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2011 Moots MootoX RSL — Ride and Handling
This is one agile 29er... call it a 27.5er!
Scary fast downhill too, and it feels.... rather Mootsy.
The Moots MootoX RSL is a hard-tail, but it’s amazing how tubeless at 30 psi can make up for no rear suspension when coupled with the forgiving feel of a titanium frame designed by masters of the craft.
Moots on the Mooto X RSL 29er
That the MootoX RSL has decisive handling and quick responsiveness was quickly proven out by my riding, pushing it hard through narrow singletrack to 40 mph fire road descents, to 20% uphill grade.
With appropriate technique, and the use of tubeless tires at ~30 psi (I weigh 171 prior to clothes), I found that comfort is superlative for a hard-tail.
It's quick responsiveness and decisive handling comes from key features like an oversized head tube for zero-stack headsets, an oversized Press Fit 30 bottom bracket for more immediate power transfer in the drive line and an oversized butted seat tube to provide increased stiffness and strength in tandem with a 30.9 seat post.
Intended Use: Cross Country and Short Track Racing.
These impressions come straight off a new bike, with the Moots YBB 26 as the just-prior and ongoing experience.
When referring to 29er vs 26er, it is the Moots YBB 26 used as the basis for comparison.
- The Moots MootoX RSL is a 29er, which means it’s not as quick and agile as a 26er— see Why Is a 29er So Different From a 26er Mountain Bike?. Compared to the Moots YBB 26, which feels BMX-like, the MootoX RSL feels big and somewhat “monster truck”. But this is true for any 29er; it is a function of wheel size, wheel base and geometry that is unavoidable.
- In terms of the sheer number of shit-grins, the Moots YBB 26 is the pinnacle of jaw-dropping handling and feel. In terms of avoiding soil sampling and scabs, ripping down high speed descents, pounding over the rough stuff, the MootoX RSL excels (29er).
- Just 4 rides were enough to get me “dialed in” on the MootoX RSL— race-bred bike with consistent behavior and crisp handling makes the learning curve easy— I can push the RSL fast now with full confidence.
- The MootoX RSL is very stable at speed and tracks great— it’s scary fast on 40 mph fire road descents. Gnarly terrain that requires concentration with the Moots YBB 26 is not so difficult with the MootoX RSL (29er).
- The RockShox 2012 SID XX 29er fork performed well, but required 170 psi to avoid bottoming out, well above the recommended 120 psi. The version with tapered carbon steerer will slacken handling just slightly due to an outboard bearing, so consider the choice carefully (I chose the regular, straight steerer as as to keep handling as quick as possible).
- On singletrack with a lumpy surface (e.g., dried California clay soils with constant divots), plan on doing a lot of standing on the pedals, because the RSL’s hard-tail won’t be so comfy. Dropping tubeless pressure to 28psi or so helps a great deal, and the titanium frame is jaw-droppingly good at mellowing out otherwise nasty high frequency bumps. Consider the Moots MootoX YBB 29er for increased comfort when riding trails with rough surfaces.
- Grip is outstanding with Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires and very good with Rocket Ron tires and noticeably better than a 26er, especially on surfaces like deep loose gravel.
- The Easton EC90 XC ballistic carbon fiber wheels are a superb match for the MootoX RSL. The light weight both quickens steering input and makes the bike accelerate faster.
- On tight singletrack where rapid steering inputs are needed, I suspect that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a quicker feeling 29er. But it’s not as agile and quick as the YBB 26, and requires a bit more anticipation in terms of momentum and the moment of inflection for steering inputs (29er).
- The MootoX RSL is a more responsive bike than the Trek SuperFly Elite 100, which feels ponderous, though very comfortable with one’s butt on the seat (the SuperFly Elite 100 has dual suspension, the regular SuperFly which I have not ridden is a hard-tail). If you want a butt-on-the-seat-at-all-times bike, the MootoX RSL is not for you.
- When the going gets rough, the 29" wheels make navigating far easier than a bike with 26" wheels: bumps, humps, rocks, gullies etc all smooth out. Terrain that on a 26er that might make you crap your pants anticipating the crash is generally rideable (29er).
- Watch your ankle position! Getting “air” and landing without a level foot can make for an uncomfortable landing, due to the hard-tail rear end. Dropping tire pressure to 28-30 psi helps a great deal by cushioning the landing. Check your gauge though, a lot of gauges are off 2-3 psi. Experiment.
For riding in conditions with poor visibility (dusk, night, into a setting sun, etc), the 29" wheels roll over stuff and handle “surprises” much better than 26" wheels. Short and steep 18"-high water bars that might cause a crash or close-call with a 26" bike (when unseen) can be handled with much higher odds of avoiding soil sampling. Personal experience speaking here.