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2011 Moots YBB — Why Soft-Tail, Why Titanium?
I have previously owned and ridden (for years), a Merlin ExtraLight Titanium from 1995, a Specialized Epic FSR dual suspension, and a Trek Top Fuel (Project One) dual suspension.
I still have and ride the Merlin ExtraLight titanium (it will probably run forever), but the two other bikes have long since hit the garbage heap.
I was in no mood for another complex and inelegant dual suspension bike that was destined for a landfill— well-built titanium looks good and is likely to outlast just about anything else.
Titanium is great for offering compliance, and I prefer it to carbon fiber for a mountain bike; carbon can be very stiff, and the compliance is shifted to the mercy of the suspension.. Titanium has a feel all its own, magical with the right frame.
Reliability and low maintenance — YBB
I knew I wanted to avoid the harshness of a hard-tail bike, but I also did not want the complexity, maintenance and sloppy feel of a dual suspension bike. Enter the YBB soft-tail design— proven for years, and impressive upon the first ride for its responsiveness yet compliance, and in titanium.
The YBB (“why be beat”) rear softtail design really does its job. It takes the edge off the vertebrae-crunching hardtail feel on those trails with divots left by collapsed gopher tunnels and the like.
Not paying attention for a moment? The YBB saves your butt and back— literally. If you’re in your 20’s maybe no big deal, but as life progresses, such things can mean pain or even injury from one moment’s inattention.
Having ridden both the YBB and its sibling Mooto X hardtail, there is no question that the YBB is to be preferred when comfort is any priority at all. The hardtail is just barely more responsive under power, but when the bumps hit the YBB makes all the difference.
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26er or 29er?
Since many racers are abandoning 26" wheels for a 29er bike, please see Why Is a 29er So Different From a 26er Mountain Bike?.
The Moots YBB 26 was a deliberate choice: I wanted a bike with the ultimate in responsiveness, and that’s indeed what I got: it’s unbelievably nimble and quick, yet steers a line that no other bike I’ve ridden can match, and all with great comfort and appropriate compliance.
Comparing YBB 26 to MootoX 29er
I compared the Moots YBB 26 and Moots MootoX YBB 29er designs during a test ride. It’s amazing how the wheel-size difference is so dramatic. The 29er feels like a monster truck compared to the petite 26" wheels, yes, even though there is on paper only a 3" difference.
The 29er rolls over stuff that the 26" requires more finesse on; the 29er just makes it easy and fast to cover ground once up to speed.
Spinning up a 29er at low speeds is another matter. With an 11% greater circumference, getting up to speed is noticeably more sluggish— an 11% greater circumference means 24% more power is needed to spin up the wheels, by F=mV^2. The power required is not 24% of the total since body and bike weight are dominant, factors, but it’s still very noticeable in how responsive the bike feels, and how much momentum the large wheels carry.
To gain the quick feel of a 26" ride, a 29er demands a light wheel with light tires, or you’ll be faced with a bike that feels sluggish to accelerate. On the flip side, greater wheel momentum will carry you over more of the nasties on the trail.
The agile feel of the Moots YBB 26" is fantastic, but the Moots YBB 29er gobbles up the trail when up to speed. In the end I settled on the 26" frame, knowing full well that at some point in the future, a 29er will need to be added to the bike stable.