The infamous Motobecane HAL E-MTB. I bought one…

Spark

New Member
I read about them all, the prestigious brands. Rode a bunch too. Was really close to buying a Bulls E-STREAM EVO AM 4 27.5+ (love the Brose motor). But could never quite get the value of the Motobecane HAL 5, from "that" internet company, out of my mind. Spent a year going through this evaluation.

Finally did a mental exercise. I imagined a person placing the Bulls & Motobecane in front of me and saying, "You can have either one of these bikes." "Bulls, baby!" I'm thinking. And then this imaginary person adds, "But if you take the Motobecane I'll also give you $2400." $2.4 can buy a lot of accessories, tools, and other gear that a newbie (or re-entry guy like me) is going to need. Decision made. I took the risk and pulled the trigger on the no-name, internet bike.

Don't get me wrong. I didn't buy the MB just because it cost less. The components are very good, and usually found only on very high quality e-bikes. I like the Shimano E8000 motor for it's size and weight, and it has plenty of power. Plus, for me, the power and gear shifters are tough to beat for the symmetry of function, and the compact display is well positioned, bold and concise and easy to read at a glance--these are primary touch points that make or break the pleasure of the ride, whether you're riding hard or easy. (Would love to see the Brose S with the Shimano shifter and display, but...)

Thought it would take a couple of weeks to be delivered. It arrived in 5 days. No damage, no problems. The only real assembly was to bolt the front disc to hub, bolt the front brake to Pike fork, place the front wheel into the fork, and adjust the handlebar. And the pedals; had to screw those into the cranks.

Frankly, I am impressed with product and very happy with the purchase. I really thought I'd see some evidence of "cheapness", but fit and finish is good. They obviously didn't put any money into cool paint and graphics, but the worst you can say is that it has the Motobecane name on it in a few places. The hardest part was adding the LEV Integra dropper. Yes there is a spare entry into the frame for the internal cable routing (as their page states), getting a cable to pass through the intended route, however, it is very difficult. In the end, I got it done. But I will say that there is value in buying a bike with the dropper installed; it's pain in the ass to DIY, at least for the first time out. I weighed the bike today. 48lbs 8oz; a good 4-6 lbs lighter than I expected based on the weights of higher priced competition.

Bottom line: The MB is a great value for a full suspension, full Shimano XT level, Rockshox-equipped e-mtb, especially for a rider new to e-mtb. It arrived in fine shape and base assembly was simple. If you've been riding and already have all the gear and tools needed to ride and maintain all the components on these type of bikes, then spend the extra for a premium name brand. For me the "internet bike" saved me enough to outfit the rest of my kit.
 

Nova Haibike

Well-Known Member
The higher end bikes from "that" internet company are fine. What I take issue with are the low end bikes they offer. It is not just the bikes, but the ridiculously overstated list prices. I put one together for a customer last week. The company claims a list price of $795, but it is on sale for $299.95. It is nowhere near what an $800 Trek, Giant, or Specialized bike offers. It is a $300 bike, selling for $300.

Anyway, the HAL appears to be quite nice; I would consider it if I was looking for that type of bike.
 

Spark

New Member
The higher end bikes from "that" internet company are fine. What I take issue with are the low end bikes they offer. It is not just the bikes, but the ridiculously overstated list prices. I put one together for a customer last week. The company claims a list price of $795, but it is on sale for $299.95. It is nowhere near what an $800 Trek, Giant, or Specialized bike offers. It is a $300 bike, selling for $300.

Anyway, the HAL appears to be quite nice; I would consider it if I was looking for that type of bike.
Yeah, their "list" price / "sale" price, and price comparisons with competitors are laughable. I get the impression that they don't think anyone believes that they believe in their own BS. It is like it has become their trademark schtick to be the amateur hucksters of the bike. It comes down to this question: regardless of all the inflated "regular" price nonsense, is the bike they sell you at $XX a good value at that price?
 

Alphbetadog

Active Member
Great write up! I've often wondered about that bike and if indeed it is a good value or not. I'm sure you will have a blast riding it!
 

Spark

New Member
Great write up! I've often wondered about that bike and if indeed it is a good value or not. I'm sure you will have a blast riding it!
Yes, over my year of reading I've gotten the sense that a lot of people "wonder" about bikes from this company. Comments shook out into two basic groups: those that despise the company for their wild marketing tactics, and those that have purchased various Motobecanes from them. The buyers overwhelming had similar views that I arrived at; the bikes are not the best bikes you can buy, but they are very good, great values, and I discovered very few regrets. I scoured the web for any review, comment or thread about the company and the bike. I couldn't find anyone, however, that had direct experience with this particular electric mtb. That's why I posted this story here; for people like me a year ago, who was also "wondering" about it.
 

Alphbetadog

Active Member
Yes, over my year of reading I've gotten the sense that a lot of people "wonder" about bikes from this company. Comments shook out into two basic groups: those that despise the company for their wild marketing tactics, and those that have purchased various Motobecanes from them. The buyers overwhelming had similar views that I arrived at; the bikes are not the best bikes you can buy, but they are very good, great values, and I discovered very few regrets. I scoured the web for any review, comment or thread about the company and the bike. I couldn't find anyone, however, that had direct experience with this particular electric mtb. That's why I posted this story here; for people like me a year ago, who was also "wondering" about it.
A few months ago I bought one of their $300 "sale" bikes as a platform to make my "grocery-getter" with a Tongshen mid-drive. It was the Motobecane HT529 if I remember correctly. It was a basic OK bike with about the level of components expected from a $300 bike. It was delivered quickly, boxed well, and in good condition. Bikesdirect.com performed as expected. However, your HAL Eboost emtb seems really well spec'd out for the price.
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
Great eMTB! I pre-ordered the HAL eBoost Pro when I first heard about it here on the Forums last Summer (had to wait until October for delivery). I wanted a Shimano E8000, but none were offered in the USA with full suspension for under $4k. Until Bikes Direct!

I was also impressed with the bike's specs, and had the same issue trying to install an internal dropper. Unlike you, however, I was unsuccessful in getting the seatpost's remote wiring through the rat's nest of other wires above the motor, but recently read about a guy who dropped his HAL's motor just enough to get his through.

I also own a Bulls E-Stream Evo FS3 27.5+ (pic in my avatar), which I got in late Winter 2017 (w/Brose T motor, not the S like the one you were pondering). I guess when it comes to eMTBs, I'm not an either-or guy.

Anyway, my observations about the differences are as follows: the Shimano ETUBE app (and resultant "customizability") is cool... when I can get it working; the Brose is set where it's at. The Brose is noticeably quieter, and both feel similarly "natural" in their power delivery in the medium "Trail" or Level 2 assist setting. I do wish the HAL came with a motor bash guard.

In terms of bike hardware, the Bulls' pivots and other details are higher quality, and its 650Wh battery definitely lasts 25%+ longer for my rides. My Bulls' 35c "Eccentric" wheels are also superior to the HAL's WTB i29 wheels, and haven't needed any truing after ~1k of some pretty rugged trail miles. The HAL's wheels have needed truing every couple hundred miles.

Overall, though, I agree that the significant price difference that you were looking at justified going with the Motobecane.

HALeBoostLithiaR.jpg
 

Spark

New Member
Great eMTB! I pre-ordered the HAL eBoost Pro when I first heard about it here on the Forums last Summer (had to wait until October for delivery). I wanted a Shimano E8000, but none were offered in the USA with full suspension for under $4k. Until Bikes Direct!

I was also impressed with the bike's specs, and had the same issue trying to install an internal dropper. Unlike you, however, I was unsuccessful in getting the seatpost's remote wiring through the rat's nest of other wires above the motor, but recently read about a guy who dropped his HAL's motor just enough to get his through.

I also own a Bulls E-Stream Evo FS3 27.5+ (pic in my avatar), which I got in late Winter 2017 (w/Brose T motor, not the S like the one you were pondering). I guess when it comes to eMTBs, I'm not an either-or guy.

Anyway, my observations about the differences are as follows: the Shimano ETUBE app (and resultant "customizability") is cool... when I can get it working; the Brose is set where it's at. The Brose is noticeably quieter, and both feel similarly "natural" in their power delivery in the medium "Trail" or Level 2 assist setting. I do wish the HAL came with a motor bash guard.

In terms of bike hardware, the Bulls' pivots and other details are higher quality, and its 650Wh battery definitely lasts 25%+ longer for my rides. My Bulls' 35c "Eccentric" wheels are also superior to the HAL's WTB i29 wheels, and haven't needed any truing after ~1k of some pretty rugged trail miles. The HAL's wheels have needed truing every couple hundred miles.

Overall, though, I agree that the significant price difference that you were looking at justified going with the Motobecane.
Glad to know another owner! I like your Bulls too; I'm a fan of their bikes too. I want to reply to your comments.

Internal Dropper: I was able to get the cable into the downtube only by inserting the internal, thin cable in through the bottom and using a magnet to guide it UP to the frame hole near the headset. Attempts to feed it down always failed. I then slid the outer cable back down over the inner cable. I had to then feed the cable back through the motor housing, but the bend was so tight I had to bring it out the top, just under the bottom battery mount. The cable is exposed just over the top of the motor, but is well secured away from moving suspension parts up through the seat post tube. I would have dropped the motor to get it fully enclosed if I'd had the proper size Torx tool. I didn't, but I had a bike to ride, so screw it.

The motor was a tough choice. There are no really bad ones. But my favorite was the Brose. I too have only experienced the Brose-T, and Brose-S sounds like a great upgrade. So smooth and quiet. That's why I was favoring the Bulls. I think it is telling, however, that the Bulls very expensive Enduro model uses the Shimano-steps system.

No argument that the Bulls details are higher quality. I do worry a bit about the long term durability of the MB. But I also know that my riding is likely to be lower stress on the bike than if was was 40 years younger, so maybe I won't bend it as much as you. LOL. Not looking forward truing the wheels. That could go wrong real fast if I try doing it myself.

Appreciate your comments and sharing the picture of your MB. Surprisingly it looks a lot like mine!
 

LimboJim

Well-Known Member
Glad to know another owner! I like your Bulls too; I'm a fan of their bikes too. I want to reply to your comments.

Internal Dropper: I was able to get the cable into the downtube only by inserting the internal, thin cable in through the bottom and using a magnet to guide it UP to the frame hole near the headset. Attempts to feed it down always failed. I then slid the outer cable back down over the inner cable. I had to then feed the cable back through the motor housing, but the bend was so tight I had to bring it out the top, just under the bottom battery mount. The cable is exposed just over the top of the motor, but is well secured away from moving suspension parts up through the seat post tube. I would have dropped the motor to get it fully enclosed if I'd had the proper size Torx tool. I didn't, but I had a bike to ride, so screw it.

The motor was a tough choice. There are no really bad ones. But my favorite was the Brose. I too have only experienced the Brose-T, and Brose-S sounds like a great upgrade. So smooth and quiet. That's why I was favoring the Bulls. I think it is telling, however, that the Bulls very expensive Enduro model uses the Shimano-steps system.

No argument that the Bulls details are higher quality. I do worry a bit about the long term durability of the MB. But I also know that my riding is likely to be lower stress on the bike than if was was 40 years younger, so maybe I won't bend it as much as you. LOL. Not looking forward truing the wheels. That could go wrong real fast if I try doing it myself.

Appreciate your comments and sharing the picture of your MB. Surprisingly it looks a lot like mine!
HA! I'm 55 and have never been very athletic. I just live on the Holyoke Range, and any ride of 6+ miles must include steep, rocky grades. Plush, FS Plus eMTBs are the only way my body can handle them!

Durability: @Payton reported no major issues with his HAL eBoost after 2k miles (toward the end of an earlier Motobecane post). I'm 500+ trail miles in on my HAL, and aside from having to true the wheels and replace chains every 200 or so, it's holding up pretty well. The lack of motor bash guard has scuffed things up down there - I tried a few layers of Gorilla tape but it doesn't last. With no cable housing on your dropper wire routing, I'd keep an eye out for corrosion because everything funnels into that little catch-basin above the motor (where the rear shock sits).

With those narrow-ish 29mm rims, I also swapped out for 2.6" wide tires for a better footprint/profile:
 
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LimboJim

Well-Known Member
Yikes! New chain every 200 miles? Did I read that right?
I regularly ride 10-20 mile loops with 2-3000' feet of total elevation gain, and reach 0.5% chain stretch every 200 miles or so on my 11-speed Motobecane eMTB.

Road rides and most MTB trails don't usually have such steep climbs in relatively short distances, and thus don't require nearly as much torque as my rides require. Also, hub motors don't stress chains like mid-drives do - if fact I'd have to guess that they actually reduce chain stress by propelling the bike from the wheel rather than the crank.

I've also mentioned in other posts that my 11-speed chains don't last as long as my 10-speeds before they reach 0.5%, and I recently went with the eMTB-specific SRAM EX1 8-speed set up on one of my bikes, which has shown zero stretch yet as of 400 miles on the same, steep MTB trails. The ironic part - EX1 chains are half the price of 11-speed ebike chains.

Bottom line - the thinner chains used on 11-speed drivetrains don't last as long on eMTBs, but as a Stromer rider, you don't have to worry about that.
 

Alphbetadog

Active Member
Hey LimboJim, Thanks for the info. I too ride pretty intense trails on my emtbs and have been thinking of trying out the Sram EX1 8 speed drive train when my 10 speed Deore XTs needs replacement. Interesting that the EX1 chains are so much cheaper, but how about the cost of the new EX1 drivet train? When I priced it all out (shifter, cassette, rear mech) it was nearly $500. Any leads on a better price?