Review: Moots Vamoots RSL Titanium Road Bike
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:
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.
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.
The cable housing rubbed a bit on the headtube, which shined up the titanium a bit.Â 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.
The welds are tiny and darn near perfect looking. All in all, the frame is just gorgeous.
Moots worked with Alpha-Q to get a custom painted and logo’d fork to match the bike.
Moots upgraded to a BB30 bottom bracket shell to save weight and get closer to the stiffness racers are looking for.
Again, beautiful little welds.
While the main triangle is 3/2.5 ti, the seatstays are “Micro Diameter” 6/4 titanium to save weight.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Even the cable guides are elegant.
This wrinkle in the decal is the only error on the bike that we can attribute to Moots.
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.Â 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.
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!
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.