Motobecane Immortal Disc Pro SL Carbon Fiber Gravel Bike Review
By Rob Robinette
Spoiler: I love this bike.
I'm a 61 year old retired military and airline pilot who had gotten about 40 pounds overweight. But in August 2019, while visiting friends in Hungary, I did a lot of ebike riding which ended up being a kickstart to cycling for fitness. When I got home to hilly East Tennessee I began riding my 1995 Cannondale Super V 900 mountain bike while I did research on ebikes. I purchased an Aventon.com Pace 500 ebike online and was blown away by the value and riding fun. I put over 1000 miles on the Pace in four months of riding.
Aventon Pace 500 ebike
Fast forward to mid November and I'm over 25 pounds lighter and much more fit. I enjoyed riding so much I decided it was time for my first "road bike". I actually went with a "gravel bike" for the wider, more comfortable tires but I wanted to stick with 700c tires since the bike would be used almost exclusively for the road.
I ordered a Salsa Journeyman 700c Drop Bar from my local bike shop but found out it would be at least two months at the earliest for delivery so I canceled the order and started looking again. I had seen bikesdirect.com before and decided to check out what they had to offer.
I liked what I saw in the $2100 Motobecane Immortal Disc Pro SL (Super Light) 57cm gravel bike with Taiwanese unidirectional weave carbon fiber frame (natural carbon color) with through-axles, carbon aero fork, full Shimano 22 speed Ultegra R8000 drivetrain, Ultegra hydraulic disc brakes and DT Swiss wheelset with Schwalbe G-One Allround 35mm (1.4") tires. Motobecane lists the max tire width at 41mm (1.6") but owners have reported 45mm (1.8") fit just fine. The bike is similar to the Salsa Carbon Warbird other than the Warbird's Di2 electric shift upgrade.
Motobecane Immortal Disc Pro SL
I went with carbon fiber gray but the red looks pretty good too. The carbon fiber frame has cable tubes installed for internal routing and easy cable swap out. Photos from BikesDirect.com website.
I ordered the bike on Tuesday and it was delivered on Saturday by FedEx. The bike arrived without a single scratch. I took my time assembling it in about an hour. Assembly requires installing the seatpost (seat already attached), front brake disc, front wheel, handlebar and pedals. The steering stem had one spacer above it so I removed the stem and placed the spacer below the stem to get it as high as possible. I also turned the stem upside down to go from -6º to +6º, again to raise the bars for more comfort. I replaced the aluminum seatpost with a carbon fiber post and installed Shimano SPD pedals and a carbon fiber bottle cage. The bike looks like a freakin' sex machine.
Since this is my first road bike I'm obviously not an expert reviewer but I do love the bike. I cannot believe how light it is. The weight plus low rolling resistance allows me to climb hills at speed I never dreamed of. I was afraid the lowest 1:1 (34t/34t) gearing might be too high for some of the very steep Tennessee hills but it turned out to be perfect.
The gear ratios tell us how many revolutions the rear tire will turn for every pedal crank revolution. The lowest is 1.00, meaning when we turn one turn of the crank the rear wheel turns one turn. The highest gearing is 4.55 for 4.55 turns of the rear wheel for every turn of the crank. Cassette gears are: 11-speed, 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27-30-34t.
The two Shimano chainrings have 50 and 34 teeth and the cassette is an 11 speed 11-34t with minimum gearing of 1:1 (27.2 inches and 7.3mph at 90 cadence) and max of 4.55 (123.8 inches and 33.2mph at 90 cadence). The gearing is perfect for my road riding but for steep trail or bike camping/adventure touring a 48-32t or even 46-30t chainring might be better.
Speeds at 90 Cadence
At a pedaling cadence of 90 RPM the bike will go a minimum of 7.3mph in the lowest gear and 33.2mph in the highest. Cassette gears are: 11-speed, 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27-30-34t.
The carbon fiber frame and fork do a great job of absorbing bumpy roads and the bike handles great. The bike is stable and it's easy to ride with no hands. I was pleasantly surprised that the aggressive cockpit position ended up being fairly comfortable. I was planning to replace the slender, lightweight seat but after getting some saddle time I'll probably keep it.
Don't remove the front disc caliper spacer until after the caliper is installed loosely, the front brake disc has been installed and the wheel is ready to go on. With the wheel and brake disc installed and while applying the front brake, tighten the caliper bolts. This will center the caliper on the disc.
My only complaint is that the bike came with generic assembly instructions which did not address the special tool needed to install the front brake disc. Nor were torque values given for the seatpost clamp, handlebar stem and brake caliper bolts. It's important to use a torque wrench when tightening seatpost clamps and when bolting anything into a carbon fiber frame. The fork has a carbon fiber steering tube so torque the stem clamp bolts to 4 to 5Nm (35 to 44in-lb). It seems 4 to 6Nm (35 to 53in-lb) is typical torque for a carbon fiber frame seatpost. I applied some carbon fiber grip paste to prevent seatpost slippage at 4Nm. Brake caliper bolts typically get 8 to 10Nm (71 to 88in-lb). Luckily I had the required lock ring tool for the brake disc (see photo below). Torque the disc brake lock rings to 40Nm (30ft-lbs).
The front brake disc needs this "lock ring remover", Bikehand #YC-126-1A (available on Amazon and eBay), to install and torque to 40Nm (30ft-lbs).
The DT Swiss E1800 wheels are tubeless ready and have tubeless tape already in place and tubeless Presta valves come with the bicycle. After a couple of rides with tubes I decided to go tubeless. I removed the tubes, installed the tubeless Presta valves and added Stan's No Tubes Sealant. I also replaced the handlebar with a full carbon aero drop bar and added an Elemnt Bolt bike computer with speed, cadence and heart rate sensors. Other than that the bike was just about perfect for my needs.
Sexy, crazy light and ready to go. Don't forget to lube the chain. The tire pressure listed on the sidewall is 45 - 70psi. In this photo I haven't yet leveled the seat or adjusted the seat height.
Carbon fiber frame made in Taiwan. Check out the fork clearance beyond the 35mm wide tire. Clearance in the rear is about the same. Motobecane lists the max tire width at 41mm but owners say 45mm fit fine.
Spoke Tension Chart
The Immortal Disc Pro SL has 1.2x3mm stainless steel blade spokes. Park Tool TM-1 spoke tension gauge reading on top row, tension in kgf on the bottom row. The DT Swiss E1800 rim is rated at 102-117kgf. The spokes are rated at 51-166kgf. I used 18 (107kgf) for the front and rear drive side and 11 (55kgf) for the rear non-drive side spokes. You'll need to hold the spoke blade with a small adjustable wrench so it won't turn when you tighten the nipple.
Update Feb 2020: I've now had the bike for almost three months and have put over 500 miles on it. I still love it. I installed leather colored bar tape and a matching saddle. I haven't had any problems with the bike at all. The bike looks great and rides even better.
I love this bike and when it's time to replace my old Cannondale Super V mountain bike I'll be back to bikesdirect.
P.S. I have no affiliation with BikesDirect.com, I'm just a happy customer.
Specs From BikesDirect.com
Frame: SuperRoad Disc Brake 700c Carbon (Unidirectional Weave) Road UPPER 1-1/8"/LOWER 1.5" TAPER H/T FRAME .RC: 430mm, HEAD TUBE: T CARBON UPPER 1-1/8"/LOWER 1.5" TAPER (48x42/57x52.1mm) L: 51/53/55/57/59CM=120/140/160/180/200mm
Bottom Bracket Shell: BSA68 Threaded, DROPOUTS VERTICAL W/REPLACEABLE HANGER, W/160 POST DISC MOUNT, THROUGH Axle /M12xP1.5. , 12x142MM
Bottom Bracket: SHIMANO SM-BBR60, RIGHT LEFT (BSA), BEARING, INNER COVER
Fork: 12MMxP1.5 THRU-Axle, CARBON UNIDIRECTIONAL WEAVE BLADE 700C, Threadlesss Steerer: CARBON 1-1/8" to 1.5" Taper. CROWN: 57mm, BLADE: CARBON STRAIGHT W/FLAT DISC MOUNT FOR 160 ROTOR W/55mm OFFSET, FORGED DROPOUTS. Fits up to 700x41c Tires
Crankset: SHIMANO FC-R8000, ULTEGRA, 2X11-Speed, HOLLOWTECH 2, 50/34T, 170/172.5/175mm for 51-53/ 55 /57-59cm
Pedals: BLK ROAD PEDAL W/9/16" CNC CRMO AXLE
Front Derailleur: SHIMANO FD-R8000, ULTEGRA, FOR REAR 11-SPEED, DOWN-SWING, 34.9MM BAND
Rear Derailleur: SHIMANO RD-R8000, ULTEGRA, GS 11-SPEED, TOP NORMAL SHADOW DESIGN, COMPATIBLE WITH 28-34T DOUBLE
Shifters: SHIMANO SHIFT/BRAKE LEVER, ULTEGRA ST-R8020 Hydraulic 2x11 Speed
Cassette/Freewheel: SHIMANO CS-HG800-11, 11-SPEED, 11-13-15-17-19-21-23-25-27-30-34T
34/34 = 1.00 (27.24" 7.3mph @ 90 cadence) 50/11 = 4.54 (123.8" 33.2mph at 90 cadence)
Chain: SHIMANO CN-HG701-11, FOR 11-SPEED 112 LINKS, W/END PIN
Wheelset: DT SWISS E1800 SPLINE db 23 WHEELSET
Rims: DT SWISS 700c ALLOY BLACK ANOD. SLEEVED TUBELESS READY W/FV, 622x20mm, IS 6-BOLTS ADAPTER, (SHIMANO) (1655g ) (Rim rated at 102-117kgf spoke tension)
Spokes DT SWISS STRAIGHT PULL DT NEW AERO & DT AERO COMP, BLACK , F/R: 24/24PCS S.S. 2 CROSS W/DT ALUMINUM NIPPLES, Stainless Blade 1.2mmx3mm wide, 18 (107kgf) front wheel and rear drive side, 11 (55kgf) rear non-drive side (Rim rated at 102-117kgf, Spokes rated at 10-22, 51-166kgf)
F/HUB DT SWISS SPLINE ALLOY BLACK db HUB 24H. (CENTER LOCK) OL: 12x100MM
F.HUB THRUaxle QR264F 12mm ANODIZED BLACK L:M12xP1.5x118.5mm
R/HUB DT SWISS SPLINE ALLOY BLACK db HUB 24H. (CENTER LOCK) 3 PAWL, OL: 12x142MM, SHIMANO 11-SPD
R.HUB THRUaxle QR264R-X12mm ANODIZED BLACK, 12x142, L:M12xP1.5x160.5mm
Tires: Schwalbe G-ONE Allround MicroSkin, TL-Easy, 700cx35 (41c max width) (diameter 27.24"), Folding Bead
Brakes: SHIMANO ULTEGRA, ST-R8020/ BR-R8070 FOR 160mm ST R81 ROTOR, RESIN PAD, torque caliper bolts 8Nm, 10Nm max, Brake Disc 40Nm using special tool
Brake Levers: SHIMANO ULTEGRA INTEGRATED ST-R8020 Hydraulic
Handlebar: RITCHEY WCS LOGIC II 7050AL ANATOMIC DROP W/TUNNEL BUILT IN, B/CENTER:31.8mm 400/420/440mm FOR 51-53/ 55 /57-59cm, D/R:125/72,132/78,144/82mm, BB BLK
Stem/Headset: RITCHEY WCS C-220 84/6D ALLOY2014 / SS Bolts TIOGA-OS, EXT:(-6°) 70/80/90mm FOR 51-53/55 /57-59CM, C/S:31.8/28.6x42mm, BB BLK (22lb-in top cap bolt)
Tape/Grip: Motobecane Black Gel EVA Synthetic Cork
Saddle: RITCHEY COMP STREEM 132 BLACK Synthetic Leather, Nylon + GF Shell, Steel Rail
Seat Post: RITCHEY WCS 1B 20mm offset OS, ALLOY 2014-T6 3D FORGED 31.6 X 350mm, BB BLACK
Seat Clamp: Aluminum with bolt 4-6Nm torque.
Most riders 5'2" to 5'5" fit the 51cm
Most riders 5'6" to 5'8" fit the 53cm
Most riders 5'9" to 5'11" fit the 55cm
Most riders 6'0" to 6'2" fit the 57cm
Most riders 6'2" to 6'4" fit the 59cm
Love This Bike