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:
lacemine29.com. 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.
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.