel, twice! I have not. His bike is better, but his is all i have to compare too. Anyway, I ended up spending $115 right out of the shoot on this bike. The seal in the Rock Shox busted and leaked the oil all over my garage. I took to a bike shop and it was a known issue with Rock Shox and was covered, but cost me $30 in labor. I bought a new stem since the stock one is almost straight up, I could hardly make turns I was sitting so high up. I complained to the bike shop that I was getting cramps in my hands while riding and couldn't have my complete hand on the bars. He realized that Bike Direct configured the bars all wrong. Lastly, I supposedly didn't put the pedal on right when I but it together and it stripped out, so I bought a new one of those from Bike Direct and then this bike shop charged me $10 in labor to put it on. So, let's review $35 for tune, $40 for new stem, $30 for labor on Rock Shox, and $10 for putting the new crank on. Since I have made these changes I love this bike! I am becoming better and better, so I hear people say "entry" level bike, but I am blowing the wheels off of a lot of rich folks who have those real expensive bikes. If I had to do it all over again, I would find a bike at a local bike shop who will take care of me. It is very hard to get warrenty work done on this bike since Bike Direct does not have a phone number. If you are looking to save money, it is a good deal, but you will be spending more on it with all those hidden costs.

JohnO said...

Nice blog, Mike! I was looking at a Fantom on Bikesdirect, and was glad to see your analysis. Looks like the riding has helped your health, too. Good for that. Hope it's increased your happiness too!

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed reading your posts. I love the idea of the Fantom 29, but I have a huge fear of buying a bike without riding it at least once. I wrote to Motobecane about how I may arrange any kind of test ride, but am waiting to hear back. I imagine a 19 would fit me, but wanted to see what you thought. I'm 6'0", 160 lbs, 32 in. stand over. Any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Bikes Direct owns Motobecane and it ships in parts from the Philippines. Come on man, this is insane. No comparison. Marin is a true bike company evolving in design, not making knockoffs like BD.