Interbike 2009 – Moots RSL Superlight Road Bike – Specs and Ride Review

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INTERBIKE 2009Moots introduced their new Vamoots RSL superlight race road bike frame at Interbike, and we had a chance to ride it at the Outdoor Demo.  It’s a smooth, fast and very light.

The fork is a custom-made AlphaQ carbon fork that comes with the package, but the real highlight is the new frame.  It’s stiffer than the Vamoots CR, but comes in 15% lighter!  It’s made of 3/2.5 Reynolds Titanium tubes that are internally mandrel double-butted and tapered.  The tubes are larger in diameter in many places, which reduces weight while increasing stiffness.

Lots more pics and details on the RSL (plus our Ride Review) right after the break…

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The result of Moots’ weight savings efforts, which are detailed below, is a 1.21kg (2.67lb) frame…

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…that can be built up as a 14lb 9oz bike, albeit with a lot of Moots ti components, but otherwise with fairly common high end parts.

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One of the weight saving tricks are these 6/4 Titanium Breezer-style dropouts with heavy machining.  They allow for a big weld contact area at the ends of the tubes, making the rear end stiffer, yet are 32% lighter than Moots standard dropouts.

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The seatstays are Moots’ 6/4 Ti “Micro Diameter” tubes.  Versus the 3/2.5 main triangle, the use of 6/4 allows the seat stays to be lighter and stronger.

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A BB30 bottom bracket further saves weight while increasing stiffness.  Throwing the sub-2000g SRAM Red group on there doesn’t hurt the cumulative weight, either.

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Just another view of the dropouts.  The derailleur hanger isn’t replaceable, but a good shop should be able to bend it back into shape for minor mis-alignments.  Bigger wrecks can probably be fixed by Moots, but we’d still prefer to see a replaceable system even if it meant adding a few grams.

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The headtube is CNC machined, but uses a normal 1-1/8″ headset…Chris King, in this instance.  Internally, they’ve machined the vent holes between the tubes a little larger than normal, the result of which is a lighter headtube area.

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The Moots branded carbon Alpha-Q fork uses triangular shaped arms that bow forward slightly from the crown.

The frameset is sold with the fork (no headset, though) for $4,425.  You can buy it with a Moots stem and cinch seatpost for $5,200 (yes, their stems and posts are that expensive).  You can get a fully custom frame for an additional $650.  They’ll be available in February 2010, and expect a 6-8 week lead time for orders, custom or not.

RIDE REVIEWS:

TYLER’S REVIEW: I’ll be honest, the last time I rode a titanium road bike was a Litespeed with some crazy light prototype Spinergy PBO-spoked wheels, and it was about 10 years ago.  So my preconceptions going into this test ride of the RSL were that it better be really good since Moots was introducing it as their top-of-the-line bike, but that it might be flexy because it was Ti.  Over the years, I’ve heard lots of things to describe Ti bikes…noodley, flexy, soft…but also that the ride was more accomodating and comfortable on the long haul.

My first impression of the RSL was that it was light.  Stoopid light.  If you’ve never ridden a sub-15 pound bike, they’ll feel a little wiggly underneath at first, especially when you stand up to crank.

Since the test roads at Outdoor Demo are butter smooth, Daniel and I took the long way out of the expo and rode the bikes through the gravel/sand/dirt parking lot and curvy downhill road, which truly tested the bike’s handling prowess.  Neither of us went down during that “test” so we were off to a good start.

On the road, just riding along seated, the bike is eminently smooth.  Definitely a bike you could ride for hours on end. Giving the handlebars the ol’ shimmy test (shake them back and forth really quickly in small bursts) resulted in the feeling that the motion carried itself softly through the frame, from front to rear.

Standing up to hammer certainly moved the bike forward, and it’s a fast bike, but it didn’t feel as sharply responsive as a stiffer carbon frame would.  This is not to say that the bike felt like it was losing power, but hammering while seated felt slightly more efficient.

While Moots claims the bike is made to offer all the performance a racer could want, the geometry feels slightly more relaxed than something like a Specialized Tarmac or Focus Izalco, which you need to stay on top of to keep it from getting twitchy.  In contrast, the RSL handled well, cornered confidently and went fast, but it never felt like you’d get bucked if you got distracted for a moment.

All of this is based on a way-too-short 25 minute ride, but my hunch is this is a bike I could ride all day long and be very happy with…fast enough for the hammer group rides, but forgiving enough for extended saddle time.  We’ve already emailed Moots about getting one in to review, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a long-term review early next year.

DANIEL’S REVIEW: Coming soon…

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