Thursday, April 05, 2012

Introducing ...

... The newest member of the family, the Moots MootoX YBB! It's a 29" titanium soft-tail whose purpose in this world is to be ridden lots and lots, preferably for days on end, and yet be so comfortable and light that it's almost like it's not even there — like riding on a cloud, or running blindingly fast without pain. The MootoX is my dream bike, but I never deserved it. I still don't, and yet, here it is, thanks to Beat and a little discussion we had a few months ago.

Jill: "I want to ride the Stagecoach 400 and do more bikepacking trips this summer, but the Element isn't really the right bike for long overnight rides. I think I'm going to have to put gears back on the Karate Monkey."

Beat: (Who has adopted the Karate Monkey and showered her with singlespeed love.): "No, don't do that. You need a new bike."

I do think I have too many bikes. I'm starting to catch up to my friend Sierra in sheer bicycle proliferation. And yet the prospect of a high-quality titanium 29er to ride and ride to my heart's content was too tempting to resist. The Moots has been two months in the making. I was enamored with the idea of a soft tail (the YBB stands for "Why Be Beat" — beat meaning "sore.") But we had to special order it because they don't make this frame in a small 16" size, so they custom-designed a women's specific frame of sorts. Moots is a small company based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and their attention to detail is stunning. I expect that even if I dish out the worst of my own custom brand of Jill abuse, this frame will last a long time.

I took the Moots on its maiden voyage, a two-hour ride on Black Mountain, this evening. It's amazing how easily a new bike can scrub away symptoms of burnout. I rode my fixed-gear commuter to Google in the afternoon, and that entire ride was an unpalatable ball of blah. But the spin up Black Mountain was exceedingly enjoyable, with the rich evening light saturating the hillsides, and the Moots disappearing beneath feathery strokes. The frame has a similar geometry to my Karate Monkey, and the guys at Palo Alto Bicycles took all of my measurements to build it specifically for me. Needless to say, I've never had a bike that fit me so well. My Rocky Mountain Element and I have always had a good working relationship, but I admit I haven't been able to connect with that bike on the same level. It's tough to explain, but I feel like I can tell when bike can just become an extension of my own body, and I can ride it for hours without feeling pressure or impact from the bike. The Karate Monkey has this quality to some degree. I believe the Moots will be even better.

Here's a few photos of the components. They're all just snapshots captured quickly during my test rides. I feel like I could shoot more artful photos of the bike if I tried, but for now these will have to do:

The wheels were built by Mike C. at Most endurance riders know this is the only way to go with 29" wheels, and I'm excited to see how a good set of light wheels can improve my riding in long-distance events. The drivetrain is 2x10 with Shimano XT crank and rear derailleur. I went with Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes, mainly because I can fix them myself in the middle of nowhere. I've enjoyed using lighter hydraulic brakes on my Element, but I become exceedingly frustrated whenever they develop issues. I'd rather just have something I can adjust and replace myself. Most of the parts were chosen with this in mind — durability and simplicity. The blue platform pedals are one of the fun blue accents. I just prefer platform pedals for distance riding — the main reason is comfort — and it's unlikely anyone is ever going to talk me out of them. Believe me, many have tried.

The fork is a Reba RLT. I have a good track record with Rebas so I'm staying the course.

This is the concession made in the custom design for a small-person frame (harrumph. I'm 5'7") It maintains lower standover height while allowing enough room for the 1.125" suspension mechanism. I had worried it might come out looking strange, but it actually looks cool — and I also love the built- in "handle," which will be great for carrying the bike through the many bike-carrying situations I am sure to encounter.

The rear suspension — cushy without being bouncy. Perfect for my favorite type of riding.

More blue accents on the cables.

Beat said I should take a picture of the brake levers because they're so awesomely space-age. Avid speed dial ultimate — adjustable and smooth. Luxurious. The grips are Ergon Enduro — a longtime favorite.

I foresee a bright future of adventures for Moots and me.


  1. Nice, very very nice! Enjoy

  2. Dang, this has tempted me, now I think I need 'one' more bike...

  3. I first took real notice of Moots when that one guy from the Ride the Devide movie rode one.

    So I take it the short travel shock just works through frame flex?

    Anyway, nice bike!

  4. Bike porn! Nothing like a new steed in the early spring with the whole riding season stretching out in front of you.....

  5. Was that a challenge? Should I run out and get another bike? I'm actually tempted to purchase just 1 more bike, but get rid of two others in the process.

    Your bike is beautiful, but it needs a name. And not a boring one.

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  7. Ok, now you've made me jealous. I have an older Salsa DosNiner 29 (soft tail too), same shimano components but now I "need" a frame like yours. Beautiful. See you at the start of stagecoach.

  8. WOW! So jealous!

  9. I have seven bikes and I don't think it's too many. You gotta have the right tool for the job! I ride them and love them (admittedly, some more often than others).

    Can't wait to take you out on a ride on your new bike!

  10. Dude, I just sent you two pairs of clipless shoes at, like, extreme cost and hassle to my own put-upon self. You better give them a good, solid, lengthy try to make my suffering worthwhile. Try them long enough that when you get back on platform pedals you try to pull up on the backstroke, almost fall off, and think "I miss my clipless pedals."

    Oh, and go with Eggbeaters, they are by far the most comfortable and easiest in/out.

  11. I think Jill's issue with clipless is not the knees, which the Eggbeaters address, but the foot flex, which no clipless system can address. I've run my own shoes with excellent orthotics etc, but still ... For clipless shoes you basically must use a very stiff sole, which causes Jill (and me for that matter) foot issues after a while. I love the efficiency of clipless pedals, but what good are they if your feet explode after a few days? But I'm sure she'll try the shoes!
    Also stay away from titanium spindles in pedals :) Break way too easily. Never use Ti in bolts, skewers, spindles or such if you are self-supported.
    Also the actual efficiency of the pull is debated, especially for the kind of ultra distance riding Jill is doing - though it takes presumably better technique to pedal as efficiently with platforms. I think it's simply much easier to stay on the pedal in technical situations, which seems the major advantage.
    Lastly eggbeaters don't have the best reliability record, but of course I don't know that firsthand. What is true though is that you're much more likely to get a spare (even if shitty) platform pedal than a replacement for your eggbeater if you're in some tiny town (or Africa ...).

    On the other hand, Jill IS using Look clipless pedals on her roadbike!


  12. Jill - I also like Reba fork on my 29er. I just had it rebuilt at Passion Trails bike shop in Belmont, great guys and mechanics. They said many Rebas need at least an oil change right out of factory, mainly to put lighter oil and some oil above the seals in the positive air chamber for more smoothness. They did that on mine and it has made a world of difference. It is almost Fox like smooth now :-) but better in tuneability.

  13. Hey Jill,

    The shoes haven't arrived yet. I'll let you know when they do. My plan was to put them on my Element for better technical handling. That is one area where being clipped in will definitely be an advantage. I'll give them a try on the Moots if they hold up well in other riding situations now. My main issue is still my frostbite toes. They still hurt when I wear my road shoes for too long, which has actually made me reluctant to embark on any 5+ hour road rides. But I should try some different shoes. If they work maybe I can even try them on my road bike.

    Sierra  — my own count now is six bikes, and Beat has five ... but I am thinking of selling one or two. I agree the Moots needs a name. Good bike names are hard for me to come up with, and by the time I do, the bike has already become known by a nickname like "Mootsie."

    Leah — hope we can plan a ride soon. From what I hear Skeggs is still sloppy but other trails on the peninsula seem to be drying out, and the little I saw of Marin on Tuesday also looked dry. What are your plans for this coming weekend? Next weekend I'm thinking about heading up north for an overnight bikepacking trip.

  14. Sweet Bike Jill...Enjoy!!

  15. Wow. Super nice bike. Enjoy.

  16. Awesome, awesome, awesome. The YBB has always been high on my list because of the simple suspension.

    Mootsie - sounds like a good hockey nickname. Shift after shift, it takes a beating and keeps on going.

  17. Jill,
    You said..."this frame will last a long time". You are wrong it will last forever!
    I think you did a perfect job on the build.
    If your YBB starts creaking, take it apart, clean it out and go ride it for another year.
    Nick in SLC

  18. Well, that might be the best mountain bike in the world right there.

  19. Can you fit a frame pack inside that triangle? Any other trick custom things that make it perfect for ultra riding?

  20. With the increased standover, how will you outfit it for longer trips or another TD?

  21. Maybe try having someone like D2Shoe make Jill some customer MTB shoes. Might help. Since you seem to have enjoyed one piece of custom with the Moots, why stop now.

    That said, beautiful bike. Could also not help noticing how lean you are looking, Jill. You are going to tear up anything you attempt this summer.

  22. I just had to wipe the drool from my mouth, sweet bike

  23. Congrats Jill! I have the same Mootox ybb in a 19" sweet!...have a vamoots too...(and, well, couldn't help myself but get a used smoothie too, for the 'tight' spots in the NE - aha). Moots titanium is so lively and forgiving...Cheers, Patrick

  24. Sweet bike Jill...I have serious bike envy (I only have 3...2 road and one mtb). Just can't get my wife to understand my NEED for more bikes (she doesn't ride of course, or this would be a MOOT point).

    Beat...I'm at 5 years and counting on my Eggbeater stainless pedals. They've taken quite a bashing in rocks, never done a THING to them (except new cleats every 2 years, which seems when I've worn them out). I'm not a big guy...155lbs, about 170 loaded w/ camelback n water. LOVE THEM! And they shed mud like a duck sheds water (not that I get muddy very often, but I've mashed my cleat in n engaged it not able to even SEE the pedal). But hey... I'm only 1 guy...everybody has their own good/bad products.

    Jill has it figured...go w/ what makes you comfy n secure. Enjoy the new steed! Hope to see you up in Stevens Ck someday (whenever I get back up to Sunnyvale that is).

  25. WoW! What a beautiful new dream bike! And I gotta comment on how the boyfriend just seems to get better and better! Total Keeper!
    You DO deserve it - the bike and the guy! ;-)

  26. My humble recommendations: "Specialized" shoes, they are designed for American feet, have a few degrees of outward cant to compensate for pronation (which 90% us us have)and a metatarsal arch so your toes/forefoot don't get "pinched". "Time" pedals, they have about 5° of angular rotation, but controlled rotation, not totally frictionless rotation like Speedplays, and several millimeters of lateral float so you can find your ideal Q-factor, plus the mechanism is very simple and is almost immune to mud.

    In 1984-85, Joe Murray dominated the national MTB scene on platform pedals, but no competitive rider has used them since, and even Joe himself switched over to clipless eventually.

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  28. Wow....awesome new bike! I'm sure you'll get a lifetime of great use out of that....and looks like there's enough room for a small (custom) frame bag in there too...

  29. Awesome Bike! Can you pretty much ride it anywhere out there? Are bikes a pretty good way of getting around?

  30. Oh man, that's awesome. I love Moots---I'm going to have to save my pennies and go that route for my next bike. Congrats!

  31. Sweet ride!! I still ride the first 29er Moots made. Love it. It could use an EpicEveryDay sticker. Shoot me an email if you want a few.

  32. If that was as expensive as I imagine you might need special insurance for it! :p

  33. Hi you two -

    I also have problems with hard soled shoes after a while. The shoes I sent (I freaking promise I sent them - what the hell. They must have gone slow boat which is weird cuz shipping them cost twice as much as shipping a package to freaking Canada) might help with that as they aren't super stiff, particularly the Cannondale ones. I did switch to SIDI carbon shoes this year (hooray!) but I use insoles which helps a TON with the foot numbness.

    As far as the ti option - I have ti Eggbeaters and if they haven't broken yet, they're not gonna break. I'm, um, hard on stuff...I went to Eggbeaters from SPD and the difference was phenomenal. I felt ridiculous for not switching from SPD sooner.

    The technical advantages of clipless are indisputable if you ask me. The ability to pull up is just vital for certain situations.
    I've really been missing clipless this winter with my stupid platforms on my snow bike! I don't know about the efficiency thing though and who cares about that anyway ;)

    This weekend I switched my fat bike back to clipless and it just felt so NICE to be able to pull UP! Ahhhhhh. I could climb the steep stuff again which is just impossible with platforms sometimes. But then my feet froze because it's still too cold for little shoes. What can ya do?

    Try the Cannondales I sent and see if they still make your feet hurt. I thought they were great and very comfy. And clipless is so rad. But if it doesn't work for you then it doesn't work, you know? As long as you give it a good honest try then just do what's right for you. I kind of get tired of the debate on both sides sometimes - what works for you is what works for you so it's the right answer, whatever it ends up being.

    Oh, and for spares - a friend ripped his cleat out of his shoe so he made a platform pedal out of his eggbeater, using a stick. It was hilarious.

  34. Jill, did you send the shoes USPS? My experience sending Parcel Post from Alaska is that it can take upwards of eight weeks if you're unlucky, no joke. I'm sure they'll arrive eventually and I really do look forward to trying them out. I'm in agreement with you on the technical advantages. Sorry the shipping cost so much. I'll reimburse you.

    And yeah, I should let Sierra name my bike. During my last trip, "The Moots" became Damoots which eventually morphed into Damian. I've actually been calling this bike Damian to myself but I'm not sure I like it. I already named my cat after a character in the movie "Mean Girls" so I'm not sure I can get away from that association either.


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