Review: Moots Vamoots RSL Titanium Road Bike

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Introduced last year at Interbike, Moots’ Vamoots RSL was built as the Colorado company’s flagship road bike, meant for battling the peloton.

The RSL is an extremely lightweight titanium frame that’s stiff enough to make most racers happy while still offering the lively ride that titanium is known for. With the RSL, Moots has created a lustworthy bicycle that’s now firmly rooted at the top of my personal wish list. We managed to extend our test period quite a bit, and if it were up to me, we’d still have it.

With a frameset price of $4,425 (with fork) the RSL doesn’t come cheaply, but it should last for many, many years. For that coin, you get a 3/2.5 Reynolds titanium tubing with custom 6/4 sections and features, plus some extra machining internally and externally to save weight. You also get a custom Alpha-Q full carbon fork, but no headset is included. For $5,200, you get all that with a Moots ti stem and seatpost that’ll match your frame perfectly. Yes, they’re expensive, but they ride super nice and really complete the package visually.

We put a lot of hilly and mountainous miles on the RSL and all of us were very impressed not just with it’s performance (it’ll haul!), but also with it’s road manners. The RSL is that rare combination of race bike that’s all day comfortable.

Read on past the break for the full review, photos, specs and weight…

FRAME DETAIL AND BIKE WEIGHT

We weighed the frame only at Interbike at 2.67lbs (1.21kg). Our complete bike (size 58) with a full SRAM Red group, Deda bar, Fizik saddle and Mavic Ksryium SL wheels weighed in at:

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Depending on how you order your bike, you can get various colored decals and accessories to color match your bike. Our test bike came with red bits, the one at Interbike had black and white. Our test bike was a size 58, which had an effective top tube of 57.5cm and a standover of just 30.2cm. Even on their largest stock size of 62, the standover is only 31.6, which illustrates how much the top tube slopes. It gives the RSL has an aggressive looking stance that should appeal to racers.

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The headtube is a straight 1-1/8″ tube with CNC machined ends. Internally, the vent holes between the headtube and top- and downtubes are enlarged to shave a few grams.

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The cable housing rubbed a bit on the headtube, which shined up the titanium a bit.  This will happen anywhere something rubs the frame or matching stem or seatpost. My seatbag polished up the post in one section. If your knees tend to rub the top tube, you could end up with a slightly shinier section along that pipe, too.

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The welds are tiny and darn near perfect looking. All in all, the frame is just gorgeous.

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Moots worked with Alpha-Q to get a custom painted and logo’d fork to match the bike.

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Moots upgraded to a BB30 bottom bracket shell to save weight and get closer to the stiffness racers are looking for.

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Again, beautiful little welds.

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While the main triangle is 3/2.5 ti, the seatstays are “Micro Diameter” 6/4 titanium to save weight.

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The chainstays, however, are fairly large, and they meet up with big Breezer style dropouts. This provides more contact area for the welds and an overall stiffer rear end. The combination of thinner seatstays and big chainstays gave the Vamoots RSL the characteristically nice titanium ride while still putting the power down.

The dropouts are 6/4 Ti and machined out to save weight. One potential downside is the lack of a replaceable derailleur hanger, but being Ti, you can probably bend back minor dings, or it can be sent back to Moots for more aggressive replacement options.

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Moot’s RSL Road stem is full ti with a machined out alloy faceplate and 6/4 titanium bolts. Our test bike came with a rather long stem, which put us in a fairly aggressive position, but it wasn’t so racy that we were uncomfortable. The only potential issue is banging your knees on the rear-facing bolt clamps.

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Their layback seatpost has a nice curve rather than a harsh bend or setback clamp section. It uses a dual bolt system that lets you adjust angle and position separately. Note the color matched stickers and ano’d bits.

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The Fizik Airone saddle was fairly comfortable and color matched, too. The Moots seat collar was pretty, but it ended up stripping out (read on for explanation).

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Even the cable guides are elegant.

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This wrinkle in the decal is the only error on the bike that we can attribute to Moots.

RIDE REVIEWS

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My longest ride on the Moots RSL took place on a nice winter day with temps in the 40′s and ice on the closed-to-cars Blue Ridge Parkway. This was also my longest ride as we had to hand it off to the folks at Liberty Bikes in Asheville at the conclusion of our review period.

The BRP, if you’ve never ridden it, offers great climbing, blistering descents (we hit almost 50mph) and beautiful scenery. If you can happen to catch it on a day when it’s closed to cars, it’s about as great a road ride as you could ever want.

The real beauty in that day’s ride was the ability to carve the descents across both lanes, sit up with no hands on the bars at 40+ mph and really play around while getting to know the bike. Hands on the bars or off, the RSL descended confidently and smoothly, with predictable turn in and handling and the ability to hold its line exceptionally well.

Standing up to climb or really, really droppin’ the hammer in the saddle, you’ll see a bit of bottom bracket flex. Just a bit, though, and at least for me, not enough to diminish the perceived performance. So, it’s not as super stiff as high end carbon race bikes, but that’s part of the beauty of this bike. That bit of flex and the inherently “steel like” feel of titanium produces a superb ride. So while it’s easy to get into race position in the drops thanks to the RSL’s geometry, you can also rest your hands on the top of the bars and ride all day long without feeling beat up or fatigued from road vibration.

Regarding that geometry, the 58 felt way to small for my 6’2″ frame.  I would have preferred the 60 with a much shorter stem, but it was still comfortable to ride, I was just stretched out and put into a much more aggressive riding position than I’m accustomed to. For riders that can’t find one of the nine stock sizes to fit them, you can get a full custom frame for a $650 premium.

Daniel also rode the Moots on a few group rides and remarked positively about its comfort and speed, but also said it felt a bit too small, and he’s only 6′ even.

OVERALL RATING

Other than a small issue with the freehub body* and seat collar stripping out, which we’ll blame on Frankie Andreau since he had the bike directly before us for a review in some other media outlet, there was absolutely nothing we didn’t like about the Moots RSL. It’s expensive, yes, but assuming you don’t crash it, it should easily last 10 years, likely many more. And since Moots doesn’t use some proprietary bottom bracket or headset, you’ll be able to upgrade or replace parts as circumstances or budgets allow. If and when I’m able to afford a dream road bike, the RSL currently sits as the top of my wish list. Five Thumbs Up!

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FOOTNOTE: For the record, Liberty Bikes’ mechanics said it was likely someone before us had pulled the freehub body out of the Mavic wheels and not reassembled it correctly. Apparently, there is a small piece that’s easy to lose or forget during reassembly that causes the slightest bit of lateral play in the cassette. Yes, we had the spacer on the outside behind the cassette, but the bike always had a bit of an issue shifting precisely thanks to the freehub body movement. This one isn’t Moots’ fault. The seat post collar, however, was stripped out with a minimum of effort when we first put the bike together, indicating it was close to being fully stripped when we got it. The threads on the inside of the collar came completely off inside the threads of the screw…I blame Frankie.

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Comments

Gillis - 08/19/10 - 2:17pm

Steel may be real…but Ti is for life

dave - 08/20/10 - 4:19pm

Beautiful bike but the price is absurd.

For that money you could buy at least 4 CAAD9 framesets (there are still US made ones floating around) that weigh the same and ride amazingly.

tripelt - 08/20/10 - 7:20pm

On the Mavic freehub you need to put a thin washer between the hub and the freehub when installing the freehub.

Bill - 09/08/10 - 7:32pm

Dave:

You are correct in stating that “you could buy at least 4 CAAD9 framesets” for the price of the Vamoots RSL. Your comment regarding the price of the bike is one which a Moots owner might disagree with.

Moots is first and foremost a corporation. By it’s legal description it exists to make an operating profit. If it does not, the doors close.

For all of the reasons a Moots owner decided to purchase a frameset the common denominator is value. If price exceeds value, products do not sell, and companies close up shop. Where price does exceed the company has two choices: lower price or increase perceived value. As far as I can tell Moots is still in business, and many people are joyful owners and many others continue to dream and save for their very own. So it would seem that for many owners the value at least equals price (and in many cases value exceeds price) or they would not exchange dollars to titanium.

No worries though mate. I’m just glad to see you are a cyclist and that you enjoy the sport and the freedom to post your opinion here.

Best regards,

Bill

[...] Mooto X RSL is the second bike in the Moots RSL series. The Vamoots RSL (which we reviewed here), the lightest and stiffest road bike ever from Moots, was unveiled at Interbike 2009. Moots’ RSL [...]

Marko - 11/28/10 - 12:40pm

I agree with dave – too expensive

Harry - 06/27/11 - 8:43am

These bikes are priced like Lamborghini’s and Ferraris, not for everybody but for those prepared to pay for something that is an exceptional piece of work to be appreciated and enjoyed.

One could always argue that any number of bikes could be purchased for a fraction of the price and do 95% of what this bike could do but that would be missing the point. If you are on the side of the practical/value argument, you will never be convinced otherwise. Neither am I here to make everybody want to swap their hard earned money for this luxury. Besides, if more people wanted them, the extra demand would drive up the price.

I, on the other hand, know that I will be the owner of one of these bikes or another Ti frame that is of equivalent workmanship and joy. Note: I currently own a Colnago EPS/super record 11 bike that was very expensive but for which I have never regretted spending the extra coin on.

Some choose to drink/ smoke/gamble their spare cash, I spend mine on my healthy obsession.

Armybikerider - 08/14/11 - 4:25pm

I currently ride a Lynskey Ti R330. In the last 21 months I’ve logged 10,000 + miles and cant wait to ride more (50 miles this AM). The Moots is high on my wish list should I ever want to “trade up.”
Is it expensive….obviously it is. But for perceived value – which is entirely subjective, there are none better. I’ve ridden (and broken) Cannondales, and a myriad of other materials and brands. Me – I’ll stick with Ti….from now on.

anthony - 09/12/11 - 8:10pm

look at the price of a 6 year old moots sl frame now look at the price of a 6 year old cannondale. Basically riding the moots for about 6 years will cost you around $1000-1500 if you sell the frame and you get the pleasure of riding one of the nicest bikes out there, the cannondale, looks like they are practically giving them away on ebay so you will probably end up loosing more money with this bike and well its a cannondale. I know which option makes more sence to me.

Bon_gabs - 01/19/12 - 11:31pm

I have cannondale and and I loved it for 3 years up to now, Ive skipped fasfood lunch for 2 years and ate my wife sandwitch instead during work break,,its because I wanted and dreamed of moots,finally the frameset arrived last week and I was absolutely stunned and impressed,I planning to build it under 13lbs.its a small size,got my wheelset enve 45 with dash hubs(995lbs).now I can say dreaming of moots is the cheapest weight loss diet that really works..

Gyro2 - 06/21/12 - 3:48am

Id take a Moots over ten Cannondulls, seven days a week. I still remember a Cannondull My friend had from the 90′s. Bike was scratched in an accident and where the paint was gone you could see where they had used filler to repair a dent in the toptube and then painted over it and sold the bike as brand new. Doesnt sound like much but it goes directly to the issue of quality. Moots would not try to pull something like that in 1000 years. You can have your cheap Cannondull frames, heck you can have ten of them for my One Moots. My one Moots is still a better value, and isnt disposeable crap like the Cannondull. :-)

toe_overlap - 09/12/12 - 2:15am

@anthony,gyro2

Hey. As a Cannondale driver, I must say that I am highly offended by these slanderous referrals which means we think we have the best bikes, when we actually don’t.

I won’t make that claim.

I want a Moots. (Or something as good — which would be who, exactly?)

I will let y`all know when I get it. That might be a while, however. My piggy bank is very underweight for such a nice ride.

Too bad.

Cheers,
the_toe

Red Rider - 06/10/13 - 6:02pm

I love my Cdale Ultimate -it’s a high end carbon bike and I love it. That being said, – ti dream bike is high on my list for my next road ride. I love the feel of of ti and at this level, the price is not a consideration. When you buy a dream bike, it’s high end, cost is just not the deciding factor. I’m responding to the comment re. A Moots lasting 10 years. These bikes
Have a lifetime guarantee and I know several Moots owners who have had their bikes for over 15 years and they look and ACT like new! The Moots can be set back to the factory for upgrades- changed to disc brakes f

Red Rider - 06/10/13 - 6:05pm

I love my Cdale Ultimate -it’s a high end carbon bike and I love it. That being said, a Moots ti dream bike is high on my list for my next road ride. I love the feel of of ti and at this level, the price is not a consideration. When you buy a dream bike, it’s high end, cost is just not the deciding factor. I’m responding to the comment re. A Moots lasting 10 years. These bikes
Have a lifetime guarantee and I know several Moots owners who have had their bikes for over 15 years and they look and ACT like new! The Moots can be set back to the factory for upgrades- changed to disc brakes for example- and given a total refinish. These bikes far outlast carbon and are worth the asking price. Not to mention the thrill of owning a dream ride that anyone with a cycling passion would appreciate. Ride on, y’all!

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