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First Ride: Moots Mooto X RSL

We test the exotic titanium hardtail while racing Steamboat’s Honey Stinger 50.
ByDavid L'Heureux
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Perhaps more than any other frame material, titanium evokes emotional responses from cyclists. Several riders I know offer a knowing nod at mention of the tubes’ stiff-yet-supple ride. Others have become evangelical, proclaiming that no other material compares. Me? I just repeated the same quip anytime someone asked me about my time on the Moots Mooto X RSL. “Ti’d and gone to heaven.”

 

I spent several days test riding the hardtail during a recent visit to the Moots factory in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I’ve ridden a titanium frame before, but only on the road. So I was curious how this stiff, yet compliant, frame material would handle on the dirt. Though I only spent a short amount of time on the bike, I put in plenty of miles, first exploring the singletrack on Steamboat’s Emerald Mountain, then racing as part of a relay team in the Honey Stinger 50

 

The pressfit 30 bottom bracket stiffens the ride, while the curved downtube offers more fork clearance. 

 

The beautiful RSL has an elegant, curved downtube that is hand built in Moots’ Steamboat factory from proprietary 3/2.5 titanium (that means the tubes are 3 percent aluminum, 2.5 percent vanadium and 94.5 percent titanium). But it’s the little details that make this race bike stand out. The oversized pressfit 30 bottom bracket delivers a stiff and responsive ride while pedaling up tight singletrack or hammering in the big ring on a wide-open trail. The 44mm headtube accommodates a zero-stack headset and a 100mm fork with tapered steerer for responsive handling. A new rear triangle with formed chainstays provides more tire and mud clearance. And the bent downtube provides extra room for the fork—preventing it from banging against the frame.

 

Still, this is a hardtail—and an expensive one at that. Thanks to advances in platform damping systems found on the shocks of most trail and XC bikes, I rarely ride a rigid frame anymore. Today’s full-suspension bikes climb well, and offer tons of control while descending. Even race bikes offer crisp pedaling. So I was a little nervous heading out to tackle these Colorado trails with no rear suspension. But that fear would prove to be unwarranted.

 

The Mooto X RSL pedaled like an absolute champion on everything from fire roads to ridiculously steep singletrack. With the pressure set just right in my tubeless tires, I never missed the traction of a fully—my rear wheel was locked to the trail and didn’t skip on washboard or rocky sections. More revealing, however, was how well the bike tackled the descents. The ti tubes muted trail chatter, which allowed me to hit corners with full speed. Thankfully, then, the stiff frame showed few signs of flexing; it held a tight line as I raced along Steamboat’s finest trails. Even with 29-inch wheels, the bike felt nimble, responsive and comfortable—more so on the rootiest and rockiest sections of singletrack.

 

 With steep angles and moderate chain stays, the Mooto RSL blends precision handling and high-speed stability.

 

At $3,795, the Moots X RSL is one of the most expensive frames on the market, but it should offer a nice return on that investment for those who can afford it—not only is the bike a dream to ride, the durable titanium frame won’t rust and Moots offers a lifetime warranty on craftsmanship and materials.

 

Weight: 3.5 pounds (18-inch frame)

Sizes: 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22

Price: $3,795 (frame only)

Info: Moots.com



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