I’ve been testing the Motobecane Fly Team 29 titanium mountain bike for several weeks now, and if you read my first-look article, you know this is a seriously-dialed build. With a full Shimano XTR 11spd drivetrain, RockShox Reba fork, and top-shelf Ritchey components slung on a polished titanium frame, this is an XC race bike that’s tough to beat. And after riding countless miles on the Fly Team 29 I can tell you: this bike is ready to roll.
Climbs like Virginia Creeper
With a lightweight titanium frame and more gears to spare than a Swiss watchmaker could ever use, the Fly Team 29 is explosive on the climbs. Many times the rear wheel would literally spit gravel as I struggled to shift enough weight onto the rear wheel to match the power transfer from the pedals. This bike is a hardtail, so there’s no noticeable power loss from pedal bob but not only that, it feels very laterally stiff as well, so there’s very little left-to-right flexing either.
The Fly Team 29 Ti ships with the all-new Shimano XTR 11spd drivetrain and at the top end, the cassette features a 40-tooth cog which took several notches out of pretty much every climb I threw at the bike. In fact, I never found the need to shift out of the 36t ring into the 26t during my testing–but just knowing the 26 is there assured me I could climb anything on the planet. That is, as long as I kept the wheels in contact with the ground.
Cornering and Descending
This is a cross-country bike plain and simple, and while the bike isn’t optimized for fast descents or drag-your-bars cornering, it holds its own thanks to the stiff and responsive frame. Out of the box the Kenda Small Block 8 tires handle well on hardpack and allowed me to carve a berm or two without feeling uncomfortable.
Descents require a bit more finesse–point and shoot is not a good strategy with a lightweight XC bike like this. Fortunately the Fly Team 29 makes up for its lack of forgiveness with its ability to float and loft under the skilled rider’s control. Not that I’m always that rider… but I can appreciate how responsive and lightweight this bike is on the trail and through obstacles.
After weeks of riding the Fly Team 29 Ti my two biggest complaints have to do with fit components, not the bike itself.
The Richey Streem V3 saddle is ultra lightweight and looks great but for me personally, it’s uncomfortable. I have no problem with minimally padded seats like this one but it’s just something about the shape that doesn’t work for me. Chalk that one up to personal preference.
I also found the bars to be uncomfortable, particularly on longer rides. I’m not sure why, either–neither the rise nor the sweep are extreme. In fact, as far as I can tell the overall setup is pretty similar to my other bikes. In the end I think the bars are probably a tad too wide, especially considering the length of the included stem. If this were my bike I would try hacking 10mm off either end of the bars to see if that improves the feel.
The single non-component issue I found with the Fly Team 29 is that I noticed my heels rubbed the chainstays about once or twice every ride. It wasn’t frequent or disruptive at all but was noticeable nonetheless. In looking at the angle of the chainstays compared to another bike, it appears the bend in each Fly Team 29 chainstay is more gradual and located slightly farther away from the rear hub and toward the crank. I attempted to take some measurements to quantify the differences but we’re talking millimeters. Note: I wear size 46 shoes, which certainly hang back farther than most. 🙂
Let’s face it: a titanium hardtail mountain bike like this one is a trophy bike–and in more ways than one. Yes, it’s a marvel of beauty, quality, and simplicity worthy of sitting on a shelf. But it’s also race-fast and capable of collecting even more trophies–both the virtual Strava kind and the actual podium kind as well. This is the type of bike many riders aspire to add to their stable one day and the best part is, it’s affordable today for many of those same riders, with a price of $3,499. Motobecane notes that a similar build from another brand will typically come in around $5,000-6,000 and I don’t think that’s an unreasonable estimate at all.
The Fly Team 29 Ti rides fast and light–perfect for riders who love the classic look and feel of a titanium hardtail. This isn’t the flashiest bike out there but that’s OK–this bike is designed to make YOU look good as you race to the top of the podium every weekend.