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Moots 2011/2012 Vamoots RSL — Riding Notes (Test Bike)

Last updated 2011-12-24 - Send Feedback
Related: Lightweight, Moots, Moots Vamoots RSL, Road Bikes

Moots 2012 Vamoots RSL Titanium Road Racing Bike

These notes are from the original test bike I rode (SRAM Red), NOT of the final built-up Vamoots RSL of my own, which uses Shimano DuraAce Di2. However, I did use my wheels and power meter on the test bike.

Riding background: as this was written in late 2011, I’ve logged 10,300 miles and over 1 million vertical feet in 2011 alone, about 8000 miles of which has been on the Trek Madone 6.9 SSL. Fresh in my memory are test rides of the Look 695 SR and Look 586 road bikes.

The 2012 Moots Vamoots RSL is a premium titanium road racing bike.

Expectations for the Vamoots RSL ride quality and performance are justifiably high given the Moots badge, and also come loaded with the legitimate concerns about the failings of too many titanium road bikes: wimpy frame stiffness resulting in sub-optimal handling and power transfer as compared to carbon fiber.

The magicians at Moots imbue their titanium bikes with a special secret sauce, an experience-based conclusion which has steadily grown over time in riding my Moots mountain bikes and the Pyschlo X RSL cyclocross bike.

And so one must ask—

Have the Moots magicians designed the Vamoots RSL to deliver where other titanium road bikes have shown clear weaknesses? The answer is an emphatic, “yes”.

That’s a “yes” in context of the Trek Madone 6.9 SSL and the superlative LOOK 695 SR, so that’s saying a lot.

Update (3000 miles after buying)

I’ve now ridden my Vamoots RSL for about 3000 miles. It has become my favorite bike ever, offering an ideal blend of stiffness, comfort, responsiveness, durability, and superb handling. Highly recommended!

Test bike setup

The Moots Vamoots RSL that I tested was configured with the standard head tube (not the optional oversize 44mm head tube), and SRAM Red.

The elves at Palo Alto Bicycles installed my usual test wheels, the Lightweight Obermayers, along with my SRM 7950 power meter crankset, and my DuraAce pedals. I always test bikes with the same wheelset to start with, to eliminate wheel performance as a confounding variable.

The bike as tested is shown below, but with the Lightweight VR8 front wheel. I tested the Vamoots RSL with several wheel combinations: the Lightweight VR8 and the Obermayer front and the Lightweight Ventoux). All combinations proved highly satisfactory with the Vamoots RSL, but (as with other bikes) the Obermayers are a most comfortable ride than the Ventoux.

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Weight

As shown, the test bike weighed 15.2 pounds, of which about 0.4 pounds can be dropped using a Ritchey Logic carbon fiber seat post and Selle Italia saddle.

Still, the weight remains a concern— adjusting for all things, it remains about 1/2 pound heavier than my Trek Madone 6.9 SSL; The Madone 6.9 SSL has a noodly (wimpy) handlebar and fork which are very light, and for extreme climbing, where every pound counts, this is very significant. On the flip side, the Moots Vamoots RSL handles so much better that I’m not about to put an ultralight bar and fork on the Vamoots RSL to save weight if it impairs the handling.

See the build page for other ideas on weight.


Moots 2012 Vamoots RSL Titanium Road Racing Bike

Riding notes

The Vamoots RSL has a quickness and responsiveness to it that is BIG GRIN time.

The Vamoots RSL climbs very efficiently, and sprints with a springiness lacking in a carbon bike. It descends with a stability and quickness that has to be experienced to be believed.

The sturdy fork that Moots supplies with the Vamoots RSL is a superb performer in terms of handling, deformation under hard braking and comfort. I strongly recommend sticking with the Moots fork, at least with an initial build. Once can save perhaps 2 ounces with the Enve 1.0 fork, but its performance is not something I have evaluated. Furthermore, the Moots-supplied fork looks to be sculpted for reduced aerodynamic drag.

For locals: test rides with the Vamoots RSL included Old La Honda Road, Page Mill Road, West Alpine down to Portola State Park, Kings Mountain Road, dirt trails up Alpine Road to Black Mountain, Montebello Road, upper portion of Tunitas Creek.

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Handling

The first ride on the Vamoots RSL, I was able to descend fast with greater confidence and speed than I had achieved all year the Trek Madone 6.9 SSL, which has a noodly front end (probably the fork). How Trek can call the 6.9 SSL frame a “pro” frame I cannot understand; it is weak in the handling department, which the Vamoots RSL and LOOK 695 SR made abundantly clear. I feel annoyed to the point of being angry in having invested so much money in the Madone frame and having dealt with its “oops, I’m off my line” handling all year (since I descend at high speed every day, handling is very important to me).

Handling down Old La Honda Road (my most ridden ascent/descent), the Moots Vamoots RSL reminds me of a high performance car on the racetrack: sloppy steering inputs are penalized by ending up in the Wrong Place, but skillful inputs are handsomely rewarded . The Vamoots RSL is NOT a bike for those with mediocre bike handling skills, it’s a purebred racing bike.

I can ride without hands on the handlebar with ease on the Vamoots RSL, but I can hardly manage it with my Trek Madone 6.9 SSL. Now that’s nice. At the same time, the Vamoots RSL steering is quick, precise and super responsive. I’d rate the enjoyment factor of the Vamoots RSL steering as equal and perhaps even more fun than the Look 695 SR; the Vamoots RSL feels racier, more responsive; one can flick the wheel around objects on the road without even thinking about it. This might be a wheelbase and geometry difference; it’s hard to say, but it sings.

I will not say that the Moots Vamoots RSL outperforms the Look 695 SR on high-speed twisty descents in the sense of sheer stability. But the Vamoots RSL let me ride just as fast, tracks its line extremely well, and is simply MORE FUN, without the sloppy feel of the Trek Madone 6.9 SSL. The Madone is all over the place when one hits bumps; this can be seen in the waffling in fork movement on bumpy ground. The Vamoots RSL is much more stable here. Apparently, this translates directly into the killer handling of the Vamoots RSL.

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Stiffness

The Vamoots RSL is not as stiff as the Look 695 SR, but one should not necessarily equate total efficiency of a system to stiffness of the frame. (Or frame stiffness to riding comfort, as the Look 586 vs 695 SR proves).

Without any sense of flex in the key area—the bottom bracket—there is a springiness/liveliness to the Vamoots RSL which makes it feel rewarding compared to the unyielding rigidity of carbon.

It’s a positive feedback loop that will induce any rider who exults in the sheer physical joy of riding want to stand up and sprint just for the wow of it. The first few times I sprinted on the Vamoots RSL, I gasped in surprise at just how different (and fun) it felt to ride a bike with that sort of feel, instead of just unyielding firmness. Yet I never felt that there was any inefficiency or power loss. Perhaps an initial massive power surge is met with a bit less immediacy than with the Look 695 SR, but that seems to be of no particular importance after the first pedal stroke, unless perhaps one can sustain power output for extended periods well beyond the 500 watt range.

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Efficiency

It is hard to assess efficiency of a bike without having fresh legs and two bikes available to cross-test repeatedly; I did not have that, so I had to go on impressions.

My sense is that the Vamoots RSL is highly efficient as compared to the ultra-stiff LOOK 695 SR; I sensed nothing that would make me feel that I was losing anything in terms of power transfer, nor did my ascent times and power meter readings suggest anything of that sort.

Comfort

Comfort is outstanding with the Vamoots RSL— even though the test bike had an aluminum handlebar (which I found extremely uncomfortable on the Look 586), I came home after my first 2.5 hour ride feeling as fresh as at the start (in terms of hands, arms, butt).

Comfort on dirt vs Psychlo X RSL and MootoX RSL 29er — Cyclocross

See Moots Vamoots RSL as a Light-Duty Cyclocross Bike.

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Miscellaneous

The metal frame delivers a mild pinging noise under some conditions (cable slap on bumps or similar).

Metal can get hot or cold, not always a good thing in extreme temperatures when hands or legs contact the tubing. Do not lick the frame, even if you think it’s tasty.


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