Mountain Gear

Review: Moots MootoX RSL

The latest smooth-riding Ti 29er from Steamboat Springs

The Moots MootoX RSL is a brilliant blend of classic frame building and modern tech, combining a stiff but ultimately very traditional Ti tubeset with more modern design cues for a fast, aggressive XC race bike.

Tech specs

The MootoX RSL is designed around a 100mm fork — a Fox 32 on our test rig — and uses a 44mm oversized head tube designed for a zero stack headset to help keep the front end low.

Moots uses a 3/2.5 CWSR internally butted seamless seat tube, reducing weight as well as allowing for the use of a 30.9 seat post. At the bottom of that seat tube is an oversized press-fit BB30 bottom bracket, further enhancing stiffness. Formed stays allow for increased tire clearance, and the frame is available in six stock sizes, or full custom.

Geometry is long and low, with a 61.6cm top tube on our 19″ and that short, 11cm head tube — it’s definitely built with XC in mind.

The ride

It’s hard to fault titanium when it comes to ride quality, particularly the carefully shaped Ti used by Moots. The only complaint I’ve had in the past is a vague feeling when in a hard corner; some Ti frames just can’t hold it together when they’re really pushed laterally. The MootoX RSL has no such issues, riding noticeably stiffer than even the company’s own MootoX. Perhaps the stiff Fox 32 is to thank, or the oversized head tube, or the frame tubes themselves—likely a combination of all three. Whatever it is, it works. Cornering feels playful, stiffness under pedaling load is above average for Ti.

Actually, the whole bike feels pretty playful. The short wheelbase and chainstays on my 19″ (all the sizes have the same chainstay length, so smaller frames may not feel quite the same) even let the bike feel pretty good in the air. Some 29ers are more akin to a bus when off the ground. The 71.25-degree head tube is pretty normal for and XC bike, and resulted in nice handling in the tight stuff. The quick handling was appreciated as I entered a grove of tightly-packed aspens near the end of one XC race, though it was a bit of a handicap when going full-bore down the fire road a few minutes prior.

The MootoX feels respectably stiff under pedaling load, though it still can’t quite hit the mark set by carbon frames like the Orbea Alma or Cannondale Flash29 (though it gets pretty darn close). The press-fit BB30 bottom bracket helps stiffen things up, but as a general rule I, and the rest of the tech guys here, despise press-fit BBs. Our MootoX had some serious creaking issues after just a few rides. Not worth the tradeoff, I think.

What you lose in stiffness you gain back in ride quality. The MootoX RSL rolls softer than any carbon 29er hardtail I’ve been on; it’s smoother over small bumps, and feels more planted. Buzz seems to simply disappear somewhere in the frame.

A big part of the comfort is the absolutely wonderful Moots Cinch seatpost. With just a hint of curve, the Ti post flexes just enough to take the edge off. Plus it uses a brilliant clamp design with separate saddle-rail clamp and tilt mechanisms — I loved the post so much I’ll be picking one up for my personal bike.

Is it worth $3,500? It’s beautiful, stiffer than average and offers up a playful, spunky ride while maintaining that lovely Ti comfort. It’s doesn’t give off that thoroughbred racer vibe, but it can handle racing at any level. Keep it in the terrain it was designed for and it’s a serious ripper. Plus it’s absolutely gorgeous. “Worth it” is relative, but if I had the cash to spend, the MootoX would be very high on my list.

Moots MootoX RSL
SRP: $3,500 frame
Pros: beautiful, stiff in the right places
Cons: creaky press-fit BB